The much anticipated third installment in the Mass Effect video game series was recently released. While many fans were happy to renew their adventures with Commander Shepherd, Tali and the other characters some had their enjoyment turn to rage when they saw the ending of the game.
WARNING: Spoilers for Mass Effect 3 Below
One of the most appealing elements of the Mass Effect 3 series was the continuity between the different games. The actions that you chose for your character in one game could be ported over to another, so you felt highly invested in their character.
This investment gave Mass Effect very loyal fans, but also meant when the ending was not to their satisfaction, these fans felt personally cheated. No matter what choices the player had made so far, once they reached the end sequence, they were all presented with the same 3 choices, an no matter which one they chose, the ending graphics were almost identical, with only minor differences, such as color scheme.
What Was the Response?
Disgruntled players are now starting a movement to demand that the game’s creators release a new ending for them to download. For some, this almost seems ludicrous. After all, creators write their stories and fans simply consume them. Would people expect an author to change the ending of their novel simply because readers were not happy?
However, this does not take into account the particularities of video games as a media. With video games, players are not simply passively consuming a story. In many cases they help to create it, with their actions and reactions shaping the story around them. In such circumstances, it is easy to see how they could feel personally slighted.
Should BioWare listen?
As with all interactions with customers, BioWare, the makers of Mass Effect, need to weigh the consequences of listening to their customers. Should they ignore the request for a new ending, they risk alienating the most devoted of their base, potentially losing future business. However it is entirely possible that the hype surrounding this issue will die down, and there is no guarantee that a new ending would not be considered equally unsatisfactory.
However, listening to fans can bring large benefits. Recently, inXile Entertainment decided to use the crowdsourcing website KickStarter to solicit donations for a sequel to the game Wasteland. While investors had not been interested, fans had constantly requested a sequel.
Within 42 hours they had reached their $900,000 goal, and donations continue to pour in. Not only do they have the capital to make the game, they also have oodles of free publicity, all from listening to their fans.
This post made possible by guest blogger Stephanie, a writer with varied interests, including everything from methods for starting a movement to online gaming.