[Editorial] – Tales of Mass Effect 3: Endings, Fans, and Jackasses


It’s been a while since I’ve written an editorial regarding something going in the industry, usually because I don’t either have the time, or make the time to do so. There is an abundance of things I could write about and comment on, there always is. However, this time I’m going to tackle the one issue that really bugs the hell out of me. The whole controversy regarding the ending of Mass Effect 3 is something that seems to be one of the big topics these days around the gaming world and nearly all the big players in game media have covered it, commented on it, and well really, helped fuel it in some ways.

People screaming about an ending of a game is nothing new in the history of humanity. As long as there have been stories told by one person to another regardless of the format in which it’s been delivered, there have been people who didn’t like the way things turned out. Those people would go ahead and bitched and chewed about it to anyone willing to listen and with the internet there’s plenty of people to listen and read about it with an equal number of disagreements and agreements about said story.

I’m honestly fine with people not being happy with the way something ended up, that’s people voicing their opinions which we’re all allowed to have. The thing that bugs me is that it’s being taken from the wide spread piss-fest of complaints and people are rallying to pressure the developers to change the ending. I really hope, truly hope, they do not cave to that pressure as it would set a dangerous precedent across gaming and story telling in general.

Alternate endings are one thing, but to dramatic change the canon ending of a narrative because of pressure from a vocal segment of your content consumers is really bad juju. As a writer I can only empathize with the those who crafted the Mass Effect stories. It always sucks and is demoralizing when people don’t like the story you’ve told, but it’s a part of life. You accept the negativity, allow it to pass over and through you and move forward to the next story.

Admittedly I haven’t seen the ending, nor have I played Mass Effect beyond opening up the first one’s case to look at it for a few moments. I have no opinion on the story, it’s ending and if that ending is “good” or not. That really has nothing to do with the point of this piece, nor is it of great cosmic importance on my stance regarding the issue.

There have been a wealth of stories over time that I haven’t liked some part of, be it the ending, a particular event, or particular character. Certainly I might have preferred a different outcome, but I respect the creators of those stories for carrying out their vision and telling the story they wanted to tell. There are all kinds of examples I could give for things I wish had been different, like Aeris death in Final Fantasy VII or that Bambi’s mother died. Likewise I’m sure there’s people out in the world who wished the American revolution had ended differently, not exactly my idea of a good outcome.

That’s what’s at stake here, if they went ahead and changed the ending because of the mounting anger of their fans it would mean that others would feel less confident in their executing their own story visions, and it would empower a vocal minority to set up even more actions such as that. There’s a good kind of activism that rights wrongs, seeks justice, and fights for a cause that benefits the world and people living in it.

Rallying against the ending of a story isn’t fighting for a cause it is a form of CENSORSHIP. Changing the actual ending of a story when it’s been completed censors the original intent because someone doesn’t agree with it.

The whole debate, from first and second appearances, reeks of nothing more than the sense of entitlement that has taken over the world these days. In this on demand, get it when You want it, world, people more than ever feel they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it. Essentially, the detractors who are screaming for a different ending are saying…

“I bought your game but I don’t like the ending, gimmie a better ending!”

Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie, that’s what it boils down too in these complaints. Yes you the consumer did pay for the game, you paid money to play and experience the world and vision the developers created. That’s what you paid for. You didn’t pay for the game to change it, you paid money to experience it.

So where does this leave us, well it leaves us watching either a developer caving in and changing their own vision to make some people happy. Or they could compromise and offer “Alternate ending” DLC to at least make a few of those people happy. Lastly, they could just do the proper thing and stand up and say “This is our vision, we’re sorry you don’t like it, but we stand by the world and story we crafted and delivered.

Want a different ending? How about you go write some fan-fiction, or better still, make your own game, write your own story, end it the way you want, and publish it. Then when people sit around and bitch and chew about how YOU did things, you might decide to stop being a jackass?…. Maybe….

In conclusion, thinking about this whole thing put one thing in my mind and I will leave it here for you to reflect on.

This should be required reading in schools.

