About games and gaming thereof!

More on the Mass Effect 3 Ending Dispute

First: I already said this in my last post, but since some people felt the need to explain to me how Mass Effect 3’s ending sucks so badly, I feel the need to reiterate: I wasn’t, nor am I currently, trying to defend Mass Effect 3’s ending. I’m merely pointing out that many, if not most, of these fans involved in the Retake Mass Effect movement are acting immature, disrespectful and downright stupid. (Note that I’m not saying they are stupid — merely that they’re acting like idiots. There is a difference.)

Also, again, nobody post any spoilers in the comments section.

Okay, so I’ve been hearing some people claim they deserve compensation because “Bioware shipped a broken, defective product.”

Holy shit, really?

No, not really. From what I can gather from reading lots of comments while deftly avoiding spoilers, the ending is:

  • non-sequitur
  • illogical
  • stupid
  • unfitting with the themes and tone of the rest of the series
  • lacking any sense of closure or explanation of what just happened

If all those are true, I can absolutely understand why fans are angry and upset with Bioware, but they’re still making utterly baseless accusations. None of those point to a “broken and defective” ending, they merely point to a bad ending.

You can’t get your money back because of a bad ending. If you could, then Peter Molyneux owes a lot of people a lot of money for all three Fable games.

I know what you’ll say next: “Bioware promised us so many things about the endings that they didn’t deliver! They promised us our choices throughout the series would affect the ending and it wouldn’t just be A, B, or C and etc. etc.!”

I have yet to see these promises in any of the advertising or on the back of the box, so I’m pretty sure these were all things Bioware said they were working on during interviews. Here’s the thing, gamers: When a developer “promises” features during interviews, that does not guarantee anything.

And I’m shocked that so many presumably adult gamers haven’t grasped this yet, considering all the times we’ve had developers “promise” all sorts of features and fail to include many of them because of time or budget constraints, or simply because they decided on another idea they thought was better later on. I mean, fuck, have any of these protesters even heard of Peter Molyneux? That guy has based his entire career off of outright lying during interviews, promising the earth and then churning out half-assed products.

One more I’ve been hearing: “Bioware released a game without an ending.”

Is there ever a point when the credits roll? Does the game ever say THE END at any point, or imply that the campaign mode might have stopped? If so, then this is a game with an ending. It might be a bad ending, but it’s still an ending.

I’ve seen multiple articles deconstructing why the ending fails as a work of fiction. I haven’t read them, of course, since I’m avoiding spoilers, but I’ll just assume they’re correct. The ending might fail to provide closure or affirmation, but speaking from a literal standpoint, yes, the game does have an ending. Just a really, really bad one. You don’t get your money back because of that.

Frankly, I’m sick of seeing this. People like me point out how stupid a lot of the “protesters” are acting, and they get countered by people explaining that the ending seriously, totally sucks.

News flash #3: I wasn’t even discussing the ending! I was discussing the backlash!

“Your game fails on a fictional standpoint; therefore it’s a defective piece of software and I deserve reimbursement” is a completely absurd mentality. As a piece of software, Mass Effect 3 functions exactly as advertised. If it fails as a work of fiction, you throw it in a trash bin and move on.

If I published a book with a crappy ending, nobody would be beating my door down demanding that I rewrite the last five pages. That’s just not how it works.

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28 responses

  1. At some point, I’m just saying you might want to actually play through the ending. It makes it really hard to talk abut why it failed if I can’t talk about it.

    Also hey thanks for respecting those of us who want to complain enough to actually see why we’re complaining by the way, I’m not one of the people who joined up with “retake Mass Effect” or anything but this is still outright insulting people while insisting you don’t have to find out what made them so mad in the first place, and you can’t listen to any of their more reasoned arguments because that would be spoilers. Have you even considered that possibly, disallowing yourself access to the more intelligent and reasonable discussion of the ending (which by the way is some of the most in-depth analysis of video games I’ve ever seen) leaves you with a completely biased perspective? You’re specifically ignoring anyone who makes a reasoned, respectful argument then insulting people for not making reasoned, respectful arguments. I know you used the term “mostly” but it’s still an indiscriminate generalization – are you insulting me? Who knows? You’re insulting only “most” of the people I agree with!

