Speaking during the recent European Games Network trade show in London, Bioware joint CEO Dr. Ray Muzyka revealed that forthcoming Xbox title Jade Empire is intended as the first game in a new franchise.
"This is a franchise," he told gi.biz at the show. "This is a new IP, and there are going to be follow-on products - sequels and other things, absolutely. Our IPs, we have a long plan for - this is a rich world, and there are all these parts around the periphery of the empire that we haven't even touched on. There are lots of cool adventures still in the works."
Jade Empire, which is set to be published by Microsoft in Q1 2005, is the first original IP to be created by the celebrated Canadian developer, whose former titles have included the Baldur's Gate series, Neverwinter Nights and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
"We actually wanted to work on licensed properties first - to build up Bioware's reputation, to build up our knowledge of our craft, and to build up our team's experience," Muzyka explained to us at the show. "Now that we've got some experience and have a bit more of an idea of what we're doing, we want to make some new IPs, and Jade Empire is the first."
"Dragon Age is another one, and we have a third IP in development as well," he revealed. "All of these are Bioware-created, Bioware-owned IPs - brand new worlds that we've created. So, we're pretty excited."
Muzyka also revealed that a PC version of Jade Empire remains a possibility - but insisted that Bioware is focused on the Xbox version for now.
"[On Knights of the Old Republic] we always planned to do a PC version. This time, we might do one, but it's something we have to talk to Microsoft about," he explained. "They're not averse to the idea, but really, it's Xbox exclusive - it's really been designed for the Xbox."
Set in a fantasy world themed after medieval oriental legends, Jade Empire features a combination of Bioware's in-depth storytelling and character development with a rich real-time combat system which allows the player to learn and use a wide range of different fighting styles.