Imagine you have poured $180 (if not more), 100+ hours into a game franchise surrounded by choice, and within the final five minutes, those choices are stripped away. That's what Mass Effect fans are feeling right now.
When the series launched, BioWare created a linked universe, a trilogy of titles that carried over decisions—good or bad—into the next game. That affected everything from character development to whether the game's protagonist, Commander Shepard, chose a side. Now that the end has come, players are irritated.
It's understandable. With that much invested, who wouldn't feel attached? Who wouldn't believe they have a part in the ending? After all, that was Mass Effect's entire hook. Fans are so angry, they want it changed, beginning a petition and rallying on BioWare's website.
Much of the gaming press is standing by BioWare, much as they did during a recent shake-up over the games downloadable content that was issued on day one. Some of the opinions even lean toward the condescending.
That's not surprising, but let's be fair. Changing a piece of commercial art based on community/viewer/player feedback is hardly unprecedented; it's common. Film studios do it all the time, bending to the will of the movie-going public allowed into a free screening. Afterward, viewers let their opinion be known. If said movie-goers are riled about something, it's changed to suit the mass audience.
The recent Fallout game did something similar, expanding the experience so that players could continue to play with their characters after the official ending via DLC. That's what, in the case of Mass Effect, players seem to be yearning for. It doesn't make Mass Effect any less a rich example of artistic expression.
I'm not personally a Mass Effect devotee. I'm aware of the universe basics, the set-up, and so on. Knowing the ending is not what people are riled about. Most can accept a bleak outlook. If fits the somber tone of the third game, which begins with a small child being blasted out of orbit by an alien mech that would make the Independence Day mother ships appear quaint.
The issue here is more or less a feeling of betrayal, as if a promise was broken that was made back when the first Mass Effect title was issued. Change, personality, and customization have been ripped from the adoring fans for the sake of control. I support the decision of BioWare on many levels. It is their creative work. However, as years have pressed on, a little humility may be in order too.
After all, without the fans salivating over each plot detail, buying chunks of DLC, splurging on paperback side stories, and upgrading to collector's editions, Mass Effect never would have reached a vaunted trilogy status. In this case, there doesn't seem to be much harm in releasing a tweaked variation of the finale, even if it's only to quell the uprising, and treat it as an alternate, non-canon piece of closure.