The game's producer has spoken up on the "what" and the "why" of that launch disc's controversial contents.
Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC, From Ashes, has been somewhat of a hot topic for gamers amidst the launch of BioWare's latest game. At first, it was the mere fact that it existed, then the importance of its content, and finally, the fact that someone found evidence of it on the launch disc, therefore hypothetically proving the developer's claims of post-launch production less than honest. In the wake of these accusations, one of the game's producers, Mike Gamble, has decided to clarify his, and the company's, position.
"From Ashes is a 600 MB+ download with all new content, including the mission on Eden Prime, new dialogue options and conversations with [the squad member], new cinematics, the Prothean weapon, and new appearances for all squad members," he explained. "All of the above content was completed while the main game was in certification and are not available on the disc."
This claim would, at first, seem counter to the argument of some code diggers, who point to a .bin file that, when altered, can allegedly unlock the full DLC directly from the standard, unmodified installation. The evidence of this procedure can be found in this (spoilerific) video. In fairness, however, it should be noted that this has yet to be independently verified, that not much other than the squadmate's mere "physical" existence is shown, and that YouTube video uploaders aren't exactly universally heralded as the most reliable, unbiased sources of information.
Later, on Gamble's blog, he continued to explain his company's DLC process. "Because the plot of ME3 is so richly interwoven with the character interactions and moments, you simply cannot use a DLC module to 'insert' a new character," he wrote. "As we've mentioned before, that character has to be planned and the framework has to be established ahead of time for us to build off of with the DLC module. You may have seen a similar framework developed in ME2 for the Zaeed and Kasumi characters.
"We wanted [the new character] to be a fully featured squad member, with deep dialogue throughout the game - and we needed him to be accessible via the character selection GUI (which you cannot simply 'overwrite' with DLC). Thus, certain elements of the [character's] appearance and some of the VO needed to be included on the disc. That is a fact. But that doesn't mean the content was created, and then removed. It is a necessity of adding a rich character presence in our game."
If you read Gamble's statement with a critical eye, he doesn't necessarily contradict the claim that certain files, perhaps even the new character itself, are already on the disc. Specifically, he mentions that the weapon, the mission, and the dialog are what make up that 600MB, not the squad member. The above video/counter claims showcase the character's presence, not its accompanying cut scenes, dialog, or mission. Still, some may find issue with even that, and it's up to each player to decide whether Gamble's explanation of the production process is enough to cool their concerns. Without any evidence of actual lying on BioWare's part, it may be time for everyone to just read over the facts, decide their stance, and vote with their wallets instead of their keyboard. After all, no one (to my knowledge) has yet been forced to purchase or play Mass Effect 3, nor its DLC, From Ashes (though many have clearly chosen to).