So, There’s A Fan Campaign To Change The Ending Of Mass Effect 3

My opinion of internet petitions remains unchanged: They are worth the paper they are printed on. (Hint: They are not printed on paper.) They’re a manifestation of the distorted expectation — cultivated in grade school — that First Amendment rights extend to your relationship with a private business.

That said, there’s a particularly amusing poll out there, gathering 20,000 votes, demanding BioWare change the ending to Mass Effect 3. We’ve had our tips jar blown up with links to this movement. I have no idea where to begin with this.

Let’s try to think of how BioWare, if it complied with this demand, would deliver such an alternate ending: through DLC. That everyone would expect to be free — with all of the writing, voice acting and motion capture that a proper conclusion deserves. But at least we could be sure that it was developed after release! Oooh, but what if it uses characters that are already on the disc?

I think this is the sentiment that Christina Norman meant to impugn with her comments at GDC. Gamers are customers, yes. Customers’ opinion of a product absolutely matters, and the maker of it absolutely should pay attention.

But the development of a creative work cannot be democratized and its revision to appease a vocal minority would surrender the creative freedom people claim to value in food fights over modding, takedown notices, trademark disputes, whatever. This is an expression of the writers and designers at BioWare, and if you dislike it, OK — there is certainly a lot of legitimate criticism of the outcome. But it is their statement, not yours.

What right does someone have to demand changes to the end of a story they did not write — and as this would, assuredly, be released as downloadable content — expect all of that labour for free? Because they’ll refuse to endorse a product they’ve already bought?

What we’re seeing is the Battlefield-ization of Mass Effect. A community that spews nonstop hatred of a game it bought at full price and plays religiously.

It’s amazing to me how unhappy people choose to be in a leisure pursuit.

What would you like to do about the endings? [Mass Effect Forums]


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