This is the opinion of Bioware's Community Manager Chris Priestly, who took to Bioware's forums (via Eurogamer) to say:
"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. Wherever, whenever, whoever, etc will all be revealed years down the road when we actually start talking about it.
"I do not call the game ME4 when I talk about it ever, because [sic] that makes people think of it more as 'what happens after Mass Effect 3' rather than 'what game happens next set in the Mass Effect Universe', which is far more accurate at this point. Obviously fans are going to speculate content, character and story until we actually reveal details in the years or months to come as you have almost no actual details, just don't get bogged down in 'well how are they going to continue ME3...'."
"Thinking of the next Mass Effect game as Mass Effect 4 would imply a certain linearity, a straight evolution of the gameplay and story of the first three games.
"That doesn't mean that events of the first three games and the choices you made won't get recognised, but they likely won't be what this new story will focus on. If you had three games centred around a group of key soldiers in the US army during World War I and then decided to make a game about another group of people during the Second World War, the games could have many points in common and feel true to one another."
"You likely would have to recognise how the events of the first war influenced the ones of the second, but you would not necessarily think of it as a sequel. Again, the analogy is not great, but what I'm trying to say is that the ME universe is so rich that we are not limited to a single track when coming up with a new story."
The next instalment in the franchise is being developed at BioWare Edmonton, which previously worked on both side-quests for Mass Effect 2 and 3, as well as 3's multiplayer component.
So what do you think of these snippets, and what do you want from a Mass Effect sequel? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.