That’s it?! Mass Effect players taking action against Bioware for ME3 ending

Players of Mass Effect 3 have donated to the Child's Play charity to 'express our hope that there could be a different direction for a series we have all grown to love.' PHOTO COURTESY OF MASSEFFECT.COM

By Alexander Leach

Apparently the Mass Effect 3 ending is so bad as to personally offend people.

A fan filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against BioWare for false advertising, if the game’s ending is not changed.

On top of this, you have the Child’s Play charity petition – which BioWare has responded to in a typically-noncommittal, PR-friendly way – which has led to donations of $71,464.25 to the organization, as of my writing this post.

I’m avoiding ME3, for reasons I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. If the ending is, in fact, so bad that it compels people to reexamine their lives and donate their money to charity to affirm their humanity, perhaps it’s a good thing. So I know nothing of the ending, and this blog post will focus mostly on the response itself and my thoughts on it.

I doubt it’s actually that bad, but that’s another story that would require I spoil it for myself. Even if it sucks, it can’t possibly be damaging enough to warrant a lawsuit.

Any work of fiction you buy risks having a bad ending, or just being bad in general. Storytelling is a largely imprecise art, resolving around having the right things happen at the right times. When you buy a game, you expect it to be good, without question (maybe you don’t, but I have trouble believing that anyone would go out and buy games regularity based on irony), but not every story twist or climax works.

Frankly, the idea that any form of false-advertising complaint for a badly-written ending is ridiculous. Unless you believe that BioWare or EA are deliberately trying to mock their fans, you have to assume that the game’s ending was at least made in good faith (as comments in this a Digital Trends interview with BioWare executive production Casey Hudson suggests). It’s not false advertising, unless they advertise an SF RPG with shooter elements, and then sell them a modern-day puzzle-platformer.

The charity petition, on the other hand, is far more benign. The money is going to charity regardless of the result of the petition. Secondly, the petition has accomplished its goal – to send BioWare a message that players are dissatisfied with the game. And BioWare has heard, even if they’re not taking action as the petitioners want.

I think it’s a bit silly to do something so drastic just so that you can change a game’s ending, though. If the ending’s bad, then it’s bad – say that, put spoiler tags around a review of it explaining why you think it’s bad, and then move on. Don’t buy further products from BioWare if it’s so bad it ruined the whole game.

What I’d be worried about is new endings being released as downloadable content. BioWare and EA’s DLC policies bother me; I don’t like day-one DLC, or things that don’t expressly add content, as my first blog post details. Releasing it as a pay DLC would be a terrible thing, and I wouldn’t pay for it – it simply wouldn’t be worth it. The game has an ending, even if it’s not a good one, and paying the company that made the bad ending in the first place is like paying someone who sold you a damaged barbecue again to replace the grill.

Last thing I’ll say is that I’m interested in if people think the ending is so bad as to ruin the rest of the game. Endings are an important part of a game, but the core is the gameplay. Does the game itself still hold up aside from the ending and the DLC concerns?

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