BioWare is a Canadian electronic entertainment company founded in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip. BioWare specializes in creating computer and console video games and has become famous for highly praised and successful computer role-playing games such as Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, both of which won multiple awards. They have also made several successful console role-playing games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect 2. The former three games were later adapted for the PC, while Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 were developed and released for consoles and PC simultaneously.
The BioWare Group of studios is now four studios (BioWare Edmonton, BioWare Austin, BioWare Mythic, and BioWare Montreal) comprising the RPG/MMO Group within Electronic Arts, with Muzyka, EA Senior VP and the Group General Manager and Zeschuk EA VP and Group Creative Officer of the BioWare Group; Yip left in early 1997 to return to medicine. Other senior leaders in the BioWare Group (RPG/MMO Group) of Electronic Arts are Rob Denton (EA VP and Group Operations Officer of the BioWare Group), Patrick Buechner (EA VP and Group Marketing Officer of the BioWare Group), Gordon Walton and Rich Vogel (EA VPs and co-General Managers of BioWare Austin), Aaryn Flynn (EA VP and General Manager of BioWare Edmonton), Eugene Evans (EA VP and General Manager of BioWare Mythic, in Fairfax, Virginia), and Yanick Roy (Studio Director of BioWare Montreal).
BioWare was established in February 1995 by Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Augustine Yip, who had graduated together from medical school at the University of Alberta. Its first game was released the following year. During its ten years as an independent company, BioWare developed Shattered Steel, the Baldur's Gate series, MDK2, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire. It had publishing relationships with Interplay (through Black Isle Studios), Infogrames/Atari, LucasArts, and Microsoft.
The next few years saw a number of changes in BioWare's corporate status. In November 2005, it was announced that BioWare and Pandemic Studios (itself founded by former Activision employees) would be joining forces, with private equity fund Elevation Partners investing in the partnership. On October 11, 2007, however, it was announced that this new partnership (organised as VG Holding Corp) had been bought by Electronic Arts. BioWare therefore became a unit of EA, but retained its own branding.
In 2007, BioWare released the science fiction RPG Mass Effect. The following year, BioWare released Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood on the Nintendo DS, its first title for a handheld game console. Near the end of 2009, BioWare released the fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins, and in January 2010 Mass Effect 2.
BioWare is currently working on at least four further projects. The MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will be based on BioWare's previous contribution to the Star Wars franchise, and was announced on 21 October 2008, although BioWare had first mentioned an unspecified new collaboration with LucasArts in October the previous year. The other projects are a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 3 and an additional project about which no details have yet been revealed.
The growth of the RPG/MMO Group as part of Electronic Arts in 2008+ has resulted in three additional studios being added to the BioWare Group outside BioWare's original home base in Edmonton. The first, located in Austin, Texas and headed by industry veterans Gordon Walton and Richard Vogel, was created to work on the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG project. Both the studio and the project were announced on March 13, 2006. On March 2, 2009, BioWare announced it had opened a new studio in Montreal, Quebec to assist with existing projects as necessary.. In 2009 Mythic Entertainment, based in Fairfax, Virginia, became part of the RPG/MMO Group, later being renamed BioWare Mythic in early 2010.
Electronic Arts announced on June 24, 2009, that they are restructuring their RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic Entertainment and BioWare. This newly formed team (now called the BioWare Group) will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Muzyka becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk, will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Muzyka, later becoming Group Operations Officer of the new Group. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Muzyka.
The company was also a starting place for other Albertan game developers, such as being the former employer of the HermitWorks Entertainment staff. The group developed the well-received genre mixing game Space Trader, which was developed under an art grant from the Canadian government.