'Stop Thinking You're A Producer,' Former Mass Effect Designer Tells Gamers

Christina Norman worked for BioWare on Mass Effect. She's with Riot Games now. But she must have felt pangs of sympathy when BioWare got raked by gamer complaints about day-one DLC in Mass Effect 3. Because she basically gave them a double-barreled middle finger in a rant at GDC.

"There's no point in releasing DLC a year after your game has come out when most people have already sold your game back to GameStop three times," said at a GDC panel, reported ShackNews. "That means getting it out early; that means even day-one DLC. That is a terrible thing to some players.

"Players rant -- they know nothing about this DLC that's coming out except its name. But then it's 'oh this game must be incomplete, the game must be ruined.' Game developers are not evil. (Some are evil.) But most are not evil.

"We just want to release awesome stuff. Players please, give us a chance. Judge our games based on what they are. Judge the DLC based on what it is. Stop thinking you're a producer and telling us when and where we should be building our content."

Mass Effect designer defends day one DLC, says game developers 'are not evil' [Shacknews]


Comments

    I wonder whi is evil eh? Right must be Zynga

    She raises a good point - Day one DLC doesn't mean the game is incomplete without it. In this case, only part of the DLC was on disc, as I understand it. That could simply be preemptively getting it console-approved considering they have to ship the complete game for approval from platform owners months and months before release.

      And thats another reason why day one dlc is okay, because the devs have several months between when the game releases and when they stop working on the main game. So they might as well work on dlc.

      no its been found out this dlc was fully complete at time of printing the game to disk they really did just cut a chunk out of the game and sell it to us again.

      But thats not the point, i buy a game, but to make it a more complete experience i have to spend more money over what i have just paid for the game.

        So your argument is that it's okay for them to charge you for a "more complete" experience so long as it's down the line?

    She's full of shit.

    Bioware came out and said that the DLC was completed way after the game went gold, by an entirely separate team.

    Yet, over six months before the game went gold, the DLC was fully scripted and planned (it was in the leaked script), and in leaked versions of the game it was found that the vast majority of data was on the disk.

    Plus, this woman was partly responsible for the disaster that is Dragon Age 2; she knows dick about games in general.

      And I'm pretty sure you don't either so shut up.

        Great way to move the discussion forward there, dillweed.

      Yeah though see that word "Completed".

      The thing could have been in planning before ME2. But because they said completed not started. They can't really said to be lying since the finishing touches very well could have come during certification.

      ---

      One thing i'm curious about though is the fact that the game was originally slated for a november released but postponed in order to get better sales(well that's not what the press release said but it's what the goal was).

      Would this Day 1 DLC have still arrived. Because according to this woman, it would have because releasing DLC down the line is useless.

      This could have been much less of a hassle if it wasn't a character that would either be A) an important source of information of B) A character that should be important but due to the DLC nature is just a way of trying to cash in on the Race of it.

      Yeah, they dun reused areas in da2! I fucken pised!

      Of course it was planned. I don't doubt dialogue was recorded well before the game went gold, it only makes sense to do that when your alternatives are to either pull in numerous voice actors again just for this DLC (expensive, time consuming), or avoid tightly integrating the new character into the game and make a less satisfying addition to the game. Since even just a tiny bit of planning can make developing DLC faster and easier, I don't see why people are surprised that it happens, nor why they condem developers for it.

    I was going to say "inb4 gamers keep thinking they're producers" but I see I didn't make it in time.

      Consumers have every rational and logical reason to demand certain quality and to be treated a certain way.

      We vote with our dollars, if there were no consumers they wouldn't be in this business. They need to treat us with respect, not contempt. This lady is doing it wrong.

        And that quality IS being delivered. What's happening here is not a decline in quality but your own selfish sense of entitlement. Yes, you vote with your dollars and you may choose not to buy Bioware's games, but that doesn't mean you get to dictate how they run their business. If they decide Day 1 DLC is something they want to do, and you don't like it, go spend your money on the 3 games that subscribe to your philosophy on DLC.

      Supporters of this kind of dlc are being played by the companies.

      DLC started off as simply small additional content that some people may choose to buy to add minimal flavour to their game. This is still what most people associate DLC with. Companies are capitalising on this way of thinking.

      If Mass Effect 3 was a $120 game with no dlc, and all other games were 8-90 bucks, are people being ripped off? Yes.

