Mass Effect 3's True Ending DLC Was Never Supposed To Be Free?
[Update: BioWare's Michael Gamble gives his input explaining why the DLC was always free.]
By now anyone who has played Mass Effect 3 and uses the internet probably ran into a news article or two about the whole controversy revolving around the supposedly incomplete and unresolved ending(s) for Mass Effect 3. The uproar over the poorly received ending amongst fans and general gamers was so large that it actually managed to spawn a brand new watchdog group for gamers called Retake Gaming, originally known as Retake Mass Effect 3.
Heck, according to GameSpot, even the Better Business Bureau blogged about Mass Effect 3's ending stating that it was false advertisement based on what the ending was and what was originally advertised for gamers to experience.
The uproar over the Mass Effect 3 ending has been so hot within the community that BioWare and EA had to come forward and offer an olive branch in the form of a free DLC pack that extends the ending, but was it always intended to be free?
Just recently BioWare and EA released the Mass Effect 3 Resurgence Multiplayer Pack for free. It contains new maps, new weapons and new playable characters. However, it wasn't always intended to be free based on the mistake of someone at Microsoft listing the DLC for its intended 320 MS Points. According to Kotaku, BioWare was quick to rectify the problem by warning people not to buy the "free" DLC and to wait for the problem to be corrected.
Many people see this "free" DLC as a way for EA to run damage control on a situation that quickly spiraled out of control, just the same as they're now publicly notifying people that Origin is now more consumer friendly. This is mostly due to the compounding of bad press from the "Worst Company in America" award, which nearly put EA in mainstream press as...well...the worst company in America.
For those that think that the ending DLC is actually post-launch DLC that EA and BioWare collaborated on together to assuage angry fans for free, many people pointed to previous DLC measures by EA, such as their handling of Tiger Woods '13 DLC, where they're basically charging for old maps since 2007, or charging to rent servers for Battlefield 3, amongst other savvy business tactics for making money on just about every other facet of gameplay. It's no different than what Activision has been doing with Call of Duty or what Capcom has been doing with all their games.
The conspiracy theory around the gaming block is that the ending was always planned to be vague for Mass Effect 3 and that a month or two after the game's release the true ending would be released for anywhere between $5 and $10, similar to how they goaded fans into paying extra with the "From Ashes" which launched day and date with Mass Effect 3 and netted EA a hefty amount of profit given its 40% attachment rate to consumers who bought the game in-store.
The belief is that much like what Square-Enix did with Final Fantasy XIII-2 or what Capcom did with Asura's Wrath, leaving the game rather hazy at the very end and then later announcing that the "True Ending" would be available for $6.99, EA and BioWare would have done something similar had the backlash not been as cantankerous over so many aspects of Mass Effect 3. Gamers, instead, who thought the ending was unclear enough and wanted a better clarification of the ending (just the same as people who wanted more backstory details regarding the lore of Mass Effect with the "From Ashes" DLC) they would have had to cough up some extra coin to see how it all played out.
At least on the positive side, all that whining and complaining that Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter and gaming website giant IGN (who had an employee appear in the game) were angry at you for has at least paid off in some way. The free extended ending, according to BioWare, will shed some closure on gamer's journey through a three-part sci-fi saga that, hopefully, will go down in history as one of the very best ever created, as opposed to a game that ended with a lot of people shouting out "WTF?".
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