Comment of the Week: BioWare Has Lost Touch With Fans

In a recent interview with GI International, BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk expressed his belief that fans had unreasonable expectations for the ending of Mass Effect 3, which resulted in the ensuing outrage.

Game Front’s Phil Hornshaw disagreed with the good Doctor, stating that the problem was, instead, BioWare failing to deliver what it promised to fans. Game Front reader R-man agreed with Hornshaw, chiming in with the following:

“Absolutely, Mr. Hornshaw. I didn’t even have an ending thought up in my head like some people did. There wasn’t necessarily a specific thing I wanted the ending to be… I was waiting to be shown the ending I wanted among other choices that may have been appealing to other players. I was waiting for my choices to decide what I wanted the ending to be. But that never came. All I wanted was the same kinds of choices that BioWare had given me for the rest of the game… All I expected was a continuation of the wonderful themes, plotlines, and characters that I had experienced in the first 2 games. All I wanted was ME to be consistent in their promises, and in the way they told their story. All they had to do was take their time on the game and do what they had been doing for the past 2 ME games. But they didn’t. I just wish they would realize that there isn’t some deeper cause, some hidden reason for all this backlash from their fans. It’s actually quite simply not our fault. When they start blaming their own fans, that’s when a company has lost touch with the very people who got them to where they are in the first place.”

That last sentence is especially poignant.

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22 Comments on Comment of the Week: BioWare Has Lost Touch With Fans

Aedelric

On April 13, 2013 at 12:25 am

“When they start blaming their own fans, that’s when a company has lost touch with the very people who got them to where they are in the first place.”

Yup.

Heru

On April 13, 2013 at 1:59 am

Someone should graffiti that last sentence on a building across the street from Bioware HQ, make them look at it every day. Eventually the point might sink in.

Jefferson

On April 13, 2013 at 2:54 am

@Heru – the more practical equivalent would be to create a T-shirt with that on it, underneath a picture of the three explosions.

Axetwin

On April 13, 2013 at 3:31 am

The majority of the outrage comes down to one single fact.

Casey Hudson lied. The lie he told during the pre-release of ME3, in my opinion is of Peter Molyneux proportions. He outright said the ending of ME3 would not come down to an A,B or C choice. Unless I’m mistaken, he even called out Human Revolution as primary example of how the game wouldnt end. He also went on to say the ending would instead be a culmination of (nearly) all the choices we’ve made throughout the trilogy.

What we got was an ending that was based on 3 separate decisions ala Human Revolution and while the end sequence was based on the choices you made in the third game alone. The only way the choices of the earlier game came into play was to determine whether or not you had just enough War Points to get the “best (I use that word loosely) ending”.

We were lead to believe that we would be able to play through the trilogy and be able to experience the beginning, middle and end in different ways each time. The reason we thought this is because thats what you were telling us Bioware. Our high expectations were your fault, not ours.

In the future I would suggest you keep a tight leash on Casey Hudson so his mouth doesnt write any more cheques that his ash cant cash. Itll reduce the amount of backlash and we stop getting “Molyneux’d”.

Sinister Slug

On April 13, 2013 at 4:30 am

If BioWare really didn’t have the time or resources to create a better ending that fulfilled the assurances made to customers – which I don’t believe anyway, since it’s now widely known that Hudson and Walters wrote the ending by themselves and therefore clearly had their own agenda – then they should have IMMEDIATELY sent a press release explaining that due to time constraints and the leak of the original ending, their revision would not be meeting the standards or expectations that they’d led the fans to expect from it, but that they hope they can still appreciate and accept the product as a whole. Fans would still have been upset, but they for the most part would have understood and been pleased that BioWare at least had the integrity to tell them how it was. They may even have grown to enjoy and anticipate the ending in a “how bad will it actually be?” sort of way, and whatever anger they felt would be directed at EA for not giving them the time to create a proper conclusion. Failing that, BioWare could have just as easily made a few slight alterations to the originally planned ‘dark matter’ ending and it would have been accepted, there’s nothing wrong with predictability/foreknowledge when the opposite is a tired twist ending that has no foundation within the previous 100 hours of narrative and in fact appears to go to great lengths to destroy the rest of the etymology of Mass Effect.

BioWare not only gave no indication that there was any issue in meeting THEIR OWN STATED ASSURANCES (in caps so that those who still don’t get it will hopefully get it drilled into their thick heads that the only expectations in the minds of fans were those explicitly stated publicly by the company and not some ‘entitlement’ bulldirt pedaled by the likes of DianeAllers.com – I mean, IGN) but they have repeatedly spat in the face of anyone who found fault in the ending, refusing to enter debate with them and instead hiding behind the ‘artistic integrity’ li(n)e until finally they were just about forced into making the Extended Cut, which of course they and their obedient champions in the mainstream outlets tried to distort as being excellent fan service despite doing the absolute bare minimum that was necessary to get even a third of those who hated the original ending to give up the fight and move on.

The fact that even a year on, with most of the emotional rhetoric out of the way and left only with the arguments as they stand on a purely objective level, BioWare and even some of its former employees still stick to this conceited belief that the backlash was a vocal minority of fans who had ideas above their stations on how the ending should cater to their own tastes – when every piece of factual, editorial, and statistical evidence contradicts them on all counts – is proof if ever we needed it that BioWare stopped being about the fans a long time ago.

