"We Didn't Know There Was Such A Huge Demand For It"
BioWare's decision to release a bulked-out ending for Mass Effect 3 as free Extended Cut DLC has gone down relatively well with the gaming audience, many of whom felt betrayed by the brusque original. Producer Mike Gamble has now spoken out to give us some tantalising clues about what to expect, namely "more than just a few cinematic scenes." Endings will be personalised depending on our choices throughout the campaign, which is exactly what we want.
However, BioWare's reason for not running with the extended cut ending at launch - which is apparently not a re-edit or retcon - is apparently because they didn't know that fans actually wanted any closure in the first place. Really.
Speaking at PAX East (helpfully chronicled by Penny Arcade), Gamble informed attendees about how the Extended Cut will cater Mass Effect 3's ending to players.
We want to give more closure about some of the questions you have, and in general we wanted to give the players a sense of personalization with the endings. Many people mentioned that some of the choices they made in the game are not necessarily reflected in the ending scenes. We’re definitely going to focus on things like that. We want to make sure that when you see the ending of Mass Effect, you now have the information and context to be satisfied.
It’s more than just a few cinematic scenes. We’re happy to be doing it.
Sounds good... but the reason for omitting the content in the first place is a little odd to say the least. Rather than making a statement about artistic integrity, Gamble suggets that BioWare hadn't received any feedback that suggested that players might feel unhappy about being short-changed by a disastrous, linear ending. So they didn't put the content in.
The dev team stands by what was released in the core product, and we're very proud of it. It was important though for us to listen to the community, and a lot of that feedback didn't come until the game came out. Once we were listening we decided to include the extended cut. It wasn't in the game because we didn't know there was such a huge demand for it, to be honest with you.
Not a huge demand for a good, conclusive ending? Do developers really need feedback from playtesters and the community in order to implement a half decent finale to their trilogy? If Gamble had just said that BioWare were making an artistic statement about the futility of the human condition, that would have been absolutely fine. Instead, they continue to flip-flop on this issue, and we're still not quite sure what to make of it.
Either way, we're glad that the Extended Cut is happening - and will be free when it releases this summer. With any luck this furore will soon be just a distant memory and we can get on with enjoying an otherwise fantastic game.