Confirmation Bias, Video Games, Art, and Interactivity

Mass Effect 3 was released two weeks ago today (Tuesday) and there have been a lot of little swirling dynamics when it comes to the game, consumer response, corporate response to the consumer response, and so on. (Now, I can’t talk about the game and some of the problems that folks have with it without touching on spoilers. I will try to make these spoilers be as broad and non-specific as possible but if you want to enter the game completely spoiler-free, you should definitely not go past the fold.)

I’ll share my experience first because I suspect that that is the best way to explain the emotions behind many of the dynamics. (I should also point out that I will touch on some points that the Founder of our Feast discussed at his Forbes site with far more pith.)

I bought Mass Effect (the first one) when it first came out and was immediately entranced by it. It took all of the stuff that I loved about previous Bioware games (such as Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire) and brought it to the XBox 360. Sure, it had more “shooty” stuff than KotOR or Jade Empire (both of which used the Odyssey Engine which worked more like a d20 system as opposed to the Unreal Engine 3 that ME used) but they made it work and it *FELT* like an updated version of Bioware. This is a game that had me create my own character and I played through as a good guy… then, after beating it, I yelled to Maribou how very good it was and then started a second character *WITHOUT GETTING UP TO PEE*. (This is the highest rating I can possibly give a game.)

Mass Effect 2 came out and I was there for launch. The first thing I did was import the face of my character and the game started with a bang (minor spoiler: they figured out one hell of a way to restart your character at level 1 in the sequel). While the game had dumbed some stuff down a bit (combat had been somewhat simplified, equipment had been massively simplified, and accessorizing had all but disappeared), they still had the heart of the original game and, when it came to conversations, they added an “interrupt” ability that changed things completely. If you had sufficient Paragon (good guy) or sufficient Renegade (bad guy) points, you could take a conversation an entirely different direction than the conversation trees would take you. (For example, during one scene where a squad mate is giving a speech about approaching enemy robots, you’re looking through a sniper sight at the robots in question… if you pushed the Renegade button at the right moment, you could interrupt his speech by getting a headshot on one of the robots). You were given new friends, new options, and, most importantly, the choices you made in Mass Effect 1 carried over. If a squad member or major storyline character died in Mass Effect 1, he or she (or it) was not available for conversation in Mass Effect 2. The game felt like a complete continuation of the first and it felt like the choices you made in the first game *MATTERED*.

Which brings us to Mass Effect 3.

I got Mass Effect 3 home and the first thing I did was import my character from Mass Effect 2. My transfer failed. I successfully transferred over the choices my character had made from the previous two games (who lived, who died, who smooched) but the face I had carefully constructed as I began Mass Effect 1 did not successfully get read by the interpreter. (I was one of the lucky ones. Many folks found that their save files were unreadable in their entirety.)

In the first 5 minutes of the game, I was told that my face import failed. This was my first impression with the Mass Effect 3 game. Quickly googling, I found that *MANY* folks had the exact same problem. At first, I thought that the problem was one of faces being made in 1, then imported to 2, then imported to 3 not working out. As a day or two passed, however, we found that, no, there were problems with the faces being imported from brand new faces made in Mass Effect 2. (One person in the aforementioned thread even said that s/he used the default shep and *HIS* face didn’t import correctly. I have not gone to the trouble to verify this but, hey, confirmation bias right?)

Some decided to go for a close-enough version of their character’s face and play through the game and (watch out, here’s where the minor spoilers begin) they were disappointed by the “best” ending.

Now, there are things that got added to Mass Effect 3 that were not in Mass Effect 1 or 2. The first was Multi-player. The second was Kinect support. These were things that the community didn’t particularly ask for but they found that more development time was spent on these things than on the ability to import the faces made in previous games… and, more than that, they found that Multi-player had an effect upon the ending of the game. On top of that, given that the so-called “best” ending of the game was disappointing, some players began to argue that some of the other endings were preferable to the one Bioware considered the “best” and the numbers were crunched and it was found that some of the other endings required multiplayer to reach them… which made one of the Bioware employees who posted a thread called something like “you don’t need to play multiplayer to get the perfect ending” to one called “A note about multiplayer in relation to the endings” in which he had to clarify by saying “changing post title, “perfect” ending may create confusion. This post indicates how military strength, war assets and galactic readiness affect the endings.”

