If you’ve spent any amount of time browsing gaming websites or message boards over the last few months, you’ve no doubt stumbled across countless rants and complaints about the ending (or lack thereof) of Mass Effect 3. The massive amount of criticism that BioWare has endured from gamers is unheard of for a company as beloved as the creators of classic games such as Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate, Jade Empire, and more. In fact, on Amazon.com, Mass Effect 3 has a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5, while its user score on Metacritic is 50% (compared to the compiled critic score of 93%). There was so much criticism that BioWare is releasing an “extended cut,” due out June 26th. When I saw the inevitable press release announcing the extended cut, I cringed–not simply because BioWare was extending an ending that left many people wondering “What the hell just happened?”–but because it was clear that franchise lead Casey Hudson had a vision for the ending of a franchise that he was primarily responsible for. A vision that is now being compromised because of over-entitled gamers who think because they’ve invested time into playing a trilogy, they deserve a say in the ending. I wasn’t a fly on the wall in the meeting where the decision was made to extend the ending, and no one can know for sure what Hudson’s true intentions were, but it’s hard not to say that the extended cut was a direct result of consumer criticism. And for that, I’d like to personally say: Shame on you, BioWare.
Shame on you for not standing behind your product, your creative vision.
Before I go on, I should point out one thing: Everyone has every right to criticize the game. They have every right to dislike the ending, and they have every right to let that final fifteen minutes of disappointment ruin their entire opinion of the Mass Effect trilogy. I have no problem with those people. I actually encourage people to give that kind of criticism–it’s what keeps art and ideas improving and flowing. The people I have a problem with are the people actively calling out BioWare to change the ending. Ok, let’s move on.
I’ll be the first to say BioWare has every right to do whatever they want to the game’s ending. What I don’t agree with is that the ending was obviously extended because of the backlash from the fans. And that, I hate. I’d hate for this to become a trend; I don’t want to see an industry where developers’ and artists’ creative visions are altered by the negative rumblings of some disappointed fans. I know, I know, they’re making the game for the gamers, and it’s a fine line between compromising a vision and simply making fans happier. But it’s clear here that BioWare is letting fans alter their vision–fans that say they deserve a better ending. Those fans deserve nothing but being able to play the game BioWare developed, and they got that. Those fans chose to pay $60 for a game that we all paid $60 for, and most of us aren’t demanding change.
With the extended cut due out soon, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for creative freedom. On one hand, people bought the game; it sold very well. On the other hand, a few of those people weren’t happy until BioWare bent over backwards to appease them. With any luck, this will be a one time occurrence.