Mass Effect 3: Nerds celebrate surprise Victory over EA! Change in the wind for Game Production Philosophy?
I have to be honest, I never wanted to link back to 4chan for fear that it might put me on some kind of FBI list. Aside from being the Internet’s hate machine, it’s a terrifying place rife with perversions, smothered brilliance, darkest humor and memes galore. Currently, it’s one of the few places on the internet not pacing back and forth like a father expecting a child with three heads with regard to EA and Bioware getting a vicious backlash from Mass Effect fans and their next move deciding the actions of the rest of the industry.
Bucking this trend of corporate versus consumer worry, 4chan is congratulating fans for sticking it to EA hard enough to pin them as the MOST EVIL COMPANY IN AMERICA and has their site blaring the A-team theme to salute the terrifying nerd efforts dinging EA’s reputation. I’m okay with this. They have the /V/ (Video Games) header currently reading:
/v/ – Well-coordinated and extensively financed EA propaganda team beaten by a rag-tag group of /v/irgins run by a furry tripfag and a BR with 140 ping.
I’m just saying, when the consumers are articulate enough, massive enough in numbers and deeply emotionally attached to something; ‘Tis foolhardy to lie to their faces and charge them extra for the privilege of being lied to. Perhaps this constant obsession over the ultimate fate of Mass Effect makes me appear as though I’m wearing a tinfoil hat to protect my mind from martian hate rays, but I will wear my tinfoil hat with immense pride regardless. What this protest is doing is sadly more important than Mass Effect itself, it has become big enough that the entire world is watching both sides to see how they react and how the developer and publisher will ultimately resolve this sticky wicket in which they find themselves.
Movie studios, publishing houses and every other medium of entertainment in existence is on edge because liability may actually be for consumers to decide from now on and that scares the shit out of them. As it should.
Let’s talk about this wicket of stickiness, the effects it might have on the video game industry and why ME3’s ending isn’t able to shield itself behind “Games are Art” as a defense against criticism for its awfulness…
After the cut!
The booming voice of consumer dissatisfaction has never held such remarkable power before and it’s amazing to see the press frequently shifting its gaze in horror and curiosity. If this ultimately gets the result fans are demanding, the game of games will change forcing developers to bend an ear more often and do what Bioware USED TO DO in echoing fan sentiment into their works and putting the desires of their fan base ahead of their capricious decision to defend sloppy work as art.
For the record, I’m all for viewing games as an art form and when the industry wants to join in, I’m more than willing to support them, but that’s not gonna fly here. The Mass Effect Franchise is certainly the first and foremost example I’d be willing to throw out there in addition to Catherine, LA Noire, Persona, Silent Hill 2 and other stunning titles whose artistic merit defined them. It isn’t entirely applicable with Mass Effect 3 because trying to hide behind the “Vidya is Art” for Mass Effect is a self-defeating argument when the reminder prompt appears at the end of the credits poking you to buy DLC; rubbing thick rocks of salt in that massive chest wound where your heart used to be. Why does this work of art need to demand more money at its conclusion while being largely reviled? Are you the Metallica of Videogames, Bioware? Artists in name only crying about that new pool you can’t build because people don’t want your damn DLC until you fix your damn game?
As for where the results of the ME3 ending will lie; having companies held hostage to the court of public opinion might not be such a bad thing. Having developers churn out real games sans “fluff” for their biggest audiences only seems like a smart decision. It certainly couldn’t have hurt Capcom because their properties have all the depth of a napkin and as of this moment they laugh atop their HQ laughing wildly as they urinate upon anyone who tries to argue with them about disc-locking half the game and selling it back to the consumers in pieces over the next few years. Way to discourage piracy guys! Punish those paying customers for ever trusting your brand in the first place! Woo!
Sega could certainly benefit from a new approach because so many of their games are hit and miss these days as they seem to phone in anything bearing their logo, especially games with their Mascot. If you’re going to chicken out of the race, might as well cash in on the stuff people have been asking about for years like Shenmue, bring the previous two games to current gen consoles and make one last game in the series to wrap this potential pile up money up in a nice bow! Also with regard to fans making better games out of older games (IE: Fan made Streets of Rage and Sonic games), hire them now and sell these games as downloadable titles ASAP because it won’t cost anything to build or distribute. Sega doesn’t simply ignore the fans, they ignore them so hard that the fans make their own Sega games that Sega can’t even imitate! This is why building a bridge is so important! Sega is LOSING money and aggressively expanding on failure for no reason save for ignorance, demented pride or just plain stupidity.
If Square-Enix listened to… Aw, fuck it. They’ll probably never release Kingdom Hearts 3. In a perfect world, they might be persuaded to make peace with Mistwalker Studios instead of progressively ruining the franchises it bothers to remember when it’s not ignoring the piles of money for other recognizable IPs it has sitting in storage unattended to. Maybe they’d remember that people play games on consoles outside of Japan and we’d see the Final Fantasy series completely remade and FF7 would finally show up on Next Gen consoles in a way that fans have been freaking out for for years. It would be a welcome change compared to Squenix driving their name into the ground so effectively.
Or maybe nothing will happen.
Maybe the industry will keep making decisions that poorly affect their profits, excuses will greet every request for a cheap remake/rerelease of old games, staunch refusals will greet begging and pleading for high-budget remakes of old games, Fans that learn to make games better for free will only be sued and their work hidden, Brand new store-bought games will cost more and contain less prior to purchase of DLC blocking access to the rest of the disc, Endings will either be horrifically bad from now on or won’t be on the disc at all until purchased via DLC and maybe new IPs will fade from existence because developers won’t risk the bad press of a bad game.
It’s either a thoroughly brave or inherently cowardly new world out there and a quality product is still something worth fighting for. For me, Mass Effect is certainly that product. Even if Bioware/EA just end up making the ending worse, the satisfaction of knowing I took a stand against bullshit like this will be enough. Not to mention what it’ll do for my game purchases in the future, IE: why bother buying new when it just means I get to suffer first?