FiringSquad: BioWare has grown to be a huge developer, every time I visit it seems like I see more new faces than old. The company is growing fast - what sorts of challenges have you found this creates?
How have you dealt with them? How big do you think you can get, or want to get for that matter?
Ray Muzyka: We’re not seeking growth for the sake of growth. Rather, we always try hard to increase the value of the company over time; we recognize that the demands of the discerning audience for our games continue to increase over time as they seek higher and higher quality games to play. Essentially, video game fans can only fit in a certain number of games in their limited time and entertainment budgets. As well, the costs of video game content have continued to escalate over time as more and more complex content is required for creating higher poly characters, more complex animation and game systems, and new rendering systems like normal mapping. Both of these factors together mean that team sizes continue to rise. As we are a multi-team company (working on 3-5 titles internally plus some external engine licensure partnerships) this means that our number of employees continues to rise over time.
FiringSquad: Do you see BioWare making an attempt at becoming a publisher, like Maxis tried in the early '90s? Perhaps you'll try the Rockstar route - acquiring developers and solidifying them under one brand?
Greg Zeschuk: While we’re interested in pursuing digital distribution where we sell high-quality content online directly to our loyal community of more than 1.6 million registered users, we’re not planning to become a traditional retail publisher. We have great partnerships with publishers like Atari (Neverwinter Nights), LucasArts (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) and Microsoft (Jade Empire) and we respect their expertise in retailed package goods, distribution and retail marketing. Even though we’re kept very busy making great games we find the chance to create a new digital distribution model very exciting!
FiringSquad: Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk are, without doubt, the two most motivated individuals I have ever met. Everything from picking up potential employees in Greg's old beater at the airport ("all it needs is a push to start"), through remembering the names and faces of an endless list of press members and close fans, to managing the everyday details of the company - how do you do it? More importantly, how do you stay motivated despite your success? What keeps you at work, rather than buying a house and Benz S-class in Barbados?
Ray Muzyka: That does sound tempting (laughs) but really, we love what we do here at BioWare. We’re incredibly lucky to be able to work at our dream jobs, with great people like the employees of BioWare – all of them are smart, creative, passionate and hard-working and it’s an honor to represent them as BioWare’s Joint CEOs. Our fans and the press are great as well so it’s a real pleasure to be able to interact with them. I always find it a great honor - amazing and surreal - meeting fans who have played games we have developed like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, MDK2 etc. and enjoyed them, and hopefully we can continue to make even greater games in the future at BioWare. Both Greg and I could certainly be working as medical doctors now still (our original profession and training was as medical doctors; we both stopped practicing medicine about 4-5 years ago once BioWare became too busy to allow us to practice part time on the weekends [we did this mainly ‘for fun’]) but frankly, we like what we do now (making video games) a whole lot more.