Suffice to say, I had been swimming in a sea of the folks complaining about the game for the last two weeks and I figured that, well, maybe this is just a vocal minority of folks complaining. The hardcore fans who would complain if they felt that the uniforms were the wrong color, right? But there were a number of little things that were… well… off. Penny Arcade’s “PA Report” had an article titled, I kid you not, “Why the ending of Mass Effect 3 was satisfying, and worthy of the series (Massive spoilers)”. (This reads to me similarly to a title saying “Why you should have enjoyed that sandwich.”) I noticed this. There is a “Retake Mass Effect” group of folks that is donating money to Child’s Play in the name of changing the ending to Mass Effect 3. So far, it has raised $74,751. $74,751! On top of all that, I found this thread detailing various things that the developers were saying and how the promises that were made were not, in fact, kept. (Warning, that thread contains spoilers too.)

Today, I noticed this. Amazon is selling Mass Effect 3, new, for $37.97. A game that came out two weeks ago that was originally priced at $59.99. I also noticed that Amazon is accepting open box returns of Mass Effect 3 (seriously, this is *NOT* something that happens with video games). I also saw that Kotaku was talking about how the Microsoft store was selling Mass Effect 3 for $39.99.

At that point, I figured “well… maybe I should do some serious research of my own…” and so I went down to my local Entertainmart and my local Gamestop (the one with the cute counterperson who calls me “darlin'”) to ask what’s going on with returns and/or game sales and/or complaints. Well, I got a different story. Entertainmart is offering $40 for Mass Effect 3 and selling used copies for $49.99. When I asked if they’d had any complaints about the game, both of the folks I talked to said “oh, yeah… oh, yeah they all complained about… have you beaten it yet?” and I told them I hadn’t. They nodded and said that people were disappointed with the ending. The numbers they gave me were that 3 people had sold them their copies of the game so far (the people behind the counter were impressed by this number more than I was… they told me “but it came out only two weeks ago.” They see more trends than I do so take that for what it’s worth). By way of comparison, Gamestop was offering $25 for Mass Effect 3 ($27 with Gamercard) and only two people had traded their game in so far. When I asked about complaints, I was told that they had heard a *LOT* of complaints about the game’s ending but everyone loved the main part of the game (I was the first person that they had heard of having the issue of faces not importing successfully… which really, really ticked me off for some reason).

So, locally, there hasn’t been anything happening with a flood of used Mass Effect 3s hitting the market (Entertainmart’s people notwithstanding). But there is Amazon’s pricing. There’s the deal Kotaku mentioned. And, of course, there’s this. That’s a thread that quotes, at length, the opinions of a professional PR guy who deconstructs the various things that the various Bioware people are saying (and the various actions that Bioware is taking).

To begin to sum up, there are a lot of really interesting dynamics between the fans and Bioware/EA going on right now and how this stuff plays out will change such things as Dragon Age III (indeed, Dragon Age II (which had a lot of fan pushback as well) has just cancelled the DLC it was planning and the team assigned was pushed, presumably, to DAIII).

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Heck, I don’t even know what the endings are (apart from that they are, apparently, much less interactive and have precious little to do with what you’ve done in Mass Effect 1 or 2). I’m still waiting to be able to import my own danged face.

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91 thoughts on “Confirmation Bias, Video Games, Art, and Interactivity

  1. Great summation Jaybird.

    I was wondering myself about the massive price drop, which actually really bothers me on the one hand (though I can appreciate it in general), considering I should have just waited two weeks to start the game then.

    The central element of all this is probably how much BioWare went after the mainstream market with ME3 to the point of neglecting those who had been with the series from the beginning.  The crew on the most recent GiantBomb Podcast basically came to that conlusion.

    I wrote up my own thoughts at length about the day one DLC and ending from a consumer’s point of view here

    One of the most bothersome things added to the new game, via the multiplayer, is the whole concept of Galactic Readiness, and how it relates to what endings you get (as you note above).

    First off, I’m not sure how this works for people who don’t buy the game new, and thus don’t get access to the online stuff.  Second, I’ve been trying to beat the game for 4 days now, but I’ve only ever gotten an hour at a time to play.  I’m right on the cusp of having “enough” war assets to get the “good” ending.  So everytime I step away from the game, my Galactic Readiness falls a bit, and I have to play more multiplayer to get it back up so I can embark on the final mission.  Which I still have not been able to do, because by the time I get my GR back up, I don’t have time to keep playing.

    And the prospects of spending equal amounts of time combing the universe for the few left over assets I haven’t acquired, or inflicting upon myself the tedium of laborious fetch quests, aren’t very inviting.

    Which is to say that this is just one more irkesome thing that has helped me to sour on the game.  I actually really want to go back and replay the first one now, to recapture the wonder and awe that has been dissappointingly lacking in the present iteration.