      Then Bioware decides that ok we will release a second version with shaved off content for 80-90 bucks, are people still being ripped off? Yes.

      The scenario above is exactly what is happening, just seen in reverse.

    All I know is, I'm glad it was free for CE owners.

      pay $50 extra to get $10 DLC for free. Bargain!!

        I personally paid for the book, the patch, the tin case, the lithograph... that's easily worth the extra TWENTY dollars by the way.109 standard rrp or 129 for CE?

        I got the DLC for FREE with my CE :) sucks to be normal edition purchasers. Oh well. Complain complain complain... its not like the CE was actually in limited quantities for preordering. It was vastly available for ages.

          The standard edition was $78 at most stores, i never saw it for $109, so I say $50 diff

            Wrong. RRP is 109.95. If a store chooses to discount to 78 dollars thats their CHOICE. It's called a discount for a reason. They compete with each other for this reason.

            Sorry but standard price was not 78 it was 109.95.

              Anyone who pays RRP for something is an idiot.

              sorry, but you still payed 50 dollars more than most.

              idiot

              No most stores like kmart, target, big w and jb hi fi were $78. Only psn/box live and eb games charged the 109. So the difference was to most $50.

      Its not free if you payed extra top get the collectors. You payed in advanced thats all at maybe a reduced price.

    I love listening to gamers who haven't even played the game complaining that the game is incomplete because of Day One DLC.

      I love listening to the poeple that have and try to defend it. And also I love listening to the ones who have played it and are complaining about it.

    Day One DLC is not all right, you cannot justify it.

    And then you go ahead and make the DLC about the one of the game universes biggest mystery.

    It's bullshit.

    I am okay with day one DLC if it is indeed extra content that does not affect the main campaign of the original game. In the case of ME3, the DLC is of a f ing PROTHEAN character! and therefore, it might have some great insight onto understanding better the "extinct" race and what exactly happened to them.

      the DLC is optional anyway. get over it.

        The actual content however, isn't exactly optional when it comes to filling in some gaps in the ME universe. It is quite like taking pages out of the codex and then selling it to the player. If you're the sort of person who doesn't give a toss about the codex entries then that's fine I guess. Other people actually get a bit more involved in the game and its universe, and it's very disappointing that Bioware decided to charge for it.

          Except it is entirely optional and doesn't impact the final game at all. Play it some time. I did. That's why I can say this...

            It does effect the gamer since the person is not experiencing the fullness of what they are paying for. Most people play mass effect for story and cionitinue to import their actions from pervious games into the next. So to have a sizable portion removed to try to gain extra $ that to most is a no go.

            Many players will argue that taking a chunk out of the story is indeed taking the experience out of the game. It may not impact the game but it's like taking a chapter out of a book.

          I'm a game developer and I skip cut-scenes for the gameplay.

          I won't make specific comment about ME3 because I haven't played it but there is a lot of very ignorant comments here ... the entire point of this ladies statement is just that. Gamers who whine like this speak with what they think is some position of authority. Film's, music and indeed many non-entertainment products are actually closer to the grasp of the individual to produce then modern video games ... even for gamers. Yet gamers think they are perfectly logical, rational and sensible with the justifications they come up with for their criticisms of developers.

          I'm not saying 'make a game before you criticise'. I'm just suggesting you say simply "I don't like it ... I don't think it was necessary" not "I understand the intricacies of your ridiculously hard job and I know how to do it better then you do."

    A great many of the people who complain about this aren't claiming to know jack about 'producing games.' What is it about these industry people that is so **** hard to understand about that. The problem isn't that it's financially unsound, it's that the whole thing is ethically unsound, it's a massive finger to customers, many of whom have been loyal customers.

    But even that's a step to far, simple fact is they make this stuff for the consumer, if the consumer isn't happy then of course they'll complain, and fallacious comments like this won't change that.
    “We just want to release awesome stuff. Players please, give us a chance. Judge our games based on what they are. Judge the DLC based on what it is"
    Fallacy being in 'judge the DLC based on what it is.'
    People aren't complaining the DLC content is bad (well in this context anyway), they're complaining about that there even IS DLC at this point, and if anything the assumption is that the content will be good, and important to the core game, which is why they want it included.
    Understand your consumers before arguing past them.

      Suppose I'm being illogical too though, expecting a riot employee to have any interest in the consumer. HA!

      This is true.

