Bioware and Mass Effect 3 have been a hot topic lately, with many gamers feeling unhappy about the ending to the game and successful franchise. Protests have been popping up all over the place, from a maligned Child’s Play fundraiser to the company even getting 400 cupcakes sent to their offices. I’m not about to get into the debate over whether or not the ending needs to be changed, what I’m most interested in is why gamers feel they deserve it to be changed.
[Editor’s Note: Wow! Apparently this is a hot button issue. I’ve got an inbox full of nasty names. So let me re-emphasize something I stated a couple of times in this article…It’s okay to voice your opinion about games online (that’s what I’m doing here actually), and I’m not saying gamers shouldn’t complain about bad games. I’m mostly talking about taking things a little too far. There needs to be interaction between gamers and developers, I just personally feel protesting to change a game is a bit over-the-top. Believe me, I’ve bitched plenty about games I didn’t like and shelled out money for, but I suppose this issue is a generational thing. I’m a retro gamer and grew up in a time of the industry when this type of thing would have been unheard of. So it’s mind-boggling to me.]
Is it just me, or have gamers gotten a little…whiny lately? I understand being upset about the ending to your favorite franchise, or something you’ve been waiting for a while to play; but protests? Really? I mean, since when did the idea come in to play that we have any right at all to tell developers how to do things?
I understand fan feedback, and most developers do seem to try and listen to what their fans have to say, but to engage in protests and raise money to effect change in a game is going a bit further. I’ve become invested in many franchises over the years, and have dedicated many hours of my life to playing games in those franchises, but I’ve never once felt like I had any real ‘stake’ in those properties. They aren’t mine, so who am I to say what’s best?
This is the problem I’m seeing, this sense of entitlement that’s sweeping gamers lately. The truth is, we as gamers and consumers have no right to demand changes if we don’t like something. It’s not like we own anything in the company. I understand feeling invested in something, but unless you have a real physical claim to the company or game…it’s not your call.
I’m not just talking about Mass Effect 3 here either, but this seems to be a trend lately in the gaming industry. Fans don’t like something and then petition to get it changed. What’s wrong with just bitching about it? Seriously, remember back in the day (not even that long ago) where you just played the game you got? If you didn’t like it, you either sold it, or didn’t buy the next game those developers came out with. Sure you’d still complain to your friends, but you didn’t protest or petition. We didn’t feel like the developers owed us anything, we just didn’t support them.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying complaining is wrong, or that people in general don’t have a right to complain, but there’s a difference between complaining and action. I understand protesting to get a game ported over to another country (as is the case with all of the Japanese games that don’t cross over), but protesting just because you didn’t like the ending of a game is a tad ridiculous. It’s vain, and quite frankly makes our entire culture look like a bunch of whiners.
It’s not like protesting a game based on it’s violent content or cruelty to animals, or something like that. Those objections are based on actual content that some group (whether the rest of us agree or not) finds offensive. Protesting simply because you didn’t like it is pure vanity and only serves to appease the ego. It’s not for a greater good, it is to sate a selfish need. It doesn’t matter that a larger group of people agree with you, it’s still selfish to think that the developers need to cater to your demands on them.
Bioware caving in sets a scary precedent as well. By acquiescing to the pressure, they’re telling fans it’s okay to bitch and complain and throw a fit because you didn’t like our game. It’s like giving in to a child who’s throwing a tantrum in the store over a toy. Sometimes you’ve just got to let them be mad and then make it up to them later. While it may seem like they are doing a service for the fans, it’s eventually going to bite the industry in the ass.
Imagine if every mildly disappointing game out there got protests sent the developers’ way. Since Bioware (a large company these days) caved, the other studios will feel the pressure to do so as well. So instead of cranking out new games or devoting expenses into developing better tech for games, they start wasting money to go back and ‘fix’ games that are already on the shelves. Can we see the folly in that?
I think protesting can be constructive and a good thing in the right situations (like when we all banded together against SOPA and PIPPA), I just don’t feel “videogames I’m disappointed in” counts as the right situation. The wonderful thing about the internet is the ability to freely talk about things and even act as an outlet for complaints. So by all means, bitch away if that’s how you feel; that’s the basis for opinions and reviews. Protesting, though, makes you seem entitled (for no reason) and spoiled.