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The “Retake Mass Effect” Movement

Quick note: this post is 100% Mass Effect Spoiler-Free. This also applies to the comments section, so if anybody posts a comment with Mass Effect 3 spoilers, it will be deleted and I will get angry about it. Anyway,

As a wise website has said, Gamers Are Embarrassing. That’s not an insult, as far as I’m concerned — that’s a simple fact. Not all gamers are embarrassing, but for all the annoying sports fans, annoying film geeks and annoying bookaholics, somehow gamers take the cake with an extraordinary lack of self-awareness and cluelessness to the world around them.

They obsess over and lust after nonexistent characters, they incessantly harass women for being women, they rage out because a product they bought has decreased in price, and they accuse a $10 cosmetic in-game item of being an “unethical” business practice. It seems that every time gamers gain attention from the media it just makes me shake my head in dismay.

But this time, it’s sunk to a new level.

I think it’s literally impossible for you to have not heard about the controversy until now, but just in case you haven’t, Mass Effect 3 was recently released and had a massive hype and fanbase surrounding it. This third installment was said to end the trilogy of Commander Shepard, and while it does evidently end the story (I’m going by what I’ve heard, I haven’t played it myself) it doesn’t end in a way that the fans like.

Well, that’s a pretty massive understatement. Starting just a few days after the game’s release, angry fans started a  movement called “Retake Mass Effect.” They’ve joined together and demanded that Bioware make a new ending and release it for free, claiming that they are entitled to it because they bought it. They’ve complained all over the Internet, they’ve written petitions, and most famously of all, they filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. No, that’s not a joke.

I don’t even know where to fucking start.

I think the name of this effort is the most telling part: Retake Mass Effect implies that the franchise was ever theirs to begin with, and that it’s time to take it back. News flash, angry fans: Unless you work for Bioware or EA, the franchise was never yours to begin with. If you really want to take Mass Effect, you’d better have a lot of money and some good lawyers.

The idea that you’re somehow entitled to more content if the original content wasn’t to your liking is completely absurd. News flash #2: When you buy a product you are taking a risk. Sometimes the dice will fail you. It is not your place to decide when a company owes you more content, even if it “ruined the rest of the series” for you. Call it unfair all you like. Life is not fair.

I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to criticize, and I’m not saying you’re not allowed to ask Bioware for post-ending DLC or say that you’d buy it if given the opportunity. There is a huge difference between asking and making demands. Making a request shows politeness and understanding, and it implies that you know you’re not the one who owns the rights to the property. Making a demand is rude, insulting and implies a position of power that you don’t have in this case. It implies that you have the right to make decisions for the company, when you never had that right in the first place.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen an entitlement complex this egregious. These guys make Valve fans look reasonable and level-headed in comparison.

Yeah, I know what you’re going to say: “But they raised money for Child’s Play!” I know. Charity is great, and I’m glad to see something positive come out of this stupid, stupid controversy. But I don’t give them any points for it, because it’s obvious why they did it: they did it for leverage. They did because they thought media sites wouldn’t be able to criticize them because they’re “doing a good thing.” They did it for positive publicity first and any other reason second, and it’s clear as day.

It’s essentially the equivalent of a politician kissing a baby. He’s not doing it because he loves babies, he’s doing it so people will think he’s a nice guy.

Back off. I know what you're up to.

Bioware has made comments about retconning the ending and making a new one. I’m really concerned by this. Not because it destroys the game’s artistic integrity, but because it’s a sign to all the angry, entitled morons that their actions are justified. It will make them think that they can get what they want by throwing a tantrum and blowing things out of proportion.

I hate to say this, but it really seems like a slippery slope from here. What will the Half-Life fans do when Episode 3 doesn’t reveal who the G-Man is? What will Grand Theft Auto fans do when GTA5 doesn’t let you have sex with prostitutes? What will Duke Nukem fans do when the next game doesn’t let you watch women get raped by aliens?

I’m not trying to defend the ending, or claim that it’s good. I haven’t played the game yet. I know next to nothing about the ending. But frankly, I don’t care how bad it is. I don’t care if it ends with Harbinger giving the camera a middle finger. I don’t care if it ends with an impromptu non sequitur song-and-dance-routine. Nothing justifies this level of outrage and stupidity.

So you thought the ending was bad.