      Basically they are selling us a complete game at a higher price than an average game, but allowing us the option to buy it cheaper for less content. But even supporters of dlc know this...

      But if we phrase dlc in a reverse manner like this:

      What if Mass effect 3 was a complete game, with no dlc, but was priced at 120AUD when all other games are around the 80-90AUD mark? But wait, Bioware also releases a second version with shaved off content, priced at 80-90AUD. The uproar from consumers would be unanimous.

      Do you see it? The only reason why some people are supporting day one dlc is because of the way it is marketed.

    She is full of shit.

    So what if we're not producers? We're CONSUMERS. We buy your games and play them to enjoy them. If your shitty game was sold back to gamestop 3 times, it's because you made a shitty game that tried to milk as much money as possible with day 1 DLC. Games like Oblivion, GTA and Fallout got really big expansions and people kept their games for these. They modded the hell out of it and enjoyed it for months/years.

    I've only played the multiplayer portion of ME3 and I can already tell you that the high price of spectre boxes (60k credits) is to encourage sales with bioware points.

    I probably rate this worse than SR3's DLC

      Correct. Should people not complain about politicians because they are not politicians? Or critique movies because they are not critics? This woman made some really ignorant statements.

        60k credits is not hard to get, 2 games of silver will give you 60k credits. Who would want to spend roughly $1.75 for a virtual box?

    There wasn't this many complaints when Zaeed was DLC and released at game release for Mass Effect 2. I don't see why this is such a big issue.

      EXACTLY THIS. Thank you.

        Second this.
        At the end of the day, day one DLC is there for two reasons -

        1. To generate higher sales for collectors editions for the hardcore fans (as they usually come for free).
        2. To curb preowned sales of the game

          Zaeed was free with new copies of the game, and was a minor part of the game.

          Now having completed ME3 let me tell you this -- during parts of the game you can clearly see where bioware has modified the script to remove Javik from the script.

          Finally i don't understand why companies and developers keep lying to us about day one dlc. You don't need to release dlc on day one or wait over a year, you can do it after a few weeks or a month and people are much less likely to complain.

      Zaeed was a minor character, even for a secondary cast member, and his mission added a little more flavour to the game. From what I can infer, From Ashes, ME3's Day 1 DLC, is absolutely vital to one of the biggest mysteries that Bioware have been laying out since the first hour of the first game.

      It's a bit of a false equivalence to compare the two ^^;

        Except you clearly haven't played the game if you think that.

        SPOILER WARNING

        The DLC explains a little of the Protheans' system of government and about their unique biological ability to transfer memory and experience through touch. He knows little or nothing about the Prothean "weapon" that is a macguffin through most of the game. While he provides a little more backstory on the Protheans, he adds little to nothing to the main plot.

        Nope, from what I've seen he's basically exactly the same as Zaeed or Kasumi.

        MINOR SPOILER WARNING
        The DLC gives information about the Prothean society. Yes ,it is interesting, but hardly vital to the story - how does knowing that the Protheans were self-righteous gits help Shepard defeat the Reapers? It doesn't. Javik becomes a war asset, but helps no more than any other secondary character. Want to know about Prothean society but don't want to pay for the DLC? Try masseffect.wikia - I hear it's very thorough.

      Except Zaeed was in the appeasement of the whole online pass thing they brought in to take a cut of games being traded in.

      The complete change in mentality is the big issue. Every major game release these days is dropping with CE's or Day-One DLC for premium dollars.
      Whether Zaeed had innocent circumstances regarding DLC or not (I wasn't paying much attention at the time), it's gotten ridiculous. Games shipping with day-one DLC (especially when it is on the disc) are being used to gouge more of your dollars to get the complete game.
      Released after 2-3 weeks? okay. Fine.
      But as it stands now. This is **** is not okay. I won't be buying a game from Riot because of this woman's ignorance.

    What I find hilarious is how game devlopers/publishing companies, basically think they are void of criticism. You make plenty of money out of gamers, so don't get defensive when a large majority of them are complaining about the same issue. Just don't keep making the same mistake.

    if gamers are tell you what to do, that means your not doing your job correctly. so fuck you in the neck Christina Norman.

      I agree with your first sentence. Your second should probably not have been said, and adds nothing but an avenue by which your character can be attacked...

    Not big fans of criticism are we? I would argue that all the added extras as part of a CE could be considered day 1 content, which you either choose to buy or don't

    Not super on topic here but... for the longest time I thought Christina Norman was a tranny because of her voice in the videos she did for Mass Effect 2. Am I the only one?

