BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have both resigned from Mass Effect developer BioWare.
The industry veterans, who founded the EA-owned Canada studio in 1995, said they had decided to leave the development giant to pursue other ventures.
In a leaving message, Muzyka said he had taken the "incredibly difficult" decision to retire from the games industry altogether, and would be moving on to an entirely different set of challenges.
He revealed he had made the decision as early as April, at which point he provided EA with six months notice of his impending departure.
Greg Zeschuk meanwhile said he had left because he no longer had the passion he once had for BioWare, games and development.
Whilst he said he may not return, he did not completely rule out coming back to the games industry in future.
"I feel the need now to move on to a new chapter in my career," said Muzyka.
"With the growth of BioWare to multiple locations as part of a public company, following two decades of multiple successful product launches across many platforms and business models, I’ve largely personally achieved what I wanted in videogames; I now desire to take on a brand new entrepreneurial challenge."
BioWare Edmonton and Montreal general manager Aaryn Flynn added that the studio was well placed to carry on without the influential founders and its team was ready to embark on new era of games without the duo, and praised their efforts for building a world leading developer.
"Love of games, respect for the players, teamwork and integrity – those are the hallmarks of a culture built by Ray and Greg," said Flynn.
"It started in their hearts and minds, ran through their daily actions, and resonated deeply in the people that joined them in their remarkable journey. And now with their retirement, the creative teams at BioWare Edmonton & Montreal are ready to carry on that legacy."
A Mass Effect on the industry
BioWare was founded in Edmonton, Canada in February 1995 by newly graduated medical doctors Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka and Augustine Pip.
The studio’s first title was DOS and Mac Mech sim Shattered Steel. The developers then went on create hit titles such as Baldur’s Gate using their in-house 2D engine Infinity, and later NeverWinter Nights in 2002 with the self-made Aurora Engine.
Moving into the sci-fi realm with work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a year later, it wasn’t long before the developer created its most successful blockbuster franchise in Mass Effect, which spawned two hugely popular sequels.
It was no surprised then that in the same year in October 2007, BioWare was acquired by publishing giant EA after merging with Pandemic Studios, further cementing its place as a leading developer.
So crucial had BioWare become to EA, the publisher entrusted the studio to create one of its most ambitious projects ever, in the form of MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, although the game has since struggled somewhat to keep a strong subscription base.
As of October 2011, BioWare had expanded well beyond its Edmonton roots with studios situated in Austin, Montreal, Ireland, San Francisco and Virginia.
The studio is now currently at work on re-launching the Command & Conquer franchise as a free-to-play entity, and recently announced it was developing the third entry in its RPG series Dragon Age, Inquisition.