Mass Effect 3 Backlash: Are We Happy Now?

Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka must’ve asked this at least once.

Posted By | On 29th, Sep. 2012 Under Editorials

Let’s just get all the bullshit out of the way: We expected a major epic ending from Bioware. Our expectations had grown to such heights with Mass Effect 3 that we had already begun drawing up the conclusion before we even reached it. Victory, and nothing else, because that’s what we as gamers have come to expect. Not all of us, but most of us chose to ignore the clues that Bioware had been leaving – showing us one of the only ways the story could possibly play out.

And when we didn’t get we wanted, when we thought they pulled a fast one on us, we snapped. The internet just erupted in protest – so much so that Bioware had to create an entire director’s cut just to appease people who wanted their ending.

So now that Bioware, a company that reinvigorated the Dungeons & Dragons, and arguably the entire PC RPG market, with it’s Baldur’s Gate series; the company that wanted to bring the table-top D&D experience online with Neverwinter Nights, besides providing gamers with the tools to create their own RPG from scratch; that showed us how a good Star Wars game could be done with Knights of the Old Republic; which brought us a solid, memorable kung-fu experience in Jade Empire; hell, the company that brought us MDK 2, arguably one of the greatest action games of all time; and more than anything else, the company that took a game with a trilogy – something which Silicon Knights, riding off the goodwill of Eternal Darkness and Twin Snakes botched with Too Human’s failure – to it’s completion, and in turn gave us one of the greatest RPG series of all time, not to mention one of the better sci-fi properties this decade has seen; simply put, now that they’ve lost their co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, who bled and sweat for these games, giving up a measure of their lives just so we could escape ours, you have to ask the question.

Are we happy now?

Forget the immeasurable justification of Killzone 2 & 3 – how both games failed to live up to the hype. How about Gran Turismo 5, when it’s competitor Forza Motorsport 4 sped ahead? How about when we reeled over and over and over again at how Call of Duty hasn’t innovated for the better part of the past five years? There are hundreds, maybe thousands of examples.

Maybe those developers just have thicker skin, but no one experienced a backlash that Bioware did with Mass Effect 3’s ending. Not even the game. The ending. Are we naive enough to think that this level of complaining, petitioning, threatening, chiding, snubbing, criticism and attacking really had nothing to do with Muzyka and Zeschuk leaving?

Understandably gamers have invested enough into the trilogy to feel their purchase wasn’t validated. But are naive enough to think it wasn’t fun, or one hell of a ride? Are we naive enough to believe that the entire development team, not just the co-founders, didn’t invest their very souls into this product?

Maybe we are. Maybe we aren’t. Regardless, Bioware wanted to keep us all happy, so it released alternate endings. It wanted gamers to know that it listened to them. You know who else listened to gamers, no matter how petty or whiny their complaints became? Electronic Arts, the publisher – and they didn’t just do it out of love or understanding.

No no, we are their very sales, and if their sales are threatened, they’ll throw as much pressure, and more, to make sure we’re satisfied. Sure, not every publisher does this – a fair share would even defend the developer for what they did – but not even EA could anticipate the backlash against Mass Effect 3’s ending.

Again, not the game. The ending.

Because we didn’t get what we wanted – nay, demanded – two legendary developers decided it wasn’t worth the fuss any more and just upped and retire. They did what they loved the most – heck, Muzyka was even pegged to replace John Riccitello as CEO for EA down the line (how awesome would that have been?). But whether you call it a combination of factors or not, the source is still the same: We bit the hands repeatedly that fed us, because we didn’t like the main course.

And we didn’t like the main course because it didn’t fit into our little world of what we expected from a game ending. We bit the hands repeatedly, called the upper management on them, organised petitions and outright persecuted a company. And for what? Creative freedom? If this mob mentality of forcing change doesn’t piss off any free-thinking individual – Bioware fan or not – because two great developers have been burned from doing what they loved, I don’t know what will.

Are we happy now? Or will we need another director’s cut to help us make that choice too?

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  • Malthrak

    BIoware literally lied to consumers. They told us what to expect and, more to the point, what not to expect, and then put in exactly said what we should not expect. They said the ending would not be a “pick a door, A/B/C” ending in Casey Hudson’s own words, it was.

    The ending to the game was so awful, so nonsensical, that it taints the entire experience. Hell, it isn’t even original, it’s just the ending to Deus Ex from 2000 re-skinned. Same 3 options, Destroy AI, Control AI, Merge with AI, in the same Red/Blue/Green color codings. Exact same ending, except that DeusEx built up to that whole concept through the entire story, Mass Effect did not, it was merely one thread of many that you could change through your actions.

    It’s not even so much that the ending was bad (it was), but it was the *WRONG* ending. IT wasn’t thematically or narratively appropriate to Mass Effect. It was full of circular logic that a middle schooler could point out was wrong, tons of plotholes, and a whole lot of handwaving magic in what ultimately felt like an ending that was produced in about 20 minutes before the game disks went to press by a different development studio after time to ship ran out.

    Their Director’s Cut did little better, it was hamfisted and forced, ultimately amounting to trying to save a sinking ship by giving it a new coat of paint.

    On top of that, you go on to spout a whole lot of stuff about Bioware, such as their Star Wars game being such a huge success. It hasn’t been.

