Struck by fan backlash over Mass Effect 3′s controversial ending, Electronic Arts’ BioWare division said today it will provide free downloadable content with additional ending cinematics for the blockbuster video game.
BioWare is weathering a huge protest from fans who felt betrayed by the ending of the game as well as its policy of offering day one paid DLC that many gamers felt should have been included in the game for free. That furor over the ending has been unprecedented and may have even played a role in EA being voted the “worst company in America” in a survey by the Consumerist.
The new free DLC will be called Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, and it will have new cinematics and epilogue cutscenes that clarify the ending of the trilogy, which has become a fan favorite since the first game debuted in 2006.
Ray Muzyka, co-founder of BioWare, said, “We are all incredibly proud of Mass Effect 3 and the work done by (executive producer) 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.”
Hudson said in a statement, “We have reprioritized our post-launch development efforts to provide the fans who want more closure with even more context and clarity to the ending of the game, in a way that will feel more personalized for each player.”
Muzyka said last month in a blog post, “I personally believe Mass Effect 3 is the best work we’ve yet created. So, it’s incredibly painful to receive feedback from our core fans that the game’s endings were not up to their expectations. Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility.”
BioWare said that the extended scenes will provide additional context and deeper insight to the conclusion of Commander Shepard’s journey. But the new DLC will not create a new ending or choice of endings for the game, as “BioWare strongly believes in the team’s artistic vision for the end of this arc of the Mass Effect franchise.” The goal is to provide “clarity and closure” for the existing ending. It will arrive sometime this summer as DLC.
That probably means that previously planned DLC will come at a later date since the studio now has to address fan anger.