Mass Effect 3 Ending: Change Could Have Empowered Game Writing
There’s something about changing the ending that BioWare seems to be willing to avoid at all costs: admitting that the ending was weak to begin with. Even in announcing that it would be offering the “Extended Cut” DLC this summer, at no point did anyone at BioWare say anything in the direction of admitting that there could be real problems with the ending as it’s written. In fact, statements pointing toward the artistic vision of the writing staff continue to come up. It’s good that BioWare is backing its employees, but there’s also some fundamental disconnect here. Several fans I spoke with directly also have said they felt this response is actually quite condescending, as though BioWare assumes they couldn’t understand the ending and there’s a need for further explanation.
As we’ve stated repeatedly in our analyses, and we’re certainly not the only ones, the quality of Mass Effect 3′s ending is questionable. BioWare would love to frame the debate as a difference of opinion and is working hard to do so. But would it be so bad if the developer just owned up to the fact that the ending isn’t that good, and promised to do better?
That will never happen, but if it did, it’s quite possible and in fact likely that this would engender more confidence in BioWare, not less. To have the sheer guts to admit a mistake and fix it would endear BioWare to its community, definitely (more on that in a moment), and it would also indicate a willingness of a major game developer, and by extension, its publisher, to recognize that quality of story is a very important concern.
Admitting that the ending of Mass Effect 3 isn’t up the quality standards of either BioWare or EA, and then correcting it in order to reach those quality standards, would demonstrate a commitment to storytelling never before seen in the video game industry. And it would hopefully put onus on both publishers and developers: publishers to give the people making their games enough time and resources to make them properly, and developers to realize that fans won’t stand for products that don’t meet the quality standards those developers have set forth regardless of the reason for the failure.
A Real Community
BioWare has shown love to its community for years, but this is a real impasse for the company. Many fans complain of feeling ignored, misunderstood and even insulted, both with the ending of Mass Effect 3 as delivered and with BioWare’s attempt at making up for it through “clarification.”
Obviously we have no idea what the ending DLC will entail just yet (except that it won’t include new endings), so it’s wrong to pre-judge BioWare’s actions before they’ve even been taken. That said, I’d argue that BioWare’s community of fans would be strengthened by the developer’s willingness not only to listen to concerns, but to really understand them — and to make changes in a situation that really warrants them.
The trouble with the whole Mass Effect 3 situation is that BioWare, rather than dealing with the situation, went into public relations damage control mode at the outset. Doing so has alienated a fair number of fans altogether, and while certainly not everyone is angry with BioWare or quitting the company completely, some among the most dedicated fans in the developer’s base certainly are.