Bioware Caves to Pressure, Loses The Respect of This Gamer

By Alexandra Geraets in Serious Infotainment
Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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You've probably heard the news by now that Bioware is changing the ending of Mass Effect 3, due to the fan outcry. I won't go into details or spoilers here, just in case you haven't beaten the game, or if, like the fellow on the mulitplayer server last night, you aren't interested in the single player campaign at all. Bioware has chosen to listen to a vocal outcry among a group of fans, and it sounds like they will release alternative DLC and other content to meet those fan demands for closure, and a more definitive ending.

Personally, I think this is a terrible decision. I loved Mass Effect 3's ending. It had me thinking, choking back tears, and admiring the sheer amount of creativity, passion, and drive of the writers and developers. I feel as though Bioware has created one of the finest gaming trilogies, and one of the finest stories that I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

And now, all I am seeing is them caving to pressure and changing the ending to please their consumers, their fans, who, quite frankly, don't have any right to demand anything.

I'm a fan of the games - have been since they began. Mass Effect is what made me a passionate RPG fan in the first place. Seeing all that this series has accomplished is something that every gamer should be proud of. It's a magnificent narrative, filled with powerful characters, creatures, worlds, and stories. It's a phenomenal experience. It's one that gamers who participated in the experience should feel special that they got to play in Bioware's world.

And now it is changing, due to fan outcry that has been angry, insensitive, and downright nasty. This morning, I read Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka's open letter regarding the outcry. I thought he was professional, restrained, and receptive. I also took away from the letter that he was not going to ask for changes to Mass Effect 3, nor was he going to pressure the Mass Effect team to make any changes.

Now I find that changes are, in fact, being made.

I think this upsets me more than anything. What happened to standing by your product? What happened to artistic integrity trumping criticism? Video games are not focus tested to appeal to audiences; they are created for a core audience. Games are not movies; they should not be treated like movies.

We argue over whether or not video games are art. We argue about what makes art, what makes something rise head and shoulders above its peers, what makes something truly stand out from the crowd. We respect and admire these things, and, as gamers, we argue passionately about them, because we are passionate about video games and what they represent for the future of entertainment.

Caving to pressure over something as simple as an ending suggests that integrity doesn't matter, that the hard work of hundreds of programmers, artists, musicians, actors, and producers doesn't matter. It suggests that their work as artists in an industry does not matter, not when a few people get angry enough. It isn't fair to the people who have poured their talents into this franchise, and it isn't fair to the people who founded Bioware with the desire to make video games, who built their reputation on their stories.

Bioware making the decision to change their ending is purely their decision. I won't argue with it, but I will be reluctant to participate in it. My admiration for their work is well known, but with this decision to uphold customer satisfaction over artistic integrity and creative passion for their games, they have lost a great deal of my respect.
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