Editorial

Editorial: Mass Effect 3 versus the fans

It's a dilemma as old as entertainment itself. On the one hand, the people who create plays or novels or music or films or, yes, games want an audience to enjoy what they have created. On the other hand, those same creators also want to make something that is true to their vision and not something that dictated completely by popular demand.

That's the issue that BioWare faces at the moment with Mass Effect 3. The sci-fi RPG is the third and final game in a trilogy that completes the intersteller story of Commander Shepard. The first two games were both critical and sales hit. Mass Effect 3 received raves in the early reviews from the media, including here at Neowin.

Then the general public bought and played Mass Effect 3. While many of them enjoyed the game from start to finish, a vocal group of fans felt that the ending of Mass Effect 3 did not live up to the expectations they wanted for a storyline that took three games and several years to complete.

The outrage over the ending took over BioWare's official message board for Mass Effect 3 as well as the game's official Facebook page. Some fans launched an online petition to ask BioWare and publisher Electronic Arts to change Mass Effect 3's ending. They also took donations that will be sent to the Child's Play children's hospital charity.

One gamer reportedly filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, stating:

This is not somethign (sic) I was happy to do, but after the terrible ending that was in no way the product that had been advertised to me and the lack of any kind of response from Bioware/EA to address this, I felt it was one of my only recourses. I'll be returning my copy of the game before the end of my 30 day return policy if the ending still hasn't been addressed by then.

In the end, BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka confirmed this week that the development team plans to do something about the game's ending although he was very vague about what BioWare will actually offer to this very vocal group of fans.

The issue at hand is not whether or not the ending of Mass Effect 3 is satisfying. Rather, the issue concerns whether game developers can create a product that the fans will completely embrace or make one that takes some risk that might also upset gamers in the process.

Ideally, a game developer wants to make a product that has the approval of the fans while still keeping with the original ideas and vision of the game creator. Unfortunately, the world is never 100 percent ideal; some fans would not like Mass Effect 3's ending no matter what BioWare's team came up with.

But should a group of fans demand that BioWare change Mass Effect 3 so that it fulfills the needs of this certain group? After all, gamers spent $50 on the PC version and $60 for the Xbox 360 or PS3 ports. That's a lot of money and fans, and rightly so, expect a lot from a game these days.

But in this case, we are not talking about a game that has a lot of bugs or even gameplay issues that legitimately keeps gamers from playing and enjoying Mass Effect 3. We are talking about a story point. BioWare's team doesn't have any dummies. They likely knew that the ending they came up with might be controversial.

However, it's also likely they didn't expect the reaction to the ending would cause such a large amount of fuss from some fans. It's certainly become one of the most talked about news items in the gaming industry.

Ultimately, we feel that while the game is certainly designed to have some input from gamers in the shaping of the story, the ending of Mass Effect 3 should be BioWare's responsibility. This is the story that the team wanted to tell and Mass Effect 3's ending is the conclusion they wanted to write.

Gamers can certainly complain about the ending all they want. They can even write reviews to say that the ending is not satisfactory. But to insist to BioWare that they change the ending is like watching a two hour movie and then trying to write the film's studio demanding that they release a new version of the film with the ending that a few fans wanted to see.

It's a certainty that gamers complaining about Mass Effect 3 to the FTC is totally out of order; we hope the federal government has better things to do than get involved in this debate.

Entertainment creators should be allow to make products that fit their vision. Reshaping that vision simply to make a few fans happy does neither the creator nor the fans any good at all. If fans don't care for a game from a development team, they can simply give their opinion and then not buy any more games from that team. It's really as simple as that.

We are not the only ones that feel this way. Vox Games reports that Ken Levine. the founder of Irrational Games, (BioShock and the upcoming BioShock Infinite) had this to say about the fan's reaction to Mass Effect 3 during a panel at the Smithsonian a few days ago. Levine states:

I think if those people got what they wanted and (BioWare) wrote their ending they would be very disappointed in the emotional feeling they got because ... they didn't really create it. I think this whole thing is making me a little bit sad because I don't think anyone would get what they wanted if that happened.

We couldn't agree more. We hope that this incident doesn't keep other game developers from creating games that they want to make. If the mob mentality that has arisen from this controversy keeps someone from making a game or adding a story element that could prove to be unpopular with some folks, all of us as gamers will have lost out on a certain degree of creator freedom in the future.

