Chinese publisher NetEase is opening a new studio with the lead writer behind the Mass Effect series at the helm.
Worlds Untold will be based in Vancouver, and helmed by CEO Mac Walters, who’s known for his work at BioWare that spanned almost 20 years. Walters was a writer on martial arts RPG Jade Empire, then a senior writer on the first entry in the sci-fi RPG series, Mass Effect, and was eventually promoted to lead writer on Mass Effect 2 and 3. Following this, he was brought on as creative director on Mass Effect: Andromeda, worked on early narrative direction on Anthem, and project directed the Mass Effect: Legendary Edition remasters, before ending his tenure at the studio as a production director on Dragon Age: Dreadwolf. So he was at the forefront of a lot of the narrative direction of BioWare’s last two decades. How you feel about that probably varies depending on your opinions on the state of the studio, but speaking personally, the narrative wasn’t my biggest problem with most of those games.
Worlds Untold’s first project is described as an action adventure game with a narrative focus, but it sounds like whatever they’re working on may extend beyond video games, as the announcement on the studio’s website says the game is meant to span multiple games and can’t be contained by “even a single medium.” That could mean anything from comics, novels, perhaps even film or TV—a lofty goal, but since everything is trying to be a franchise right now, it’s not that surprising. The Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchise have had their fair share of animated series, comics, and novels, some of which were written by Walters, so it’s certainly in his wheelhouse.
NetEase has been gathering a lot of established legacy talent for its studios, including nabbing Yakuza lead Toshihiro Nagoshi, who recently formed Nagoshi Studio, and acquiring No More Heroes developer Grasshopper Manufacture. The company has its hands in a fair bit of the industry, though its relationship with Blizzard recently went sour and resulted in the dissolution of a team that maintained its games in China.