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    • There are a non-zero amount of disappointing little miscalculations made by the company that I didn’t mention.

      Day 1 DLC caused a big issue out there when it was found that there were pieces of related data already on the disc (as in this stuff was originally part of the game, then removed, then sold to the customer). Now, Day 1 DLC doesn’t irritate me as much as it may irritate others (but I *DO* think that Dragon Age’s “Stone Prisoner” is the right way to do Day 1 DLC… give people who bought the game *NEW* the DLC for free via a one-use code and thus the people who buy the game used find themselves in a position where they should give the company money if they want the full gaming experience).

      The Stock Photo scandal (there’s a character in the game who gives you a picture of herself… and it’s a shopped stock photo rather than, say, something the game people created for the game itself).

      It’s too early in the morning for me to think of the others but there are others as well. EA/Bioware created a situation where they alienated a significant chunk of their most vocal fans. “Hell hath no wrath something something.”

       

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      • Your characterization of the Day One DLC is at best, hyperbole. It was part of the original game design, sure, but they cut it out substantially before they actually went gold, and the art assets were a placeholder. (They did the exact same thing with the DLC for ME2, and even in DA:O with the Stone Prisoner and Warden’s Keep stuff, so I dunno if that’s exactly a new thing.)

        On the other hand, the outrage has generated enough heat that Ray Muyzka has been forced to offer a public response:
        http://blog.bioware.com/2012/03/21/4108/

        From the sounds of it, they’re working on new content to address concerns in addition to whatever new stuff they’d had planned in the pipeline.

        I’m wondering if the announcement that DA2 Expansion’s team assets were pulled, plus the sudden interest in fan feedback for DA, seems to me there’s a lot of damage control going on…

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        • Part of the issue is how the Day One DLC was handled by corporate… It was argued that the DLC was part of the game, then yanked, then sold. Bioware argued that this wasn’t the case… then it came out that there was code involving this DLC in the game already… now, if the faces worked (and the endings weren’t, shall we say, “controversial”), would this have mattered?

          Not a whit. as it stands, it’s further evidence that EA puts more effort into nickle/diming their players than into, say, testing bugs that appear before the game even begins. Instead of being perfectly understandable that they had to put the code on the disc, it was evidence of priorities.

          (New copies of ME2 and Dragon Age both had codes that came with the game that gave $15 DLC for free. Or, I suppose, for “free”. This DLC did not bug me at all. I actually found myself positively disposed toward it. The Warden’s Keep thing was irritating, I understand, not because it was Day One DLC but because of the guy in your camp who was an ad for the DLC. Since everybody *LOVED* Dragon Age, the complaint was about the method of selling rather than the existence.)

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          • There’s a distinction between code/scripts and art assets. The stuff on the disk was art assets and voice overs. The actual scripting and coding for that content was done at a later date. Should also note that different teams handle different parts of the certification process and development process. This criticism that their QAing didn’t catch something and therefore it’s the fault of the DLC dev team is at best a complete misunderstanding of how the dev process works, at worst, a willful obfuscation to make an argument.

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            • This criticism that their QAing didn’t catch something and therefore it’s the fault of the DLC dev team is at best a complete misunderstanding of how the dev process works, at worst, a willful obfuscation to make an argument.

              See it as criticism of resource allocation priorities.

              Hey, the Kinect stuff works pretty cool though, right?

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              • As noted: The DLC dev team, traditionally would’ve been hauled off to some other project anyway. The post-release support/debugging team is staffed by different people. It’s like arguing the Broncos should’ve used their Kickers to help Tim Tebow by being extra receivers or something.

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                  • But it’s not JUST a Bioware thing, it’s an industry thing. Very few developers have the luxury of keeping a very large QA/patching team idling while they’re waiting for certification. (In fact I’d wager almost none do) It’s simply a matter of economics. You don’t make sales (or very many) off of patches. DLC or new projects do.

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                    • It’s a perception thing, Nob.

                      People who play console/PC games are generally on board with, “I will pay you to make me a game”.  If the game has been out for a while, and you continue to develop for it, the gamers will certainly pay you for new content.

                      When you release “new” content the same day you release the game, the gamers think, “Jesus, you’re turning into Zynga.  You just want to farm me for my money.”

                      If you don’t want your customers to think you’re farming them for their money, you need to be a little more aware of their perception of what you’re doing.  The actuality doesn’t matter.

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                    • The actuality doesn’t matter in addition because it doesn’t change the fact that the company spent time developing lesser content for the “core” game to be sold for a one time price, while spending other time/resources developing better content to be sold at a premium for additional money.

