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Mass Effect 3 is very, very Canadian

Edmonton-based developer BioWare released the last of its acclaimed Mass Effect trilogy today—and I’m feeling patriotic.


Oh, Vancouver. You’re so beautiful. Even in the future. Even in the face of total annihilation by a race of sentient machines.

Today marks the end of an era for many of the world’s avid gamers. March 6 is the release date of Mass Effect 3, the last in a blockbuster video game trilogy that’s been both a critical and retail megahit. In fact, its predecessor, Mass Effect 2, was one of the best reviewed video games of all time and sold 2 million copies in its first week. What’s more, parent company Electronic Arts announced just over a week ago that Mass Effect 3 had garnered even more pre-orders than the first two titles.

BioWare, the Canadian video game developer behind the series, markets itself as being the gaming world’s leading storyteller, an identity generally reinforced by critics. Time, for example, famously referred to Mass Effect 2 as the Avatar of video games, only “better written.”

In short, it’s a Canadian export worth being proud of. One with a quirky history, too: BioWare was founded in Edmonton by two newly graduated medical doctors, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, who are now colloquially referred to in the industry as just “The Doctors.” The company remained Canadian-owned up until 2007, when it was acquired by video game behemoth Electronic Arts. But by then BioWare’s reputation was so strong that it retained its own branding. The developer has since opened a handful of secondary studios, including one in Montreal, while its headquarters have remained in Edmonton, where the Mass Effect series is put together.

Vancouver, meanwhile, may not have its own studio—despite BioWare’s parent company EA having a massive presence there—but Terminal City gets some serious play in Mass Effect 3. Canadians, used to seeing their beloved hometowns being passed off as U.S. locales—so as to not “alienate” Americans, or something—will be pleased to know that the opening setting in Mass Effect 3 is most definitely a futuristic Vancouver, and labelled as such. Derek Watts, the game’s art director, told The Globe and Mail that they had considered other cities to kick-start the space opera, “but then we thought: We’re a Canadian company, so we should make it a Canadian city.”