BioWare Claims – With A Straight Face – That Mass Effect 3 Was Finished Before They Started DLC
NOTE: Spoilers are in white. Highlight to read.
When it was “leaked’ earlier this week that Mass Effect 3 will launch with a DLC pack called From Ashes that will add [a Prothean] to your squad, the reaction was almost universally negative. It’s true that the inclusion of a kind of resolution for one of the Mass Effect universe’s more tragic backstory elements sounds exciting, but the execution smacks of a cynical monatization scheme. Charging players 10 dollars for launch date DLC does nothing more than increase the already sky high cost of a AAA game. Furthermore, the fact that said DLC includes a new character and quest means it was almost certainly developed using money from the game’s original budget. This indicates that for all intents and purposes it is content that was deliberately removed from the final game.
Fans have, quite understandably, taken to Reddit, Twitter and to BioWare forums to complain at length. Last night, BioWare finally addressed those complaints, and their response is, quite frankly, baffling. “It takes about 3 months from “content complete”,” Casey Hudson tweeted, “to bug-fix, certify, manufacture, and ship game discs. In that time we work on DLC.” He further
alleged claimed that because DLC has “fast certification and no manufacturing,” a hard-working team can crank it out in time to launch with the main game.
Perhaps this is true, however it was Hudson’s follow up that defies belief. “On ME3, content creators completed the game in January and moved onto the From Ashes DLC, [which is] free with the Collector’s Edition or you can buy it separately.” That is a very short period of time, particularly considering information revealed by BioWare’s Michael Gamble. In a post to BioWare forums confirming that From Ashes is real, he noted that the DLC contains the [a Prothean] squad member, a new mission that returns players to [Eden Prime] from Mass Effect, plus a new weapon and new appearances for all members of your squad.
That is a lot of content to have been whipped up in less than a month. The claim is especially dubious when you consider two things: 1), that that The Art of the Mass Effect Universe confirms that BioWare artists were working on the design of [the Prothean] early in Mass Effect 3′s development, and 2) it was announced months ago that the collector’s edition would contain bonus DLC. The obvious conclusion for customers is that either BioWare has excised significant content from the game in order to nick money from already over-charged consumers, which means the game’s price is artificially boosted, or that the DLC has been rushed out and will likely be of very poor quality. That they seem to be hinting at option #2 is a bad sign.
We’ve expressed concerns about the direction of the series for a while now, and this latest mess does little to allay them. We realize BioWare is in a tight spot. They can’t really admit to nerfing their game, and they don’t want to admit to releasing an inferior product. But this, along with the inclusion of superfluous multiplayer content, suggests that Mass Effect fans ought to go into 3 with diminished expectations*. We will of course do our best to reserve judgment until release, but BioWare is not making things easy.
*incidentally, this only makes me more convinced that the XBLA leak wasn’t accidental. I’m now leaning toward the idea that the leak was designed specifically to lower gamer’s expectations, and expend any outrage early.