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BioWare announced yesterday that Mass Effect 3 will be released in early 2012 instead of late 2011. Why'd they do that to you? Well, publisher EA's CEO John Riccitiello says they want to make the game a "larger market opportunity."
"Essentially, step by step, [BioWare is] adjusting some of the gameplay mechanics and some of the features that you'll see at E3 that can put this into a genre equivalent of shooter-meets-RPG, and essentially address a far larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 did and Mass Effect 2 began to approach," said Riccitiello.
Translation: Mass Effect 2 was a hit but we want a mega-hit.
The mention of the game's genre is interesting. What could make this game seem like more of a shooter-meets-RPG? They're probably looking to beef up the shooter side of the equation a bit more. While beefing up the RPG aspects would be welcomed by existing fans, it probably wouldn't draw new players into the fold.
The popular guess is that BioWare's going to cram multiplayer into the game. Multiplayer - whether co-op or competitive - is a common way that developers try to expand single-player-only franchises. Assassin's Creed and BioShock are two examples of video game series' that went that route. I'd think introducing multiplayer would take more than the couple extra months of development BioWare has been given, though.