NetEase Games, the Chinese gaming company that invested $100 million in Destiny developer Bungie, has made another big push into the Western gaming market. The company has announced a new first-party studio, Jar of Sparks, that is being headed up for Halo Infinite’s former head of design, Jerry Hook.
Hook left Halo developer 343 at the end of May 2022. Hook had worked at Microsoft since 2003 and was a founding member of the Xbox Live launch team before leaving to join Bungie and then re-joining Microsoft to work on Halo.
Jar of Sparks is based in Seattle. In addition to Hook, who is CEO and studio head, Jar of Sparks’ creative director is Paul Crocker. Crocker was the lead narrative director on the Batman: Arkham trilogy and an assistant creative director on Halo Infinite. Also joining Jar of Sparks in the role of executive producer is Greg Stone, who previously worked as a producer on 2016’s Doom and later Halo Infinite.
Steve Dyck is gameplay director at Jar of Sparks; Dyck previously worked on the SSX and NBA Street franchises before joining Microsoft to work on Halo, including Halo Infinite, for which he served as character and combat director.
NetEase did not say what Jar of Sparks will be working on, at least not in specific terms. The company did say, however, that Jar of Sparks has a “desire to build brand new franchises, with all new characters, stories, and worlds, to inspire the imaginations of players all over the world.”
I am excited to announce that our new studio, Jar of Sparks, is up and running. Our mission is to create a new generation of narrative-driven action games in a new world.
— jerry hook (@hookscourt) July 18, 2022
A press release went on to say that Jar of Sparks aims 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 said in a statement, “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. We want to create something new, innovative and that’s a blast to play.”
Jar of Sparks will be a remote/hybrid studio with positions available around the world.
After giving Bungie $100 million to make non-Destiny games, NetEase acquired a stake of Star Wars: Eclipse developer Quantic Dream.
NetEase is also one of Blizzard’s most notable partners. Blizzard works with NetEase on localiz ed versions of World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo III for China. In July, NetEase invested $50 million into Improbable, and one part of the deal was that NetEase would develop games using Improbable’s SpatialOS tech.