    Anyway, the problem using Peter Molyneux as an example is at this point he has a history of promising the earth and not delivering. We know that and we expect it at this point. I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who takes anything he says seriously.

    “Experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome.” (http://masseffect.com/about/story/)
    Now, you’re probably going to say “as long as one decision affects the outcome they still fulfilled that promise” but a) that kind of rules lawyering shouldn’t be required to explain the first sentence on the page and b) it’s hardly complete control – in fact it comes out of nowhere and has no relation to any prior decisions up until that point, other than how many war assets you got in which case it just unlocks new colours.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    • Still the out of nowhere part is the only part that anyone has any bussiness complaining about. The story does change based on the players actions! that quote doesn’t say,”Every choice the player makes will change the overall outcome” it says,”the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome.” That means that every choice you make, effects how YOUR Shepard’s story unfolds. Every choice leads up to the final confrontation and the final choice. Each color is a completely different ending, and i cant beat you over the head with how each one is different without tons of spoilers and you get to amke a CHOICE on which ending you get. And yes you can work hard enough so that the major story choices don’t stop you from getting all three colors but you are still making Shepard CHOOSE to work hard to get all the colors unlocked. If you play all three games, you do, “Experience the beginning[ME1], middle[ME2], and end[ME3] of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome.”

      Maybe before you get all nerd ragey, you stop and think about what your Shepard’s story became. Was a Paragon for his entire life? Did he cut off the Council every time he got the chance? What did he look like? Who did he love? Who was his best friend? Was he willing to make sacrifices? What was his final choice? Did he even have a choice in the end?

      Also keep in mind that the game also had to be able to be played and beaten by those who hadn’t played and beaten ME1 and ME2.

      And Peter Molyneux is a perfect example of the situation. EA has rushed Bioware into making mistakes before, (see Dragon age 2) so when EA started to put the pressure on Bioware people should have protested to EA right away while Bioware still had time to make things work. Not now, after the game has been released.

      JPH still hasn’t talked about the ending or if the people protesting are right or wrong about the ending he is only posting about how out of control they are acting and how it is effecting the gobal gaming comunity.

      You might not have “joined up with ‘retake Mass Effect’ or anything” but you certainly are working under the same mindset as those who did.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    • JPH

      If the people you agree with are saying the stuff I mentioned (e.g. I DEMAND A REFUND!) then yes, I’m insulting them.

      It baffles me how so many people are missing this point. I AM NOT CALLING EVERYONE WHO CRITICIZED MASS EFFECT 3 AN IDIOT. I am only criticizing the people who are demanding compensation because a game’s ending is crap.

      Also: So because Peter Molyneux has committed this crime many times before, that makes him less guilty of it now? Since Bioware has been better about their PR before, that makes them extra guilty of it this time? That’s not how it works.

      Also also: Yes, I’m going to play the game when I get the chance. Budget constraints. I’m sorry my wallet isn’t full enough to meet your expectations.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

      • Peter Molyneux is completely forgiven of all over-hyping crimes due to the fact that it led to the Molydeux game jam, which is awesome.

        March 31, 2012 at 7:03 PM

        • JPH

          I will concede to this point.

          March 31, 2012 at 9:12 PM

  2. First: Peter only has to give me my money back on Fable 2 and 3 because i still think Fable 1 is one of my favortie games, mainly because i picked it out at random and had no knowledge of it before hand and therefore wasnt anticipating anything. (aka, I was’t experiencing The Peter Molyneux Constant).

