BioWare, part one

CEO Ray Muzyka and president Greg Zeschuk discuss the PC gaming scene, its recent developments and where it's heading

BioWare is one of the most respected videogame developers on the planet and, responsible for a number of killer PC titles, is a company that certainly knows its biscuits when it comes to developing for the platform and what the future holds for it, too. It's on the verge of releasing Jade Empire: Special Edition for PC, is beavering away on PC RPG Dragon Age and is developing an MMOG that we can't wait to see fully unveiled. And it's surely got other PC delights up its sleeve that it's waiting to announce.

But what exactly does BioWare think of the PC gaming scene as it stands currently, its recent developments and where it's heading? We asked this of CEO Ray Muzyka and president Greg Zeschuk, additionally querying them on their videogame highlights of last year and what 2007 games they're eager to get their hands on. Part one of a two part interview is below...

What for you was the highlight of the videogame world last year, and which title released in 2006 would you say most pushed videogame boundaries?

Ray Muzyka: Focusing on PC games (since that's the focus of this story!) there were a number of solid titles last past year - Company of Heroes, Oblivion, Medieval 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Neverwinter Nights 2, Prey, Gothic 3 (Gothic 3 is my current PC addiction - it's quite good and definitely worth checking out, a few minor issues aside) and many others.

Overall on all platforms other than PC, some standout titles included Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii), Gears of War (360), Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3), Okami (PS2), Final Fantasy XII (PS2), Guitar Hero II (PS2), New Super Mario Brothers (DS), Age of Kings (DS), and others. A few of these have been really innovative I think - most of the Wii titles since they have such a new way of controlling the games (this is more of a hardware innovation than a pure innovation in the Wii games themselves of course), the DS titles because they are so different from past handheld games in how you play them (again more of a hardware issue - the touchscreen and dual screens make a big difference which we're excited about in our as-yet-unannounced BioWare DS title), and games like Okami push boundaries in terms of art styles and games like Guitar Hero expand the audience reached by video games to new markets.

There have been a lot of innovations in the PC space in online games - World of Warcraft and other MMOs continue to expand the business and we're excited about joining that world ourselves with the upcoming title we're developing down with our great team at BioWare Austin - and digital distribution and episodic content (we have big plans afoot at BioWare for post-release and episodic content for upcoming cool BioWare games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Jade Empire: Special Edition and other upcoming BioWare titles, both on console and PC).

What do you look on as the strengths of the PC platform, and what's your opinion of the PC gaming scene as it stands currently?

Ray Muzyka: PC gaming has a number of tremendous strengths. First off, the installed base of systems - there are literally millions of PCs, probably hundreds of millions worldwide, potentially available as gaming systems. Now, not all are used for games - many are owned by non-gamers or are work systems - but there is still a large potential installed base for Vista and Windows gaming.

Second, PC systems are ever-expanding: the new console systems are awesome (and I am enjoying all of them in addition to my PC gaming!) but PC systems can and will catch up in terms of technology (graphics, physics, etc) in the next year as new video cards are released and players upgrade their systems.

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