    "Players [...] know nothing about this DLC that’s coming out except its name."

    Well, that's simply untrue, even if Bioware / Christine Norman wish it was not. Thanks to the aforementioned script leak, it's been known for a while the main subject of the DLC, and the hole that had been left for it in the original script. I'd say cries of "incomplete!" are a lot more valid here than against Saints Row 3 or Kingdoms of Amalur.

    "There’s no point in releasing DLC a year after your game has come out when most people have already sold your game back to GameStop [...]"

    Doesn't that say something about your game, not your players? Look at Call of Duty, look at Mass Effect 2, Grand Turismo 5, Assassin's Creed, Oblivion, Final Fantasy XIII-2. All of them have DLC weeks or months after launch. The trick is simple: Just have compelling DLC that is designed to be played after the main storyline is complete. In more clear terms, your DLC should be a secondary/tertiary storyline, or it should be of auxiliary content (weapons/clothes), or it should be Multiplayer focused.

    Also, tell that to Bethesda: you just watch when Skyrim releases their first DLC pack. Sales will be colossal, months down the line.

      Oh wow, I forgot two other great examples of DLC for singleplayer released MONTHS down the line: Fallout series (3 & NV) and Borderlands. They were so popular the developers kept churning them out!

        Agreed. Saying that they won't release DLC a while after the game has been released is just absolute bullshit. If she believes this, she should probably start looking for another job. Stuff like Oblivion expansions and Borderlands expansions and what have you should be a way or -reviving- the game.

        Hell, I play Borderlands. I finish Borderlands! I stop playing Borderlands. I play something else. Gearbox releases Borderlands DLC. I buy DLC. I play Borderlands again. I finish DLC I play something else. Rinse and repeat.

    They can pretend it's an artistic decision to release DLC, but EA boss Riccietello is on record since 2010 saying all EA games will have DLC. So it's business policy really. Day one DLC comes off as a cynical cash grab, so at the very least they have a PR issue.

      Exactly and they have also stated the dont like the play and pay once method. They like the subscription type method were a player is constanly paying on a game they have already brought.

    i love how they take the retards posting on forums as everyones opinion on day 1 dlc. Day 1 dlc is fail, stop allowing publishers to dictate launch days to your companies. She clearly has no idea about the lifecycle of most pc games, saying that she is probably another reason why the console market has become the way it is.

      "stop allowing publishers to dictate launch days to your companies"

      Yes, because telling the person with the money "No, we're not going to do that" is a brilliant idea.

        Yep, that's the kinda guy she's referring to!

    At the end of the day it's their product and they can do what they want, but they're also going to have to live with the long-term consequences of showing such contempt for their consumers. Day 1 DLC is ethically questionable because if they had time to develop the DLC and package it ready for release at the same time as the main game, they had the time to include it in the main game. Or at very least include a FREE download code in the event they just didn't have the time to tack it onto the final release before it ships.

    Eventually consumers will say enough is enough, sales will drop and they'll be wondering why. Well, you can't treat your consumers like dirt and expect long term success. Which ever way you put it, Day 1 DLC, micro-transactions, on-disc-dlc and online passes are bullshit. Simple as that.

      THIS ^^

    Guys, protip incoming. With every single Mass Effect game, we've discovered that the Protheans are actually less significant. EACH AND EVERY game, we realise they were just another jo-schmoe race in a long line of races.

    DLC involving a single Prothean who comes out of stasis will tell you bunk compared to what you find out through the games. Yes, if you bother to actually follow the plot, you'd realise a Prothean team-mate isn't the bombshell it would have been at the start of mass effect 1.

    Second, this particular Day One DLC was scripted and planned before disc went gold (and hence no more changes could be made). This does not mean that the environments were rendered, the lines voiced or anything else. That they knew it wouldn't be finished in time for printing but for release shows good planning, not hitler-esque evil.

    Everyone, just shut up and enjoy the game on its merits, rather than spitting out your cereal while pointing at the computer screen and yelling "If only they listend to MY opinions!"

      Exactly this.

      The Prothean teammate is a warrior, the embodiment of vengeance. He was born during the previous cycles' Reaper invasion so he knows little about how their civilization was before.

      He provides interesting backstory, but it's not critical to the plot at all.

