Taking up the mantle of Creative Director, Casey Hudson joined Microsoft and even relocated to Redmond to help the company develop experiences for what is now known as Windows Mixed Reality. Unfortunately for Microsoft's MR efforts, Hudson has returned to lead EA's BioWare.
In a statement posted on the official BioWare blog, Casey Hudson hailed the studio responsible for Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and the upcoming Anthem franchise, stating that it feels as though he has returned home. There's no mention of Microsoft whatsoever in his statement, save for an admission Hudson had wanted to work with "disruptive technologies," presumably referring HoloLens.
"I needed some time off, needed a bit of change, and wanted to get involved in the new wave of disruptive technologies that were emerging. The last few years have been transformative for me, from having time to reflect on what I most want to do, to working with new technologies at platform scale. And now, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to return to lead BioWare – a studio that I think of as home."
Hudson will replace the departing General Manager Aaryn Flynn, who is leaving BioWare after 17 years. Be sure to read Casey Hudson's full statement over here.
BioWare finds itself in a bit of a tough position lately. Mass Effect Andromeda is widely regarded as the most disappointing game in what was previously BioWare's flagship franchise, due to sparse content, rampant bugs, and a general lack of polish. There's also evidence that EA has put the franchise on hiatus, canceling all planned single player DLC. It looks as though it could be a long time before we see Mass Effect re-emerge, if at all.
BioWare isn't one to write off, though, since the company arguably had one of the most insane trailers of E3 2017, with its Xbox One X headliner "Anthem," referred to internally as a "Destiny killer." The studio has also been teasing a follow up to Dragon Age Inquisition, BioWare's RPG fantasy series. Whether Casey Hudson can rescue Mass Effect from obscurity remains to be seen, but I suspect BioWare's respective studios will be all-in on Anthem and Dragon Age for the time being.
As far as Windows Mixed Reality goes, the loss of Hudson will likely come as a blow, given his knowledge and experience creating blockbuster gaming experiences. Microsoft is slowly (very slowly) ramping up its efforts in the space, having recently launched a round of developer kits from the likes of Acer and Lenovo.
Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens as a platform hasn't really seen any form of official "launch" as of yet, at least not with consumers. Most of the apps available on the Mixed Reality store are rudimentary tech demos or practice apps, with the lion's share of quality programs being focused on education or enterprise. Whether Microsoft can transform Mixed Reality into a viable gaming platform remains to be seen, but with the loss of Casey Hudson, Redmond's job just got a little tougher.