BIG.

FUCKING.

DEAL.

You know what you do about it? You criticize it. Criticize the hell out of it! Send an email to Bioware or post on their forum letting them know that you strongly dislike the ending to their game. If your friends are considering getting it, warn them that the ending RUINED THE SERIES for you. If you’re really pissed off you can get a blog or website of your own and write a few posts of angry ramblings.

And then you know what you do? You fucking deal with it. Find a new game to play. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go to a party. Smoke a hookah. I don’t care what you do, just find some coping mechanism that doesn’t make the rest of us look like a bunch of spoiled brats with no concept of how the world works.

Christ. You know why nobody takes gamers seriously? It’s because of shit like this.

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26 responses

  1. You are correct sir. But allow me to, in a Spoiler Free way, be a pseudo-devil’s Advocate.(mainly because im bored)

    Imagine if you will, one of the few Modern games that is able to get over Shiny Pixels, Gears of Steroids, and other such things that have taken over modern games. This game is focused around a Charater Driven story, and made by (in my opinion) one of the best developers for making all around great games. It does extremely well and People all over the world become fasinated by the world and its characters. Then the company comes out and says: “It is the first part in a trilogy where all of you choices, and character developement will be tranferable to each of the next games”
    That’s ME1.
    Then the second in the trilogy comes along and expands the world of this game, or in this case galaxy, and introduces new characters as well as explains in more detail why giant robot space shrimp want to go on a rampage. This game also address a majority of the issuses that the fans asked to be fixed. and all around is as good or better than the second one, especailly because you love its characters and you are begining to see how your choices are affecting not only your character but the whole galaxy.
    That’s ME2.
    And now as the trilogy is preparing to close, the developer’s boss says: “Hey I know that the last game I rushed you on was considered sloppy and unfinished and dissapointed an extremely large percent of that game’s fans, but you have been working on this series for a long time and i want you to finish now.” The developers lucky HAVE been working for a long time and a majority of the game is as finished as they can get it with the exception of a few parts that are extremely important in helping the player understand the ending. So the developers, after much debate manage to push back the realease date in order to get more time. Unfortunately its isnt enough. The character/player’s choice driven story is forced to release with an ending that pretty much comes out of no where and then tells you that all of you choices up to this point only let you unlock up to 3 choices for the ending, based on the overall readiness of the Galaxy to fight the previously mentioned giant robot space shrimp.
    #1: Red ending, is the only option if you were least minimally prepared
    #2: Blue ending, is availible to be chosen if you were above the minimaly required preparedness level
    #3: Green ending, is availible to be chosen if you were able to prepare a majority of the galaxy.
    Then you are told to pick from your options, so having nothing else left you pick right, left or forward, respectively.
    Then after your choice you either get a Red Explosion, a Blue Explosion, or a Green Explosion.
    And after 3 games of story and character development the ending cutscene is the same no matter which color explosion you get with minor tweaks based on your color choice (the Red one is more red tinted, etc). Oh and maybe it shows a few of the characters walking out of a ship for half a second.
    There you go Trilogy over.
    No descriptions of how the galaxy is different.
    No way of knowing if the people you liked survived, or if the people you didn’t died.
    The only ending that shows that your choice actually did anything is the Green one, but even that is unclear at best as to wtf really happened.
    Oh and after the extremely long Credits theres and old man and kid talking about stars. (but niether is in any way related to any of the Characters from any of the games)
    That’s ME3.
    P.S. For some reason the general public consider the Red ending to be the best, i think its because most people werent able to unlock the others.

    Now up to the part with the color choice, i was enjoying the game and was completely imersed in the story. Then this brand new character shows up and says: “Pick a color because i don’t know which one is right”. As the player i was like, “WTF? Who are you? Where did you come from? What gives you the right to tell me what to do? Why are is the obivously renegade option the blue one? Does that mean it is paragon? That doesn’t make any sense! If you are so smart why can’t you tell me what the long term effects will be and not just the imediate effects? ARRG!” but because none of those are an option (actually there isnt even converstion options other than: “uh, dokay mister man i can pick a cooler!”) Shepard just picks a color and walks toward it. Game Over, go play the new multiplayer and wait around for some DLC.

