BioWare prototyped Mass Effect spin-off for Nintendo DS

BioWare considered making a spacefaring Mass Effect spin-off for Nintendo DS.

The project, named Mass Effect: Corsair, would have been a first-person space adventure where you piloted a ship around the galaxy’s lawless regions.

Details have come to light now from former BioWare veteran Mark Darrah, as part of a MinnMax interview (thanks IGN).

“You’d fly around [in] a ship,” Darrah said, adding that it was set “in a part of the galaxy that was more piratey and not really fully explored”, possibly “batarian space” – although Darrah isn’t 100 percent sure.

It sounds like this could be the Terminus Systems, the area largely explored in Mass Effect 2 where mercenary gangs largely hold control.

“It was going to kinda be a combination of Privateer and Star Control,” Darrah continued. “You would be independent, you’d be more like a Han Solo character, not a Spectre. And you’d be flying around, picking up cargo, exploring, and selling that information back to the human Alliance.”

So, why didn’t it happen? Darrah said BioWare had to take a hard look at the budget for the project, weigh that against EA’s expected sales, and counter for the fact that profit margins on Nintendo DS were lower as publishers had to factor in the cost of the game cartridge.

“The problem is that the economics of the Nintendo DS are just terrible,” Darrah said. “It didn’t make sense. EA was predicting we’d only sell 50,000 copies.”

Development on Corsair was stopped, and the mobile shooter spin-off Mass Effect Infiltrator, where you played as a rogue Cerberus agent, was ultimately released instead.

Corsair wasn’t the only Mass Effect spin-off which never saw the light of day. BioWare Montreal, the studio which ultimately became lead developer on Mass Effect Andromeda, was working on a first-person multiplayer project that also got shut down.

Code-named Mass Effect: Team Assault, the title would have been a download-only game featuring on-foot combat and vehicles that was canned in favour of Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode.