The ending to Mass Effect 3, which in the eyes of many gamers failed to provide an acceptable conclusion to the Mass Effect space epic trilogy, has had gamers up in arms for months while Bioware's parent company Electronic Arts (EA) has done its best to appease its consumer base without admitting any sort of fault. However, it looks like the Retake Mass Effect movement may finally get through to EA. Best Buy and Amazon recently slashed the game's price tag from $59.99 to $39.99, and many are speculating that this is largely due to weak sales figures caused by negative word of mouth reviews from consumers.
There are several possible explanations behind the Mass Effect 3 price cut, but the most likely is sluggish sales leading to overstocking of the title. In order to speed up their sales retail companies have dropped the price by nearly half in order to clear their shelves.
According to commenters on an article on this subject published by Forbes, Amazon UK has already dropped the price of Mass Effect 3 several weeks ago and ahead of the curve. More recently, Best Buy slashed their prices and Amazon followed suit in the US. However, Game Stop, one of America's biggest videogame retailers, still lists the price for a new copy of Mass Effect 3 at $59.99.
The commenter suggests that slow sales for Mass Effect 3 may have a negative effect on EA's business in the future: I suspect that Bioware/EA is going to have serious problems convincing retailers to stock their next title in quantity after this.
Another commenter suggested that the price drop may have been necessary in order to compete with Skyrim, which was released five months ago and is still going strong thanks to positive word of mouth. The game is currently selling on Amazon for $49.90.
If anything that is an example of how much word of mouth matters, the second commenter wrote. People didn't buy Skyrim because of the praise that was lashed at it (while ignoring how dreadfully buggy the game was), they bought the game because once one person they knew picked it up all they would hear about what a damn (fine) world Bethesda had built.
Most popular video games see a second wave of sales around 4-8 weeks after the initial release, once gamers reach the end and convince their friends to buy it. Conversely, when a game has a disappointing, like many gamers argue Mass Effect does, word of mouth can kill the second wave of sales. This happened with Mass Effect 3 to a degree. The game did see a bump in sales in week 5 (see chart below), but it was minor and fleeting.
The price drop on Mass Effect 3 will likely bring with it a new wave of sales, helping both retailers and EA recoup their losses, but the battle between gamers and game developers/publishers is far from over.