With Casey Hudson and Mark Darrah leaving at the same time, that leaves a massive gap in leadership in an organization sorely in need of it. The Golden Age of BioWare is long behind, but there’s always that sliver of hope that something will save it.
My limited understanding of both these individuals over the years is nothing but positive. Hudson is the reason we have Mass Effect at all, and Darrah is why we have Dragon Age. Darrah was also appointed the saving grace for Anthem’s final months of development. Jason Schrier‘s write-up on that drama is one of the better game journalism pieces out there. From the outside at least, it would appear that these two were “the” leaders. And now they are not.
From what we know outside, there were 4 main streams of work underway. SWTOR is still chugging along, which is great. There’s a remaster of the 3 Mass Effect games, which logically would precede a reboot. Dragon Age 4 is in the works. And Anthem 2.0 was an idea, who’s leader is now taking over Darrah’s spot on DA4.
If I was a betting man, I’d put dollars that they find a way to link Anthem and Mass Effect. Andromeda wasn’t all that far off mechanically. There’s nothing on Dragon Age 4 aside from some art. Whatever does come out next, it would seem fair to assume that it’s a make/break deal for BioWare to be able to do anything but SWTOR.
I’ve seen my fair share of large re-orgs. When one leader leaves, that is a tough slog to adjust to the new one. When 2 links in that chain leave, stuff goes sideways for a long time. If ever you see 3… well then expect that chain to just be dumped in the back of the building.
There are a pile of reasons for an executive to call it quits. Family/health is a big one. Finishing a large deliverable is another (the message will reflect the accomplishment). Finding a better job is the last one that would be considered “ok”, at least in the sense of employee empathy. Pretty much every other exit is due to a change in direction or conflict. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see what triggered this event, and in the vacuum of a lack of information, rumours will certainly fill that space. I’m just crossing my fingers that this isn’t the first part of a larger sad story just before the holidays. I wish all of them the best of luck.