The ending of Mass Effect 3 has caused a backlash that has been felt to the very foundations of the internet, shaking its pillars and threatening to bring it to the ground. The charity “Child’s Play” famously raised $80,000 from gamers across the world, attempting to make a statement and provoke “a new ending for Mass Effect 3.” Unfortunately, after less than a month, the charity had to be shut down: donators began to ask for their money back after realizing their contributions would not directly correlate to a new ending.
Just the other day, EA announced that they would be releasing Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut, which would attempt “through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes” to explain just what was going on at the end of Mass Effect 3, and offer “deeper insights into how their personal journey concludes.” The internet became joyous — everything was solved. EA wasn’t the moneygrubbing monster that everyone thought they were. Maybe “Worst Company in America” was too strong a phrase. Now that there’s going to be a new ending, regardless of what it turns out to be, everything is OK.
Except it isn’t. From the start of this, I’ve been of the party that EA and BioWare should stand behind the ending that they released with the game. I agree with the community that it’s not satisfying whether you’ve been playing from the first game or started with the third. I don’t believe that these gamers are entitled either; they have a right, as consumers, to be outraged at the entire situation. They can rage all they want about it. But to demand a new ending? Indoctrination Theory is one thing, about on the same page as the magic bullet theory from the Kennedy assassination. Attempting to bend the truth and hoping beyond hope that BioWare knows what they are doing.
But asking/demanding change is not the way to enact it. Many will claim this as a victory — in reality, it is anything but. All it highlights is how easy it is to satiate the gaming lobby, and how the sanctity of storytelling can be overturned by some gamers protesting. Not boycotting, just complaining. When BioWare releases this patch, and it answers all the questions, and people start posting about how “BioWare would never let us down” or “Maybe EA’s not so bad after all. They released this for free, right?” that’s when it will start.
Gamers are only an effective force when they consolidate power. As a buying entity, gamers are in their infancy, with developers having huge control over what consumers are buying and what they are producing. DLC is something that is being exploited time and time again by developers, and it changes nothing. It can be highlighted again and again, but it comes down to a simple fact: gamers are willing to be nickeled and dimed as long as they come out happy. As long as Shepard can walk down the aisle with Liara and have those “beautiful blue babies.”
Seventy percent of gamers polled in a massive Reddit poll stated that they would pay for ending DLC if EA gave them the opportunity to. I would too — in fact I would pay for any content that BioWare wanted to release. I bought most of the content for Mass Effect 2 as well. I regretted some of the purchases (Arrival in particular), but it never left me wanting or cursing. The ending of Mass Effect 3 made me feel the same way. I didn’t regret the last 30 hours I had spent playing, nor did I want to break in half the digital disc that I couldn’t break in half. Instead, I was ready for the next adventure, and jumped right back in.
There are so many things that can’t be changed in life. And no, I’m not just talking about the big stuff. Movies, TV shows, books. The fan outrage at The Matrix Revolutions, the confusion and contempt for the final moments of Lost, anything Orson Scott Card wrote after Ender’s Game. Do these singular moments ruin the things we love? Would we change these things if we could? Video games allow developers to revisit and add things to their creations. It’s something that’s not present in any other medium.
Well, except movies. Take, for example, the hundreds of re-edits that have been done to the original Star Wars trilogy. CG inserts, cast additions, entirely new scenes that add nothing to the movies. With that, Lucas at every turn attempts to drag his feet, saying that his new creative additions make this the definitive copy, even as fans groan and cling to Laserdiscs. Once something is out there, whether it be movie or video game, the creators need to stick by it. To do any less means they’re half-assing it in the first place. This greatly reduces the impact of the story, as it can be altered and changed at any given moment via patch or edit. When the community has that much influence over the creative process, then they become the writers. Forget professionals, let’s just shop the story to the community and eliminate the extra step.
With the Extended Cut being released this summer, who knows what else is going to be changed? Maybe Shepard and the gang will take Cerberus on at the Battle of the Bands. As I have said and will state again, I’m no fan of the current ending. But EA and Bioware are wrong to change something because of fan outrage. Where does the line get drawn?
Sometimes people are going to speak out about the decisions made in the game. It’s not right to fix an ending just so fans can find happiness. If fans are allowed to officially meddle with the story, where does the line get drawn?