                      The Day One element is of course key, because it demonstrates that the company could have made that better content a part of the “core” flat $60 price, rather than a “bonus” for an extra $10.

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                    • So you would rather developers NOT make new content and just disband teams and reallocate resources after they’ve shipped a game to certification? Or should developers lose money by keeping idle a team that can be doing something else?

                      And it’s simply not true that gamers will pay for new content for existing games. Tracking the sale of expansion packs shows that they sell much more poorly than even a half-baked sequel.

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                    • So you would rather developers NOT make new content and just disband teams and reallocate resources after they’ve shipped a game to certification? Or should developers lose money by keeping idle a team that can be doing something else?

                      Er… no?

                      And it’s simply not true that gamers will pay for new content for existing games. Tracking the sale of expansion packs shows that they sell much more poorly than even a half-baked sequel.

                      Wait, now I’m confused.  If gamers won’t pay for new content for existing games, what’s the point of pay-for DLC?

                      I’ll note something in this discussion: like everything else media/entertainment related, the gaming industry is in the middle of a huge transitional upheaval.  What they should or shouldn’t do and/or what they can or cannot do and/or what the market will accept or not accept today, right now, is different from what it was 5 years ago and it is different from what it will be 5 years from now.

                      However, if I tell you, “Here’s $50 worth of entertainment” while simultaneously saying, “… and here’s a bonus $10 worth of entertainment!” your marketing message had better be SPOT ON or you’re going to be creating a PR nightmare.  I think anyone who is watching this as an interested observer would say this was a PR nightmare.

                      I’m not talking about logistics.  I’m talking about understanding the hive mind that is the gamer community.  If you want to sell things to these people – particularly entertainment, luxury goods! – you need to do a better job.

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                    • You may not make money from patches but you do lose money off non-patched games.  Twisted Metal 2012 has been hurt badly by a hilariously untested multiplayer that went on for weeks before they finally got a patch out that still hasn’t resolved a lot of issues.  This has hammered game sales so badly that David “I don’t believe in large Betas” Jaffe recently tweeted that the next patch will include Axel (a character model that they were initially going to sell) just as part of a plea to get people to stop returning the game.

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                    • The whole issue would be moot if the developers managed expectations.

                      This.

                      Granted, this is very difficult in today’s world and most IT people are really bad at it.  But this is the difference between makin’ money and goin’ broke, in the long run.

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                    • See it as a relationship, Nob. Bioware got a *LOT* of goodwill from making freaking awesome RPGs. They gave the players what they wanted and gave it to them good and hard.

                      Dragon Age II shook the relationship. The plot that wasn’t easy to summarize (compare to the plots of all previous games), the lack of choice when creating a character (compare to the ample choices available in previous games), and so on. Perhaps all could be summed up as matters of taste and many were willing to run with such things as the copy/pasted dungeons, beaches, and whatnot for the sake of a new and interesting attempt at storytelling.

                      When you have a lot of goodwill, you can do stuff like that.

                      When you do stuff like that too often, you may find yourself out of goodwill.

                      How EA/Bioware has handled this so far (see that PR guy’s take!) has burned more goodwill than it has generated.

                      And allow me to point out again: It’s been fifteen days since the most heavily anticipated release since Skyrim… and Amazon has it on sale. Microsoft has it on sale.

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                    • In fairness, Bioware has also been dealing with a fan community that said they want Bioware’s writers to be beaten, raped, and killed as well as other threats.  I think that, while Bioware has not handled their PR well, they have some justification in telling their “fans” to piss off.

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                    • That’s certainly true as well. I wanted to write about the problems of treating all of your customers like they’re homophobes when they’re complaining about your game but one of the front page articles (until recently, anyway) for Mass Effect 3 was that one post about how Bioware is abandoning the straight male gamer.

                      (Shudder.)

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                    • In fairness, Bioware has also been dealing with a fan community that said they want Bioware’s writers to be beaten, raped, and killed as well as other threats.

                      Having long been a gamer, and knowing lots of gamers, and having logged into a counterstrike server once or twice, I can say that this is pretty standard hyperbole in the gamer realm.

                      You cannot possibly program and play video games without having been indoctrinated into this culture to some degree.  I think it’s juvenile and stupid, but come on, you can’t possibly believe that this is based on anything resembling an actual threat of harm.  This isn’t like people threatening to kill or blow up abortion doctors or animal researchers, who have no reason to believe that these threats aren’t real.

                      I’d hazard a guess that they’ve gotten far more credible threats of violence from their coworkers, just from working together.

