Mass Effect 3 is well behind us and fans already know that that an upcoming game set in Bioware's far-future universe is in development at BioWare Montreal's studio. That game doesn't have a name yet. But, the dev studio's representatives really don't want you to refer to it as Mass Effect 4.
[If you haven't finished Mass Effect 3, you should probably stop reading.]
First came comments from community manager Chris Priestly on the BioWare forums:
"To call the next game Mass Effect 4 or ME4 is doing it a disservice and seems to cause a lot of confusion here.
"We have already said that the Commander Shepard trilogy is over and that the next game will not feature him/her. That is the only detail you have on the game. I see people saying 'well, they'll have to pick a canon ending'. No, because the game does not have to come after. Or before. Or off to the side. Or with characters you know. Or yaddayaddayadda."
Those remarks were followed up by BioWare Montreal studio director Yannick Roy, who chimed in on a NeoGAF thread to clarify the direction of the new ME game.
…Time does indeed matter, but the words prequel / midquel / sequel come loaded with a bunch of other assumptions that don't necessarily all apply to the next ME game.
Roy also indicated that, while a Mass Effect MMO is still possible, the new game won't be that. Overall, it sounds like BioWare doesn't want us to think of the next Mass Effect game as a next chapter, but as a new book entirely. We can get with that, right?