Aw, Mass Effect 3 Is Delayed Until 2012

By Jim Rossignol on May 5th, 2011 at 8:16 am.


It seems the return of the space-man (or woman) will be delayed until the first quarter of 2012, which is probably a good thing as I didn’t have any plans for that quarter anyway. The news came via Facebook, for some reason. Don’t these games companies have websites of their own? Ah yes, the Bioware forums have a similar message, but no reasons or other details. Mm.

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75 Comments »

  1. MrMud says:

    When asked about the delay, EA boss John Riccitiello said, “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.”

    This has me afraid, very afraid.

    • wazups2x says:

      RIP RPGs.

    • Space_Masters says:

      Should call it Mass Appeal.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      [Bitter rant removed]

      Lets just say I’m not a fan of the direction Bioware has moved since BG2 and leave it at that.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Where is that quote from? Sources plz!

    • Orija says:

      *Insert CDProjekt becoming the new Bioware* comment here, please.

    • kibayasu says:

      http://www.joystiq.com/2011/05/04/mass-effect-3-delayed-to-adjust-mechanics-for-larger-market-opp/

      That’s the best I can find, though they don’t give a direct source either. I suppose they could be the source.

    • MrMud says:

      yea i took it from joystiq as well

    • Baka says:

      Didn’t DA2 sell less then DA1, proving that all that “We want CoD’s playerbase” mass appealing is rather detrimental?

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      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Didn’t ME2 sell more than ME1 though? So long as the conversation is intact, I can only see more time being put into better shooty shooty pew pew action (and as good as ME2 is, it really needs it) as a win.

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      heretic says:

      @Man Raised by Puffins

      Totally agree, the shooting in the MEs is not really what made me play them but rather the pretty good character interactions I thought. I especially enjoyed hub missions (like on that planet in ME2 in which Liara appears), where there isn’t that much shooting but more exploring and talking to people.

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      lurkalisk says:

      While I don’t know much about Bioware’s true motives, I do know that the farther away from ME1 they move, the worse the series gets. It’s already nearly unbearable that people actually think ME2 to be a RPG… I fear for the third.

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      heretic says:

      ME was never an RPG in the more traditional sense like say Baldur’s Gate is an RPG. The only thing that really matters is whether you enjoyed ME1 or ME2, if you didn’t, you won’t enjoy ME3. As mentioned they are trying to reach a broader audience, if this means making MEs shitty shooting into something more engaging while keeping the good conversation/character development points, then it’s only good for the franchise.

      Don’t fear for the third, you know it won’t be what you want.

    • Noxdomimi says:

      So not even 2 pistols to choose between and only 3 powers? I agree that ME1 did sometimes have horrible systems in it. But I like having fine line RPG choices and a shooter element in there is nice, I need my sci fi RPG loving and this is as close as we get these days! Dissapointed.

    • DaFishes says:

      Color me unsurprised, since for months now their marketing dept has been pushing the “MASS EFFECT IS A SHOOTER GAME! FOR MEN!” line on every possible front.

    • Commisar says:

      OH MY GOD, STOP THE PRESSES, this just in BIOWARE ISN’T MAKING ME# BALDURS GATE 2 IN SPACE , HOW DO THEY EXPECT PEOPLE WHOSE TASTE IN GAMES STOPPED CHANGING 11 YEARS AGO TO LIKE ME3?!?!?!?!

    • Nick says:

      troll off, child.

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    abhishek says:

    This was expected, and it’s not the last game that will get delayed to Q1 2012 either. Everyone talks about a holiday release but few have the cajones to go up against the big sellers (okay, mostly Call of Duty).

    • dethtoll says:

      Yeah, but is there even a Call of Duty game being made this year?

    • kibayasu says:

      You’re funny.

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      abhishek says:

      Hasn’t been announced yet, surprisingly, but good money says that there will be. There are other big hitters in the September – November period too… Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Batman, Skyrim, Assassins Creed so it’s not just a matter of having to compete with Call of Duty for sales.

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      heretic says:

      Will the market not just saturate itself at some point? I’ve heard (not seen) that the games industry has been growing and growing for years but surely there must be a point where gamers just can’t buy all these new games coming out?

    • wristcontrol says:

      Don’t forget Battlefield. I doubt a CoD title developed by the skeleton of what was once a AAA studio can rival the third big hitter from DICE.

  3. Lobotomist says:

    “and essentially address a far larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 did and Mass Effect 2 began to approach”

    That does it for me.
    They can delay it to 2020 for all I care.