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                    • Mr. Jaybird has made the case rather better than I could.   As for why IT can’t manage expectations, I have my own theory on this problem.

                      Back when I was a callow youth and new to software development, I had no idea what I was doing.   In my ignorance, I simply asked my client how he did it manually and aped it to the letter, applying a few things I’d learned about matrices and set theory along the way.    It never occurred to me that in the larger world, management would attempt to define the deliverable without much input from the user.   The military had long since taught me that management didn’t want to hear about the day-to-day stuff beyond status reporting and exceptions.

                      It therefore came as a great surprise when I learned otherwise.   I kept on with my modus vivendi of involving one low-level user from the outset, creating in that user the Alpha User who would save me from having to explain what I’d done (and the compromises I’d made)  to the rest of the user community.   Over time, I’ve trained up at least 70 coders to my way of doing things, instilling in them the simple virtues of asking the users what makes sense to them, for they must live with the consequences.

                      The problem began when every unwashed college dropout wanted to emulate the success of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, neither of whom were particularly good coders and both of them were horrible managers.    Rather than view themselves as problem solvers, they degenerated into witch doctors, keeping the rubes in awe of them, as Gates and Jobs had done in their turn.

                      Management knew exactly how to turn them on their back shells like so many turtles.   They became as unrealistic in their expectations as the developers had been in their solutions.  It was the developers’ faults, for they had no practical experience as team players.   They didn’t know how businesses made money.    Most still don’t.   And they remain the prey of every dumb manager’s arbitrary decision, from resources to timelines to deliverable.

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                    • You cannot possibly program and play video games without having been indoctrinated into this culture to some degree.  I think it’s juvenile and stupid, but come on, you can’t possibly believe that this is based on anything resembling an actual threat of harm.

                      Actually, what happened with Jennifer Hepler has gone WAY beyond the pale.  Given that some of the people making the threats managed to dig up that she has kids and where they go to school, I can believe that these resemble actual threats.  Even if you ignored that, it’s a big leap from “your game sucks” to “I hope you get dragged into an alley, raped, and have your head beaten in” in terms of message board antics.

                      Hell, Capcom’s Cross Assault didn’t have that much vitrol and look at the backlash on that one.

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                    • Actually, what happened with Jennifer Hepler has gone WAY beyond the pale.

                      I’m unaware of the specifics, but what you allude to here would way creep me out if I was her, and yeah, it’s totally out of line.

                      Posting people’s personal information online is now, unfortunately, par for the course for anybody that pisses anybody off.  For $12 or less I can find out a lot about anybody, really; for free if I just want to spend some time.

                      These are our times.

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                    • Jaybird, in terms of the good will…

                      I’m perhaps more defensive of Bioware than I should be. They supported my favorite game for a decade, going so far as to convince Hasbro to allow them to try paid DLC, hosting forums long past the time the publisher gave them money, and keeping flags in the final patch’s executable to make it easier for us modders to keep working.

                      As for expectations and the like, I’m still of the opinion the game industry is terrible with project management and design. I even made a guest post about it!

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                    • I have a great deal of affection for Bioware myself, Nob. I can’t *WAIT* to play Mass Effect 3!

                      My problem is that it was unplayable out of the box and that’s unacceptable. They’ve earned enough good will on my part to have me *NOT* take my game back and demand a refund for misleading advertising (“it says here you can import your face and your choices from previous games!!!”)… but they don’t have enough good will on my part to have me not yell about it.

                      They burned that up with DA2.

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          • To rephrase: it may very easily be true that the Day One DLC was not part of the original game but needed to developed in tandem. More likely true than not!

            Given the other missteps by the company, this *FELT* like being lied to when the code in the game was found.

            The fact that the fanbase (or most vocal parts of the fanbase) immediately felt lied to rather than understanding is an indicator of a deeper problem. Remember: these are the people who bought the game on Day 1 and *BOUGHT* the Day 1 DLC… to find these other problems waiting for them.

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            • Actually, it’s most likely false but DLC is an industry focus right now.  Frankly, the time to stand up against DLC was 6-7 years ago so it does no good to cry about it now.

              A lot of these debates make me wish that Gone Gold was still around.

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              • I will make a prediction.

                My prediction is that big market game releases that try to go to DLC for continuing revenue are going to explode their own face off.

                WoW made “pay a subscription to play my game” acceptable.  And it somewhat works, although it drove gamers like me (who can’t spend N hours a month, every month, playing the game and thus will never feel like they get their $X worth) out of their market.

