A Massive Outcry

22 Mar 2012 | Posted by

I’m upset.

Not because of the ending of Mass Effect 3, which apparently is the worst atrocity to hit humankind since whatever that Kony dude (allegedly) did.

I’m upset because gaming sucks today.

Not actual gaming. When you put the game in the console (barring a RROD or a YLOD) and it’s just you, the controller (unless you are playing Kinect) and the game, it’s awesome. All is right with the world. Immersion into a foreign world, excitement, adventure…a gamer craves these things.

No, it’s not games that are the problem.

It’s the gamers.

We all know what I am talking about: the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy. After hearing the rumblings, I was prepared for the worst. I was ready for an ending that would crush my soul, make me throw away my controller while shielding my eyes from the atrocity that encompassed my television screen. Something that make me quit gaming forever and become a prophet, warning others about the dangers of gaming.

Instead, I found something quite different. I reached the end of the game and aside from a few inconsistencies, I found the ending to be satisfying, although I do have some issues with it, namely the stuff with the Normandy. Take that away and I think the ending is pretty darn good and possibly brilliant, depending on your take on things. My Shepard made a decision which I based on the thought process behind every decision I made during the course of all three games. My Shepard had a certain personality, one which I created. I used that personality to decide what my final decision would be. The ending I received was a valid one because I made the choice and the reasons why I made that choice is what made it so satisfying. No spoiling here, but my ending was the Red one and it felt right to me every step of the way.

The main emotion I felt after the credits rolled and the final scene had played out was not rage. It was sadness. I love Mass Effect. It’s my favorite series of this generation, more so than Bioshock and Uncharted. When a new Mass Effect game comes out, I become obsessed. I start searching for space opera novels so I can find something else that carries a hint of the magic that Mass Effect does. I want more. More DLC, more games, more everything. EA is often accused of trying to nickel and dime gamers, but this is the one series that I am okay with them doing just that. Use me, abuse me, just don’t ever leave me, Mass Effect. I can’t live without you.


Obviously, my viewpoint on this is quite different from the steaming masses out in the far reaches of the Internet. Look, I am not telling you to like the ending. But the insanity regarding this has to end. A game had an ending that you didn’t like. The world hasn’t come to an end, has it? Is it really necessary to file a complaint to the FTC because Shepard’s story ended in a way that differed from your fan-fic? I’m trying to be reasonable here because I know there are legitimate reasons to dislike the ending and the vast majority (at least, I hope) of gamers do not fall into this demographic of being freaking crazy, but I am losing my mind over the absurdity of this. What did gamers expect, that somehow the final choice in the game would involve every little decision you ever made? Do you have any idea how insane that is? How would that even make sense?

It’s gotten so bad that people are getting refunds from Amazon! Allow me to be clear: some Gandalf bought a game, played the game to its finish, didn’t like it and got his money back. What. A. Loser. Seriously, when did gamers become entitled little babies? Can we pinpoint the date so I can invent a time machine and go back and smack some sense into these people? Or would that count as changing the ending, something which is so absurd that I am literally flabbergasted. Ever been literally flabbergasted? It’s not good for your digestive system, let me tell you.

Back to the refund: can I do this if I go to a concert and am not satisfied? I just saw Radiohead last month and they didn’t play “Creep” or “Paranoid Android”. Can I get my money back? Can they apologize to me personally and come play a show in my living room using a setlist I came up with myself? I was disappointed with Transformers. Should Michael Bay allow Megan Fox to come to my house and make it up to me (I wish this was an option)? Should I start a petition, instead, claiming that Michael Bay is allowed to make the movie anyway he sees fit, but I would like him to change it because I didn’t think it took the original cartoon into account?

These are ridiculous things and they are happening right now. On the Internet. The amazing tool that helped usher in the Arab Spring. Which gave us countless nude pictures of actresses we’ve always dreamed of. Which made a geeky kid pretending to be a Jedi into someone we could all identify with. And now it is being used to bully and harangue artists into changing their art because it wasn’t “heroic” enough for them. I honestly understand that people are invested in this series. And I understand disappointment. I’m a Star Wars fan. A Sopranos fan. I’m used to lackluster, artistic endings that challenge the audience rather than spoon-feed them the answers they crave. But you know what I do when that happens? I move on.


