NetEase has formed a new Western game development studio that will be led by four former Halo developers.
Today, Chinese monetization juggernaut NetEase announced Jar of Sparks, a new Seattle, Washington-based game development studio that will create story-driven AAA action-adventure games. The studio is made up of top talent, including Jerry Hook, who helped launch the multi-billion dollar Xbox LIVE storefront and ship various Halo games. Hook will lead the studio as CEO of Jar of Sparks.
Three other Halo Infinite developers have also joined Hook at the Jar of Sparks studio:
- Paul Croker- Creative Director, prev Assistant Creative Director on Halo Infinite
- Greg Pierre – Executive Producer, Previous Producer on Halo Infinite
- Steve Dyck – Gameplay Director, previous Combat Director on Halo Infinite
Hook and his fellow Halo Infinite developers have certainly shifted gears from a studio facing significant hurdles and issues with a failing live game to opening a brand new studio with complete creative freedom for do what they want.
“It’s Jar of Spark’s mission to create a new generation of narrative action games, with immersive worlds that will be filled with moments that players will want to share with each other. To do this, we aim to train a diverse and collaborative team of talented creators who will bring whole new worlds to life.”
Although not explicitly mentioned in any part of the press release, it’s likely that Jar of Sparks’ new game will have some sort of online component with monetization or even microtransactions given that NetEase is involved. Don’t forget that NetEase co-developed the fearsome Diablo Immortal.
The project is presented as a AAA experiment and a recent job offer for a chief technology officer mentions cooperative multiplayer, so it’s possible the game is online or has some sort of optional online mode.
The formation of Jar of Sparks marks NetEase’s second studio expansion into the West. The first was NetEase Montreal which focuses on R&D technology. NetEase has also recruited legendary Yakuza designer Toshihiro Nagoshi and opened the Japanese studio Nagoshi.
Here’s what CEO Jerry Hook said about Jar of Sparks:
“We’ve made games for some of the biggest video game companies, and now it’s time to try and put our own personal lightning in a bottle. We want to make something new, innovative and it’s awesome to to play.
“When looking to build a new studio, the most critical part of finding the right partner was aligning with the core goals of having the freedom to take innovative risks and prioritizing the passion of our creators. This meant that our player experiences came before the business, which itself is a risk.
“NetEase came to the table with a strong first creative approach; they demonstrated the same passion we have for our gamers and creating new experiences that we believe gamers are looking for.”