Chinese tech and gaming giant NetEase has established a new US development studio called Jar of Sparks, which is headed up by Xbox veteran Jerry Hook.
Based in Seattle but looking to recruit globally, the studio’s mission is to “create a new generation of narrative-driven action games”.
Jar of Sparks CEO and studio head Hook is a Microsoft veteran who helped launch the original Xbox and was a founding member of Xbox Live. He has held executive roles across multiple disciplines for the Halo and Destiny franchises, most recently serving as head of design for Halo Infinite.
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He will be joined by creative director Paul Crocker, who was lead narrative director on Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham trilogy. He then worked as narrative director for Batman: Arkham Origins studio Warner Bros. Games Montreal, before holding the same position at 343 Industries.
Jar of Sparks executive producer Greg Stone was a producer on Doom and Halo Infinite, and gameplay director Steve Dyck has previously worked as an animation director and design director for titles in the Halo, SSX and NBA Street franchises.
“We have built games for some of the biggest companies in gaming, and now it’s time to take a shot at putting our own personal lightning in a bottle,” said Hook. “We want to create something new, innovative and that’s a blast to play.
“When looking to create a new studio the most critical part of finding the right partner was being aligned on the fundamental goals of having the freedom to take innovative risks and to put the passion of our creators first. This meant that our player experiences came before the business, which itself is a risk.
“NetEase came to the table with a strong creative first approach; they demonstrated the same passion we have for our players and building new experiences that we believe players are looking for.”
Earlier this year NetEase opened a new Japanese studio headed up by Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi.
It was recently claimed that NetEase is working on a new Destiny game for mobile in partnership with Bungie, the now Sony-owned studio in which the Chinese company invested $100 million to become a minority shareholder in 2018.