Mass Effect 3 isn’t the end-all, be-all of my life. It’s simply something I love, which has entertained me over the years and is now at an end. Whether I loved the ending or hated it doesn’t matter because the journey to it was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Gamers need to accept that somethings in life don’t turn out the way you want them, too. I’m not working in the job I want to be. I’m not living the lifestyle I would like to. I’m just doing the best I can. The people at Bioware had no intention of pissing off gamers or screwing anyone over. They had a vision. They followed it as best they could. Or at least they tried to. Let’s not forget the leak in November that may have precipitated some changes to the ending.

The reaction that gamers is so beyond the pale that I seriously don’t want to read the gaming sites anymore. I don’t want to write about games. I don’t want to talk about them. I just want to play them and have everyone else shut up and leave me alone. Less than 50,000 people “Like” the Retake Mass Effect Facebook page. Bioware sold 890,000 copies of the game on the first day. This is a small percentage of people we are dealing with, yet they control the debate because IGN and the rest of their ilk breathlessly report every Twitter interaction, petition and charity drive that these numbskulls come up with it. And they do so with absolutely no self-awareness of their own involvement in this whole ordeal.

These gaming sites post about every rumor, every alleged leak and PR statement, both official and unofficial that Bioware, EA or even their custodial staffs make, all in the race for hits. It’s all about the page views and these sites act as a mindless extension of EA’s marketing apparatus, the geth to EA’s Reapers, if you will. They drive up the hype as much as they possibly can, analyzing and examining every morsel of information that they obtain from any source that will talk to them. And when they have raised the expectations of gamers to to a level that no one could ever hope to satisfy, they release a glowing review of the game.And then when it all goes wrong, they act like they can’t believe the reaction. Like they are completely innocent in this whole saga. They aren’t.

People can be upset about the ending. I’m not saying that their concerns are invalid. But for those selfish people who want the ending changed, what about me? What about Nick, who also liked the ending he got? What about those of us who are happy to enjoy a piece of entertainment for what it is instead of whining, crying and gnashing our teeth at the injustice of the world because things didn’t go our way? What happened to, “Huh, that sucked. Time for more Call of Duty!”?

So how do we move on in the post-Mass Effect 3 world? Because that’s what we should do is move on. For some, the aforementioned campaigns to get the ending changed is their futile attempt to fill the void left by the conclusion of one of gaming’s greatest franchises. We can call this the Red solution. For others, they will simply move on the next game, AKA, the Blue solution. But I have a third solution, a Green solution, if you will.

Go sign your petition.

Tweet furiously at Bioware PR staff.

Get your refunds.

I’m heading back to the Normandy.

But this time as a female Paragon (or ParaFemShep).

There’s a distress signal coming in from Eden Prime.

Time to answer the call again.

Sources: PCMag & Bioware Forums

19 Comments »

  • SkubaPatr0l said:

    Great article Anthony. I was hoping you guys would chip in on this issue just because I enjoy your take on things. Personally, I haven’t experienced any of the game yet. No time. That’ll change come summer (so, alas, I’ll be very late to this party), then I can see what all the fuss is about.
    My cousin enjoyed the ending as did a lot of people I’ve spoken to on my course. My guess is that it’s the usual Vocal Minority being dicks as per usual.
    Having said that, I can’t properly weigh in on this without having played it yet so you’ll all have to wait to hear my insightful thoughts on ME3. I’m sure you can’t wait. ; )

  • Trogador said:

    Anthony,

    I LOVE this article! You’ve hit all the points precisely! I just couldn’t agree more. I wrote a piece about this on my blog just yesterday. I haven’t ever played a Mass Effect game, but from the outside looking in I saw nothing wrong with the ending. I can understand the frustration/sadness over the ambiguity and the lack of closure, but these fanboys are letting their emotions blind their judgement. It’s one thing to dislike the ending; it’s another to try to change it.

    What appalls me the most is that Bioware is pretty much degrading themselves into puppets over the whole thing, by caving into the desires of the fans. The fans shouldn’t always get what they want. Sometimes, as an artist you just need to say, “Fuck ‘em, this is the ending we’re going for.”

  • Drell Assassin said:

    While I strongly disagree with some of your points Anthony, your article was very well written and proposed a great counter argument to all of this. Unfortunately, those of us (myself included) who are a part of the Retake Mass Effect movement are being thrown together with these raging fanboys who are upset over the ending, and because of it have shared titles such as dicks, entitled whiners, etc. from our fellow gamers and press alike. However this is so very far from the truth. The Retake Mass Effect group promotes only those who respond and communicate to Bioware and other fans in a respectful and more constructive manner. The charity was made so all of this energy spent gaining awareness for the subject would go toward something bigger than the ending of a video game. They/we are doing it the right way. Yes there are those that completely unleash their internet hatred, but they are not part of Retake Mass Effect at all.