    RIP
    BIOWARE

    • KingMudkip says:

      You have no faith.

    • Commisar says:

      I know, its not like Bioware has even made a decent game since Baldur’s Gate 2 came out /sarcasm

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    sonofsanta says:

    Oh man that Riccitello quote is bad news :(

    Booo hiss etc. on all fronts, I fear.

    • kibayasu says:

      If you can tell me what that quote actually means, it might be some form of bad news.

      There’s two basic gameplay mechanics in Mass Effect: shooting and talking. There really isn’t much to be changed in that area. The combat could certainly stand to have smoother movement and BioWare has already stated that there will be expanded weapon modification and class upgrade paths. The only thing they could do to the talking would be to add in some of the things that Dragon Age 2 did, with some dynamic options depending on who you have in the party or displaying the emotion the dialogue option will carry behind it.

      Quite frankly, I think EA Guy there simply meant “polish,” which is the excuse everyone uses, but just decided to dress it up a bit.

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      sonofsanta says:

      @kibayasu: My main fear is that this desire to appeal to the wider market (which is fair enough in a commercial company, anyway) is going to be all those fears from the ME2 stats come true – the datamining they did that showed 80% of people played a soldier etc. and that the streamlining will be a streamlining of choice rather than just a streamlining of mechanics, which worked well after all.

      Well, apart from the heatsinks thing. Didn’t like that.

      And if I might be allowed to indulge in some classic Internet Man Over-Analysis, the phrasing of “adjusting some of the gameplay mechanics” sounds to me like “they were making what they wanted to, but now we want bigger numbers, so they’re being made to change the way the game plays to suit the market”. And pandering to what you think people want always seems a bad idea, not just in game design.

    • kibayasu says:

      I think this is a legitimate concern for the future for other franchises like Dragon Age. But to change Mass Effect in such a way during the climax of the main trilogy would be folly, especially after they did all the work changing it for ME2.

      I also don’t see how they could streamline the “choice” in Mass Effect any more than they already do. It has always been an incredibly simple thing. You’re either a Paragon or a Renegade. And since its the end of the trilogy, BioWare doesn’t even have to worry about how those simple choices will affect the next game.

  5. Optimaximal says:

    I bet it’s really just Bioware taking an inwards glance after the less-than-stellar reception Dragon Age 2 has received. They’ve basically admitted it was rushed & starved of resources because of the focus on TOR and (a little bit of) Mass Effect 2, and it apparently showed in the game (don’t personally know – it’s on my shelf until I actually get around to DA:O).

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Right, and with The Witcher and Skyrim both dropping in the meantime, ME3 is going to have to look strong to not do a DA2.

    • Raye says:

      This was my main thought, too. Dragon Age 2′s main problem, when you really boil it down, was that EA was so anxious to capitalize on a popular franchise, and do so quickly, that Bioware simply didn’t have enough time/resources to make the game correctly. It led to a lot of cut corners such as re-used dungeons etc. If they’ve learned their lesson after the Dragon Age 2 fiasco, and are now giving Bioware proper time to get out a polished product, that’s a good thing.

      Though I will say the comments about appealing to a wider audience have me a bit worried. I am all for games that straddle genres, some of my favourite game series have been hybrids of one sort or another. But I do think a *series* should stay true to it’s roots. If a series started out an RPG, it should stay an RPG, at the very least. By all means, evolve with the times, but there are certain limits. But I’ll wait and see. I saw a lot of griping about ME2, and I ended up enjoying it a fair bit.

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    Mass Effect is already a Guns ‘N’ Conversation game, rather than what the Internets would call an RPG, and I’m fine with that. Bioware was always going to evolve, and it just happened to be away from traditional conceits.

    If that means the stats and party-based RPG is neglected by them then other companies are going to have to step up. There’s clearly an audience for that stuff, but it’s not big enough for EA/Bioware to want to address it.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah, all the “RIP Bioware!” abloo blooing is getting a mite old at this point.

      So Mass Effect isn’t an RPG. Who cares? It was a good game, Mass Effect 2 was a much better game, and more at home with its mechanics and structure. It was still heavily focussed on story and characters, as Bioware always tries to do, and I don’t see that changing for ME3.

      I’d feel more bitter about this if I didn’t feel ME2 wasn’t one of the best games of last year.

      I would disagree that the alternative direction isn’t necessarily big enough for EA / Bioware to focus on. I don’t imagine that games like Skyrim are going to do any less than excellent sales numbers. But I do believe that making it more of an action game is what suits Mass Effect more than trying to make it more of an RPG.

