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The Real Reason Jade Empire 2 Never Saw The Light Of Day

BioWare was once the beloved RPG arm of EA. The studio produced popular franchises such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect, but public opinion changed quite rapidly after Anthem launched. Instead of nailing the superhero landing and turning into the next big IP, Anthem suffered a myriad of problems and fell like a lead weight, taking BioWare with it. Now, audiences are fearful for the future of the studio, along with future titles such as Dragon Age 4.

However, even before Anthem sputtered onto the scene with a thud, BioWare was experiencing trouble in paradise, when the studio was in discussion for a sequel to its kung-fu fantasy RPG Jade Empire. Many gamers fondly remember the title, so there was a market for a sequel, but one never materialized. BioWare followed up the Mass Effect trilogy with the disappointing Mass Effect Andromeda, and it is still developing Dragon Age 4. But, why has Jade Empire been left out of the symphony of sequels? It predates the other original BioWare RPGs and features a Chinese fantasy world, a rarity in Western RPGs.

The answer might surprise you.

Dragon Age isn't to blame, but it is the leading cause

In 2017, Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw sat down with Josiah Renaudin for "Episode 98" of The 1099. During the interview, Laidlaw explained all the work that went into Dragon Age. However, the juicy bits didn't come until the 55-minute mark, when Laidlaw and Renaudin discussed Jade Empire and the possibility — if not probability — of Jade Empire 2. After all, if Beyond Good and Evil can receive a sequel almost two decades later, why not Jade Empire?

According to Laidlaw, BioWare had plans for a Jade Empire sequel. More importantly, Laidlaw had a clear goal and vision for a sequel. He even knew who he hoped to bring on for the project. There was just one problem: Everyone he wanted was busy with Dragon Age. That's not to say, as Laidlaw put it, "Dragon Age killed Jade Empire," just that BioWare can only focus on so many projects at once, and working on Dragon Age and Jade Empire 2 simultaneously would have stretched the studio's resources too thin.

At the time of the interview, Laidlaw didn't rule out the possibility of Jade Empire 2, but he left BioWare several months later. Since he was lead story developer and writer for Jade Empire, Laidlaw's exit throws Jade Empire 2's future — or at least its quality — into flux.