The news came as Amazon celebrated the launch of their new Wheel of Time television series. The first three episodes, which dropped last Friday, have exceeded Amazon's launch expectations and become Amazon's highest-rated debut series of 2021, and one of their biggest of all time, in the same bracket as anti-superhero drama The Boys and the highly acclaimed comedy series The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. A second season is already more than halfway through shooting and reports indicate that a third season has been at least "amberlit," with contingency planning underway before Amazon decides to pull the trigger on that order.
Mass Effect is a popular video game series consisting of a trilogy and a stand-alone sequel game, all developed by BioWare (also known for their Baldur's Gate and Dragon Age franchises). The trilogy - Mass Effect (2007), Mass Effect 2 (2010) and Mass Effect 3 (2012) - was released on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A "Legendary Edition" of the three games was released this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, to some success and acclaim. Microsoft published the original game whilst the two sequels and subsequent re-releases were handled by Electronic Arts. Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017), which was supposed to start a new storyline set in a completely different galaxy, was not successful and EA and BioWare have since pivoted to make Mass Effect 5, which reportedly will lean harder on the original trilogy's characters and factions.
Set in the late 22nd Century, Mass Effect is set several decades after first contact between Earth and a community of alien civilisations who control most of the Milky Way. This community is represented by the Citadel Council, a sort-of United Nations in space who are based on the Citadel, a colossal city-space station which acts as a trade and diplomatic hub between the various species. Despite their newcomer status on the galactic scene, humans are petitioning hard for greater prestige and power on the Council, to the annoyance of alien races who've been waiting centuries for promotion to the higher ranks. Key to Earth's hopes is Shepard, a skilled human agent who has become the first of their species to join the Spectres, an elite special forces division which reports directly to the Council. Shepard's investigation of an attack by the cybernetic Geth leads them to uncover evidence of a massive threat to all life in the galaxy, and their attempts to convince other races of the threat before it arrives.
The trilogy was highly praised on release for its writing, characterisation and action, as well as the slowly-growing sense of dread that built until the third game turned fully apocalyptic. The trilogy was also acclaimed for the accumulating weight of meaty decisions the player could make, which could leave individual characters dead or alive, and even entire civilisations destroyed, hostile or allied. However, the ending of the third game was considered underwhelming on original release, resulting in enough of a fuss that the ending was revised in later patches. Despite this, the trilogy retained enough goodwill to make last year's "Legendary Edition" a reasonable success. To date, the franchise has sold almost 20 million copies across all formats.
Rumours of a movie or TV version have circulated for years, with different options on the table. It sounds like Amazon's current plan is the most serious yet. It is unclear if Amazon would directly adapt the trilogy to the screen or develop a new story in the same universe, but the trilogy's storytelling and character focus would make a direct transition more viable than it is for many other games. Amazon would have to make some interesting casting choices, including which gender of actor for Commander Shepard to pick (players could choose their gender in the trilogy, with different vocal performances from Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale).
It's worth noting that Witcher, Enola Holmes and Superman actor Henry Cavill was recently pictured with potential script pages for a Mass Effect project. A noted fan of the video game trilogy, it was assumed he had gotten a voiceover part for Mass Effect 5, but it might be he's also been put in mind for a role on the Amazon project, his other commitments allowing.
Amazon are also developing a Fallout TV series with the Westworld creative team. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts and BioWare are continuing to develop Mass Effect 5 for an estimated 2023-25 release window.
More news on this project if and when it develops,