    • Flint says:

      This is true, and I’m not personally bothered if ME3 won’t have hardcore RPG elements – the first two parts didn’t have them either and I love both games immensely. But at the same time, this quote gives the impression that they want to streamline things even further to suit an even bigger audience. Given how apparently the streamlining of ME2 didn’t seem to be enough (based on that quote) and how Bioware originally said they’re going to bring back some elements from the first one, those words seem a bit… iffy.

      Who knows, might be just a really bad choice of words.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I think it might be something to do with the fact that Bioware are half the reason that audience even existed beyond 1998.

      But I agree that it’s too early to prejudge based on an offhand quote. What was the guy to tell his shareholders, that the game was being purposefully made more niche?

    • Lilliput King says:

      I agree with these sentiments. Bioware pulled away from RPGs almost 8 years ago. Many of the intervening games have been good regardless. Let ‘em make their hybrids.

      Still, I hope the delay is just to make the shooting a bit punchier. I do like a punchy manshoot.

    • trooperdx3117 says:

      I dont know if you can really say that bioware dont see a big enough audience for traditional rpgs, as far as I know Dragon age origins is their most successful game and that was a pretty traditional rpg, I think it can be said as well that the reason DA2 sold so many copies so quickly was because of the large Origins fanbase

    • thegooseking says:

      The initial point of putting RPGs on a computer, according to Don Daglow (who should know a thing or two about the initial reasons for putting RPGs on a computer) is that the computer can do all the most boring bits of D&D – the number-crunching – for you.

      Now, some people want to play D&D with the computer doing the boring bits for them, and some people think, “Well, if the computer’s doing the boring bits for me anyway, why not hide it completely and put the player focus on other things computers can do with games?”

      What some people don’t seem to understand is that both attitudes are fine. Complaining about Mass Effect for not being the former is, however, not fine. I can understand people’s disappointment. The lineage of Mass Effect is directly traceable from Baldur’s Gate through NWN and KotOR, all of which tend to satisfy the more traditional idea of RPGs. But that doesn’t mean Mass Effect has to be.

      BioWare have made their name through more traditional RPGs, but what does that mean? Prior to creating Grand Theft Auto, DMA had made their name through Lemmings. Did people complain about GTA because it wasn’t Lemmings? No, because it clearly wasn’t meant to be.

    • mouton says:

      I don’t -really- care whether a game is a “true RPG” or not. But dumbing down in itself can also badly affect the plot, as was evidenced in ME2. It was a good game, but the glaring plot holes, inconsistencies and general “whatever-lets-just-do-hollywood” attitude was pretty depressing. This was much more off-putting than the presence of RPG elements or lack thereof.

    • subedii says:

      I don’t know about you, but I felt the characters were a lot better in ME2. The storyline overall was largely formatted around that and the finale, with Shepard flying around the galaxy to get his Seven Samurai.

      This was all leading up to the ending set-piece mission, and I have little qualm in saying it was one of the best ending sequences I’ve seen in a game, certainly in recent memory. Your choices throughout most of the storyline were obvious if you wanted certain effects by the end, but even then you never knew how it was all going to turn out, and it all created a sense of involvement towards the proceedings. Everything had been leading up to that event, and your choices previously, and at that moment, mattered.

      It wasn’t a complex overall storyline, but TBH I didn’t feel ME1′s was all that complex either. The story here was far more character based, and it really did work well for the style of game that Bioware created.

      More importantly, a lot of those choices made in ME1 and 2 would appear to be heading towards the finale in ME3. Which can only be a good thing. Granted a lot of it will probably be just acknowledgement e-mails or the occasional conversation, but I suspect they’re going to have cumulative effects as well (in a similar vein to how things like character back-stories and ship upgradfes had a cumulative effect on the end of ME2)

      So yeah, I didn’t really feel that ME2 was “dumbed down”. The storyline focus was just shifted more towards the characters, which I felt worked fairly well. Personal opinion is that it’s unlikely that ME3 is going to be able to focus on characters in the same way, and that galactic scale events are going to come back to the fore for the finale. I imagine that the way that Shepard shaped the course of events with the Krogan, Rachnii, Quarians and Geth races (as well as the council and Cerberus) will likely have an effect on how things play out in ME3.

    • Grygus says:

      I don’t think the hand-wringing comes from the mere fact that BioWare isn’t making RPGs per se; the problem is that they have been the major source for the genre for over a decade. Yes, sure they made Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II, as well as KotOR, Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights, and Dragon Age: Origins, but Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, KotOR II, NWN 2, and The Witcher were all made using BioWare engines. If you like AAA-quality, fairly hardcore RPG games, having this company drift away from the genre doesn’t mean losing one developer, it means losing the lion’s share of the entire genre. Most of the industry left a long time ago; Diablo is as close as most developers want to get to an RPG.

