Mass Effect: Andromeda was expected to sell at least 3 million copies at launch. Why didn’t that happen? Let’s explore the reasons below.
Too Many Open-World Games
First of all, the market is currently saturated with open-world games. While they were initially novel and interesting, gamers are becoming tired of open-world games and the problems they introduce. Simply being open-world is not enough to sell a game these days. Right now, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn are new and well-reviewed open-world choices, leaving sub-par open-world games to garner little attention.
Lack of Engaging Gameplay
In reviews, Andromeda was criticized for suffering from “open-world syndrome” which includes boring crafting and long grinds. The world and its narrative are controlled more by the developers than by the players. This means that while its open world may be huge, the player’s role is predetermined, which can make playing feel like following a script. Additionally, the world isn’t filled enough with interesting things for the player to do. Quests are mainly “go from one place to another” style gigs. In a game like this, the player will anticipate boring grinds and won’t feel inspired to explore the world. This removes many of the benefits that the open-world style can typically introduce.
Andromeda’s failings in the open-world style hurt it considerably in critic and player reviews. We know that people take reviews into consideration before buying a game, especially expensive triple-A titles like Andromeda. Reviews were so poor that Bioware, the studio behind Andromeda, began allowing large discounts on the title within a few days of its release. But this time, the game had something more to contend with than just negative reviews: the Internet.
Facial Animation Controversy
Just before Andromeda released, a trial version of the game became available. Soon after its release, gamers began criticizing Andromeda’s facial animation quality, saying that it was robotic at best and downright silly at worst. The faces seemed less expressive than those of the original game, which released back in 2007. This controversy generated tons of negative press for the game. Potential buyers wondered if the game had the quality that they expect from a triple-A studio. The problems with facial animations made it seem rushed, which could mean that it’s really not worth buying at all. And as we discussed before, there are plenty of amazing open-world titles on the market today.
Mass Effect Trilogy Ending
Finally, I would be remiss without mentioning the lingering disappointment that some fans felt after the end of the original Mass Effect trilogy. Because of the controversy over the way the series ended, many fans who might otherwise have been loyal to the series may not have chosen to purchase this title. Some people who typically buy games may also have bad feelings toward Electronic Arts, the company that now owns Bioware, as it is known for shutting down popular games and producing sub-par titles.
It takes a perfect storm of factors for a game as well funded as Mass Effect: Andromeda to sell poorly. Unfortunately, the developers made the poor choice of making the game open-world and adding several boring and unavoidable grinds to the experience. Controversy over the game’s animations led some people to believe that the game as a whole would lack quality, and reviews for the game were fairly low.