    Second: Yes. you are right on all counts and i think you have hit on the biggest points of the whole thing; People were expecting Star Wars Episode IV and they got Episode I. Super Fans of the series were reading everything they could find and taking every bit of it to heart, except the parts they didn’t want to hear. Bioware got pressured into releasing earlier and managed to BS their way into getting some extra time from EA but it wasnt enough. But Super Fans ignored that, they saw Bioware pushing back the game and thought, “They are making the game even more EPIC! *insert Super-Fan-Nerd-Rage/Excitement here*”. They read a Bioware rep saying how Bioware wanted the game to turn out and then they didn’t bother to remember that Bioware has a big Boss called EA who can make game altering changes whenever and however EA wants. EA doesn’t care about story or good games they just want to make money. (see EA Sports and the downward spiral of the Command and Conquer games) EA saw a way to make the money off of ME3 sooner instead of later and EA decided to get their money ASAP. The fact that the outrage is aimed at Bioware proves that the losers who are bitching about it to the FTC and making demands really are just brats. Its not like EA is the first thing you see whenever you start the game, or its the only part of the game’s main menu intro that you can’t skip.

    Like I said in my comment on the last post, I enjoyed ME3 and the ending was only a little dissapointing. If you really stop and look every choice does effect your ending. Alot more bad things can happen if you choose not to be a prepared as possible, and if some characters didn’t surive ME1 or ME2 then they arent around to help and things that only they could do, won’t happen which can have a massive effect (see what i did there?) on the overall ending of the war with the Giant Robot Space Shrimp. Alliances and Enemies you make will either help or hinder your efforts to Retake Earth. And your Paragon and Rengede Points also play a major factor in the last few converstions, point which you can only get by making choices.

    I loved ME1, ME2, and ME3, each had its flaws, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t freaking awesome! ME1 had its mako driving, ME2 had its planet scanning, ME3 has it’s strange out of nowhere ending. (the out of nowhere part is the only really issue that i think is even slightly worth complaining about) The people asking for anything but a novel/graphic novel, and/or DLC to explain more of the backstory of the character at the end or maybe the origin of the Giant Robot Space Shrimp, are crazy, stupid, annoying, and embarassing. Just like the Greedy and Corrupt CEOs/Politicians and the Racists that make me feel bad to be an American.

    Mass Effect 3 dispite it’s flaws is my favorite conclusion to a video game story.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:05 PM

  3. Deadpool

    Here’s the thing, gamers: When a developer “promises” features during interviews, that does not guarantee anything.

    Y’know, I kind of agree. I mean, I expect these people to lie during interview and am surprised to see that other people didn’t.

    BUT… The fact that lies are common doesn’t make them RIGHT. It doesn’t mean people can’t feel betrayed or even upset by them. I mean, most of these people have poured at least $120 into Bioware’s pockets, $180 by the time ME3 comes out (some have books, collector’s editions, etc). This doesn’t make Bioware LEGALLY bound to be honest to these people… But what about MORALLY?

    Way I look it, the lies don’t bother me much but I can see why it’d bother other people. And really, SHOULD we be so blase about companies straight up LYING about their product just because someone else has done it before? Is that really the right thing to do?

    Now as for the central argument that people shouldn’t ask for a changed ending… Why not? The story is a part of the game, as much as the gun play is (actually, in Mass Effect, one could argue it was MORE important). If the gun play is BROKEN everyone would expect a patch (a FREE patch mind you) to fix it. If the story is broken, why SHOULDN’T players want a fix for it as well?

    Btw, on the subject of people breaking down your door to change the ending of a bad book… Not as violent but one of the big reasons Larry Niven wrote a sequel to Ringworld was that fans of the book were walking up and down the halls of his hotel during a Sci Fi con shouting “The Ringworld is unstable, the Ringworld is unstable!” Niven wrote a sequel that Retcons a lot of the original, including fixing the instability.

    I agree the Retake ME people are acting a bit too entitled and whiny. And the name is a poor choice of words (can’t retake something you don’t own). But sentiment is valid.

    I still think PAYING for a company to fix their mess is an unsound move… Just sets a bad precedent. But alas…

    March 31, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    • Sumanai

      I think I mentioned this before, but I suspect the “Retake Mass Effect” name comes from the “Retake Earth” advertisements that were running for Mass Effect 3.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      • Deadpool

        I get that. It’s still a poor choice of words. Retake Earth works cuz Earth is OURS and some alien invaders took it from us.

