Rumor: BioWare's New Mass Effect Is A Multiplayer Spin-off [Update]S

The BioWare project teased earlier today by Spike TV's Video Game Awards is not an early look at Mass Effect 3, according to a development source, but the multiplayer-focused Mass Effect spin-off currently in the works at BioWare Montreal.

That Mass Effect game is not a massively multiplayer online version of BioWare's sci-fi RPG series, but a game that's designed to appeal more to the Call of Duty market, according to that source. We're told to expect player progression in the vein of Activision's wildly popular online shooter along with some sort of single-player component that does not feature Mass Effect's Commander Shepard in a leading role.

None of that should really be too surprising, given hints BioWare and EA have dropped in the past.

BioWare Montreal, which has aided in Mass Effect 2 development, was seeking multiplayer programmers earlier this year to "take existing single player user experiences and make them multiplayer safe." BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk has also said that there will be more games set in the Mass Effect universe outside of the series' main trilogy.

EA's John Schappert has promised "something far-reaching coming from Mass Effect" in the new year, something a December-timed reveal could drum up new enthusiasm for. Schappert could have simply been referring to the PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2, however, which is due in January 2011.

Finally, former Raven Software (Quake 4, Wolfenstein) lead designer Manveer Heir moved to BioWare Montreal this summer to work on Mass Effect, giving the developer some well-known multiplayer shooter talent. Update: As Heir points out on Twitter, Raven's work on Wolfenstein was on the single-player side. Endrant Studios was responsible for the game's multiplayer component.

We've reached out to EA to seek comment on the details provided by our source and will update if they respond.