Mass Effect 3 is getting three separate releases this year. The original, divisive release from March is joined in November by two additional packages. The first is the Mass Effect Trilogy Edition set that fits in the original game, the 2010 sequel, and this year’s entry all in one package. Then two weeks later EA will release Mass Effect 3 as a standalone game on Nintendo’s Wii U, featuring tweaked play to account for that console’s tablet controller.
All three games are not equal when players take them out of the package though. The different editions of Mass Effect 3 all come with different arrangements of downloadable content. DLC pricing and releases from EA have already raised consumer ire in 2012, but the new Mass Effect 3 releases illustrate just how strange and confusing EA’s business is going to get going forward.
What’s included where: The Trilogy Edition will include, according to MCV, only some of the downloadable content available for the game. The PC edition of the original Mass Effect gets both its big expansions, Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station, right on the disc, but these are absent on Xbox 360. Both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 only come with their respective online passes, with all other DLC requiring a secondary purchase. No announcement on whether the PlayStation 3 edition is different the Xbox 360 version.
This version of Mass Effect 3 is strange since the Wii U version will include From Ashes, the story-altering expansion that went on sale the very same day as the game itself in March. The Wii U release will not, however, include the Leviathan expansion released in August.
Mass Effect 3 downloadable content has to date sold very well for Electronic Arts. Even as Internet commentators raged about the additional cost of From Ashes when the game came out, 40 percent of players still purchased the content. EA recognizes that there’s enough demand to support the secondary market. The problem is that EA’s confusing marketing of the game—three separate releases in a single year, all of which come with different content—will make it difficult for anyone to understand which version of the game they actually want.
Electronic Arts needs to unify its business going forward since cross-platform play is a central pillar of its design and business strategy.