New video game studios are cropping up all over the place these days, as several development veterans have left prominent studios for new ventures. Many of these moves have been driven by Chinese gaming titans like Tencent, miHoYo, and NetEase. In this case, NetEase is teaming up with a big name in Halo for a new US-based studio.
Earlier this year, Halo Infinite’s head of design Jerry Hook left developer 343 Industries. That caused concern among the fan base at the time, with many worried about what that would mean for the latest game in their favorite franchise. Since then, the community has roasted the game and its makers on a few occasions for all kinds of issues that have cropped up for 343. Regardless, we now know where Hook was headed.
As announced via press release, Hook’s new studio is called Jar of Sparks. The team will be based in Seattle, with a goal “to create a new generation of narrative-driven action games, with immersive worlds that will be filled with moments that gamers will want to share with each other.” Hook is not alone in this mission. Jar of Sparks’ creative director Paul Crocker was the lead narrative director on the Batman Arkham trilogy, executive producer Greg Stone was a producer on Doom and Halo Infinite, and gameplay director Steve Dyck worked on the likes of SSX, NBA Street, and Halo.
“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,” Hook said. “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.” Jar of Sparks’ website is currently empty, save for a teaser image based on that “lightning in a bottle” phrasing — not necessarily an upcoming game. That said, the studio will be recruiting “globally” soon.
Jar of Sparks may have taken some talent from the Halo Infinite team, but that game is still seeing a steady stream of new additions. Most recently, the co-op campaign network test flight was made available on Xbox consoles and PC.