Post-release work on Dragon Age 2 has ceased and the entire team repositioned on "the next phase of Dragon Age's future", BioWare has announced.
In other words, Dragon Age 3, a project not yet officially announced.
"While we will still be keeping an eye out for any issues that might crop up in DA2 and supporting the community should any emergencies should arise, we're moving the entire team's focus to the next phase of Dragon Age's future," announced Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah on the BioWare forum via community coordinator Chris Priestly.
"You've most certainly heard the rumours floating around, and unfortunately I can't really comment on them. However, what I can say is that we've been thinking a lot about Dragon Age - what it means, and where it could go. This past year, we've spent a lot of time both going back to the 'BioWare vault' of games and re-examining them, and looking at some new possibilities that today's industry allows.
"With that, the next thing for the Dragon Age team members and I to do is hear from you, and not just on the forums, or Facebook, or Twitter ... The most valuable thing we can get out of those meetings is to hear from you on those same topics - what does Dragon Age mean to you, and where would you like to see it go? We're excited to hear what you have to say!"
Mark Darrah offered more concise updates on Twitter.
"We're done development on Dragon Age 2," he wrote, "and the team has fully moved onto The Next Thing (tm).
"This past year, we've spent a lot of time both going back to the 'BioWare vault' of games and re-examining them, and looking at some new possibilities that today's industry allows."Mark Darrah, executive producer, Dragon Age series
"We'll be very actively looking for feedback on the next DA title, and will be showing the game more than before as it develops.
Darrah went on to reveal that there was going to be an expansion pack for Dragon Age 2 called Exalted March. "There were even shirts!" he shared, but "other DA opportunities came up" and prevented the expansion ever happening.
Mention of the "BioWare vault of games", which presumably means the oldies, will please Baldur's Gate/Neverwinter Nights/Dragon Age: Origins fans unhappy with the fast-paced console tone of Dragon Age 2.
Mention of "some new possibilities that today's industry allows" poses the MMO question - will BioWare consider it? Or is Darrah alluding to a multiplayer mode, as was recently added to The Other BioWare Series, Mass Effect?
BioWare first hinted at multiplayer in Dragon Age 3 a year ago, around Dragon Age 2 launch. Lead designer Mike Laidlaw told Eurogamer that on a "fundamental" level, multiplayer would "absolutely work". After all, friends controlling party members is preferable to tinkering endlessly with AI routines, as in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2.
More recently, in November, Kotaku got hold of an inside report claiming Dragon Age 3 will have multiplayer arena battles against monsters or other players.
Lead Dragon Age designer Mike Laidlaw has also talked openly about Dragon Age 3 ideas. He's teased things like allowing party members' armour to be swappable again, as it was in Dragon Age: Origins.
The Dragon Age series hasn't hit the high points for BioWare that Mass Effect has. The pressure on Dragon Age 3 to not only get the series back on track, but also to live up to Mass Effect, is considerable.