BioWare announced via a press release today that Mass Effect 3 would be seeing downloadable content that would expand upon the trilogy’s controversial ending.
Tiled Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, the DLC will provide “further clarity” and “deeper insights” into the game’s ending, which was highly derided by fans of the series as being inconclusive and derivative to the plot. The DLC will be available in the summer for all versions of the game and will be free.
Ray Muzyka, BioWare co-founder, addressed the salient point:
“We are all incredibly proud of Mass Effect 3 and the work done by Casey Hudson and team… Since launch, we have had time to listen to the feedback from our most passionate fans and we are responding. With the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut we think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in the Mass Effect universe.”
Mass Effect 3 has been a critical success for BioWare and parent company Electronic Arts, scoring an average of 93 on game review aggregation site Metacritic. However, the game took a beating with users, averaging a negative 4.9 based on 2,276 ratings, with 517 user reviews being categorized as negative. The ending was so panned by gamers that they started a campaign called “Retake Mass Effect 3,” demanding that BioWare change the ending of the game. One person even lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations of false promises.
On the Retake Mass Effect 3 Facebook page, the administrator of the page expressed that they were “cautiously optimistic” about this change, but expressed the need for continued vigilance to prevent BioWare from releasing multiple paid DLC packages. As of this moment, the @RetakeME3 Twitter page is not loading.
The DLC has an expiration date of April 12, 2014.
Analysis: Gamers got what they wanted on the surface: free DLC that changes the ending and makes it better. Whoopie.
However, the issues I broached in my critique of this whole issue still apply. What is the point in changing the ending of a game that’s already ended? What exactly is canon? Will this DLC change the canon? Is it really the director’s vision? And just what made BioWare/EA cave? PR damage? Being named Consumerist’s worst company, based on an Internet vote of pissed off customers? EA’s never really been a company that gives a rat’s ass about what their fans think, so I wonder what caused this change.
I’m honestly a little disappointed that EA and BioWare caved, partly because you typically don’t want to enable a noisy minority, but also because I don’t think this will satisfy fans. Keep giving your average fanboy a rope, and they will continue to think they’re cowboys. This DLC will come out, and I guarantee you fans will find something to complain about. It’s intrinsic in their nature. You can’t please everyone, and I think that by doing this, BioWare will please no one. I half expect to find Casey Hudson in a bar, stinking of cheap vodka and screaming, “What more do you want from me?”
For now, at least the edge of the concentrated PR campaign has been blunted. Despite their efforts, Retake Mass Effect 3 will start to lose steam until the DLC comes out, and at that point, even the complainers will have moved onto something shinier.