    On the topic of the endings, like it or not, it offered no closure. Whatsoever. For those who like the ending as is, the choice is simple: don’t play the ending DLC. For the many of us who didn’t like it and felt as though Shepard’s journey was brought to an unsatisfying conclusion, the ending DLC will be there. I don’t see why all parties can’t be happy here. And to get something off of my chest, contrary to what mainstream media might say, we do NOT want a Disney ending. ME3 was a very dark game, it would make sense to end it in a not perfectly happy way. What I personally want them to do is take the indoctrination theory (which is completely plausible after watching this: http://youtu.be/ythY_GkEBck) and run with it, give me the closure me and so many others desire, and take their leave.

    Sorry I don’t want to go on forever. I just would like to say that those who oppose the ending aren’t all angry, entitled nerds. We’re humble fans who care for Bioware’s creation, whom for the longest time has insisted that Mass Effect and its story was our own as well. That is why the controversy over the ending to ME3 is different than ending controversy’s in other mediums, or even in other games. And to those who haven’t played the ME games or haven’t been invested in them for the past few years, I would ask to please reserve your comments on the issue, as you couldn’t possibly understand outside looking in. Please don’t take this as a retaliation, I love this site because I believe we are all mature enough to not act like the rest of the internet. I am simply offering the other perspective.

  • Verd said:

    This is the most rational and logical article I have read about the ME3 ending and the negative fan reactions. And as an added bonues it is SPOILER FREE. I have actually stoped playing Mass Effect 3 and do hope that Bioware releases some more DLC for the game of the same calabier as The Shadow Broked DLC.
    This is because in their rage about the ME3 ending the internets forgot to use spoiler tags on any ME3 post so even though I have not finished the game yet I am pretty sure how it all ends so part of me hopes for new DLC content like ME2 DLC.
    But if that is not the case I will not be disapointed in the ending because my level of excitment is now at 0 but what will probably happen is, I will like the ending and look at all the people bitiching about and look in wonder at their level of inmaturety and spoiled brat behavior.

  • Mitch said:

    Tycho posted about the Retake Mass Effect movement, telling them not to use Child Play to advance their cause, telling them not to put the ending of Mass Effect 3 over a charity for kids.

    http://penny-arcade.com/2012/03/21/childs-play-and-retake-mass-effect

    That really was the final nail in the coffin for me. Regardless of how politely RME is giving feedback to BioWare, they still have no problem hijacking a charity. Sure, you can say that a huge amount of money has been raised, but as Tycho mentioned, the Child’s Play organizers are being flooded with requests for refunds.

    Maybe I look at this movement with scorn because it’s unprecedented, or maybe I’m just biased against the kind of people who would flock to this banner (no offense Drell Assassin) but this whole Retake Mass Effect thing is making me sick. Just let it go. There’s another famous sci-fi shepherd, who I believe has the best bit of wisdom about this: “how you get there is the worthier part”.

  • Eddy said:

    I’m right with you, Mitch. People need to get over this. Years ago, Final Fantasy VII ended in a way that offered no closure. Even as a 13 or 14 year old, I was able to swallow down the annoyances and move on with my life. At that point, I had never invested so much time into one single game and I barely was upset for longer than a couple of days.

    Why do people feel like Bioware owes them more? That’s what I don’t get. You gave them money. They gave you entertainment. That’s where the contractual agreement ends. They don’t owe you anything else. And where does it stop after that? What if people are unhappy with the post-ending DLC? What if they don’t think it offers enough closure? Do they want it to be free? To use a cliche phrase, it is a slippery slope.

    The way this is supposed to work is that if you’re unhappy with something – speak with your wallet. Don’t buy anymore Bioware products.

    “But I want them!”

    Well, there’s the problem, isn’t it? Give them your money, voice your concerns if you have them when it’s over, but send a message with your wallet next time. Yes, tell them you’re unhappy. I’m all for that. But there’s nothing to “retake” with Mass Effect. It never belonged to you in the first place, except in whatever capacity that it gave you a vehicle to experience Bioware’s story.

