Hello there, internet! I know that this is one of my off days, but I didn’t want to delay Thursday’s post and I thought this was important enough to break my update schedule. Bioware has announced that it will be giving further closure to Mass Effect 3’s ending after a long bit of deliberation. The reason this has forced me to break my update schedule is that I heavily criticized Bioware’s choice of ending here, and I think it’s important to not just complain about when game developers make mistakes, but also to praise them when they get something right. Well in this case, Bioware definitely got it right. More importantly, Bioware is doing something that is fairly unprecedented, which could potentially change the industry: using social media to listen to their fanbase and react accordingly.
|This time you take back Earth in style!|
Let’s address the major criticisms of Bioware’s choice to bend to their fanbase first, so I can dismiss it quickly. The primary criticism is that Bioware is giving into fan pressure and compromising their artistic integrity. We can all agree that the internet is full of fickle, fickle fans, but sometimes it is important to listen to the fanbase and not simply dismiss them. There will always be idiots who complain about minor things, and it is up to the individual person or developer to sift through all of the noise in order to get a real finger on the pulse of the fanbase. The Mass Effect 3 ending controversy is huge, and, as I articulated in my prior post, very warranted. The second part to this criticism is that they are giving up their artistic integrity. This is not a very real concern. Developers aren’t going to suddenly change everything about their games for a couple of fans. However, this controversy was far more than a couple of fans, and Bioware knows this. Even still they will not change their artistic vision, only answer questions and provide more closure to the ending. This will not be a major overhaul which will pervert their overall vision, and that is fine.
|I’m sorry Tali, your face isn’t a priority with the ending in the state it is in.|
Bioware has made a couple of minor statements to the press since the ending controversy started, but nothing substantial. If anything, they seem to have been more surprised than anything about the fan reaction to the end of their series. The most likely reaction of a developer when faced with fan outrage is to simply defend their work and shrug off the complaining as a vocal minority. However, Bioware, after much time looking through message boards, twitter, and other social media, actually took the time to research wether this was a vocal minority or that they had greatly upset the bulk of their fanbase. The effort to discover this and to not simply move on to the next game itself should be commended, but to actually make a change, even if fans are twisting their arms, is significant and they deserve credit for not going on the defensive.
|Alright fans, call off the Krogan death squads.|
There has been no official word concerning the content of the ending expanding DLC. For all fans know, the DLC ending enhancements will be even worse than the original ending (Very unlikely). However, that doesn’t matter in the long run (Well it does, but hear me out). What matters is that Bioware has shown that they are willing to work with the fanbase instead of against it. Whatever they release, it will not appease every gamer, and many who enjoyed the original end may even be upset now, but the fact that we, as a fanbase, know that Bioware is actually paying attention is important.
|Shepard, get away from that stock image!|
Now let me be devil’s advocate right now and indulge any potential readers who are big on conspiracy theory. It is possible to believe that Bioware intended there to be a huge eruption of controversy surrounding the ending, and that they always intended to sell fans the “real” ending via DLC. This way they would make some money, get publicity for the game, and fans would feel like they were being listened to in the end. Sure this conspiracy theory is fun, and makes business sense, but does anyone actually think that Bioware set this whole thing in motion? They may sell DLC, but that doesn’t make them any less committed to creating a good product that they believe will be well received by fans.
|The Stargazer was Bigfoot all along!|
There we go, internet, you won. Does this make us all a big bunch of entitled fanboys? Sure, why not. That doesn’t mean that Bioware isn’t doing the right thing by listening to their customers. Some of the worst industry blunders in history come from companies who don’t listen to what their customers want. Does this mean that no gaming company can possess their own artistic vision of what a game should be like? No, of course not. What has happened is that Bioware has decided itself to give an olive branch to a large number of dissatisfied fans, and they deserve praise for that.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer