Soooo... Apparently, Mass Effect 3's ending is controversial because it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. And the fans aren't happy about that at all.
Normally this wouldn't be particularly newsworthy - after all, nine out of every ten video game endings are drenched in generous lashings of weak sauce. But this time instead of shrugging their shoulders and accepting it, an angry swarm of ME fans bit back by swamping the internet with a deluge of angry messages aimed at BioWare.
In fact, they bit back with such ferocity and in such numbers that BioWare co-founder Dr Ray Muzyka was forced to publicly address their complaints on the Mass Effect website, in the process hinting that they were working on DLC which would 'fix' ME3's ending.
The dawn of social media has made it easier than ever before for the person on the street to get their voice heard, and MassEffectGate is the first (and presumably not the last) large-scale example of gamers clubbing together as a community to force changes upon a game they love but deem flawed. But is this brave new world order necessarily a good thing?
Certainly, anything that removes the barrier between developer and consumer is positive. While publishers are notoriously thorny to criticism, most developers we've met just want to make good games, so value feedback. And it's never been easier to compress your suggestions into 140 characters and fire them into developer and publisher's eyes.
The downside to all this is that all opinions aren't equal, and there's no inherent filtering system. Any old crazy-mouth can have their say on the internet, and so it's the developers' duty to separate the discerning from the deranged. This is where BioWare has failed the gaming community. Although the official Retake ME3 movement is numerically strong, there's more than a whiff of bandwagon-hopping about it.
If you look beyond the numbers you'll find the content of their argument to be weak. They propose a 'more pleasant ending' with alternatives including Shepard 'settling down with his lover' or 'becoming an intergalactic diplomat'. Do either of these really sound like an electrifying way to cap off an epic sci-fi trilogy?
There's a line between constructive criticism and obnoxious entitlement, and the Retake ME3 crowd hasn't just crossed it but leapt over it in moon boots. The whole sorry episode could have potentially disastrous ramifications for our hobby. Games today are conservative enough in design thanks to commercial pressure, without devs thinking they need to rein it in even further to avoid a backlash from their own fanbase.
Creativity, originality and artistic autonomy are traits to be treasured, and hopefully in the future fans will remember that before taking to Twitter or fleeing to Facebook.
What do you think? Are players being given too much power and if so what effect do you think this will have?