The future of Mass Effect should be in the cloud

December 22, 2009 // 10:49 a.m.

Tags: #cloud-computing #mass-effect #pc-gaming

Firstly, I have to apologise. I've succumbed to the marketing gimmick that is “the cloud”. However, there is a point to this so don't worry - you’re not reading a press release.

After reading and getting excited about Mass Effect 2 – how it will be possible to carry on your player profile, and the in third release sometime in the future – the player will apparently be open to “wildly different conclusions” leading to massive diversity of story.

What gets me, in the traditional model of selling one game, then another, then another, why Bioware didn’t opt for the more “MMO”-esq model of having things tied in extensively online. The limitations of adding these epic, whole game updates is that users lose save games and profiles after a year or so between releases, or, you still have to pander to those who didn’t buy the earlier releases to some extent because your publisher wants every successive release of the franchise to sell more. In a model that requires you to buy previous games, the opposite is true – you’re more likely to lose people that fall out of gaming, forget about it or lose love for it, than attain more.
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The online model will always introduce new users at the beginning, and add-on packs to the vastly epic universe of Mass Effect can be dropped in on a whim to continue the story as and when. It also means your save games and profiles are kept with your online login, preventing you from losing your character. Oh, and it gets us away from the continual travesty to PC gaming that is Games for Windows Live.

Creating the online FPS universe would also allow Bioware to drop the paid-for DLC bomb much easier – you pay for the basic story, but if you want to investigate all those extra star systems then it’s a few more quid, please kthx. Hopefully that would allow a cheaper initial investment in the basic game and mean rolling out extra systems feels a lot more natural. That’s also not to mention the possibility of co-operative campaigns with friends? Forget the AI – take along two real-world team mates to break an army of Psi-capable brick *hithouse Krogans. For the quality of story and involvement that Mass Effect offers – personally I’d be happy to pick and choose a few those campaigns.

It just seems more logical to me that updates to the story could be thrown in as they are developed, and the potential diversity that Bioware is aiming for falls into this model rather than the traditional big launch of game on a disc. To me, Bioware feels like its limiting itself to a triology of games – honestly, that doesn’t feel like enough given the rare potential of Mass Effect.

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