Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game that suffered from animation issues and a number of rough edges that hurt the enjoyment of the story itself. It’s nearly impossible to sit back and get lost in a world when that world has yet to be finished. Yesterday, BioWare announced that a series of patches would fix many of these problems, and these patches would be released “over the next two months.”
Congratulations, you bought an early access game that you thought was finished. If you know that changes this large are going to be made to the game in the future, why the hell would you pay for an unfinished game today?
This is kind of a big deal
“We like to think of games and game development as services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community,” Steam says about early access games. “There have been a number of prominent titles that have embraced this model of development recently and found a lot of value in the process. We like to support and encourage developers who want to ship early, involve customers and build lasting relationships that help everyone make better games.”
This description matches what BioWare is doing with Mass Effect: Andromeda, down to the use of community feedback to inform patches.
“Since launch, our team has been poring over your comments and feedback, looking to discover what you like about the game, as well as areas we can evolve or improve,” BioWare’s blog post explained. “This Thursday, we’ll release a new patch that addresses technical fixes (crashes, improved performance), but also adds a number of improvements we’ve heard you ask for ...”
The problem is that people who purchased Andromeda likely assumed that the game was done, and ready for purchase at the full retail of $59.99 and up depending on the edition being offered. As our own Arthur Gies so succinctly put it on Twitter:
bioware: if you're going to "fix" ME:A "over time," why the FUCK should anyone play it now? did i waste 70 hours? https://t.co/KpPBGorUOL— Arthur Gies (@aegies) April 4, 2017
My answer is yes, you wasted 70 hours. The final experience sounds like it’s going to be much stronger than the game that was released at launch, with significant changes made to everything from character romances to the technology that drives the game itself.
BioWare isn’t calling this an early access game, nor are they taking much responsibility for the state of the game at launch, because doing so would limit sales. This situation punishes the series’ biggest fans in multiple ways, and it decreases transparency about what we should have expected from the game at launch.
Our own review made it sound like Andromeda was a promising early access game.
“After a number of complaints, it might seem odd to end on such a positive note,” our review stated. “Let’s be clear: I’m conflicted about Mass Effect: Andromeda. There’s a lot of roughness throughout the game, and the technical issues, while not game-breaking, are often incredibly distracting ... And if I’m judging a game by where it leaves me, Andromeda succeeds, even if it stumbled getting there.”
Now that we know so many of these problems will be fixed in a few months — and in that time the price of the game will inevitably come down — it’s impossible and almost irresponsible to recommend that anyone buy the game today. It’s a shame BioWare didn’t tell us it was releasing an early access game before so many people put their money down.