Mounting fury over Mass Effect 3's ending (or lack thereof, according to some), has motivated BioWare to re-evaluate the way it left its space-faring trilogy. Today, the studio issued a statement to fans insisting Commander Shepard's final moments are not set in stone, and that it is open to suggestions.
“We would like to clarify that we are actively and seriously taking all player feedback into consideration and have ruled nothing out. At this time we are still collecting and considering your feedback and have not made a decision regarding requests to change the ending,” wrote BioWare on the ME3 Facebook page. “Your feedback and opinions are of the utmost importance to us. We apologize for any confusion this has caused. Our top priority regarding this discussion is to keep communication with you, our loyal fans, open and productive.”
The message follows earlier statements by producer Casey Hudson, who defended the ending to Digital Trends, saying, "I didn't want the game to be forgettable. Even right down to the sort of polarizing reaction that the ends have had with people - debating what the endings mean and what's going to happen next, and what situation are the characters left in."
The controversy surrounding Mass Effect 3's finale(s) began almost immediately after its March 6 release when a significant number of fans stormed the internet expressing frustration over BioWare's decision to conclude the trilogy with a limited number of scenes which, according to them, failed to provide suitable closure. While this can be said about any number of games, those angry at BioWare allege the Mass Effect team betrayed players' loyalty to the series by not adequately taking into account their decisions, and therefore failing to live up to one the franchise's biggest selling points. One fan has recently gone so far as to file an FTC complaint against BioWare and EA for false advertising, claiming, “After reading through the list of promises about the ending of the game they made in their advertising campaign and PR interviews, it was clear that the product we got did not live up to any of those claims.”
The idea of BioWare changing its ending based on negative feedback raises a number of concerns. For one, if BioWare amends its ending – be it through DLC or a patch – it's likely the studio will face another wave of outrage from fans who had no problem with the way Mass Effect 3 down, but would have to accept the game's canon being altered or extended to appease irate fans. Then there's the precedent it would set for other developers faced with the decision of fixing their final product in response to fan feedback even when it's not technically broken.
In the end, this issue isn't about whether or not gamers have a right to be angry with developers' choices (they do, hence the word “right”), but to what extent a studio is responsible for acting on those criticisms or defending its original vision. How far do you think BioWare should go?