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4 comments for “[Editorial] – Tales of Mass Effect 3: Endings, Fans, and Jackasses

  1. Asurael
    03/16/2012 at 6:06 PM

    Totally agree, and I actually played the three games, numerous times, and I’m playing the third one again. I was as heavily emotionally invested as you can be in a videogame, never has a videogame story touched me as deeply or made me care for its characters as much, and though I’m a bit disappointed in the ending, that totally does not merit all the criticism it has received. The biggest problem is that it lacked closure, and there are some incongruences, but those can be overlooked. I just hope that if indeed there was an original plan to add depth to the ending (by DLC new games, stories or whatever) that it is not perceived as a victory to all the people who are complaining. Still best game of the year in my opinion. And what you write about should be a universal truth, regardless of whether we’re talking about mass effect or not.

  2. Jake
    03/16/2012 at 6:33 PM

    “Admittedly I haven’t seen the ending, nor have I played Mass Effect beyond opening up the first one’s case to look at it for a few moments.”

    Right there proves that you don’t understand what the real issues are to the ending. Instead, you decide to throw your hat into the “entitled gamer” arena and join much of the “journalism” gaming industry whose ad revenue depends on the success of EA/Bioware’s Mass Effect 3 game.

    You ignore the facts that gamers were promised 16 distinct endings, but they only received 1 with only a 5% variation that includes 3 choices of the color of the explosion. They were promised closure and that their actions and decisions would impact and matter to the ending, but however they played, they still received the one ending with a 5% variation of the same reused cut scene. The developers broke away from the ME formula and expectations over the previous games, and even the first 95% of ME3 by introducing a “God Child” and other story elements that fundamentally contradict the running themes and canon of the Mass Effect series.

    Now, next time you decide to write up an editorial, do your research. Otherwise you come off as an uninformed industry shill who isn’t brave enough to seriously look at the real issues at hand because they “challenge” your established manner of thinking.

    • 03/16/2012 at 6:49 PM

      Failure to deliver on promises is an entirely different matter, I’m not ignoring that as it’s completely irrelevant to the point I was aiming at. Failing to deliver on promised content is something that can be and should be challenged.

      I understand the issue as it’s not something new in gaming and never has been. There have been plenty of franchise entries from various developers that turned around on something established and went off into bizzaro world that didn’t make sense in a continuity stand point. As in this case, it pissed people off and they’re disappointed, upset, and angry about it. Again nothing new, it’s the expectation that it will be changed or the push to have it changed post production and sale that is the sticky point.

      Most likely, they did it on purpose to get this kind of reaction, even to the point that they were going to use the general angst the ending has caused to leverage DLC content filled with those endings. Knowing that people want to see a different outcome they’ll perhaps release one ending dlc pack for free to soothe the savage internets, then put even more alternate ending dlc up for sale knowing people will likely pay for it just to see if they “fixed” things.

      Also this whole matter is potentially prompting some to buy the game to see what all this is about and driving the sales up. The want to see for one’s self is usually greater then the willingness to listen to other people who claim “don’t buy it, the ending sucks”.

      There’s a wealth of possibilities that we could speculate on the reasons behind the choices made for the rest of the year.

      Additionally, about the ad revenue comment, since as is obvious we aren’t supported by ads anywhere on the site, nor when/if I do implement ad space on the site, it won’t be by taking money from any particular publisher. For the very reason you make that comment. We aren’t going to live and die by the graces of the publishers and developers.

      And the term you’re looking for is that I’ll come off looking like an asshole, and really, I’m fine with that.

    • 03/16/2012 at 7:07 PM

      I have played all three games and I have no issues at all with the ending because as Bioware has already announced pre-release of ME3. This is only the end of the trilogy and not of the Mass Effect Universe. They also stated to hang on to your ME3 saves as they will have some bearing when you import them into the next game.

      Also since we get press releases from EA/Bioware I don’t recall any announcement promising 16 distinct endings. Where did you read it? Was it from an actual EA or Bioware Employee? Unfortunately as anyone knows you can’t believe everything you read on the internet unless it comes from someone who is authorized to make such statements.

      I’ve hated endings to movies, books, and even other video games, but never in the 30+ years I’ve been doing these things have I ever thought it was okay to petition anyone to change the ending to be the way I wanted it to be. That is where the word “entitlement” gets thrown into the arena. I don’t care how much you paid for that video game, that does not entitle you or anyone the right to petition the company to change the ending to what you want it to be!

      And as was already stated we are an AD-Free Gaming Site. We get no revenue from anyone for what we post or for our opinions. WE PAY FOR EVERYTHING ON THIS SITE FROM OUR OWN POCKETS!

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