        Mass Effect didn’t belong to us and it hasn’t been taken hostage. I get what they were trying to do, but it’s just not the wording they want. Makes them look more entitled than they actually are.

        March 31, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    • JPH

      A few clarifications:

      1. I agree that lying isn’t good, even if it’s commonplace. It is kind of sleazy that Bioware made so many assurances about the ending when the actual ending completely fails to deliver. Then again, I suspect that they were planning to make the ending that they promised and ultimately weren’t able to because of time or budget constraints.

      Of course they say in interviews that this was the ending they planned from the start, but I suspect that that’s just their story for the public.

      But whether or not their lying was a good thing to do, you’re not entitled to compensation for it. That’s the only point I was trying to make.

      2. I think I clarified this already in the last post, but I only briefly said it and it’s probably easy to miss: I think it’s fine to ASK them to make another ending. My issue is with DEMANDING it. Making demands is rude and implies a position of authority you don’t have, while making a humble request shows politeness and understanding.

      Anyway, the problem with your analogy to gunplay is that the quality of a story is much more subjective than game mechanics. Pretty much everyone will agree that Daikatana’s combat was horrendous, but I know people who actually thought the Mass Effect 3 ending was just fine.

      If Bioware decides to change the ending in a free patch, that’s their prerogative and I’m fine with it. I just don’t want them to do it exclusively because of all the fans’ complaints. To me that just seems weak.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:11 PM

  4. Deadpool

    “Anyway, the problem with your analogy to gunplay is that the quality of a story is much more subjective than game mechanics. ”

    I’d disagree with you there actually. Like or dislike are subjectives, but good and bad aren’t. Everytime I see a balance patch there’s someone out there who dislikes it, mostly because a lot of people LIKE to be overpowered. But balanced gameplay is obviously better.

    Story works similarly. There are certain standards to story telling. ME3’s ending has no denounment, no internal consistency, no story cohesiveness, none of the character motives make any sense, there’s no player input, no gameplay aspect, no catharsis… The ending categorically fails at every level to provide what an ending IS.

    It’s okay for people to LIKE it, but it’s still a BAD ending.

    Just like some people actually like their abusive parents…

    “I just don’t want them to do it exclusively because of all the fans’ complaints.”

    Again, where is that line drawn? Ninja Turtles remake got a lot of crap for Bay’s mention of the turtles being aliens. If they were to change that now, would that be bad? What about when As Good As It Gets noticed that in the pre screening people didn’t like Nicholson’s character much, so they gave him a mental disability to make him more likable. Is that a bad thing? When players complain about imbalance in 2D fighters, is it bad that companies fix it? When writers RetCons their books, TV shows, comics? When Toryama brings back Goku as the main character because people like him better? What about when Fallout 3’s ending was changed in Broken Steel, is that bad?

    Where is the line? Why is it there and not elsewhere?

    What’s wrong with them wanting to please the fans anyways?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    • JPH

      Well, proofreading and pre-screening is a completely different story because that’s part of the creation process. Bioware finished Mass Effect 3 and they at least say that this was the ending they envisioned. If it was the ending they envisioned, they should stick to their guns; if it wasn’t the ending they envisioned, they’ve got bigger issues to deal with.

      And Fallout 3’s ending being changed in Broken Steel was bad, because Broken Steel was even WORSE than the original ending.

      Wanting to please the fans is one thing. Throwing away your own creative vision to please the fans is another thing, and that’s where I draw the line.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:09 PM

      • Sumanai

        So, if a story gets changed because a small group of people chosen semi-randomly don’t like an aspect, that’s fine. But if it gets changed because a large group of people, most of who are the actual target audience, it’s wrong?

        You probably haven’t heard of when in the Penny Arcade forums a post was made using the account of a known Bioware writer (current) where it was mentioned that the ending was made by Hudson (not a writer) and one other writer (other than the one owning the PA forum account) without any input or peer-review from the others. So “throwing away your own creative vision to please the fans” is a bit melodramatic in this situation.