                “Pay to buy my game, and then pay me again to buy these modules that make my game better” is not going to fly in big market games.

                It works for Angry Birds, because the modules are cheap and the entertainment is cheap and the form factor encourages people to accept both.  It works for Facebook “games”, such as they are, because the expectations are nil, really, and the investment to get in the door is nothing.

                Pay me half your entertainment budget for the month to get your foot in the door and then I’ll nickle you for additional content is a dead-end strategy.

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                • Honestly, I think you overestimate the market.  This is a market with a large segment that defends the industry notion that “buying used=piracy”  This is a market that will belittle people who can’t/won’t buy the DLC no matter how insultingly it is presented (Looking at you, ID).

                  We went from “We won’t pay for any DLC” to “Well, DLC is okay as long as it’s trivial” to “Well, as long as it isn’t really needed and it isn’t Day One DLC, story-heavy DLC is okay” to “Day One DLC is vital for the company to continue making these games and thwarting pirates”.  All of that has changed since the current gen came out.  I have no doubt that the progression will continue.  While gamers will yell every so often and maybe a few will quit, gamers (as a whole) are as likely to stop buying DLC as a heroin addict is going to tell off their dealer and actually quit by themselves.

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      • Having played 99% of the game, I can say that there is a lot in it that is less important than getting an extra squad member, who happens to be a Prothean, has a unique mission, and some of the best written lines in the game.

        My feeling is that they needed a piece of compelling day one dlc that people wanted.  In order to do it, they necessarily had to take/make something that would have been right at home on the original disc, as part of the “core” experience.

        It’s extremely dissappointing.  But that’s EA for you.

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  2. Another dynamic that came up is the sheer amount of overwhelmingly positive reviews… and none of these reviews mentioned such problems as the face importation problem.

    The biggest problem that folks have with the game are *NOT* the (universally acclaimed!) “things between the face importation and the ending”. The *ONLY* things that I have heard complaints about, with regards to the gameplay itself, are:

    1) Face Importation not working (and thus making the game psychically unplayable for a sizable chunk of the player base)

    2) The ending is supremely unsatisfying (and multiplayer-related complaints with that problem)

    If the vast majority of reviewers had not played 1 then 2 then 3 (or 2 then 3) then they wouldn’t have experienced the first. If the vast majority of reviewers had “only” gotten 40 hours into the game before reviewing it, they wouldn’t have experienced the second.

    There is a lot of bruised trust out there.

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  3. It’s actually kind of depressing to go back to the initial stirrings of the DLC concept, and see this wonderful “a-la-carte gaming” experience described.  Something like, say, Skyrim would cost $10 for the basic game, and there would be hardly any content; you could buy these little $1 or $2 DLC packs that would give your guy a bunch of new outfits, or some different weapons, or add a new area (town or dungeon or forest or something) with some adventures in it.  You would build your game like you were buying Lego blocks, getting only the ones you wanted (or looked interesting). 

    As it turned out, “DLC” was the new word for “expansion pack”.

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    • I totally agree.

      This is what I hate about online passes.  They took a part of the orginal product and put it behind a “buy it new” paywall (for understandable business reasons of course).

      People defend online passes by saying that X part of a game is what you get for buying it new, and by purchasing a product used, your really just agreeing to get a discount in exchange for having access to less content.

      Which I would totally love if you actually had that option, rather than it being forced on the publisher’s terms.

      I’d much rather pay 30$ for the main throughline of ME3, than pay the full $60 for a product that has a bunch of content I don’t want at all, much less the extra $10 for content that I do want, but can only be accessed by making the full initial investment (for instance, I would love to pay $30 for the extremely core experience of ME3, and then gladly pay another $10 for additional content I deem to be of exceptional quality).

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    • I don’t mind DLC as expansion pack. I *LIKED* expansion packs (I bought each expansion pack Heroes of Might and Magic put out).

      I don’t mind DLC as “squeezing cash from the used market”. That makes sense to me.

      Hell, I don’t even mind DLC as a way to “cheat” in multiplayer (get a five star linebacker for two bucks! get a five star machine gun for two bucks!).

      I mind DLC being used as a way to turn a 90% game into a 100% game.

      What’s the difference between that and an expansion pack? I’d point to the 360 Fallouts, actually.

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  4. I recently made a post on a Gamespot news article (The subsequent responses made me remember why I don’t normally do that.) about Dragon Age 2’s DLC being cancelled which I’ll share here.  It was about what I think Bioware should do at this point.

    ——————————————————-

    It might be best to just focus on SWTOR for a while. I’m not an MMO fan myself but people keep saying that it might be actually be the WOW killer that people have been saying (instead of the usual thing where the whole thing fizzles after a year).

