BioWare began work on the next Mass Effect game a month or two ago, and will announce more details next year, according to a representative quoted by Gamer Syndrome. The game is apparently pegged for release no earlier than "late 2014", putting its next generation status more or less beyond question.
"While I can't comment on why it changed studios, fans can expect a similar style of choices and action that they've come to know in Mass Effect," commented the rep, thought by Eurogamer to be Mass Effect 3 executive producer Mike Gamble - the man who broached the notion of a Mass Effect prequel to OXM back in February.
"Casey Hudson is very much involved in the new Mass Effect game, as well as many from Edmonton," he went on. "BioWare Montreal is a great studio and they did fantastic with the multiplayer for Mass Effect 3, so fans should know the series is in good hands.
"The game isn't far along in development so I can't comment on specifics because they isn't any yet, Frostbite 2 is a really good game engine that we are also using on Dragon Age 3. As far as release date, there's nothing to be announced yet. You'll hear more about the new Mass Effect game [next year] in 2013."
Asked about release dates, the rep offered a rough window of "late 2014 to mid 2015", adding "I honestly can't tell you an exact [date] because full development on the game started a month or two ago".
In October, BioWare Montreal producer Fabrice Condominas revealed that the Mass Effect 4 team hadn't settled on a timeframe for the game - the only concrete detail we have, right now, is that Commander Shepard won't put in an appearance. Here are seven possible starting points from Mass Effect history.
UPDATE: EA has more or less simultaneously authenticated the source and denounced the report as "inaccurate".