When video game giant Electronic Arts became the (to some) surprising winner of this year’s Worst Company In America tournament, the company was also in the middle of one of its biggest PR problems ever, as fans of the bestselling Mass Effect series of games felt like they’d been bilked out of piles of cash when the trilogy ended with an apocalyptic shrug.
Coincidentally, the day after winning the Golden Poo, EA announced it would attempt to fix the issue by releasing an “extended cut” ending that would help to appease fans who felt like they had spent their money — and perhaps more importantly, a ton of their time — playing a game that was supposedly all about the ramifications of your choices, only to have those choices not matter whatsoever.
Now we actually have a release date for the extended cut. It’s set to be released — for free — to Xbox, PlayStation and PC users on June 26. And for those of you with clogged-up hard drives, you may need to clear some space, as the downloadable content weighs in at a heft 1.9 GB.
BioWare, the division of EA that developed the game, has a Q&A about the new content on its website.
“The Extended Cut expands on the endings of Mass Effect 3 through additional scenes and epilogue sequences,” writes BioWare. “It provides more of the answers and closure that players have been asking for. It gives a sense of what the future holds as a result of the decisions made throughout the series. And it shows greater detail in the successes or failures based on how players achieved their endings.”
This is the first time we can think of where mass customer disappointment has led to such an immediate change in a major video game. What remains to be seen is whether or not publishers — not just of games, but of movies, books and other creative products — will (or even should) respond to such organized anger.
In the days when the Mass Effect 3 debate was brewing some argued that, even if the ending sucked rocks, EA would be allowing in the thin edge of the wedge and that disappointed buyers would demand changes for all future games.
Now we just wait to see the reaction to EA’s attempt to plug the dam.