Is it OK to trust AAA games again?

By Hayden Perkins

On the eve of the release of “Mass Effect Andromeda,” Bioware celebrates their 10-year anniversary of the franchise with excitement and likely, a large bit of apprehension. As a fan of the series since the original game’s release in 2007, I’m anxiously awaiting the new release in the epic saga.

Commander Shepard’s sci-fi epic about destroying a sentient race of robots hellbent on destroying all life in the galaxy every 50,000 years, or as they refer to it, harvesting, was a multi-award-winning franchise. The three games in the series released in 2007, 2010, and 2012, hold a special place in the hearts of many avid video game players and lovers of the Bioware method  that is, until the last five minutes of “Mass Effect 3.”

The franchise brandished its dialogue choices and plot points affected by the player’s decisions as a mechanic that would allow players to tell thousands of varying stories, each developing relationships with characters and crafting personal narratives in a rich world. As the series is reaching its climax, Commander Shepard has tracked down a rogue special agent who was brainwashed by the robots, a race of aliens who were collecting humans to fuse their DNA with the robots, and then united an entire galaxy of different species together even with their centuries of conflict and civil war  and for what? A single choice at the end and a handful of cut scenes varying only in the color scheme. It was like reading the “Harry Potter” novels, and right as you get to the final battle, Voldemort decides to just give up, and it ends right there. Nothing mattered and nothing was shown beyond this event. People would have rioted.

Granted, Bioware did put out the Extended Cut DLC immediately after with tons of extra scenes and narration explaining what happened to everybody after the literal world-ending climax, but that did not change the fact that a company that many knew, loved and respected could possibly drop an unfinished product like this again. So the question remains, is it okay to trust this industry again?

The release of “Mass Effect 3” not only left a bad taste in the mouths of the series’ fans and people who felt wronged and cheated, but it also tainted the view of the general consumer in the video game industry, and rightfully so. The world of video games now is so open to new ideas and IPs that companies like Valve have even opened an entirely new section of their hosting platform to allow for indie games, or nonprofessional games, to be made and sold.

Generally, these programs are run through crowdsourcing and allow donors to play an unfinished version of the game for a small price. However, far too often do we see smaller companies shelling out unfinished games and then never returning to them once they’ve turned a profit.

So, amidst the sour history the “Mass Effect” franchise has left regarding its state of completion at the climax and an industry polluted by unfinished games made intentionally unfinished, can we, the players and payers, trust the company and the AAA industry again?

The answer to that is an odd one that really could go either way. I think, though, that I would say yes. 2012 may have introduced us to this problem at the AAA level, but without writing a novel, it would suffice to say that the mistake is one that will not be made again. Bioware, a company renowned and appreciated for its RPGs, simply can’t afford to screw us all over again — and if that isn’t enough, then I don’t know what is.