Mass Effect 3

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Name: Mass Effect 3
Abbreviation(s): ME3
Creator: BioWare
Date(s): March 2012
Medium: DVD-ROM, digital download
Country of Origin: Canada
External Links: Official site
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Mass Effect 3 is a single-player roleplaying video game developed by BioWare. It is the conclusion of the Mass Effect trilogy, bringing to a close the story of the main character Commander Shepard as s/he attempts to defeat the threat of the Reapers.

Plot Summary

Not everyone will survive. An ancient alien race, known only as "Reapers," has launched an all-out invasion leaving nothing but a trail of destruction in their wake. Earth has been taken, the galaxy is on the verge of total annihilation, and you are the only one who can stop them. The price of failure is extinction. You are Commander Shepard, a character that you can forge in your own image. You determine how events will play out, which planets to explore, and whom to form alliances with as you rally a force to eliminate the Reaper threat once and for all.


Squad Members


Ending Controversy

A fan-created image about the ME3 ending.

Many fans were unhappy by the way the Mass Effect 3, and by extension the entire series, ended. After the game's release, fans gathered on sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, the BioWare Social Network, and the /v/ board of 4chan to share opinions about the conclusion.

While responses were varied, the majority seemed to feel that the final product did meet the standards that the developers themselves set.[1] Around the middle of March 2012, a BioWare Social Network user named cato_84 started a thread that contained pre-release quotes from key BioWare staff.

Whether or not you enjoyed the conclusion to Mass Effect 3 (personally I feel it tarnished an otherwise masterful series) please take a look at the pre-release quotes below from websites and interviews with the game's developers, writers and producers. ... I believe Bioware can be legitimately accused of, at best, fudging the truth if not outright deceit given the inconsistency between notions of choice, closure etc. expressed before the game was released and the ending as it currently stands.[2]
First few posts of a ME3 thread on 4chan.

Retake Mass Effect and Child's Play

Retake Mass Effect was founded to unite disappointed fans and put a positive spin on the protest by donating to Child's Play.[3] As of March 20, 2012, over $70,000 was raised.

The Retake Mass Effect - Child's Play donation drive is a community driven effort to bring positive attention to our petition for an alternate ending to the fantastic Mass Effect series. The Child's Play charity was chosen as a charity started by gamers to provide video games for the patients at Children's Hospitals all over the world. We would like to dispel the perception that we are angry or entitled. We simply wish to express our hope that there could be a different direction for a series we have all grown to love.[4]

This attempt to raise awareness came to an ignominious conclusion: some donators demanded refunds from PayPal with the excuse that they believed they were funding the actual ending, not donating to a charity. This lead Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade and Child's Play to make a statement regarding his charity:[5][6]

[Jerry Holkins]
Apparently some of the people giving to the cause seemed to think that they were paying for a new ending to Mass Effect. [The charity's contact has] been asked what the goal is, and how much they need to raise in order to get the ending produced. We’ve also been contacted by PayPal due to a high number of people asking for their donations back. ...I actually support this cause, but I am a pessimist, and I’m thinking about the next time something like this happens - when someone attaches Child’s Play to something we can’t get behind, or leverages your history of generosity and fellow feeling for their own weird bullshit. So, we need to have something like a policy on this. This is the best way I can think to say it: Child’s Play cannot be a tool to draw attention to a cause. Child’s Play must be the Cause.[7]

Other fans were not so charitable: BioWare Forum user named El_Spiko filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Committee as well as with the Better Business Bureau, and urged other fans to do the same.[8]

This is not somethign I was happy to do, but after the terrible ending that was in no way the product that had been advertised to me and the lack of any kind of response from Bioware/EA to address this, I felt it was one of my only recourses. I'll be returning my copy of the game before the end of my 30 day return policy if the ending still hasn't been addressed by then.[9]
A fan-created image about the ME3 ending.

Game Front, a gaming site for reviews and news, posted an article on March 13, 2012 about why unhappy fans are justified.

5) Brevity ...We would never suggest that BioWare’s job is to be nothing more than an infodump for nit-picky fans, but after 5 years and hundreds of hours, Mass Effect 3 players deserved more than a text message urging them to buy more content. 4) It is Confusing and Under-Developed - ...Players are rightly unhappy to see it end as nothing but a series of forced choices justified by tautological platitudes. 3) Lore Errors, Plot Holes 2) Key Philosophical Themes Are Discarded 1) Player Choice Is Completely Discarded ...In short, players are provided with nothing remotely close to the unique, personal experience they were promised.[10]

The Indoctrination Theory

The Indoctrination Theory is a fan-created theory that some people believe explains the game's conclusion. This theory relies on the meta-interpretation that the main character, Commander Shephard, essentially hallucinated the final scenes. This is used to defend the ending and fill the plot holes that some fans feel were created, or at least left unresolved, by the conclusion. The first post on the subject seems to be byne on the BioWare Social Network. As of March 20, 2012, byne's post had received 760 pages of comments.