    Who knows, maybe I’ll change my tune when I finish the game. I still know nothing about the ending. But I doubt I will.

  • Gadfly Jim said:

    No one made Steven Spielberg re-shoot the ending for AI. M. Night Shyamalan was not required to fix The Last Airbender. and last but not least (and smiler to mass effect in genre) George Lucas did not have to remake the star wars prequels because they sucked. If an artists work sucks he is held accountable to art not the consumers, it is wrong to demand that he or she “fix” something because you did not like it.

    Gamers constantly demand that our hobby be considered art, but as long as stuff like this happens I cannot view games as art. as soon as the artist is held accountable to the whims of the mass consumer they no longer have created art but a product. That is a world I don’t want to live in

  • holyfrijole said:

    A good read about some of the issues on the ME3 ending.

    Anyway, yeah I was a little disappointed in the ending, but I really loved the game, and just like Anthony, when the credits rolled I immediately felt sad that it was the end.

    I loved the whole game, it had a much better combat system and immersive storyline than the other 2 games. Too bad they got lazy on the ending and just changed the colors of the explosions :(.

    I don’t know about you guys but I like a little closure at the end of my movies or games. And I’m not talking about a 30 minute movie explaining what happened to every single person in the galaxy but maybe something like at the end of Fallout games where they show how your decisions affected the factions you stumbled upon. Oh well nothing we can do about it @(*_*)@

  • DirefulGnome said:

    I thought the ending was fine. A big WTF moment, but fine nonetheless. I loved the game throughout and had a blast, as with the other Mass Effect games.
    Yes, the ending could have offered more closure, it could have been different in any number of ways. Just keep in mind, you “Retake Mass Effect” people (I still hate the name), Bioware doesn’t owe you anything! Absolutely nothing! They made their games the way they decided best, if you didn’t like it, that’s too bad, because you cannot demand that it be changed!
    Bioware can hardly change the endings now, and they shouldn’t! The ME3 Ending was their ending, just like ME3 is their game!
    This whole ordeal is just upsetting. Anthony, I agree with you that the gaming news websites are getting really bad with this whole thing. I can’t wait for all this to blow over.

  • Anthony (author) said:

    @Drell,

    No problem, you are clearly not one of the people I am speaking of.

    I just want to take a moment and tell you all that I am so proud that we have the best readers in the world. Not because you agree with us or praise our work, but because you always come to the table with reasonable attitudes, willing to discuss things in a civil way, even if we disagree.

    I just want you all to know that we really appreciate you guys and it validates the work we put into the site.

  • Piers_D said:

    Great article Anthony, I agree with every point you made.

    I was bracing myself for a horrible ending (which might be why i didn’t find it so bad) and found nothing wrong. The saddest part for me is that Bioware are giving in, it could start a bad slide where gamers think they are entitled to getting what they want – obviously not good.

    This article and its replies are a credit to the site, it’s a pleasure to come and read everyone’s points of view on often difficult subjects.

  • Eddy said:

    Yeah, Piers, I finished it today and not only didn’t have a problem with it – I think it might be brilliant. I’ll probably go into this more at a later point, but I really just enjoyed the ending. Not only on its base level, but also for what might be implied (see the indoctrination theory) underneath the surface.

  • Drell Assassin said:

    [quote comment=”18903″]@Drell,

    No problem, you are clearly not one of the people I am speaking of.

    I just want to take a moment and tell you all that I am so proud that we have the best readers in the world. Not because you agree with us or praise our work, but because you always come to the table with reasonable attitudes, willing to discuss things in a civil way, even if we disagree.

    I just want you all to know that we really appreciate you guys and it validates the work we put into the site.[/quote]
    And thanks to you guys as well, GS is like a safe haven from the rest of the internet.

  • Cossack69 said:

    After I saw the Indoctrination Theory video, I actually think the ending is pretty good. I never anticipated that Shepard would be indoctrinated, and whether it was intentional or not, I want Bioware to pursue it. Not many games feature the decay of a protagonist.

    Some people claim that ME3 stole Deus Ex’s ending, but guys; they’re both sci-fi universes, and ME3 revolves entirely around the Mass Effect and the Mass Relays, so yes, the player should decide the fate of the Mass Relays if they’re going to be deciding the fate of the galaxy. Could it have been handled better? Of course! But it seemed pretty darn good from what I saw.

