That is the question. Mass Effect is a popular Trilogy with a prominent and loyal fan-base. Recently, Mass Effect 3 was released and graced with fantastic reviews across the board – that is, until people completed the game. People were upset enough about the ending to the trilogy to petition BioWare for a new one. Back in previous gaming generations, before the luxury of DLC, the ending you got was definitive. You either liked your ending, or hated it; there was no petitioning developers to appease you. I remember when Final Fantasy 7 came out, everyone was up in arms over the death of Aerith, but that event was accepted as part of the game dynamic. If FF7 had been released in this current gen, would we petition a DLC to keep her alive? In my opinion, I respect developers creative integrity within their games and take my gaming experience for what it is, and appreciate what I’ve played. I view video-games as art and would never tell an artist to do a “better job”, so to speak. To me, the act of petitioning is a great example of mob-mentality. This wouldn’t of been prevalent before the DLC generation. When you watch a great movie but are left unfulfilled by the end you dont ask for your money back or petition the writers or director. At least I would hope not. I feel this should be no different with gaming, as I almost feel this could potentially be a setback to the industry. If we complain enough, will we get what we want from developers in future games? No matter how you feel during your game, or upon completion, the game is doing it’s job by evoking any sort of emotion within you.
On the other hand, I think downloadable content is a fantastic addition to current gen gaming. The ability to download free or relatively cheap add-ons to games you already own breaths new life into gaming. I think the fact that BioWare listened to fans and is willing to entertain them by compromising and releasing a free DLC that clarifies plot points in the game is interesting. While it is not an entirely new ending, it sheds light on a lot of points that players were critical of. I can only hope that players will respect this fan-service and this DLC. I also hope that this is not going to be a new trend in gaming, relying on DLC to soothe our ennui in situational gaming.
From the press release, posted to EA’s official news site:
BioWare, a Label of Electronic Arts Inc. announced Mass Effect™ 3: Extended Cut, a downloadable content pack that will expand upon the events at the end of the critically acclaimed Action RPG. Through additional cinematic sequences and epilogue scenes, the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut will give fans seeking further clarity to the ending of Mass Effect 3 deeper insights into how their personal journey concludes. Coming this summer, the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut will be available for download on the Xbox 360® video-game and entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC for no extra charge.
I asked some of my Twitter friends for their opinion on the matter, and the responses were diverse and fantastic:
“I think it’s ridiculous that the fans complained, but I think it’s polite for Bioware to confront / fix their #halfassery.”
“I think Bioware is doing something that most companies don’t. They are actually considering what the fans think and feel.”
“I don’t think it’s as reactionary as people think. I think @bioware had it planned all along.”
“I liked the first ending, so this is just more awesome. Then again, I just love Mass Effect, good and bad.”
“No one has the right to demand change to an artistic vision. If u don’t like it, don’t buy it or what they make in the future.”
“Some people think Bioware caved in to pressure, while others are glad about it. Personally, I think about breasts and girls.”
“I think the way they are doing it is perfect. I mean yeah the ending wasn’t that great, but thats their prerogative, what i really wanted was more explanation of what happened, and thats exactly what they are giving me.”
“Doesn’t look too promising. We want much more than closure: Plot holes being filled, endings that pertain to our choices, etc.”
“Even if the ending was terrible, I don’t see why people feel like it should be altered. That doesn’t happen with other games.”
“It makes me think that Bioware is a pussy company and doesn’t have a single backbone in the entire corp.”
“I think its a shame. We shouldn’t be dictating art.”
So, what do you think? Does BioWare ows us something? Are we just greedy in an age where fresh content can become so readily available, or should we just accept our endings just like “the good ole’ days”?