There’s a lot going on in the video game industry right now. Multiple big budget releases, old school classic remakes in HD, teaser announcements for some really amazing franchises. Unfortunately none of that matters at the moment due to the rift that has been caused between the industry and the people who made the industry what it is today… The fans, or customers, as we are also known.
The release of Mass Effect 3 on March 6th was one of the most anticipated games of the year. The title was set to wrap up an epic story driven trilogy. A story created by the fans, driven by the fans, for the fans. So my question is, “Is the customer always right?” As someone who has worked in retail, the food service industry, sales, security and tech support I can unequivocally say NO! The customer is not always right. Simply paying for a product doesn’t grant license to an individual to impose their wants or misconceptions on the seller. A product is generally sold as is unless specifically told otherwise. That is unless the item is misrepresented in some way.
And there lays the rub.
Casey Hudson of Bioware was quoted prior to release, “This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.”
Hudson continued, “It’s more like there are some really obvious things that are different and then lots and lots of smaller things, lots of things about who lives and who dies, civilizations that rose and fell, all the way down to individual characters. That becomes the state of where you left your galaxy. The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.”
In another interview Hudson stated, “There are many different endings. We wouldn’t do it any other way. How could you go through all three campaigns playing as your Shepard and then be forced into a bespoke ending that everyone gets?”
“Mass Effect 3 is all about answering all the biggest questions in the lore, learning about the mysteries and the Protheans and the Reapers, being able to decide for yourself how all of these things come to an end.”
“Every decision you’ve made will impact how things go. The player’s also the architect of what happens.”
“You’ll get answers to everything. That was one of the key things. Regardless of how we did everything, we had to say, yes, we’re going to provide some answers to these people.”
Casey Hudson has spoken openly for the first time about Mass Effect 3’s controversial ending, which has stirred up plenty of anger among some series fans:
“I didn’t want the game to be forgettable, and even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people – debating what the endings mean and what’s going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in,” Hudson said, “That to me is part of what’s exciting about this story. There has always been a little bit of mystery there and a little bit of interpretation, and it’s a story that people can talk about after the fact.”
He went on to say that BioWare takes fan feedback very seriously, and that the Mass Effect community will help shape upcoming campaign and multiplayer DLC. “Oh, we pay very close attention to it. It’s very important to us and we will always listen to feedback, interpret it and try and do the right thing by our fans,” said Hudson, “That’s why if you look at Mass Effect 2 we knew that people wanted to spend more time with a character like Liara, and so we created an ongoing storyline with her as part of the comics and then built it into the DLC stuff, and we’re always listening to fans. We have some really great multiplayer content and some really great single-player content coming over the air, and their feedback will become part of how we design that.”
Now I can say in this respect, the customer is definitely right regarding Mass Effect 3 being completely misrepresented to the consumer. As fans we were expecting the game to fit smoothly into the Mass Effect universe, seamlessly, it was anything but. I’ll avoid all the glitches, facial import feature being non-functional, game saves not always importing correctly, squad mates so important in ME2 suspiciously absent save for the generic mission involvement and the laziness involved in using a Google stock image to portray Tali without her mask. It wasn’t even animated in the game. Just a poorly lit photo in a frame? Really???
Let’s pretend to ignore that and so much more for a moment.
We as fans, as customers, the ones who’ve molded these adventures as our own since 2007 feel cheated. More so, we feel out right disrespected. We were looking forward to the game because A) It’s the finale to a phenomenal trilogy and B) because the creative brain trust at BioWare told us we were getting a vastly different title. What we were told to expect was radically different ways in which the story would end. Fans came out of every corner to show their disbelief, their hurt, their utter disappointment in being misled and let down.
This was and is an emotional series for the fans who have been with it since day one. You feel for every character. There’s a bond that’s forged in virtual battle. The story makes you wish you were there to see it all unfold before your eyes so you could witness first hand an epic tale in which through it all, the hero prevails while maintaining his or her humanity.
I won’t lie. There were moments where I felt like I wanted to actually cry over a death in the game. The unavoidable ones were the worst: Thane, Mordin, and – for the love of god – Legion. When a video game can be that engrossing, you know you’re involved with something special!
When you end a series using material openly obtained from a seven year old boy, in Germany, for the idea of a star child? When you end the epic on a note nobody can even believe was real? When you promise 16 varied endings based on in game and series long choices but deliver three endings that only truly vary in color and squad mates? When that happens fans have every right to not only want change but to rally and petition for change. This is not entitlement. This is not sour grapes. This is the emotionally cheated asking for redemption at the hands of BioWare. When people would rather pretend there was a different ending instead of accept the actual ending, you know your writers and creative team dropped the ball. The ball didn’t just drop but bounced down the stairs, out the front door, rolled through a mud puddle, and came to rest in the middle of the street. Where it was immediately run over by a Mac truck…
There’s a rumor, although unconfirmed, Casey Hudson and lead writer Mac Walters secluded themselves to write the ending alone. Why? Were the other members of the writing team all of a sudden eaten by a Reaper?
Many sites have been started to help fans both cope with their disdain in an attempt to productively push forward with a movement to do what no organized group has done before: Change the ending to an already completed and released title. The crazy thing is, there’s true momentum to this movement. Demand a Better Ending to Mass Effect 3 on Facebook has over 56,000 members expressing their grief, disbelief, theories, and ideas to improve the game. Most are very productive as these are the core group who appreciate this series on a level that only the creators can. Shouldn’t these gamers have the right to petition for changes? In a way they directly shaped the game with their choices, relationships, and personal morality.
