Dr. Zeschuk: Fans Had Unreasonable Expectations for ME3 Ending
We’ve written before, many times, that the true issue with Mass Effect 3′s ending, and the reason that people were so angry with it, had nothing to do with their wanting to “dictate the outcome.” It was not a matter of fans expecting some unreasonable, insane, impossible-to-produce level of control. It was not about fans being so in love with the Mass Effect universe that they couldn’t handle a melancholy ending.
The real reason so many people reacted so negatively to the ending of Mass Effect 3 was that it was completely at odds with what BioWare itself said the ending would be. There were no crazy expectations invented by fans — only those created by on-the-record, public interviews with developers and previews written in the press. The most infamous is that of a several-pages-long printed Game Informer preview that included a number of supposed facts about what Mass Effect 3 would be, many of them gleaned from direct quotes from Executive Producer Casey Hudson.
Fact: Many of the preview’s statements about the game turned out to be false.
Fact: BioWare did nothing to correct any of those statements, adjust the expectations for Mass Effect 3, or fill in fans as to what Mass Effect 3 was becoming.
Fact: The ending of Mass Effect 3 is at odds thematically with much of the rest of the game and the series.
Fact: The finale of Mass Effect 3 showed numerous signs of being rushed, including thin dialog, weak exposition, weak explanation of its core concepts, reused assets, and highly similar thematic and visual concepts in each of its three endings. And this is the kicker: we’re talking about a game that was supposed to be all about player choice, and its conclusion really did have three rather arbitrary choices that really did result in the major difference between them being the color of the explosion.
These are all examples of failures on BioWare’s part to create in Mass Effect 3 an ending that was up to the quality standards of the studio and the expectations of fans. For some, like me, Mass Effect 3 is still a powerful game that I enjoyed, but for many others, how the saga ended was more important than the 20 hours of Mass Effect 3 content leading up to it. It’s no wonder many were angry — they felt misled, possibly even betrayed, because their reward for their years of loyalty to the franchise was a game that felt rushed to market and whose most important moments were the weakest of the series, bar none.
To pretend that there’s some question of artistic integrity, or some sort of misunderstanding on the part of fans, has now come to the point of being insulting to gamers, to say nothing of what it suggests about the loyal fans of BioWare who have been purchasing (and often loving) the company’s creations for years. Gamers are not stupid; Mass Effect 3′s ending was not a case of “you can’t please everyone.” Liking the ending or not has nothing to do with the objective measure of its quality, and that quality was lacking.
For my part, I’m getting really tired of the insinuation that there’s a problem with my character, my intellect or my emotional response to a piece of interactive fiction to explain the reason why Mass Effect 3′s ending bothered me. I’m sure for Zeschuk and others at BioWare, it was hard to cut through the noise and to look at the criticism objectively when so much of it was charged with negative emotion. It would be hard on anyone.
But it’s been a year. The dust has settled. And the continued suggestion that the people upset by Mass Effect 3 were a group comprising these deformed Of Mice and Men caricatures, loving something so much that they killed it, is getting ridiculous.
Sorry, Dr. Z, but the problem was not our expectations of what Mass Effect 3 would be or could have been, but with the differences between what BioWare said it would deliver, and what it ultimately sold to fans.