      In addition, since Bethesda has been doing the exact same thing with the Elder Scrolls series (more action, less RPG,) it looks more like an industry direction than just one developer’s changing tastes. It’s legitimately distressing.

    • Nick says:

      There is a fairly big audience for it, but no one is stepping up and Bioware are moving out of that audience into one that is already full to brimming. I can’t see how they will do better with all the extra competition and no real experience in making games that stand out in that crowd. We’ll have maybe Obsidian do a trad RPG, possibly, but thats largely it. It’ll just be fairly bad germanic efforts and The Witcher series. With the occasional decent Indie RPG every 6 or 7 years.

      Its like the space combat genre all over again. All but dead now (and don’t tell me a handful of average elite clones is the same as having Lucasarts and Origin at their finest).

    • Raye says:

      While I do agree that the label applied to it is not terribly important as long as the game is fun, which both ME1 and 2 were, imo. and I will agree they were already a shooter/RPG hybrid. I do think, as I mentioned before, that a series should remain true to it’s roots. I’m not saying they should just go back to ME1, I think some of the things they stripped away actually did make for a more fun experience in 2, since things like party micromanagement seemed out of place in the series, somehow. I think, though, that ME2 was about as far in the ‘shooter’ direction that I’d like to see the series go. I mean, I love some story based shooters, Bioshock and Half-Life are both excellent and I love them. BUT, that’s not exactly what I’m looking for in a game with ‘Mass Effect’ in the title. Though if they are keeping all the RPG-ish stuff (character classes, leveling up your character, the dialogues you can have with assorted NPC’s etc.) the same and just putting a bit more polish on the shooter aspects, that’s cool. But I wont deny I am still a bit worried.

  7. adonf says:

    Good, this might give me a chance to finish ME1 and play ME2 before it comes out.

  8. Icarus says:

    What a shGoddamnit I was looking forward to this.

  9. skyturnedred says:

    Apparently DICE is helping them in making the game more shooty:

    “DICE (developers of Battlefield: Bad Company 2) is assisting BioWare with Mass Effect 3′s weapons, the sounds they make, how they alter the environment into which they are fired, the details of how the projectiles fly through space and the distance the projectiles travel. In short… they’re helping to make the guns fire good, straight and loud.”

    http://www.trueachievements.com/n3592/dice-helping-bioware-with-mass-effect-3.htm

  10. Mashakosha says:

    Don’t really care if you’re tired of it at this point, but boo hiss. I’m one of those people who DIDN’T like ME2 anywhere near as much as I enjoyed ME1. And the first thing I really saw of ME1 was the last five minutes.
    In short, if they’re venturing farther away from ME1, I’m probably not going to buy it. Simple as that. Delay all you like BioWare, my nose is turned firmly towards the sky(rim)

    • kibayasu says:

      The further BioWare gets from ME1′s mostly horrible RPG elements, the better.

    • Gvaz says:

      The further it gets away from ME1′s elements and story (i don’t mind and rather like the combat change) the less interested I am. I want an RPG first and shooter second, not the other way around.

  11. Spider Jerusalem says:

    lol

  12. Stitched says:

    @Jim Rossignol – That quote was from a EA Conference call, with the lead Executives of EA. I read the same quote on Gamasutra Here

    “Where is that quote from? Sources plz!”

  13. Rii says:

    Would BioWare be concerned about ME3 clashing with TOR? If so, that’d suggest they’re narrowing in on a Q4 2011 release for the latter. But I’m not sure they would be concerned, what with TOR being a PC thing and Mass Effect’s bread-and-butter lying elsewhere.

  14. ananachaphobiac says:

    This isn’t a response to the trouserless protest yesterday is it?

    • Heliocentric says:

      They are adding in the option for pantsless shepherd. Complete with dialogue.
      Council member: “We read your report on the reapers bio wep-
      Turian council (interrupting): This lack of pants is a clear insult to the council.
      Assari council member: Dress and embelishments are left to each species judgement, remember that councilar.
      Responses:
      Paragon: If it takes a lack of pants to stop the reapers I’m your only hope.
      Renegade: “I’ll take off your pants too if it stops the reapers.”
      1: we have more important things to worry about.
      2: Sorry. (put on pants)
      3: Sorry (lie,)
      Notes, when pants are first mentioned 3 dramatic actions will be available depending on shepherds level of paragon, renegade and pantslessness.
      paragon action: sets camera to council to chest up.
      renegade action: sets camera to focus purely on pants.
      pantslesness: get naked.