These various movements taking shape online are amazing on so many levels. So many different people all came together and said: No. Not to our story. Shepard deserved better. The series deserved better! WE deserved better! Let’s do something about it!
Emails began being sent. Forums created with thousands of posts. Actual hand written letters were mailed. Interviews with various online blogs and gaming press organizations took place. The ball not only started rolling, but was shot out of a cannon!
G4 did a story on the issue. CNN covered the issue. Forbes has released a few columns about the effort. I thought to myself, “Holy crap this is the greatest show of both support and will I’ve seen for something of this nature.” If that weren’t enough, the fans on Demand a Better Ending for ME3 also raised over $80,000 for Child’s Play charities as a way to help others while venting their frustration in a positive way. These are serious gamers with a serious love / hate relationship with BioWare. I’ll be honest many will openly admit they hate EA, seeing the company doesn’t hide the fact everything’s about the bottom line first, all else is secondary. BioWare on the other hand used to stand for the fans. Everything was for and about their most staunch supporters and it showed.
Now Bioware have a chance to make things right. Fans may never forget the violation of good faith but, given the right solution, they may very well forgive BioWare by sticking with them in the future having knowledge that should they be truly disappointed down the line, the company will actually listen. Not pretend to listen, which is how all fans – myself included – feel as everything stands right now. The ball is in their court. Will they let us play with it again or are they taking the ball and going home? Time will tell.
A problem is the longer BioWare waits, the more damage is done. Eventually the rift will get so great there will be no going back. Fans definitely don’t want that to occur.
We’ll see in April and I’ll keep you posted.
This guy is a tool. Should Shapespeare have changed the ending of his plays cause they would have been better received? Should DaVinci have changed the Mona Lisa’s smile because too many people didn’t understand to painting?
Writers whould be allowed to create what they wish to create. Its crazy to me that when a developer only delivers what the fans want, they’re called sell outs but when a unique and deep story is created, its called a slight to customers.
Screw off and enjoy your shitty, happy go lucky Halo games that always have a happy ending.
Well, if DaVinci promised that he would make Mona Lisa’s smile in a way everybody would understand and basically all his admires don’t understand, then there’s only 2 explanations , either he screw up or he lied. Either way, would be wise for his reputation to fix this, not because people demand it, but because he promised it.
That goes for Shakespeare too. If he promised his fans that he would make a play about something and delivered nothing that he had promised, then he is , either a liar or he screw up like Mr.DaVinci up here.
So the question is : Is it really about “artistic integrity” or it’s just that they don’t want to admit that they failed their promises ?
The beauty of being such an avid RPG game lover is I’m very well acquainted with Trolls. Most trolls have the guts to leave their real name. But being a fan of flowers is cool I guess too. I’ll address you’re well thought out , intellectual views a portion at a time.
You’re equating a video game that depicts lesbian , alien sex with A Midsummer’s Night dream ? Hmmm, Not sure even Shakespeare would go along with you. (P.S. not sure who Shapespeare is … ) A painting is not adjusted through constant DLC. A Patch is a change to your so called art from customer input. So to stick with you’re obviously well thought out opinion, If a game is art and the game dev’s patch their games constantly based on OUR input, that opened the door to allow us to request adjustments based on misinformation and broken promises. THEY promised a differing Canvas than they delivered. If DaVinci was commissioned to paint the Mona Lisa and delivered a blank canvas stating he went a different direction, it would have been in the trash that day. Delivering what the fans want is called strong customer service…With a smile… So again if they had never promised a different product, a different ending, a different set of variables for the outcome, Nobody would have a leg to stand on other than we hated it. We have their words as misinformation that have fueled this argument. Lie to your fans, they go away. Simple as that.
Also, I’m not by any means a huge Halo player but I fail to see where any Halo title ended with Master Chief riding off into the sunset on a unicorn, through a double rainbow.
Opinions are like A-holes. Everyone has one & they assume that everybody elses stinks. In this case you just have a seriously stinky A-Hole… Figuratively Speaking…. 🙂
Have a wonderful day !!! As BioWare says, “We appreciate your feedback. We’re listening!!!”
“Magnolia Fan” how you guys feel entitled to compared Mass Effect Ending to the great artists of the history? In fact REAL ARTISTS, even Ph.D. in art wrote that the ending doesn’t fit in ANY form of art.It’s just a shapeless detached text.
Now on the article. Well, even if Bioware redeem themselves, the name of Hudson, Gamble and Walters are deep in mud. Specially Hudson that detached himself from the team and fans. I am usually a pretty leveled person, and when people said they would NEVER buy Bioware games again, I said that never is too much. Bioware can always change back.But in Casey Hudson’s case, I’m proud and certain that no matter the hype I decided to never buy another game made by him again.
On the “rumors” about Mac and Casey secluding themselves to write the end without the team, they aren’t Rumors. Geoff Keighley have on his documentary App a sketch made by Casey Hudson on November 2011 portraying the EXACT END we got. The doodles are with no doubt the product of Hudson work ALONE. Mac probably just gave some polishing.
And the post made for Peter Weekes was pressed to be disregarded, as not from him. But the lack of hacking report, between other confirmed facts on the posts of the Takyris account in Penny Arcade, tells another history. Casey IN FACT made up the ending alone and Mac helped him, without the participation of the team.
Casey is not a writer. Casey is barely an artist. He is more of a computer graphics technician. His ability is to make a bridge between a concept artist and a system programmer. That does not entitle him to WRITE, even more over the silenced mouths of a team of professional writers, and finally over the disgruntle of the company costumers.
And you final statement is right. The more time Bioware spent backing up ONE crazy leader, the more they hurt themselves up to the point the rift is too big.