  • holyfrijole said:

    Read this article the other day, I think it brings up some good points

    http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-reasons-the-fans-are-right/6/

    As the days go by I seem to be more at peace with the ending, I think most of the outrage is just the fact that the trilogy is over

  • Julez said:

    This issue is so interesting. I love catching up with you guys. I haven’t played the series, only a bit of the first game, but when I read about it I definitely got the Deus Ex feel. Of course, the Meta Choice came at the end of the FIRST game, which forced the developers to combine ALL THE ENDINGS for the second game, and ultimately forced Deus Ex HR to be a prequel. Endings are hard, but you cant let the last note of a song kill the chorus, just start it again and remember why it’s great.

    I’m worried about Breaking Bad this summer. It’s just one of those shows…

  • Weasel said:

    I think your article is very well put, Anthony. I’ve been reading this site for quite some time. Thought about replying many times on differnt topics, but I’m one of those people on the internet who are “shy”. I know, weird, eh. Anyways, I think there’s something about this article and this issue that speaks to something deeper than just a controversial ending for a game (I’m still playing it and have not reached the end yet).

    Personally, I believe that most (not all) who object to the ending and demand a new one have a sense of entitlement that is undeserved. Anthony, I believe you spoke to this quite well. Because you as a consumer who has purchased a product, does not necessarily mean you are entitled to to have that product confirm your precise wants and desires. Traditionally, it would conform to those of the artist. Someone else mentioned that gamers insist on believing (and wanting others to believe) that their hobby is an art, yet this attitude is not typical of those who enjoy art. I can’t return my series of BSG because I didn’t like the ending, or get a partial refund because I didn’t like tracks 2, 5, 8, and 11 on the new album I bought (but loved the rest), or request that the last book in the series I read be rewritten because it didn’t fit the ending I imagined. Unfortunately, for gamers, Bioware sucumbing to the outcry has largely assured us that some developers may see this issue develop and may not deliver the artistic portrayal they might have imagined and rather produce a product that may not be as thought provoking or questioning in order to avoid such controversy. This does not help video games as an art-form gain any credibility or move forward.

    I also believe that this issue may speak to the maturity level of some (not all) who demand a new ending. It been mentioned a few times before (more so in this article and the comments as well) that people seem to be forgetting the journey of Mass Effect. To have such outcry about the ending when many had thoroughly enjoyed the journey speaks to the maturity level of many of those upset over the ending. If people think about the things they enjoy in their lives, I would be suprised if they enjoyed the end of all of those things more than the journey they undertook. Sure, the end of some of those things may not be ideal but for whatever it is (a book, a movie, a relationship, a job, etc.) remember the good times – don’t let something that you enjoyed 99% of the time be overcome by the 1% you didn’t enjoy. You are doing only yourself a diservice.

    I also wanted to touch on the use of Child’s Play to get this group’s message across. Although well intended (to raise money for Child’s Play), I find this a bit opportunistic. The cause in this case (and all cases) should be the charity, not “Retake Mass Effect”. In this case I think this brought more awareness to the “Retake Mass Effect” movement than it did to the charity whereas it should be the other way around. You could consider this taking advantage of a charity to get your point across, which is something I could see the Illusive Man doing. ;)

    Finally, I think people need to get some perspective here. Anthony hit the nail on the head when he mentioned how media sources like IGN are making a mountain out of molehill to increase their traffic and bottom line. Media organizations like that must create hype in order to generate revenues. Issues like this are what they live from, regardless whether it can be considered news worthy (or even video game news worthy). If you have the time to fight for a cause, put that time and effort into something worthwhile. There are plenty of injustices in this world and I personally wouldn’t consider the ending of a video game worth fighting for.

    P.S. Sorry about the rant. I’ll try not to do this again with any future posts.

  • Anthony (author) said:

    @Weasel,

    Not a rant at all. Thanks for finally posting, hope to hear more from you!

  • Verd said:

    Finished the game last night and still thinking about the ending. I think I made the right choice but part of me thinks I made the wrong choice. I still liked the ending and I think that it was the only logical conclusion I still think that there is something more to it some last twist some last detail that we all over looked.
    Other than that I can’t wait for the DLC and for all the people who are going to say this is EA/bioware/the game industry on the whole trying to rip us off by giving us games with “bad” endings and then giving us DLC with better endings I suggest you tak a look at the game ALAN WAKE and THE WRITER DLC. Both endings were good.