BioWare lied to you.
Two weeks ago, a listing on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace inadvertently revealed details for the "From Ashes" downloadable content for Mass Effect 3. Many fans expressed anger at the confirmation of "launch day" DLC. Consumers are typically enraged by the premise of "Day One DLC" because, as they see it, the DLC is game content which could have been included in the game but was instead removed so that it could be sold back later. In the case of Mass Effect 3, the prospect of Day One DLC is particularly irritating, since failing to buy the DLC removes an entire character from the game - a curious design decision for a product so focused on narrative and characters.
Bioware addressed these concerns by saying that the DLC was developed only after the game was fully completed and submitted to a separate quality assurance team, meaning that these assets were developed separately and at extra cost, justifying the additional price tag for the DLC.
However, with the release of the final game, fans have been poking around the files and making some surprising findings. There appears to be content on the game disc that shouldn't be there based on previous statements by BioWare. For instance, the build which leaked in November, the official demo, and now the standard retail release of Mass Effect 3 all contain voice files for the Prothean squad member. There's also a full set of model and animation files for the Prothean, but file encryption makes it impossible to open these for further inspection. These files are just as big as they are for other, non-DLC characters, suggesting that the art, animation, and voice assets for the DLC character were developed at the same time, not after the completion of the project. If these assets were developed after end of development, they would have to be downloaded - not unlocked directly from the disc.
The model information for the character seems to all be there. With the proper tools, you can open it up and look at the Prothean squad member.
Finally, decompiling the game's Coalesced.bin file reveals many references to the Prothean squad member. Highlights include the Prothean's HUD and team screen images, his weapon loadout, and the appropriate script ids to call when he is added to the party.
Why is this such a big deal? The loudest complaint from fans was the cynical belief that BioWare had removed content from the game only to sell it back later for a DLC cash grab. BioWare is on record stating that "From Ashes" was developed AFTER the main game was done:
"[BioWare] completed the game in January & moved onto the 'From Ashes' DLC... It takes about 3 months from 'content complete' to bug-fix, certify, manufacture, and ship game discs. In that time we work on DLC."
- Casey Hudson, Executive Producer
"The content in 'From Ashes' was developed by a separate team (after the core game was finished) and not completed until well after the main game went into certification."
- Michael Gamble, Producer
"Sure. What a lot of people don’t know is that… We’ve got 150 people who worked on the Mass Effect game. When we get towards the end of the project, we get into the certification phase, and everything that we’ve ever wanted to do with the core game is actually finished. And now we just need to get it certified and put on the trucks and manufactured on discs and stuff. That takes three months or more. Three months or more for a team of 150 people, that equates to millions of dollars of development time. So we either would move on to the next game, which you might not see for several years, or we’re a multi-team studio, so they might move on to Dragon Age or The Old Republic. But we know that people really enjoyed the DLC for Mass Effect 2. So we wanted to start working on DLC." - Casey Hudson, Executive Producer
What's going on? Most likely, "From Ashes" was conceived early in Mass Effect 3's development cycle and was worked on side-by-side with core game content to ensure a seamless integration into the final product. The real "From Ashes" DLC that's up for purchase may just be a collection of easy-to-package assets while a good portion of the DLC-related game code sits right there on the retail disc. Speculation? Certainly, but this evidence would suggest that BioWare worked on "From Ashes" well before the game was completed and then lied about the development process.