For those who have been keeping up to date on the progression of the Mass Effect series from a hardcore science fiction RPG to a much more marketable shooter, this latest revelation shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. When speaking with investors earlier today, John Riccitiello of Electronic Arts – publisher of the series – was asked about the upcoming end of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3. Riccitiello revealed that the game won’t just be ironing out the kinks seen in previous games, but has been developed this time around to appeal to a broader audience than ever before.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to bring a property you believe in to as large an audience as possible, and the changes in the series have undeniably made the game less intimidating and more welcoming to newcomers.
These are fantastic changes in the eyes of Electronic Arts, whose top priority is making any franchise as profitable as it can be.
Since BioWare may have a greater interest in keeping their fans happy, it falls on the shoulders of the developers to keep Mass Effect 3 a satisfying experience to those who have followed the story of Commander Shepard from the very beginning, while also doing what they can to be inviting to the more casual players.
The game is launching simultaneously across three platforms for the first time, so the pool of possible players has every chance of being the largest to date. That’s certainly CEO Riccitiello’s hope, and according to him, Mass Effect 3 has been developed with that goal in mind:
“One of the things that Ray Muzyuka and the team up in Edmonton have done is essentially step-by-step adjust the gameplay mechanics and some of the features that you’ll see at E3 to put this in a genre equivalent to shooter-meets-RPG… and essentially address a much larger market opportunity than Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2 began to approach.
“We’re huge believers in the IP and are purposefully shifting it to address a larger market opportunity.”
The logic here is straightforward enough, basically repeating the feelings expressed by EA over Dead Space 3. If a property gains some success without every possible gamer buying it, the next challenge for a publisher is to win over every other player with the second installment of the series.
What fans of the series may not like is the fact that Riccitiello all but confirmed the fact that the third Mass Effect title will be more of a shooter than an RPG. The changes made to Mass Effect 2 already started the shift, and with ME3‘s weapon customization resembling that of other modern shooters like Call of Duty, a general trend is apparent.
Our interview with Mass Effect 2‘s Gameplay Designer revealed that the first game in the series was nowhere near as competent a shooter as the development team had intended, which is fair enough. But what major publishers these days are failing to realize is that not every game can be Call of Duty. And serious game fans would likely prefer that publishers gave development teams the resources to make the best game possible, not the most widely marketable.
But with Mass Effect 3 delayed into 2012, and even more fans to keep happy on launch day, it’s safe to say that both EA and BioWare have plenty of reasons to deliver a quality title.
Mass Effect 3 will be released – to possibly more fans than ever before – in early 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.