        April 1, 2012 at 12:53 AM

        • JPH

          No, I hadn’t heard of that. Hm. Well that does change things.

          Also, I never said it’s “wrong.” I just said I wouldn’t like it. And if what you said is true, then I’m beginning to rethink that.

          April 1, 2012 at 7:23 AM

        • Deadpool

          From what I hear, that’s a bit unconfirmed… Some people say it was proved as a hoax, other people say the proof isn’t proof, etc…

          Either way, your question was the crux of where I was going: WHY is the line drawn where it’s drawn. Why is it okay to change something when my cousin says it’s stupid, but if the WORLD says it’s stupid I have to stick to my guns and go “hey, this is what I thought of originally…”

          April 1, 2012 at 8:36 AM

          • JPH

            My line was drawn at when the game has officially been declared finished. When you’re proofreading and editing, you’re still working on the project. Bioware released Mass Effect 3, so obviously they considered it finished.

            Upon reflection, I can see why that might be considered arbitrary.

            April 1, 2012 at 12:42 PM

            • Deadpool

              It is a bit arbritary but… They always said they had DLC planned, teasing “owners won’t want to get rid of their copy of the game” so the product wasn’t exactly declared finished (even if we assume their planned DLC had nothing to do with their awful ending), what then?

              What about RetCons? Are those intrisincally bad? What about when Akira Toryama decides to bring Goku back as the main character of DBZ in the final season despite the original plan being Gohan because Goku is more popular? Does that cross your line?

              What about every time Blizzard releases a patch that fundamentally changes the StarCraft 2 game? Is that intrisically bad as well?

              Is the Broken Steel ending bad because it changes something after it was made, or because it ignored player choice?

              There’s a LOT of grey here… I’m just wondering why THIS is being picked as this awful, art destroying decision while the others aren’t even noticed…

              April 1, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      • Broken Steel wasn’t worse than the existing ending. It made it make (slightly more) sense, then added on some high level content to the endgame, what’s wrong with that?

        April 1, 2012 at 7:28 AM

        • JPH

          It made the ending choice of FO3 null and void by making the post-endgame world exactly the same either way.

          April 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM

          • Not really – if you send Sarah in, she dies for real, and if you poison the water supply that’s a thing too. Blowing up the Citadel at the end actually does things as well.

            April 4, 2012 at 10:44 PM

            • JPH

              Poisoning the water supply was supposed to exterminate the population of mutants; instead it’s only vaguely acknowledged. That’s what really pissed me off.

              April 4, 2012 at 11:30 PM

              • Right. I mean I get why they wouldn’t, but fair enough

                April 5, 2012 at 1:26 AM

  5. krellen

    You – as with many of those deriding these “protests” – are concentrating far too much on semantics. You’re focusing on the use of the word “demand”, ignoring the fact that words only have meanings we assign to them. In this context, “demand” does not mean what you are representing it to mean – fans do not actually expect their “demand” to be met by virtue of anything but BioWare’s PR and good will. A demand is not a demand unless one can be reasonably assured of compliance – usually by threat of retaliation.

    Watch this scene from Office Space: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy3rjQGc6lA

    The manager is making a demand. He’s not wording it as a demand – he’s wording it as a request. But it’s eminently clear that this is a demand, not a request. Non-compliance is not an option.

    A consumer cannot make a demand. A demand can only be made from a position of strength, when you have the upper hand. Consumers NEVER have the upper hand. A customer may “demand” a refund, but the producer is under no obligation to give one (barring very specific legal situations). Most DO, however, because it’s a good business practice, and those stores do NOT go around insisting that customers have to “request” the refunds instead of “demand” them.

    In this context, “demand” is really nothing more than words. The fans aren’t making a demand; they are merely using rhetorical tools to show the passion behind their request.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:01 PM

  6. Bubble181

    See, there’s several debates here that get mixed up.

    First one is whether the ending is any good. You haven’t played the game; neither have I. I’ve seen the ending (I don’t intend to play it so I don’t care about spoilers), and I most certainly understand why people hate it. However, that’s not the point you’re talking about, and frankly, I don’t care.

