Mass Effect: Andromeda wasn't our favourite of the sci-fi series, and poor sales led to both Bioware Montreal being merged with EA Motive and the game's single player support being dropped earlier this year. Ex-Bioware developer Manveer Heir reckons scope for monetisation lies at the heart of the latter.
"It's definitely a thing inside of EA, they are generally pushing for more open-world games," says Heir. "And the reason is you can monetise them better. The words in there that were used are 'have them come back again and again'. Why do you care about that at EA? The reason you care about that is because microtransactions: buying card packs in the Mass Effect games, the multiplayer. It's the same reason we added card packs to Mass Effect 3: how do you get people to keep coming back to a thing instead of 'just' playing for 60 to 100 hours?"
Heir continues: "The problem is that we've scaled up our budgets to $100m+ and we haven't actually made a space for good linear single-player games that are under that. But why can't we have both? Why does it have to be one or the other? And the reason is that EA and those big publishers in general only care about the highest return on investment. They don't actually care about what the players want; they care about what the players will pay for. You need to understand the amount of money that's at play with microtransactions."
Heir says that while unable to state explicitly how much money Mass Effect 3 card packs sold, their success is the reason Dragon Age has a multiplayer component. He adds: "That's the reason other EA products started getting multiplayer that hadn't really had them before, because we nailed it and brought in a ton of money. It's repeatable income versus one-time income. I've seen people literally spend $15,000 on Mass Effect multiplayer cards."
Heir's chat with Waypoint Radio can listened to in full over here.
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