Anyone who works there that still has an iota of credibility, humility, and self-respect (e.g. Sachel) should just up and leave the company. It’s creatively dead. Set up a Kickstarter so you can start a phoenix company and develop games in keeping with the ideals that BioWare originally earned its reputation for delivering. Let Hudson, Walters and Merizan continue to kid themselves as another once-great developer is slowly homogenised into Electronic Arts, while the real talent thrives independently elsewhere. And, most importantly, don’t ever rehire Hudson or allow EA to buy you out again.

Easier said than done I know, but the spirit of BioWare – and the spirit of every fan who ever gave so much as a single, solitary fudge about any of the worlds you cultivated – will win over the meaningless factory-line drivel that currently represents BioWare in name only.

Matt

On April 13, 2013 at 7:01 am

They ripped off the original Deus Ex’e ending. What did Bioware expect, that changing Deus Ex’s destroy choice from blue to red, and control from red to blue while leaving synthesis green, was some transcendent video game experience? Or that adding Human Revolution’s blow up the island ending in an expansion would fix it?

I mean, did Bioware actually have to pay Eidos royalties for this?

Sachel

On April 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

@Sinister Slug

Thanks for the kind words towards myself and the few at BioWare that did voice their ideas about the controversy. Sadly my opinion was not widely shared and ran counter to the company line.
Do to this I am preparing to resign from BioWare in the coming weeks.

I am in fact in the process of working with other former Game Industry employees in the country to start our own little Indie company of about 20 people in the coming months after my resignation.

I can’t rightly oust myself at this point since it may lead to legal troubles in the future. However I would hope that you all at GameFront who support the ideals of Electronic Arts (the one’s they claim not practice) will come to recognize who I was through my future works.

Michael

On April 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I agree. Its like ordering a sandwich with mustard and they give you mayo instead. Then the guy who made you the sandwich gets mad because you called him out on his mistake.

Anyway here is something I found thats cool.

http://www.abload.de/img/jhtqyrqxxg.jpg

folklore

On April 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm

@Sachel
I’d like to hear what your company is called and what kind of game your making once your able to.

R.J

On April 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I don’t think there is a better way to summarize the problems with Zeschuk’s statement than that last sentence.

@Sachel

I wish you luck with your future work, and it’s a shame that you were put into a position where you felt that you had to leave, but I commend you for making such a tough decision.

Mike

On April 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm

@Sachel

I hope you at least give us some hints as to where you are going in the future, since there’s so many startups and kickstarters everywhere, its kinda hard to keep track.

P.S. If you can pull Drew, I would buy anything you make.

locolobo2

On April 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

YES. @Sachel, you could never ever ever go wrong with Mr. Karpyshyn. I second what R.J. and Mike said. And I definitely wish you luck with wherever you decide to go. :)

quicktooth

On April 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm

It’s so sad that many companies are doing just what Bioware has done (as a company). Insulting those who give you your daily bread because they think you’re going to make them happy is suicide. Or at least it should be.

@sachel- Do please announce your company as former Bioware employees- people LOVE what you’ve all done for so many years, and it would REALLY matter to everyone if you had started your own company (given that it’s only the leaders of Bioware that are responsible for the giant galaxy-sized mess they’ve created). I can GUARANTEE the goodwill you’ve created will follow you! We all know you guys are great and will do fine; and also that it’s Casey Hudson and others like ‘em that are the problem. Thanks for all your crazy hard work over the years, and for making a lot of people very happy. You and your colleagues are really appreciated :D

Wesker1984

On April 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm

”Deal with it” Greg Zeschuk and EA/Bioware, the fans are not pleased. We want the Mass Effect franchise to be redeemed.

kakabel

On April 14, 2013 at 1:44 am

I just hope bioWare are reading all this and learn from there mistakes, evan if they had had the “extened cut” endding when the game was reslesed then at least the ending we got wile bad whould have made ssence instead of what we got witch was “well done shep you beat the reapers but now evryone is doomed” no matter your war total.

I’m just going to blame EA for everything that wrong with the world

Foehunter82

On April 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

@Sachel: I’m with you. Let us know about your future projects. I’m sure they’ll be far better than anything Bioware is able to put out at this point.

JPElvis1962

On April 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

You exaggerate Foehunter82.

Maay

On April 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

@Sachel

I’m so ready to support you and your new company. You guys (bioware dudes with brains) more than deserve our support.
Leave us enough hints so that we can trace your new company.

Luke Warm

On April 14, 2013 at 10:01 am

@JPElvis1962 – how can he be exaggerating an opinion based on a subjective quality? You need to do better than that to encourage debate on this site.

Freedonadd

On April 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

@Sachel

Takes some massive balls to make a move like that mate. Never easy to just up and leave a job with so many bills to pay and whatnot. That alone has gained you my respect, I hope it’ll work out for you and your new ventures, and let us know here what’s in store for you once you can.

Cheers!

Slippy

On April 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

On the subject of leaving BioWare, I’d recommend watching the always excellent MrBTongue’s video “A Tale of Two Companies,” released several months ago (before the extended cut was even announced) in which he predicted that there would eventually be a mass staff exodus and explained why those who sought to leave should not feel intimidated by the decision but should in fact embrace it. The URL is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6TmTv6deTI

doonerbandit

On April 17, 2013 at 6:58 am

@Sachel

Best of luck.