I read Tobold’s blog not because I agree with him but rather because I don’t. He often starts with complicated ideas, boils them down to a black and white question and picks a side. It’s hard to think of a personal gaming blog that elicits more comments, both for and against, so something must be working.
A recent case in point is the defense of EA argument. In it, he postulates that disagreeing with an artist’s intended ending isn’t grounds to dismiss the game or the artist completely. Perfectly reasonable. Applying this logic to Mass Effect 3 however, the argument loses ground.
Rohan has a solid critique of the ending and the idea here is that a story’s ending, a twist though it might be, is dependent on the preceding elements in order to be accepted. Casablanca might not have a happy ending but it’s acceptable and memorable due to the characters remaining true to the entire story to that point. Bioshock Infinite might not please everyone but you can’t deny that each and every character gives additional weight to the ending through their actions in-game.
Some might have read the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. The first half of that series was pretty solid, the second half, so-so. The ending was a massive Deus Ex Machina – magic saves everything. It completely nullifies the rest of the story up until that point because the entire series could have been wrapped up in book 1. Mass Effect 3’s ending was so poor, so full of plot holes, that they needed to retcon a few things and clarify some leaps in logic for people to accept the ending. Even then, barely a decision you made up until that point had any impact whatsoever on the options presented to cap the series. Starchild? Really?
To the original topic. EA didn’t win the golden poop because of the ME3 ending. They won it for micro-transactions in every game, poor quality games, draconian DRM practices that inhibit gaming and for generally being so out of touch with what they are delivering that they want to blame everyone but themselves. EA hires great companies with great ideas and somehow manages to burn out every original idea and spit out a husk of a former team. There has to be a balance somewhere between the game experience and the bottom line – hopefully EA can find that again.