The Mass Effect series is a really successful science fiction, action role playing game that was released in 2007. The games follow a player created character named Commander Shepard and his/her mission to save the galaxy from a race of mechanical beings known as Reapers.
Throughout the game, you are prompted to make ‘decisions’ that will ultimately lead up to a unique ending (based on the decisions you’ve made). Although, Mass Effect is different from other role playing series in that the character’s data you’ve created in previous games transfer over from game to game. This means all of the hours you’ve slaved over for your character really seemed worth it!
Was that the case for these die-hard fans of the Mass Effect series?
The third and final game centers around the last battle against the Reapers, and to make a long story short, in the final moments of the game, regardless of whichever decision you choose, the creators chose to cop out on individual endings.
Creating a blanket ending meant that all of the hard work and effort you’ve put into the game did… absolutely nothing.
A popular YouTube host who usually reports about video games named AngryJoe uploaded a video of 10 reasons why they hate the Mass Effect 3 ending.
In the end, critics loved it, but fans hated it.
The effect? Mass Effect 3 suffered a massive user backlash.
Here is an excerpt of a review from a renowned review site known as Metacritic
Choices in the past game mean almost nothing, which is contrary to what was advertised. And now, the autodialog. Shepard just talks for ages on end, with absolutely no input from the player. This isn’t YOUR Shep you play, it is something else.
Fans of the series from all over turned to social media to let their voices be heard.
An internet petition was started, and there were massive outcries on Facebook and Twitter. One fan even went as far as to filing a complaint to the FTC against BioWare for false advertisement.
When the fans spoke, the creators listened.
For any creator, it is incredibly painful to think about changing your vision. This is how the writers of Mass Effect 3 have felt, as the ending of the game was their intellectual property: the way they saw the story ending (even though it left many plot holes in the series).
Although, through social media and all of its power, the creators heard the outcries and agreed upon writing new endings to be available through downloadable content (DLC).
This if the first time in history any creator has ever rewritten what is supposed to be their “masterpiece” to give back to their loyal fans.
The actions of the fans have paved the way for future gamers, and have taught BioWare some valuable lessons when they think about creating another game.
Social media is more powerful now, than ever.
It seems that every month there is a new social network sprouting from the ground creating yet, another platform for communities to form. This means, more people connecting with each other. In reference to Edelman’s Trust Barometer and the social customer (defined in Michael Brito‘s book Smart Business, Social Business), people would much rather listen to other human beings like them.
When the first players beat the game, they were tolerant with the ending. It wasn’t until more and more users seemed to have experienced the same ending that users started to backlash.
The change agent? Social media.
If you put a bunch of people together, and whether they praise or hate something, people with gather and listen.
Paying attention to your communities is one of the most important things any business can do. Although starting the community is the hard part, once it’s there, they are an endless resource of feedback, advocacy, and new ideas.
The one thing that I love about this story is that the creators of Mass Effect truly understand the concept of customer loyalty.
I’m sure that the fans are at ease to know that their voices were finally heard and that the creators are willing to rewrite the ending. The saying “the customer is always right” still holds true, and should be followed within reason.
What do you think about this? Should the creators have rewritten their ending, or do they have the right to keep the ending the way it was?