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Wow...interesting comments.but I don't think most of them get what I was writing about.
Whether or not you liked the ending or whether or not you believe the game needs some kind of closure or epilogue is not what I was writing about.
The issue is whether or not some fans should demand and/or expect BioWare change the ending or offer an epilogue because they felt it didn't satisfy them and whether or not BioWare should try to bend to these requests.

John Callaham said,
Wow...interesting comments.but I don't think most of them get what I was writing about.
Whether or not you liked the ending or whether or not you believe the game needs some kind of closure or epilogue is not what I was writing about.
The issue is whether or not some fans should demand and/or expect BioWare change the ending or offer an epilogue because they felt it didn't satisfy them and whether or not BioWare should try to bend to these requests.

As paying customers, they have the right to demand anything. BioWare & EA, as developers and publishers then have to design if answering these demands is important enough or not.

Because of editorials like this that we are in the awful gaming state that we are in today, where people who demand quality and worth for their money are labeled as "entitled" an "spoiled" by a community of retards.

Leo (DerpDerp) said,

As paying customers, they have the right to demand anything. BioWare & EA, as developers and publishers then have to design if answering these demands is important enough or not.

Because of editorials like this that we are in the awful gaming state that we are in today, where people who demand quality and worth for their money are labeled as "entitled" an "spoiled" by a community of retards.

Yeah its quite annoying that all the rabid bio fanboys froth at the mouth to instantly defend it and additionally that editorial writers seem to think that disgruntled customers are just trolls..

When I got the game and got my ending and then replayed it and got a similar ending with a diff colour - I was kinda annoyed that the ending was so shockingly done.

I really don't understand anyone who started with the first, played the second and went to the third could be satisfied with it.

Then again I don't understand the people who are like I HATE BIOWARE NEVER BUYING AGAIN BLAH BLAH

It just means I'll wait with new Bioware releases to see if they are decent before I buy them.

Additionally Bioware said they had planned for a trilogy so they had plenty of time to make an epic ending... seems they just cheaped out tbh

The shocking amount of ignorance about the whole matter is quite astounding too, the majority of the Bioware defense force aren't capable of reading or comprehending the complaint either that or are choosing to ignore it.

Leo (DerpDerp) said,

As paying customers, they have the right to demand anything. BioWare & EA, as developers and publishers then have to design if answering these demands is important enough or not.

Because of editorials like this that we are in the awful gaming state that we are in today, where people who demand quality and worth for their money are labeled as "entitled" an "spoiled" by a community of retards.

There is a limit to this 'demand' that paying customers have. Can paying Neowin members demand changes to the site? I hope this 'demand for a better' does not spill into other games and media like TV, movies, books, music.

Doli said,

There is a limit to this 'demand' that paying customers have. Can paying Neowin members demand changes to the site? I hope this 'demand for a better' does not spill into other games and media like TV, movies, books, music.


Indeed they do. There is a slight difference, where Neowin is not funded exclusively by the paying members, but they still have their own. Indeed, they have the right to demand, and indeed they should be listened to, if Neowin wishes to continue having paid members.

I didnt get the ending because if you blew up the reapers it would mean all synthetic life would die (maybe ppl augmented to) but it even showed ya ppl disintegrating so safe to assume every high level race got wiped out. The mass relays explode as the energy from the citiadel overloads them as it push out the blast to every system but wont blow up the system.

But if you choose to control the reapers the same thing happens, relays explode but everything survives. In that case the reapers can just rebuild the gate network and with there seemingly infinite power core and 2x faster FTL drive can just go round rebuilding the gate network. dunno what thr 3rd option is maybe i wont kill illusiove man and ill have a 3rd option will have see.

Id say the "stargazer" was Joker but who else could be on the ship for him to have a kid with and hed have to be bloody lucky to crash land on a planet out of falling out of a "warp conduit"; could of ended up in the middle of no where.

Want to find out???? will only cost you £12.99 in an upcoming expansion hahahah

Good game, i enjoyed it all but the ending is far to open for interpretation than it should of bin.
Also i still dont know what the reapers really are. I know there the harvested populations of advanced races but did the protheans build the citadel? if so they built the reapers but how could that of bin when the protheans were around like 3rd or 4th cycle? was a bit drunk sometimes when playing it so prolly missed some stuff

Edited by psionicinversion, Mar 24 2012, 2:15pm :

psionicinversion said,
I didnt get the ending because if you blew up the reapers it would mean all synthetic life would die (maybe ppl augmented to) but it even showed ya ppl disintegrating so safe to assume every high level race got wiped out. The mass relays explode as the energy from the citiadel overloads them as it push out the blast to every system but wont blow up the system.

