Mass Effect 3 and the “From Ashes” DLC predicament
I like to keep quiet on DLC issues usually. To me if a publisher wants to potentially anger their customer base by including DLC on a disk and charging extra for it, then I guess that’s their prerogative (even if its kind of a dick move). But really now, I’m a little concerned about this new turn of events with Bioware’s next game: Mass Effect 3. I know the core game will be rich with content, just going off of the past games, but over the last week we have been learning that there will be potentially very story-important DLC content for Mass Effect 3 on release.
If you are interested in just what that DLC may be about and just why its so important, then please check out the thread on the Bioware forums about the issue. However, since it is also potentially spoiler-ific, you may want to exercise caution. Just trust me when I say: this content will be huge in terms of story and may even answer some of the biggest ME3 questions to date.
But that is the crux of the issue. If the content is going to be so story-centric, then why are they packaging it separately? (I should mention that if you get the Collector’s Edition of the game, you will be covered, it comes with that). Why not just include it in the game to begin with?
Bioware executive producer Casey Hudson defended the decision on Twitter:
It takes about 3 months from “content complete” to bug-fix, certify, manufacture, and ship game discs. In that time we work on DLC.
DLC has fast cert and no mfg., so if a team works very hard, they can get a DLC done in time to enjoy it with your 1st playthrough on day 1.
On #ME3, content creators completed the game in January & moved onto the “From Ashes” DLC, free w/ the CE or you can buy seperately.
-Casey Hudson, Mass Effect 3 Executive Producer
However, fans are still taken aback I think because it seems a little unbelievable that this important DLC was drafted and created in such a short span of time. Its more likely to everyone that the content was partially fleshed out and pulled by marketing and product executives at the last minute in an attempt to monetize more pieces of the game.
Had this been a simpler time, this would have been unacceptable to most customers, but in a world where DLC comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes I think things will largely go unnoticed by the more mass gaming crowds. What baffles me is why EA didn’t instead decide to make this either a pre-order exclusive or, better yet, an included DLC that only new copies of the game could unlock, similar to the Cerebus Network content in Mass Effect 2.
In any case, fans are understandably outraged over the situation, with a pretty great summary of why by frequent game industry critic CriticalBiscuit on his latest youtube video. I hope that both fans and EA can find a middleground, but its unlikely. EA does not seem very interested in giving leeway on its larger DLC plans, so this is probably just a vision of things to come.