  15. deiseach says:

    Good news, my wife would have gone mental had I spent half of Christmas in front of this. Now I can slot it in around periods when she is at work

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    heretic says:

    reply fail ;_;

  17. Teddy Leach says:

    I’m not tremendously keen on Mass Effect, but I feel that this has to be said:

    What a shame.

  18. bill says:

    It’s a good thing because Bioware are cranking these RPGs out at a rate far faster than I can play them.

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    Joshua says:

    Kaidan, Shepard, and Liara are all staring at us with their eyes.

    So where’s the tag?

  20. DevilSShadoW says:

    Strange creatures, these bioware RPG’s. Strange in the fact that they were never actually true RPG’s to begin with. Even more so with the ME series. I was always into mass effect for the story and the character interactions and shooting stuff came as extra icing on the cake for me. As long as the parts I love stay the same (or get improved, as was the case with ME2), I don’t really care what they do to the shooty bits.

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    Durkonkell says:

    I don’t think this is a cause for concern, or at least not at this stage.

    Firstly, shooting is a key part of Mass Effect. There will be shooting. If that shooting is better, what does it matter to us if it also appeals to a broader audience?

    Secondly, this is exactly the kind of “justifying our decisions to investors” speak that I’d expect from a publicly held company. He has to justify in financial terms why ‘key moneymaking product 3′ is being delayed and why he’s letting them continue developing rather than leaning on them to release on time at all costs.

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      Joshua says:

      Yeah. He basially said that they were going to make it better by improving on the things people enjoyed in ME2.

      And as for those RIP BIoware people… They are still quite alive. I quite loved the direction they were taking in ME2, but it could be expanded more. This is probably what they meant.

  22. tims says:

    Hopefully this is a just reaction to Dragon Age 2 being good but not good enough.
    I take it as a good sign that they’re allowed to delay it.

    • K. says:

      You see, that is exactly the point that makes me raise an eyebrow.

      Bioware consists of multiple teams that work on separate projects at the same time. At the moment, that should be ME3, TOR and likely preproduction for DA3.
      They are on record for praising communication and feedback processes between those teams. The DA people took many hints from the ME team.

      In this context, the ME3 delay reads to me like:
      “We have some trouble with our other brands and are shifting key people towards them.”

      My pessimistic conclusion:
      This delay might improve the quality of the other games, but decreases that of ME3.

      My optimistic conclusion:
      ME3 is already solid enough that the final polish can be applied by interns.

      Take your pick

  23. Kadayi says:

    I think tbh this is a wise move by Bioware given that this year is chock full of games as it stands and that useful (and lucrative) GOTY tag is going to bit of a Battle Royale with Portal 2 is already laying down a hefty gauntlet, and The Witcher 2, Deus Ex: Human revolution and Battlefield 3 to come. Plus more polishing is never a bad thing.

    • Nick says:

      “useful (and lucrative) GOTY tag”

      Doesn’t pretty much every game release a GOTY edition reguardless?

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    Big Murray says:

    I said that it should be delayed after the Dragon Age 2 debacle, to give them the proper amount of time to make the game … glad to see that’s what they’ve done.

  25. J-snukk says:

    A Q4 game delayed to Q1, I’m so surprised my nethers are tingling with shock…

  26. Mendrake says:

    Well, there is a possibility I would be worried about the streamlining for mainstream audiences, and there is a distinct possibility that I hate for this game to be delayed, but I trust Bioware. Not Dragon Age team, no, Mass Effect team. I loved ME1, then I played ME2 and it was my favorite game I had ever played (I know it was not for a lot of you folks, but Mass Effect 2 really went well with my brain).
    So, if there is anyone I trust to make the right decision about designing Mass Effect 3, its the designers of Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. You guys want to make your game better in the more mainstream combat portion? I trust your judgement. You guys want to make an MMO from it after ME3 is done? I trust your judgement. Do what you want if it fits for Mass Effect, guys, because you are the only ones who know how.

  27. Pop says:

    As long as it has not been delayed to add more terrible vehicle sections!

    I don’t think I’ve played a Bioware game yet where I’ve enjoyed a vehicular section.

    I have a horrible feeling that ME3 will see the return of the Mako and plannet scanning. :(

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    phuzz says:

    Awww :(

    Also, who’s that bloke in the N7 armour, and where is Shepard?