But if you choose to control the reapers the same thing happens, relays explode but everything survives. In that case the reapers can just rebuild the gate network and with there seemingly infinite power core and 2x faster FTL drive can just go round rebuilding the gate network. dunno what thr 3rd option is maybe i wont kill illusiove man and ill have a 3rd option will have see.

Id say the "stargazer" was Joker but who else could be on the ship for him to have a kid with and hed have to be bloody lucky to crash land on a planet out of falling out of a "warp conduit"; could of ended up in the middle of no where.

Want to find out???? will only cost you £12.99 in an upcoming expansion hahahah

Good game, i enjoyed it all but the ending is far to open for interpretation than it should of bin.
Also i still dont know what the reapers really are. I know there the harvested populations of advanced races but did the protheans build the citadel? if so they built the reapers but how could that of bin when the protheans were around like 3rd or 4th cycle? was a bit drunk sometimes when playing it so prolly missed some stuff

Joker has that bone disease.. I'm surprised he survived the crash..

To try to answer some of these questions:

Does earth survive? --Depends on whether you see your guys get vaporized after activating the Citadel. If they don't, then yes.
Are ALL the reapers destroyed? --Mass relays only exist in systems with advanced species, so yes.
Do the Mass Relays take out the system they are in? if so does that mean wiping out the Reapers pretty much wiped out all life in the Galaxy? --No, the energy wave created by the "explosion" is different from blowing up a mass relay.
What happens to fleet in orbit of earth now all the Mass Relays are gone? --Presumably, they are stuck there (or within the range of their remaining fuel). Shepard did discover plans for building relays, so they can probably be re-built.
What happened to your squad? How did they magically appear back on the Normandy? --Good question...most of them were on the ground before Hammer's assault. Lack of continuity...oops.
Why was the Normandy travelling through a relay? --Did you see it travel through a relay? I didn't.
What planet did they crash on? --Don't know...doesn't matter.
What of the crew survived? --Depending on your ending choices you see a handful of team members get out of Normandy. This doesn't bring closure to everyone, but at least a few.
What happens to the people who are now crashed on the planet? --Marooned.
What is the deal with the old man and the kid on the snowy planet? --Open to interpretation...I like to think it is Joker. The planet in this scene has two moons just like the one Normandy crashed on. Clearly some type of civilization developed/survived here.

I have thought a lot about the ending and read even more. I am inclined to believe most of the indoctrination theory. I take it a step further though to think Bioware was actually attempting to indoctrinate you, the player, in an attempt to get you as emotionally involved as possible. It tries to convince you that synthesis or control are viable options when we all know they are not. No man can control the reapers and synthesis is exactly what they do: by choosing this you harvest everyone and for all you know the synthesized world is the electronic fantasy created by existence as a reaper.

My only complaint is the similarity of all three endings and the lack of closure they offer as this is where your decisions of all three games should weigh. The final decision scene and choices are brilliant.

Now, who else could see this a mile off?

BioWare is just the latest in the line of developers to be chewed up and eventually spat out by the EA corporate machine. And people actually thought EA had changed for the better.

Do you know why the endings are cheap? Why there is content on the disc locked away as DLC? Because EA knows they can get away with it, thanks to the hoard of mindless, sycophantic fanboys that will instantly dismiss any criticism as trolling or "gamer entitlement" like the author of this editorial is trying to do.

It's about damn time that gamers stopped apologising for large corporations that care nothing for them, other than their money. Fans is short for Fanatics, stop being a drone and start thinking critically.

All that said, who wants to bet on how long it is before EA burns out hte BioWare name and renames it to something like "EA Canada"? I'll give it a year or so.

Am I the only one who dreamed about the ending being like Fallout 1 or 2?

I felt cheated by the endings... tried a few. Even had Joker and Samantha Traynor survive in one.

In all the game you had only one true choice to kill the geth/save the Quarians, save the Geth/save the Quarians or save the Geth/kill the Quarians. The others where just smoke screens.

At first I was annoyed by all these requests to change the ending, I throughly enjoyed it and it came as a big surprise.

