In May 2022, Chinese tech company Netease launched its first game studio in North America, Jackalope Games, headed by former Daybreak Game Company executive Jack Emmert. Nothing was said about what the studio was making, and I wondered at the time if its debut game would have any connection to the Marvel MMO Emmert was leading prior to joining Netease. As it turns out, it is an MMO, but it's not Marvel—it's Warhammer.
It's no great surprise that Emmert is heading up development of a new MMO: Along with DCUO, his past credits include Champions Online, Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, City of Villains, City of Heroes, and the Marvel MMO, which was scrapped less than a year after it was announced. Emmert told PC Gamer that many of those games represented a "personal passion" for him, and he opted to partner with Games Workshop on a Warhammer MMO for that same reason.
"I’ve tried to take these hobbies and bring them alive in a new medium for not only the core audience (who loves the IP) but also fans that perhaps weren’t nearly as invested," Emmert said about his work on his earlier games. "I hope to provide the same feelings I have when I read/see these hobbies. I’ve been playing Games Workshop games for decades and cherish all their IPs. I want to bottle all that I feel is cool and great—then recreate it in the videogame medium."
Emmert said his studio is up to about 40 employees now and "will grow to meet the demands of the game design," but he hopes to keep the total headcount under 100. As for the game itself, unfortunately he declined to reveal anything more about it, including whether it's set in the Warhammer 40,000 or Warhammer Fantasy universe.
Understandably, there's also no hint of a release date, except that it's very distant: "Since we’re not revealing the specific IP, we’re a ways away from launch," Emmert said.
This won't be the first Warhammer-based MMO: That honor, as far as I know, goes to Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which launched in 2008 and went offline in 2013. But efforts to resurrect it have persisted over the years and a fan server continues to operate—in fact, it's running a Realm vs Realm live event at this very moment. Warhammer, whether Fantasy or 40K, is fertile ground for an MMO treatment, and there's pretty clearly some level of demand for it.
Emmert's studio also has a new name: Instead of Jackalope, it is now called Jackalyptic Games. I assumed at first that the name was a nod to the apocalyptic nature of the new project, but apparently not: Emmert explained that the original name proved "kinda bland," and so the decision was made to spice things up a bit by mashing "jackalope" and "cryptid" into Jackalypt Games. But that didn't work out either: "Our VP of HR kept calling it Jackalyptic," Emmert said. Ultimately, everyone decided that was a good name too, and so they rolled with it.