    It would seem to me that it would be best to build SWTOR up and let the Dragon Age franchise rest for a while. This would allow:

    1) Bioware to really take a look at what did and didn’t work.
    2) allow the hate to fade out some (Seriously. Looking at the comments below, you’d think that Bioware made Cy Girls.)
    3) Get people eager for a new game instead of the half-threatening mood that is running through the fanbase now. Right now, people are acting like they were personally betrayed by Dragon Age 2. However, if they let the franchise lie fallow for a few years, people will start begging for a new Dragon Age.

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have it come out on the next consoles.

    ——————————————–

    The third point holds especially true in the light of games like Serious Sam BFE and Twisted Metal (2012).  If those two had been released in a timely manner, the fans would have shredded those games.  But fans have waited so long that they’re willing to forgive poor level design and broken multiplayer.  I myself am going to get Twisted Metal once it hits the $20-30 mark solely because I feel that I ought to.

    And this is what would happen with Dragon Age (as well as any game that revisited the Mass Effect universe if they choose to do so).  By focusing on SWTOR for a few years, not only can Bioware create themselves a cash cow, they will be able to manipulate their fanbase into begging them to come back with another Dragon Age game.  Right now, the attitude on Bioware’s forums as well as the forums of other sites can be described as threatening and that’s on a good day.

     

    At least, one company has benefitted from all this.  Capcom was taking a rising amount of heat for having TWELVE characters as on-disc DLC but all of the negative sentiment about that seems to have been washed away by the Mass Effect outcry.  If I were the head of Capcom, I would send Bioware a “thank you” bouquet.

     

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    • Have you looked at Mark Darrah’s recent threads in the Dragon Age forums? He seems to be taking community feedback very seriously.

      As for “focusing on TOR” it would make no sense for Bioware, unless they fired everyone in Edmonton, since they’re done by completely different studios.

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      • Whether he is taking it seriously or not is besides the question.    When I made the original post, I decided to go and see how Bioware’s forums are and if they were any less hateful than Gamespot’s comments.

        Nope.

        All I’m saying is that Bioware could profit in a number of ways by just stepping away from Dragon Age for a little while and focusing on SWTOR. 

        Blizzard also had two studios when WoW was first released.  Didn’t hurt them any.  (Admittedly, they closed down Blizzard North a year after WoW came out.)  In fact, for a company in Bioware’s position, Blizzard would be a good company to emulate.

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        • There are some non-sewery threads at Bioware (the ones I posted links to all seemed to be full of genuinely frustrated folks trying to be constructive rather than trying to best describe exactly how they wish to widen the orifices of others).

          One of the cute things they’re doing is having the folks pushing for a change of the ending making “Hold the line” their sign-off for their posts.

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    • I think it’s a throwback to the days when people felt like they owned a program because they bought it, rather than merely purchasing a license to use the program (and additional features require additional licenses, please check the box and click next, next, next, confirm defaults, install).

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      • Free market, baby. The only difference between video game companies and any other corporation is they have the ability to do this thanks to the product they’re selling. If you don’t think Chrysler, Home Depot, or whomever wouldn’t do the same thing if they could get away with it is simply being naive.

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        • Well, part of what we’re now discovering with Mass Effect 3 is that corporations are beginning to discover that there are very, *VERY* specific circumstances under which they can get away with this.

          If those circumstances are not met?

          Well… we’re watching this in real time.

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          • The average person who bought Mass Effect has no idea that the Internet is mad about the ending of Mass Effect. I hate to the be the cynic here, but in a year and a half, when Mass Effect : The Story of Shepard Junior is announced for the XBox 720 and PS4, most of the same people complaining about the ending now will be preordering it from Amazon, it’ll get a 90 on Metacritic, and move the same amount of copies Mass Effect 3 did. Oh, and you won’t be able to buy a used copy without buying a $10 “online pass.”

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            • Perhaps you are absolutely right, Jess.

              If that were the case, though, I’d wonder why Bioware leadership was publicly apologizing. I’d wonder why Amazon and Microsoft are selling the game a short two weeks after launch for $20 off.

              These are not the moves that I would make if I were a confident capitalist secure in the knowledge that the sheeple would swallow whatever shit sandwiches I shoveled their way.

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                • The new ending DLC is not something that can just be thrown together.

                  I’m pretty sure that if they eff that theoretical DLC up, it’d be worse than if they continued running with the “what, you want Shep to ride a rainbow-shitting unicorn?” defense they ran with for a couple of days.