Does this theory make sense? Maybe not. When we consider BioWare's real-world motivations and risks (profit, losing a large fanbase over the disgusting wretchedness of the endings as they currently exist), then the theory is hard to support. But if, for just one moment, we can let ourselves believe that BioWare may just have lived up to their celebrated philiosophy of Player Choice and Player Acutalization, then this theory becomes awe-inspiring. Is it possible? Could BioWare have sacrificed the potential for safe profits in order to bring the most insane and beautiful gaming experience of all time to its fans? The most unprecedented example of player immersion of our times? Would BioWare have truly allowed the risk for profit and angering a serious amount of their fan population in pure deference to the story, and its lore? It may explain BioWare's silence on the matter, until "more people have played the game", or until all regions have the game. It may explain Jess M.'s twitter about fans "reacting before having all of the facts". It may.... just may explain these super sh*tty endings in a way that would make BioWare the God of RPGs. Is it likely? No. Am I reaching, insanely? Yes. But is it possible? Yes.[11]

Tumblr used uninhibitedandunrepentant posted their support of the theory:

We, the players, were indoctrinated right alongside Shepard. And by sitting here and demanding that we have a different ending, we acknowledging that something is wrong. Something is broken. Something is not right. But instead of thinking that Bioware has done this deliberately to us, we swung immediately into rage and hate and slammed them for the decision. We are raging that Bioware betrayed our trust. But we didn’t trust them. I, myself, am guilty of this. And now that I sit back and think about it, about the games, about Bioware, all I can say is if that this is right, if this is what Bioware intended… If the true ending is yet to come… [12]

BioWare Response

BioWare developers made a post to the Mass Effect Facebook page on March 18, 2012 with a response that they were aware of the fans' responses and had not "ruled out" anything.

We are aware that there are concerns about a recent post from this account regarding the ending of the game. In this post it was stated that at this time we do not have plans to change the ending. ...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.[13]

On March 21, 2012, one of the BioWare founders Dr. Ray Muzyka made a statement on the BioWare blog directly addressing the ending controversy[14]

As co-founder and GM of BioWare, I’m very proud of the ME3 team; I personally believe Mass Effect 3 is the best work we’ve yet created. So, it’s incredibly painful to receive feedback from our core fans that the game’s endings were not up to their expectations. Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility.[15]

Muzyka also addressed what he called "destructive commentary" from fans; this may have been in part inspired by the abuse writer Jennifer Hepler received in February 2012.

Some of the criticism that has been delivered in the heat of passion by our most ardent fans, even if founded on valid principles, such as seeking more clarity to questions or looking for more closure, for example – has unfortunately become destructive rather than constructive. We listen and will respond to constructive criticism, but much as we will not tolerate individual attacks on our team members, we will not support or respond to destructive commentary.[16]





Fan Communities


Other Resources


  1. ^ The Mass Effect 3 Ending Backlash Continues To Gain Steam, posted March 12, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  2. ^ Mass Effect 3 debacle - Pre-release developer quotes. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  3. ^ Kotaku: Charitable Donations Don't Give You the Right to Ask for Changes. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  4. ^ Retake Mass Effect: About. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  5. ^ Child's Play Doesn't Appreciate Being Used to "Retake Mass Effect", posted March 23, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2012.
  6. ^ Child's Play Shuts Down Fundraiser to Change Mass Effect 3's End, posted March 24, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Penny Arcade - Child's Play and "Retake Mass Effect", posted March 22, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2012.
  8. ^ Mass Effect 3 Fan Complains to the Feds Over the Game’s Ending. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  9. ^ Fan filing FTC complaints against EA after Mass Effect 3 ending. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  10. ^ Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right, posted March 13, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  11. ^ Was the ending a hallucination? - Indoctrination Theory, posted March 2, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2012.
  12. ^ Mind = … Holy fuck…, posted March 15, 2012. Accessed March 20. 2012.
  13. ^ We are aware that... Accessed March 20, 2012.
  14. ^ BioWare Co-Founder Promises Fans "Clarity and Closure", posted March 22, 2012. Accessed March 21, 2012.
  15. ^ To Mass Effect 3 players, posted March 22, 2012. Accessed March 22, 2012.
  16. ^ To Mass Effect 3 players, posted March 22, 2012. Accessed March 22, 2012.