Chinese tech conglomerate NetEase isn't quite as well known to Western gamers as, say, Tencent, but it's a major player by any measure, providing a range of online services and ranking among the top online game companies in the world. It may be best known in North America for partnering with Blizzard (opens in new tab) to operate Chinese versions of games including World of Warcraft and Overwatch, but that could soon change.
NetEase announced the launch of its first US-based studio today, Jackalope Games, headed up by Jack Emmert, formerly of Cryptic Studios and Daybreak Game Company. Jackalope's debut project hasn't been revealed yet—NetEase said only that it "will be creating new and exciting PC and console games"—but Emmert's history makes an MMO a good bet. His previous credits include City of Heroes, Champions Online, Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and DC Universe Online.
"NetEase Games is the best possible place for me and my team to thrive," Emmert said. "We share the same passion—to create engaging online universes for gamers worldwide. NetEase Games is providing the support and resources needed to build a great studio and great games."
Jackalope is a first-party studio but will "operate independently and maintain creative autonomy," NetEase said. The immediate question is whether Emmert's new game at Jackalope has anything to do with the Marvel MMO (opens in new tab) that he was heading up at Dimensional Ink, the Daybreak studio he was at prior to this new venture.
The "unannounced project" spot is still present on Dimensional Ink's website (opens in new tab), so it's possible that he left it all behind to move on to this new venture—I've reached out to NetEase for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.