With just a few days until the March 6 release of Bioware’s Mass Effect 3, the third, highly-anticipated installment in the Mass Effect series, the game is generating a large amount of controversy for what some believe to be unethical business practices. Others are even calling for a boycott.
It has long been understood by gaming developers and their parent companies that gamers are willing to spend an extra amount of money for what are essentially cosmetic differences. Whether it’s nicer looking mounts in World of Warcraft, or neater looking gear in Call of Duty, gamers will spend a few extra dollars to look cool. In other cases, gamers have been willing to pay (albeit begrudgingly) for new game content, new missions, new multiplayer maps, and other downloadable content (DLC).
But, according to some, Mass Effect 3 has taken it a step too far. In an apparent mistake by Xbox Live, some DLC for Mass Effect was briefly released for purchase online, before the game went on sale. Bioware and EA then confirmed that the “From Ashes” DLC was meant to be released on the same day as Mass Effect 3 for the price of $10.
The release of DLC on the same day as launch means, for some gamers, that they are purchasing an incomplete product. What Bioware and EA have done, some gamers argue, is tack an extra $10 onto their game for people who want to enjoy a complete product and a finished story arc.
What angered gamers even more is that the DLC unveils a new squad mate that is a Prothean, an extinct and mysterious alien race that is essential to the game’s story. Gamers who want to know about the game's story have to pay $10 to know.
In a YouTube video uploading by TotalBiscuit, a well-known gaming commentator and journalist, he calls the release of same day DLC, "The most brazen and most offensive" example of a developer taking advantage of gamers' desire to simply play the game and finish the story.
Whether or not the sales of the game will be affected isn’t known, though the hype surrounding Mass Effect 3 suggests that they won’t. Still, developers may have to watch their step in the future.