When EA executive vice president Patrick Söderlund hinted during an investor’s call that Mass Effect developer BioWare was working on a new IP. Many fans assumed that they were working on a new RPG. However, the latest update from EA suggests that is not the case.
During a financial report delivered by BioWare’s parent company Electronic Arts, CEO Andrew Wilson revealed that BioWare would be delivering an “all-new IP” by the end of the fiscal year 2018 — or the end of March 2018. Unlike the role-playing games that the studio is best known for, the new project will be an action game, “bringing friends together to play in exhilarating new ways.”
“(It’s) A clean-sheet design with new concepts, new gameplay mechanics, and new stories set in a unique new universe. This game has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the way people think about an action title, bringing friends together to play in exhilarating new ways. We’re very excited about the future of this new franchise and its ability to attract a large global audience.”
A non-RPG is certainly a departure from BioWare’s usual development territory. But given that they’ve been evolving their combat systems over the years to be more action-oriented, perhaps this is a natural evolution of the company’s design style.
Forbes writer Paul Tassi’s theory, is that EA is developing a competitor to Destiny and The Division. The sprawling RPG loot-shooter genre, building off the legacy of Diablo and Borderlands, is clearly dominated by Activision and Ubisoft currently. EA does not have a dog in this fight. They have shooters, and they have RPGs, but they do not have anything in this genre specifically, games that focus heavily on loot, co-op and PvP play, all in one giant shared world.
EA relies on DICE when it comes to crafting pure shooters, hence their work on Battlefront and Battlefield. But BioWare seems like exactly the right studio to develop something like this. Given their history with RPGs and MMOs that could be combined into exactly this so-hot-right-now genre (though admittedly, many key members of BioWare have departed at this point, including its founders).
There are obviously many questions about how this would work. Bungie and Massive work full-time on their respective games. And they still can barely keep up with the demands of players who want constant content and balance patches. To do something of this scope, it would seem like BioWare would have to forfeit other projects. We might have seen the last of Dragon Age, for instance, or maybe even Mass Effect?
It’s hard to say too much more at this point without knowing any more details, but we can assume if BioWare is involved, it has to be big. I guess we’ll have to wait as the date gets closer to March 2018 to know more details.