I was already riled up enough when yesterday I wrote about my frustrations with BioWare's endless cryptic teasing of its upcoming games, so it's probably a good thing for my blood pressure that it wasn't until today that I realised the studio is monetising them too.
For the pretty steep price of $45 / £37.25 plus shipping, you can get a lithograph (basically a fancy poster) depicting the teaser image revealed this past N7 Day. That is, a character we don't know anything about yet, wearing a futuristic coat that blends into an image of a location we don't know anything about yet, from a game we don't know anything about yet, that doesn't even have a name yet. And they don't even throw in a frame!
BioWare is no stranger to merch, of course—the N7 symbol was designed right from the start of the creation of Mass Effect as a logo that would look good on a sweatshirt—and I don't begrudge any fan for splashing out on something fun from one of their favourite RPGs. I'll admit it's a cool bit of art, even! But there's something pretty distasteful to me about a studio that hasn't put out a decent game in over a decade not only stringing fans along with bits of concept art and fuzzy videos, but then turning around and making merch out of its flimsy marketing campaign too.
Turns out this isn't even a new initiative—there was an even more shameless poster back in 2021, simply saying "Mass Effect will continue". Merch of a teaser for a teaser! How long has this been going on?!
It's hardly the first time the BioWare merch machine has gotten a bit out of control, either. It's not even six months since it tried to milk fans' affection for Mass Effect 2 with a $135 statue of a dead Commander Shepard, a move so brazen and bizarre that even the studio's long-suffering fans couldn't put up with it. BioWare ended up having to apologise and remove it from the store.
But hey, maybe I'm just an old grump. If you see the faceless, nameless hero of a game probably still four years off coming out, wearing an outfit that may or may not change entirely before that game actually launches, and think "That's perfect for my wall and also my pockets are overflowing with dollar bills", then more power to you—head over and get your preorder in. I'll just be over here, grumbling next to my blank walls.