I'll give Mass Effect 3 a miss for now

THE IT GEEK

No, it's not the controversial bittersweet ending nor the same-sex relationships that are putting me off a Mass Effect 3 purchase.

Rather, it's having to pay more for material on the game disc that's locked out of the roleplaying title's March 6 launch.

No, you didn't hear me wrongly and it's an issue a number of games are guilty of.

Many fans of the sci-fi series like me were annoyed to find out that an optional playable alien sidekick called Javik and his side quest would cost an extra US$10 (S$12.60) to purchase.

Considering that the full-priced game costs S$64.90 for the PC version - which has seven sidekicks and many more missions - the price for Javik seems a bit steep.

But for me the last straw was the revelation by several netizens that Javik's character model and dialogue were already embedded in the game disc itself.

What? I have to pay extra to buy a code to unlock what's already in the retail game?

To be fair to Electronic Arts, the publisher of Mass Effect 3, not all the elements of the Javik package might have been on the game's disc.

In the wake of rabid fan denouncement, Electronic Arts told video-game magazine Game Informer that the downloadable pack for Javik exceeds 600MB in size.

The company said the pack offers "all new content", including a new mission, new dialogue with Javik, new cinematics and new outfits for existing playable characters.

Furthermore, the above content was completed after the main game was done and thus not available on the disc.

The publisher added that to weave Javik into the main game, "certain framework elements and character models" had to be on the game disc, something which was similarly done with two extra downloadable sidekicks for Mass Effect 2.

But hold on, wasn't one of these downloadable characters for the second game free from launch day for people who bought new copies of the game?

If the Javik package couldn't make it into the main game in time, just offer it as a free download to build goodwill with gamers, like what was done with the second game. Is that so tough? Regretfully, whatever the reasons, I can't help but feel cheated when I have to pay extra to unlock stuff that's already in the game.

But Mass Effect 3 is hardly the only title to charge for "axed" content. Game news site GameSpot reported this month that extra playable characters were uncovered by hackers on the Street Fighter X Tekken game disc.

The catch is that the characters were planned to be unlocked with a US$20 download.

Some observers contend that if not for the ease with which cut game material could be sold digitally, the material wouldn't even be playable for gamers.

Furthermore, game-development costs are said to be rising and charging for extra content can help fund future games.

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