    Nobody has any reason to feel bad on any level for either of these guys moving on to greener pastures with a large stack of pay after delivering poor products for the last couple of years.

  • People are irrational and do what makes sense to them. The sooner others realize this… the sooner we can move on.

  • Ran

    I think th new updated endings were good in the fact of just bringing a little closure, I was honestly most upset that the entire ME2 squad got sidelined i ME3, I thought that was crap

  • anonymon

    Bioware lied publicly about the endings, we were told our decisions would dictate the endings, we were told that the endings wouldn’t be A B, or C, but in the end that is what we got, if this were a toaster or a TV or a family portrait that didn’t have everything promised we would be entitled to an exchange or refund, but because its a game people call us whiners and say bioware has artistic integrity, well they lied to me, so where is the integrity in that?

  • josh

    to whoever wrote this, i couldn’t finish reading it. a rag-tag list of accomplishments, and a statement that we should eat the shit served to us because other meals were good. but i guess everyone is entitled to their opinions, even if they are objectively wrong.

  • Josh H


    It’s not our fault. It’s not their faults. It’s EA and to an extent, Hudson’s.

    Ray and Greg put so much into their company and I think they, just like the fans, know how big and corporatized their game company has gotten under EA’s ownership. That’s why they left. NOT because the fans hurt their feelings.

    A failed Mass Effect 3 and a dependency on Mass Effect (hence, the announcement of a new one) as a money making franchise is example of EA’s hand into this. BioWare is developing in the way EA wants them to develop.

    It’s ironic, because this semblance/dependency towards the rEApers is what the Mass Effect games argue against in the first place. Everything Mass Effect stands for is negated not only by the ending but also through the business practices of EA.

    THAT is why Ray and Greg left.

  • AceVentura

    The geekiness on this thread is pretty funny. But, you all probably need to get some exercise. Did anybody beat it with an over 5000 galactic readiness rating? Did anyone think of the whole process of indoctrination happening to Shepard throughout ME3? If you wanted a fairytale ending go watch a Disney film. There are plenty of good ones available. Maybe, Bioware should’ve given you a couple of dead ends and cheap endings like in those Choose Your Own Adventure books. Wait, go pick one up! That’s what you’ve been looking for. Lastly, all you whiny nerds remind of Kathy Bates in Misery.

  • JustKnowz

    As far as I am concerned… good riddance to them both… fire Casey Hudson while you’re at it.

    Dispicable… locking yourself up in a saferoom excluding the other writers for the end… dumb. Lets see who’s gonna pre order the next ME game… NOT ME!!! Im not even buying the DLC… they better make a new ending for ME3… FREE OF CHARGE… the extended cut–> GARBAGE

  • Tom

    they quit because EA told them to make me4 into 5 seperate parts, sell the first as main game and the other 4 as dlcs for 60dollars each

  • In all fairness other peoples opinions on this matter don’t even concern me. I know how I felt when i completed the game.I felt cheated out of my money, I felt lied to out of the fact that my choices didn’t matter and I felt confused at how they were happy releasing a game like that in its condition. I hate it when other people tell me how I should feel about this. I have every right as a consumer to be angry at this.

  • Vince

    Good story telling : people happy.

    Bad story telling : people unhappy.

    This is a little basic, but that’s what it all comes down to. And from my perspective, it wasn’t only the ending that was bad story telling.

    Bioware can create what they want. They have the right. But we don’t have to like it. This is our right.

  • Adamantius

    I still have not gotten around to playing ME3, and am hesitant to do so due to the massive amounts of negative feedback regarding the ending of the game trilogy. After playing ME and ME2 however I had a lot of expectations for ME3, as I am sure many other players of these games did. From what I have heard about the ending to the trilogy it leaves a lot to be desired and is very disappointing, a trend that seems to come more and more often with games, books, and movies alike. To sit by and just silently accept such things is what keeps developers and writers and movie companies making the same mistakes.

    To suggest we should be thankful for and support a crappy ending is just ridiculous. If you buy a burger from a place like BK or Mc Ds, and it tastes like crap do you just accept it and continue to buy their food? No, you complain and or stop eating there and go elsewhere. The same sort of principle applies to video games. Elsewhere I read an article suggesting that we as consumers/fans should not demand a better ending because it is the developer’s story. While this might be true of a book or even a movie, the same does not apply to a video game, certainly not one like the ME series which gave you so many options to shape the storyline.

    The funny thing is, had people known the game was going to be crap before it came out the sales would have suffered greatly and these same two people that quit over the negative fan feedback would have been more than likely fired for putting out a game that did not sell. In an industry like the video game one you have to deliver what the fans want to be competitive ME3 clearly did not do this for the majority of fans and thus the negative feedback.

  • The fact that they Tried to foist some incoherent mess of an ending on us in the last 20 minutes of a game series I spent some more then 200 dollars (1 regular edition, 2 special editions and almost all of the ME2 DLC) and hundreads of hours on was downright insulting.

    And if the doctors quit over this, then I’m fine with it. They’ve made countless excellent, award winning games and if they to quit because of backlash over the single most important thing in an RPG (writing) then that tells me that they don’t belong in the buisness.

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