Free multiplayer expansion announced for Mass Effect 3, or is “The Truth” true?

In what could be either a desperate attempt to win back Mass Effect fans’ love or a Machiavellian scheme to discourage used games’ sales, EA Games announced today the “Mass Effect 3: Resurgence” expansion will be available for free download on April 10.

The news follows Thursday’s announcement of an “Extended Cut” download to be released this summer for Mass Effect 3. That content, also to be released free of charge, would expand upon the game’s ending. Many fans hated Mass Effect 3’s ending because they felt it did not adequately fulfilled producer’s claims that players choices could result in dramatically different conclusions.

The past couple days’ news seems close to confirming “The Truth” rumor I first saw on Game Front last
month. The rumor held that players would be able to continue their Mass
Effect 3 games after the on-disc ending, and also had it that players
could look forward to extended multiplayer content.

As of Friday, there is no confirmation that the Extended Cut will include playable content, and it may just be new cinematic scenes. Nonetheless, the rumored multiplayer classes are the very ones that EA confirmed today.

From Friday’s announcement:

  • Two New Action-Packed Maps:  Take the battle to Firebase Condor, a warzone outpost located on one of Palaven’s moons and Firebase Hydra,
    an old abandoned quarian colony which has since been converted into a
    critical power facility. Each map represents a crucial asset in the
    overall fight against the Reapers.


    • Six Powerful New Unlockable Characters: Assume the role of new characters for each class, including the Asari Justicar Adept, Krogan Battlemaster Vanguard and characters from new playable races with the Batarian Soldier, Batarian Sentinel, Geth Engineer and Geth Infiltrator.


  • Lethal New Weapons: Obliterate wave after wave of enemies by unlocking the Striker Assault Rifle, Kishock Harpoon Gun and Geth Plasma SMG.

As an aside, the idea of playing as a Batarian is pretty cool. The four-eyed aliens were generally portrayed as unsympathetic characters in previous Mass Effect games, and one of my small disappointments with Mass Effect 3 was that the storyline did not do more to show the galactic conflict from their perspective.

So what’s going on with all this free content? Are EA and Mass Effect 3’s developers at BioWare begging their fans to love them again? Maybe, but my hunch is that EA and BioWare planned this release pattern all along to discourage gamers from selling their games to GameStop or other retailers after finishing the single-player campaign.

The plan, as it seems to me, is to convince players to hold on to their copies for Mass Effect 3 for a few more months than they may have planned. My guess is that BioWare and EA deliberately crafted an open-ended climax in hopes that players would enthusiastically wait for additional content, but were instead blindsided by the past weeks’ fan backlash.

The makers’ willingness to release free content makes me suspect this content was paid for within Mass Effect 3’s main budget, and was not separately accounted for as a downloadable expansion that EA planned to release as a means to achieve additional revenue. Whether my assumption is correct, and whether this move assuages fans’ anger, have yet to be seen.