    I can see how people would be dissapointed, but to be honest the only problem i have with the ending is that it came out of nowhere with practically no real explaination. If Bioware realeases a DLC that occurs before the ending and even hints that the guy will be sitting there waiting for Shepard to pick a color, then i would have no problem with the ending.

    But seriously ME3 was awesome, and the multiplayer on it is surprisingly amazing for a 1st gen multiplayer. If you liked the others you’ll like this one too. I cant see any real reason to go Firefly on Bioware just because of the ending, though i hope EA has learned its lesson about rushing Bioware’s games. Because i dont think my inner fanboy can take another Dragon Age 2.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:48 PM

  2. I agree with you that this kind of behavior is embarrassing and ridiculous, but one thing I disagree with is the notion that game fanatics are somehow worse than sports, movie, or book fanatics. After all, at least the Mass Effect fans didn’t stage a riot that resulted in over 300 deaths and 500 injuries like the riot in Lima, Peru over a football match. In fact, unruly and destructive behavior at football games is so common that there’s even a term for the people who engage in it: they’re called “football hooligans”.

    As far as non-sports-fanatics, I’m also reminded of the protest comic book fans orchestrated because DC announced they were relaunching their franchise.

    In short, I think behavior like this is actually quite common when you’re dealing with pastimes that people completely devote themselves to. Games represent a significant time investment, particularly when you compare them to, say, movies. After playing a game for hours upon hours, players will generally become pretty invested in what they’re doing. This is generally a good thing, but unfortunately it’s also sometimes a bad thing.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    • Sumanai

      I think that a big part of the image comes from the fact that most complaining is done online. Usually when people complain about something it’s either to their friends or to the shopkeeper who sold it. Most people don’t see that, unless they happen to be there. But when it’s online everyone can see it at any time. And you can mistake the same person mentioning the same problem as separate people and old posts about the topic as new.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:41 PM

  3. I believe this is one of the best posts I’ve read here on Ninja Game Den. Thanks, bro!

    March 27, 2012 at 4:41 PM

  4. Sumanai

    The FTC thing is based on the fact that people at Bioware made specific promises about the ending of Mass Effect 3 and none of them are true. It will fail, because the promises were not made in official advertisements. Which is no doubt big part of why some are demanding the ending to be remade for free.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    • JPH

      That’s just the thing, though. Sometimes people say they’ll do things, and sometimes they don’t deliver. Once again, buying a product means taking a risk.

      If Bioware really dropped the ball and you want them to know that, then let them know you won’t buy any future Mass Effect shit. And then follow through with that.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:34 PM

      • Sumanai

        Partially true. If you promise that your mp3 player supports wma and it doesn’t, customers deserve to get their money back. And they usually do.

        If it does support it, but it’s tricky to get on the device (it doesn’t appear as a USB mass drive but uses its own software that makes it a pain) or something, you’re not outright lying so you might get off the hook legally.

        Look up on consumer protection.

        March 28, 2012 at 1:16 AM

        • JPH

          I know what consumer protection is.

          I’m referring to things that aren’t explicitly advertised.

          March 28, 2012 at 1:26 AM

        • JPH

          Also: The analogy you gave is extremely different from what I’m talking about. If (say) Mass Effect 3 failed to run on certain types of consoles, then yeah, I’d understand people expecting free updates or their money back.

          March 28, 2012 at 1:31 AM

          • Sumanai

            As I mentioned, since they weren’t explicitly advertised, FTC will ignore the complaint. It’s not unusual for consumers to be unaware of such things, so it’s not particularly stupid of gamers to not know about it.

            The tricky thing here is, that there are no analogies in other fields. Let’s try this: A smartphone manufacturer tells that their new phone will have a virtual qwerty keyboard. When the phone comes out it has a number keyboard like in old phones. So to get “E” you have to press “3” two times.

            Yes, you can still write with it, but you do really think they were being honest or that no-one should be demanding that the smartphone is updated with a full virtual keyboard for free?

            Bioware did rather explicit promises. When I found out about them I was surprised, because usually companies just say stuff like “it’ll be dramatic” or “things will be explained”. Both that really promise nothing solid.

            March 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

            • JPH

              If the company were to update its smartphones for free that’s its prerogative. If it doesn’t, and the customers feel conned, then they can simply learn their lesson and stop buying phones from that company.