      I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't finished recording the dialogue by the point the game had to go up for certification, so they had a choice between dropping it entirely or pushing it into DLC.

      The fact that it's not free seems to be the biggest problem people have with it. The sense of entitlement is astounding, tbh.

      "That they knew it wouldn’t be finished in time for printing but for release shows good planning, not hitler-esque evil."

      Actually. It shows bad planning when you think about it. By your logic, we are paying them extra to complete a project that they ran over a deadline. Nowhere in any other industry does this happen.

    I don't care who she is or where she worked, Day-One DLC is a joke. I just paid $110 AU for a game, I am not paying more money the very next day. If you've made a great game that you think people will want to spend more money on, then those same people will still want to play that DLC in a month or 3 months.

    So long as we continue to buy DLC, game devs will continue to cut chucks of their game out and sell it to us.

      I don't know how you managed to pay so much for it. I paid 95AUD for the collector's edition which includes the DLC.

      They didn't "cut chunks out of the game". The character in the in question is largely irrelevant to the plot (and I couldn't even use him in some missions)

      It's clear from the evidence that they hadn't finished recording the dialogue for the character by the time they needed to get the game certified by MS and Sony, or perhaps they'd always planned it to be DLC and it only ended up being day one because they had to push the release day back. Either way, I don't know why you think you deserve extra content for free.

      no retail store charges over $100 for a game now, i manage one. its impossible to sell a game at full retail.

        Not unless they brought it online from origin or psn/xbox live or ebgames. Thats how you can stil pay those figures.

    I don't understand how people can post things like "lol I love watching fanboys complain about day one DLC" as if they are the mature ones for accepting that they are going to be screwed more and more from now on.

    You may think that this day one DLC is not a big deal but its only the beginning, EA is going to keep pushing more and more until suddenly you realize they aren't looking out for you and maybe you should have said something sooner.

    The other thing is that many people seem to think its OK because its Bioware as if they can resist EA's hand of influence but with each game they release you can see them getting further and further away from what they used to do. You only need to look at Star Wars the Old Republic to see that they obviously had planned it to be a single player game and then they had to shoehorn on an MMO to compete with Activision.

    I just don't want to end up in a future where the games that I love are out of reach to me because I cant afford them because each one requires a subscription or some other "Pass".

    So if that makes me a whining fan boy so be it, but if you want to accuse me of it please explain why with more than "lol at the idiots who dont agree with me" so that perhaps we can better understand each others way of thinking.

    1. If you played ME3 on a desert Island without any access or knowledge of the DLC would the game feel incomplete? Wouldit feel like it's missing something?

    2. For years gamers have enjoyed pre-owned games, getting access to full products while the developer gets zip. I don't blame them for doing day 1 DLC. They've gotta get something out of all the people who got the game second hand.

      I haven't played ME3 yet but I cant forget dragon age origins where the NPC in the first camp said if you want to help my family give me 10 USD.

      You would probably notice that, I know I did!

      Also Im pretty sure once you have activated it on origin you cant sell it to someone else so they should give the DLC out free on the PC version.

      Right?

        Sure, I agree. Hopefully, as we move towards digital distribution, publisher's need to add incentives to buy a game new will become obsolete.

          Pub/dev get zip EA recently posted biggest financial quater in 8 years. Not bad for a company low on sales and needs dlc and online passes to beat second hand sales. Dont be so naive.

          They won't. Because we are letting them set a precident and a mentality.

          Digital Distribution will ease the 2nd hand games issue, but EA especially will take it as a step forward in profits, not a chance to make a concession and better the gaming industry.

    I think they got it wrong as well. The game should have been free to play, but require paid DLC packs in order to do anything except run around inside a locked room with no windows carrying an unloaded pistol!

    Day one DLC makes money, pure and simple. When you are running a company of any description that is what counts, not your customers (contrary to popular opinion). It is not as though they are forcing you to hit that pay button, The game is still complete without it.

    Having said that I will concede that if the content is completed before the discs are pressed then it would have been nice to have it free but I am not morally opposed to day one DLC, Consider this though, DLC is what it is because of the age we are in, roll back the clock about 10-12 years and we would all be eagerly awaiting the next expansion pack for the game we enjoyed. We didn't mind tracking down a retailer and shelling out $80 for an extra 100mb of content because that was the only way for publishers to release content. Now we can get a gigabyte of content for $10 in the time it would take for us to go have a piss and make a coffee.

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