    A second question is: should the developer “give in” to their audience and do a remake, change the ending, because of fan pressure? I don’t think there’s a definitive “right” or “wrong” here. There’re perfectly valid arguments for both sides. Corporate-wise, it’s smart to reach as many people as possible and keep them coming back. Artistically, it can easily be seen as “giving in” – Tolkien rewriting the ending of LOTR for Frodo to end up with the girl, because fans say “he’s the hero and deserves to get the girl and be King of the Hobbits and…”. It can easily be seen as allowing a petulant child to have his way if he cries long enough – it reinforces a negative behaviour. Unfortunately, I don’t think it works quite like that because “gamers” aren’t one person – When Sppacecraft III comes along with a crappy ending everyone wants changed, the vocal gamers will be a completely different group of people, some of which may or may not have ever even played ME3.

    A third point, though, is the lawsuit. Yes, there’s a difference between advertisements and interviews – but it’s a fine line. Obviously, no law suit should ever “force” a better ending, but I can easily imagine Bioware being convivted of false advertising. Lead producers saying things in an interview – and the sound clip being used in promo videos – like “it’s not a A, B or C choice ending”, while it is actually literally (and not literally in the sense it’s most used these days – “figuratively but really really much”) is, are walking very close to the line.
    Molyneux avoided this by, in general, being a lot vaguer and IMPLYING a lot of things. “You can choose sports to play with your character!” may seem to mean your character can be a basketball player or a hundred different sports players – as long as your character choose to play at least 2 sports, at least once, you made good on your word – even if fans are disappointed in the extreme. Flat-out lies, especially combined with their claim this was always going to be the end (they really shot themselves in the foot with that!), can lead to the case being made that those people were lying to the public to sell them their goods – which IS illegal. If it comes before the right jury, I could see Bioware losing it easily. If even one person at Bioware ever testifies they were “ordered to” build up the hype around the ending, or some such, it’ll get ugly.

    Lastly, yes, gamers ARE incredibly spoiled brats. I do think it’s just as bad in other worlds, though. Gamers tend to be more on line than most other such hobby groups, which helps “build momentum”… And do’nt be fooled – this has hardly left the gamer journalism world. 80% of people don’t even know this game exists, or who or hy or what is wrong. I’m sure in some sports in-crowd worlds, equally strong positions are taken, and people act equally stupid.

    April 4, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    • krellen

      A quibble: an FTC complaint is not a lawsuit.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    • Sumanai

      Consumers are rarely spoiled. Unless the term is used with a sort of endearing meaning. People just have that illusion because:
      a) The worst of the bunch are always the most memorable, and there are always genuinely entitled customers who are the source of these stories.
      b) Internet contains these events over a long and ever increasing time period and from all around the world.
      c) Another person’s problems often feel smaller than they are. “The MP3 player doesn’t support Ogg Vorbis like was promised? So what! Who uses Vorbis anyway?” It gets worse when it’s not something obviously wrong, like implied promises and different expectations for “reasonable”. For instance I expect a “instant on” device to take 0.6 seconds to be functional after I press the button, but there are people who consider 5 seconds to be “instantaneous”.

      From what I’ve observed consumers are less “entitled” nowadays than they were in the past, which is a bad thing. A lot of technology and video game companies can pull all sorts of stupid stuff without any real resistance. Stuff that most likely will end up damaging the companies and consumers in the long run.

      This ending stuff sounds like a teenager that for the first time in their life has grown a pair, and just like a teenager they’re having problems communicating because the rush is new and unfamiliar to them. Hopefully this will end up with a positive net effect.

      Doubt it, since there’s a constant influx of new gamers who don’t have a backbone, or rather it’s misplaced, and the publishers tendencies to target them.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM

  7. Bubble181

    Well, they’re also talking about suing in the EU, and false advertising is a misdemeanor, so… =P

    April 6, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    • Sumanai

      Are they actually suing, or reporting them to an FTC equivalent?

      Also, there’s most likely the same problem as with the FTC. Which is that no actual advertisements have any promises about the ending.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:42 PM

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