At this time last year, Mass Effect 3 was still overshadowed by the backlash to its ending, with the Extended Cut announced but not yet available. A year removed, BioWare says it has learned some hard lessons from that, and doesn't intend to repeat them in future games.
"One thing that really stood out for us is that we underestimated how attached people would become to the characters," executive producer Casey Hudson told OXM. "An example of this is the Citadel DLC, which has hours of pure character interaction - hanging out at a party, chatting at a bar, etc. We'd never have imagined that as we ended the trilogy, all people would want to do was spend more time with the characters, sort of bathing in the afterglow - getting closure and just having some time to live in the universe that they fought to save. This, and many other learnings, will be built into our future games."
Producer Mike Gamble echoed Hudson's comments, saying that fans' "feelings about letting them go were just as strong as ours" and that they learned to "never underestimate the passion of your core fan-base."
BioWare's Dusty Everman differed slightly, pointing out that it wasn't just character closure, but the tone of the ending that annoyed some players. "I've learned that a bitter-sweet ending is much easier to watch in a movie, than experience in a long RPG where the player is very invested in the protagonist," he said.
How all that influences the next Mass Effect game, or even BioWare games in general, remains to be seen. We know the next game is in the hands of BioWare Montreal, and that the company has been gauging interest in aspects like the multiplayer and timeline. Most recently, the studio absorbed several senior staffers from Kingdoms of Amalur developer Big Huge Games.