Posted on April 11, 2013, Phil Hornshaw Dr. Zeschuk: Fans Had Unreasonable Expectations for ME3 Ending
Though he’s no longer with the company, it seems Dr. Greg Zeschuk still is toeing the company line when it comes to Mass Effect 3‘s ending — namely, by saying that fans who are upset have no one to blame but themselves.
In an interview with Games Industry International, BioWare co-founder and former BioWare Austin studio head Greg Zeschuk spoke at length on a number of topics, and as one must now expect, the situation surrounding Mass Effect 3 came up. In discussing dealing with uproar surrounding the game and what effect it had on BioWare, Zeschuk cited fans and their unreasonable expectations as the cause underpinning the whole debacle.
“…But games are really interesting in that they’re a very powerful medium where people are so engaged in them that they feel they almost own them,” Zeschuk said. “We created such passion for the Shepard character that they wanted, perhaps unreasonably so, to dictate the outcome.”
It’s important to note the context of the interview at that point, and I encourage everyone to read it thoroughly, because I don’t mean to cherry-pick a single quote without giving a full understanding of what Zeschuk was saying. The interview’s focus at this point isn’t on the problems with Mass Effect, Dragon Age 2, or BioWare’s other games, but the struggle of dealing with the loud, often vitriolic nature of the Internet. And to that degree, Zeschuk’s comments are somewhat fair — people who can be counted as fans often say some pretty horrible stuff on the Internet, and no small measure of mean-spirited, often unfair insults masquerading as real criticism has been fired BioWare’s way. The company’s work created some extremely passionate fans, and it was that passion that also led to some of the most extreme hate that spewed up.
And Zeschuk is a remarkable game developer, and there’s some validity in his viewpoint. A doctor who left practicing medicine with two colleagues to co-found BioWare, the foundation he created and the work he’s done has helped lead to some remarkable games that tower over the modern landscape. He wasn’t directly involved in Mass Effect 3 — by then, he was heading up BioWare Austin’s work on Star Wars: The Old Republic — but as a leader in the company, he surely had plenty of input into the entire series. And his contributions to gaming were recognized at GDC 2013, where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award. His retirement from gaming with BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka last year was a shock and a sad turn of events for fans of the company.
But here we are again, talking about Mass Effect 3 for no reason because somebody had to bring it up — again. And it’s not that we haven’t heard this line of reasoning before, but it’s starting to get really tiresome. Even a year later, hearing that it’s the fault of fans that Mass Effect 3 ended badly is getting me angry.
Zeschuk implies, like many others before him, that you just can’t make everyone happy. It’s the unenviable, impossible burden of the game developer — you eventually get so loved that people start to hate you, because it’s just impossible to make every ending for Mass Effect 3 that every single person wanted (maybe no one told him about Citadel). And this idea, that players were just upset because BioWare’s “vision” didn’t give them exactly what they wanted (and the implied entitlement that goes with that), is not only off-base, it’s getting rather insulting.