              Problem is, these gamers don’t want to stop buying from Bioware. They’re angry, but they can’t stop. They love Bioware. So their plan is to throw a tantrum until Bioware gives them what they want for free, even though from Bioware’s perspective there is no reason to do so.

              Boycotting is literally the most direct and effective way to protest against a business or corporation. I wish gamers would figure that out and restrain themselves.

              March 28, 2012 at 3:14 PM

              • Sumanai

                If there’s no reason from Bioware’s perspective to change the ending, why are they talking about changing it?

                I suspect you’re misunderstanding my point. What I’m trying to say is that reporting to the FTC isn’t as insane as you seem to think and that it’s not any more embarrassing for gamers than most stuff that happens on customer service desks is to the rest of the shoppers.

                I’m willing to bet that most people who support Retake Mass Effect did so simply because they wish Bioware remade the ending, and they felt they needed an outlet that made that clear what they want. For instance, at Penny-Arcade there was a mention that quite a few people thought the money was going towards an actual remake. Sort of like how Kickstarter is being used for making whole new games.

                It’s just an act of trying to get heard, no matter what the stupid title makes it look like.

                Also: When someone buys a 300 dollar device, that doesn’t actually do what was promised, it’s a dick move to tell them to “just buy from another company in the future”. What guarantee is that the other company isn’t lying? What if the device is actually important to the person, but he can’t really afford to shop around or buy several of them? I really think you haven’t understood why consumer protection is important.

                March 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM

                • JPH

                  If it was explicitly advertised as a product feature and the phone doesn’t have it, then obviously the customers deserve compensation. I thought you were saying they DIDN’T guarantee it as a product feature, because otherwise the answer is so obvious I don’t know why you would even bring it up.

                  Why do you think it’s so safe to assume I simply don’t know anything about the topics I’m discussing?

                  March 28, 2012 at 9:22 PM

                • Sumanai

                  How was I supposed to take this: “If it doesn’t, and the customers feel conned, then they can simply learn their lesson and stop buying phones from that company.” as anything but “if the promised functionality doesn’t exist, tough shit”?

                  No, in this particular instance Bioware didn’t advertise it, but it’s not exactly fair to paint people who couldn’t tell the difference between promises made in interviews and promises made by advertisements as embarrassing idiots. Which how I understood your comment on the FTC complaint.

                  March 29, 2012 at 12:43 AM

  5. Sumanai

    In regards to what will happen “if X”: The exact same thing that would’ve happened anyway. How the companies will react to it might be a different thing, but I’m not too worried. I seriously doubt they’ll change things unless they would’ve changed things under peer pressure anyway.

    The only situation I see companies making changes after game’s release is if the response is negative enough, and the company is worried about sales. But in that case it’s no different from other fields. It’s not like books etc. haven’t been rewritten or retconned after reader outcry.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    • I think people are just upset that Shepard’s story is over and they are the people who would sue Walmart if they triped over thier own kid and got hurt inside of a Walmart. I am a bit dissapointed in the ending, but not enough to stop playing a fantastic game. Bioware shouldn’t change the ending, but maybe just give it a bit more context.

      Also I dont recall any promises about the ending other than saying that Shepard’s story will be concluded but that Bioware wasn’t necessarily done with thee Mass Effect Universe. What promises are you talking about, Sumanai?

      March 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

      • Sumanai

        The people who “would sue Walmart” and the people who get upset about a story ending are a small, small group. And the latter group gets smaller the longer the content runs. In this case there’s three games, each over 20 hours. You don’t get this many people angry by ending the story where it was promised to end from the beginning.

        However, you can get this many people angry if the ending fails on both literary and gameplay aspect. Here’s an explanation on the literary angle (spoilers for all Mass Effect games):

        http://jmstevenson.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/all-that-matters-is-the-ending-part-2-mass-effect-3/

        I haven’t ran into one that clearly covers the gameplay aspect, but I suspect that’s because it’s related to the themes of the series and the promises so many have thought them obvious. Doesn’t mean no-one should cover it, but there’s nothing I can do. I don’t have a website and I’m not good enough of a writer to really cover it.

        Mentioning what was promised could be counted as spoilers, since it tells what isn’t in the ending, I’ll look for a link. Usually there’s at least one person who repeats what Bioware has said in any page where the ending is being discussed.

