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On March 6th, 2012, BioWare’s action RPG Mass Effect 3 was released amidst high anticipations from the online gaming communities. The title was heavily promoted through viral marketing campaigns prior to the release, including teaser trailer videos and interactive events between the fans and the game’s production team on social networking sites. The game received critical acclaims from several major game review sites like IGN (9.5 / 10), Game Informer (10 / 10), 1UP (Rated A) and Edge (8 / 10).
However, the cinematic ending of the game was rather poorly received by the fans and became a source of grievances. This is mostly due to the fact that all the choices made by the player over the series boiled down to what color the explosion is in the closing cutscene. As a result, a large outcry over the anticlimactic ending has arisen, mostly stemming from the BioWare forums and social networking groups.
The controversy over the ending sequence arose one day before the release of the game. On March 5th, 2012, a community poll on the Bioware Social Network asked what the fans thought of the leaked endings. The response was almost entirely negative. 90% of users voted “The Endings Suck” while only 2% deemed it “Fine As It Is”. The poll has since received 300,000 views and become a focal point of the “Take Back Mass Effect” movement.
On March 9th, YouTuber ImRodyle posted a Hitler reaction commentary video titled “Hitler finds out about Mass Effect 3’s Ending,” expressing anger over BioWare’s ending sequence falling short of the fans’ anticipation.
On March 11th, BioWare forum user Pro5 started another thread titled “Bulleted list of reasons why the finale is getting such reaction,” in which he explained his main reasons in disapproving the Mass Effect 3’s ending sequence. Some of the more notable points included:
No matter what you choose, it feels like a failure (MOST IMPORTANT, imho).
bq. Decisions throughout the game (and the whole trilogy) have no impact on the ending you get.
bq. It contradicts the established ME1 canon.
Similar sentiments resonated throughout the gaming review blogosphere, with virtually every gaming news site reporting on the growing tension over the game’s ending, including Kotaku’s article “Why Mass Effect 3’s Ending Was So Damn Terrible,” The Escapist Magazine’s “Why BioWare Shouldn’t Change Mass Effect 3’s Ending” and GameFront’s “Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right” among others. In contrast, GameSpot defended BioWare’s decision to stay put with their original work in a column article titled “Why BioWare Shouldn’t Change Mass Effect 3’s Ending.”
In addition, a Tumblr blog called “Retake Mass Effect” was launched to provide the latest developments in the fans’ rally against the current ending and a Facebook page titled “Demand a Better Mass Effect Ending” was created to serve as the hubsite for petitioning for an alternate ending. Meanwhile, the grievances of the fans inevitably resulted in the creation of “Scumbag Bioware” image macro.
The outrage over Mass Effect 3’s conclusion did lead to some positive developments, with the fans’ rally against Bioware gaining substantial comic value. The debate quickly spawned hundreds of YouTube reaction videos, often re-contextualizing various clips of celebrities and fictitious characters as their reactions to the game’s ending sequence in typical Downfall style of tongue-in-cheek criticism.
Despite the overwhelmingly negative reception of the ending, Bioware initially stood by its decision and proceeded to go forward with multiplayer downloadable-content (DLC) rather than producing an alternate ending as requested by the fans. In an official statement released via official website on March 16th, the game’s executive producer Casey Hudson insisted that the production team has been always open to suggestions and there will be additional features and improvements available for download in the future. This decision has only served to fan the flames that are already engulfing the company’s Twitter feed.
On March 21st, 2012, Bioware co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka published a blog post to the official Bioware website in response to the influx of criticisms. In the post, Muzyka claimed that the Mass Effect team had been pooling together data about the reactions to the game and would be working to create additional game content to address the issues which would be revealed in April of 2012.