The YouTube channel MinnMax recently interviewed former BioWare producer Mark Darrah on various subjects, and at one point the conversation turned to a planned and canceled Nintendo DS game called Mass Effect: Corsair. It was going to be a first-person ship-flying adventure with combat where you would travel into a more “pirate-y” and “not fully explored” area of the Mass Effect universe, potentially Batarian space.
Mass Effect: Corsair would have been a handheld flight sim on DS
“It was going to kind of be a combination of Privateer and Star Control, so you would have a ship — you would be independent… more like a Han Solo character, not a Spectre,” explained Darrah. Amid your exploration, you would be able to pick up cargo and collect information, and you could then sell that information “back to the human alliance.” The “beginnings of the flight controls” had been prototyped for Mass Effect: Corsair, but the rest had not been assembled.
The reason why development of Mass Effect: Corsair did not proceed was financial, as Darrah explained: “The problem is the economics of the Nintendo DS are just terrible. So, Sonic Chronicles (BioWare’s first and only Nintendo DS game, a Sonic RPG) was on the most expensive cartridge that was available for that console. The cost of goods for that was like $10.50.” That left slim profits for each sale of the game after retailers’ cut was factored in, and Corsair would have presented that issue all over again, since “We (BioWare) know how to make big games, not games that had control of their cogs.” According to Darrah, Electronic Arts also predicted the game would only sell 50,000 copies, a figure that Darrah did not believe at all but still reiterated that low profit margins were expected.
The Nintendo DS BioWare team ultimately transitioned to mobile games. Thus was the brief life of Mass Effect: Corsair on Nintendo DS.