        I only have this one saved, stupid title aside it covers them a bit, but mainly focuses on how the endings have failed in general (spoilers):

        http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-ending-hatred-5-reasons-the-fans-are-right/6/

        Found by Googling “mass effect 3 promises” (I’ve only heard of two or three of these before):

        http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9097672

        March 28, 2012 at 3:48 PM

  6. It’s not that Mass Effect 3 doesn’t end in a way that I don’t like that contributes to my dislike towards it. It’s the fact that it ends in a way that is complete nonsense given everything that has come before in the previous three games of the series. It’s like if Star Wars went all 2001: A Space Odyssey at the end of Return of the Jedi. It just doesn’t fit.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    • I should point out I agree with the rest of your post. People are completely overreacting. Sure, it was a bad ending, but people just need to get over it and move on.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    • JPH

      Do I really need to reiterate, again, that I’m not trying to defend the ending?

      March 28, 2012 at 9:17 PM

  7. Sumanai

    This might be relevant:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/13/mass-effect-3-and-the-pernicious-myth-of-gamer-entitlement/

    There are other articles on Forbes about Mass Effect 3, every one that I’ve read has been good.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    • JPH

      I disagree with that article.

      Not much else to say since we don’t seem to be on the same page.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      • Sumanai

        The problem might be that I went to a university for a Bachelor of Business Administrator degree (not exactly that, but the official title was a pain to even try and remember in English), which meant a basic course in marketing.

        A lot of “gamers are acting entitled” was in the marketing class “what consumers do”. And a surprising amount of the time, if you’re working for the company, you’re supposed to give in.

        March 29, 2012 at 12:57 AM

        • JPH

          I could definitely see giving in being a good business decision on Bioware’s part, since it would increase goodwill toward their fans and generate positive PR.

          March 29, 2012 at 1:04 AM

          • Sumanai

            I now understand, or think I do, why I find comments that the fans should just keep calm and carry on strange or annoying. I can’t only think about the ME3 ending from a literary, gameplay or marketing (PR) / consumer (that is “giving the consumers what they want”) standpoint. Since the issue with the fans’ behaviour isn’t a discussion on the ending itself, I take the stance from the point of view of someone from marketing/pro-consumer.

            From a marketers standpoint the fans are being reasonable, in a sense, simply because there are so many of them. Regardless of what I personally feel about their behaviour, whether it’s embarrassing, demanding, rude, I’m thinking what Bioware needs to do to ensure that they keep as many clients as possible and to prevent as many as possible from becoming grudging clients.

            Because this is clearly an issue. After all it has been going on too long for it to be a passing feeling and there are many that complain. For example some decided to make a new move for conveying Bioware how much they want a new ending. They decided to send them a large number of cupcakes (IIRC). They made enough money for the delivery in an hour.

            From a pro-consumer standpoint the fans had to keep complaining for a long time and make a lot of noise, preferably with a positive side effect and something that proves they’re not just flapping their lips. So they decided to put money into a charity. This is in order to ensure they’re heard. Which from a “consumer wants something done” perspective is okay. After all no-one is getting hurt.

            Aside: I think I know where the silly “Retake Mass Effect” name is from. I think it’s a reference to the “Retake Earth” ads.

            And about the boycott, think about console gaming. If you’re horrible with computers you have the choice between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. They’re all bad choices and what suits you best is the least worst. If that one happens to make a horrible decision, you don’t want to abandon them. You want to make them change their ways. You need a third option (first is to shut up and take it, the second boycott), which is complaining. The more it matters, the more you need to complain.

            I think why few see these events from that point of view is because most people commenting on video game news, including the journalists, rarely have any experience (school or practical) in markets. I actually ran into someone making a side swipe at Forbes’, a business and finance magazine, online site for giving business advise to Bioware in a “how dare they come from outside the gaming community to tell us how it’s done” tone. And accusing them outright of “pandering to gamers by taking their side”. Forbes is the magazine with the motto “The Capitalist Tool.” so this sounds a bit unlikely.

            Which strangely leads to me feeling more embarrassed about gaming journalists than gamers.

            March 30, 2012 at 1:35 AM

            • Sumanai

              In the beginning I meant to write “I can only think about the ME3 ending from a…”

              March 30, 2012 at 1:36 AM

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