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              • On the Amazon/Microsoft deal, they regularly sell new games near launch for $40 near launch. Go look through the threads on CheapAssGamer. The only thing this doesn’t apply to is Call of Duty and Battlefield and that’s about it. So, I don’t really think that’s a sign of anything than people having heightened awareness of it.

                As for the apologizing, first of all, it wasn’t that much of an apology, and this is Crisis Management 101. You make your hardcore happy so they can’t infect the casual crowd. If Bioware had just let this fester (like they did kind of with DA:O), there might be some repercussions. But, make an apology, come out with some DLC, maybe even make it “free” as a goodwill gesture, and six months from now, many people have forgotten all about it or become a punchline, like horse armor. :)

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  5. I finished ME3 on the PC and my Face import didn’t work.  I had a blast playing the game. Yes the ending is problematic, however it accomplished one important thing; everyone is still talking about it.

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        • I will rot13 what I know about it. It’s not much but it’s something.

          Sebz jung V haqrefgnaq, lbh qvr, n jubyr ybg bs sbyxf qvr, naq lbh’er tvira n pubvpr gb pbzzvg trabpvqr ntnvafg gur Erncref gur jnl gung gurl jrer tbvat gb trabpvqr gur tnynkl… naq GUR PLPYR PBAGVAHRF NALJNL.

          Ohg gung’f whfg jung V’ir cvpxrq hc sebz gelvat gb nibvq fcbvyref. V unir ab vqrn ubj pybfr V tbg.

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            • Sadly, from what I understand, this ending (as well as the other possible endings) are all achievable so long as you don’t half-ass the game… making the decisions you made during the game feel less essential.

              I think that that was a big disappointment too.

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                • For the record: do you think a single person complained about the ending to Dragon Age: Origins?

                  What I heard was how *AWESOME* and *EPIC* the ending to Dragon Age: Origins was. I was one of the people singing the praises of the ending.

                  They aren’t doing this here, are they? They’re instead donating money to Child’s Play.

                  Now I don’t *KNOW* what the ending was… but I do know that if the ending was as *AWESOME* and *EPIC* as Dragon Age: Origins, we’d have people talking about Mass Effect 3 the way they talked about Dragon Age: Origins.

                  They ain’t.

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  6. Finished the game last night. 

    I’ll note for people yet to have done so, don’t worry about war assets, etc.  It doesn’t really matter, and I’m kicking myself for having wasted so much time with my Galactic Readiness bullsheet.

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    • That’s the biggest problem I’m having with the ending.

      I’ll talk about Dragon Age: Origins instead.

      In Dragon Age: Origins, one of the things you do is gain allies. Human Soldiers, Dwarves, Mages, Templars, Elves, Werewolves. All kinds of stuff. In the final battle, you can call your allies to help fight the hordes (and, seriously, they have an impact on the battle).

      Dragon Age: Origins was awesome.

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  7. By Chris Priestly:

    Edit: Update March 21

    Ok, I have what I hope is some good news.

    We have fixed the issue of faces not correctly importing into Mass Effect 3. It will be included as part of the next Mass Effect 3 patch.

    The not completely good news is that I do not yet have a confirmed date for when the patch will be available. A new patch gets heavily tested by BioWare, EA, Microsoft and Sony before it can be released to the public. We all want to be sure that it fixes the issues it is supposed to fix and doesn’t start any new issues (this is called testing or certification testing ). If a patch fails during testing, it is sent back, fixed again and retested until it passes. Then it is released to gamers. Until we know that the patch has passed certification testing, I don’t want to give even a rough idea of the date, to prevent disappointment should it need further testing.

    So I’m sorry I don’t have the full answer you all want and are waiting for yet. When I can give you the date when the patch will be available I will.

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    • Good news indeed.

      I’m hoping that the estimated date for the patch release comes out Monday.

      One of the wacky things is that the community would react much better to “the last 3 times we did something like this, it took 2 weeks to go through QA, then another week to hammer out the paperwork, making it likely to be 3 weeks (THIS INFORMATION IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE)” followed by “we found a showstopper of a bug, we’re back to the drawing board” followed by two days later “we fixed the bug” followed by the “3 weeks announcement” followed by “okay, it’s official, the patch will be going live on Wednesday the Nth at some point in the afternoon”…

      Than the community would react to a month of silence followed by “okay, it’s official, the patch will be going live on Wednesday the Nth at some point in the afternoon.”

      I suppose that that’s not the wacky part. The wacky part is that it’s much more likely that EA/Bioware will do the latter than the former.

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