Had some time to think about it though and these people that want to change the ending or get a epilogue do have some grounds on which to do it. After playing all games and reading all the books it did seem lackluster. I still enjoyed it nonetheless and if an Epilogue comes along I will gladly play that.

It's like asking a painter to add an apple to a painting only because you don't like the painting without it. What will happen to creativity when 'fans' are going to force the writer to create a different ending. The writers/developers write/create these stories/games FOR the fans, the fans aren't the ones who write/create the games for themselves.

I just don't get it. These type of 'fans' force developers to make a game, sequel or change the story just so that they're pleased with and their expectations aren't being crushed. They just sound like spoiled kids to me, IMO

You don't go out onto the internet to create a partition to have the ending of a movie fixed so that you're more pleased with the movie, right? It might be easier with games to change the endings, but IMO it shouldn't be done when the original writer has already made their version of the ending.

The problem has been with everything you've done through all the mass effect games. It seems that the ending wasn't impacted at all with anything you did. That's what ****ing off die hard fans of the game

Jamushroom said,
It's like asking a painter to add an apple to a painting only because you don't like the painting without it. What will happen to creativity when 'fans' are going to force the writer to create a different ending. The writers/developers write/create these stories/games FOR the fans, the fans aren't the ones who write/create the games for themselves.

I just don't get it. These type of 'fans' force developers to make a game, sequel or change the story just so that they're pleased with and their expectations aren't being crushed. They just sound like spoiled kids to me, IMO

You don't go out onto the internet to create a partition to have the ending of a movie fixed so that you're more pleased with the movie, right? It might be easier with games to change the endings, but IMO it shouldn't be done when the original writer has already made their version of the ending.

The problem you're encountering is that your analogies are comparing non-interactive mediums to one that is.

It's a silly comparison.

America, where half of the people complaining about government don't even vote, but people are motivated to "get involved" when entertainment doesn't live up to their expectations.

Gamers. Because some people's priorities are full of shet.

Joshie said,
America, where half of the people complaining about government don't even vote, but people are motivated to "get involved" when entertainment doesn't live up to their expectations.

Gamers. Because some people's priorities are full of shet.

Implying that every gamer doesn't vote or is indeed, American in the first place.

Crapposters. Because some people can't post anything of relevance or meaning.

Athernar said,

Implying that every gamer doesn't vote or is indeed, American in the first place.

Crapposters. Because some people can't post anything of relevance or meaning.


LOL at people who read into posts stuff that isn't there and then reply to the post that only existed in their mind.

Joshie said,

LOL at people who read into posts stuff that isn't there and then reply to the post that only existed in their mind.

Maybe you should spend more than 5 seconds writing such content-free posts then, so you don't make silly implications that get you called out on.

Words have meanings, if you're not using them right, then that's your fault.

I like many have played out the entire trilogy of mass effect and also thought the ending was horrible. It was allll too matrixy for my taste. Like many i wish bioware would alter the ending it was horribly done especially when we are all very aware that bioware can release quality stories such as kotor back in earlt 2000s they did a great job story telling in dao and i enjoyed the story in da2. But this ending was just bad. You survive impossible odds in mass effect 1 and 2 all to die by a ray of light? Then only get an ending where shepard lives if you play mass effect online?! When bioware said playing online is completely optional and wouldnt affect the ending.

For the author comparing the gaming industry with that of the movies is an unjust comparison. You spend 7.50 to watch a 2 1/2 hr movie if you hated it you never have to worry about it. But people spend hundreds of dollars to play a trilogy then invest hundreds of hours playing thinking through decisions because

the game studio said those decisions mattered. And they did to a strong degree.

However reuniting the geth and qurians when the whole story pointed to peace between the two. We are told by a child who for the moment i will call the architect from the matrix created this whole blasted thing. The dialog was sloppy. For all the choices presented there really where no choices. You're character in the end fully trusted the machine architect without a second thought. Made a decision to potentially blend humans and machines together for the whole universe! As humans we have learned to never trust the original source until it is a verified source of quality information. This architect has never been presented in any of the games and apparently his words are sound...

Asking a game studio to make adjustments to a ending that seemed haphazardly thrown together is not all that much to ask for. Imo!

"We couldn't agree more." I thought this was one persons editorial not the whole collective agreement of all those involved at the Neowin editorial office?

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