Mass Effect vs Call of Duty
Late last week the “headstart” for Mass Effect: Andromeda allowed Origin Insiders to play the game for a full 10 hours, which I suppose was enough to get a Spidey Sense of the game but enough to provide the full breadth of what’s on offer.
Being the Internet, of course this relatively limited exposure didn’t stop people from raking it over the coals, with wonky animations being at the top of the list of people’s sudden and violent pet peeves, followed by bad writing, bad acting, which of course lead to personal attacks on a female BioWare employee. Supposedly, Mass Effect is a series that people generally love, and hate-supporters will be the first to exclaim that all of their trash-talk is validated by the infamous dust-up surrounding the end of ME3, and stems from the simple fact that they love the game so damn much that they hate to see BioWare “ruining” it.
I was hearing about these incidents over the weekend, and for some reason Call of Duty popped into my head. We never hear about crap like this when a new CoD game is released, despite the fact that the run-and-gun franchise releases a new title every six months to great (advertising) fanfare and massive sales which may or may not dwarf Mass Effect‘s lifetime retail. People love Mass Effect, to be certain, but people obviously really love Call of Duty, so why do these haters “love” ME to the point where they would rather jeopardize future chances of getting any sequels, while CoD fans are constantly just thanking the devs for the privilege by shutting up and playing the damn game?*
I’m starting to think that it’s not worth the grief that companies like BioWare get to make any more games in these beloved franchises because for every person I saw in my circles who was excited about the release of ME:A, there were a handful of stories about people looking for their five minutes of ill-gotten Internet fame by compiling GIFs of examples of the unsatisfying animation and passing them around on Reddit with snarky comments. That a female BioWare employee seems to always get harassed by the bacteria who will take any corner-case and use it as an excuse when a new game is released would make me (were I the head of the company) to seriously consider switching our business model back to making software for medical devices.
On some level, I get it: everyone wants what they love to be perfect and to align with what they’ve been building in their heads about a new game in a beloved franchise. People can feel let down when they don’t see an increasing level of quality over time, and there could even be a compelling case for saying that a company with BioWare’s reputation and talent should be able to achieve a certain level of quality that would head off petty attacks like these. But the Internet has no filter and takes no responsibility for the actions of its denizens; I’ve seen legions of people say they’d never play a game because they don’t like the character’s animations — which is absolutely mind-boggling to me that someone could be so specifically focused on missing the forest for the trees. Being critical of the whole because of a sliver is a classic baby-and-bathwater situation which negates any “because we love it so much” arguments that such a person might make. If they loved it as much as they claimed, then they’d love it no matter what and wouldn’t value being seen hanging with the snarky crowd as much as they apparently do.
On a tangent, I can totally understand why Valve hasn’t announced anything about Half-Life 3: It will never be worth the shit they’d get for it no matter how good it might be.
* That’s an entirely rhetorical question. ME boosters will cite story and investment in character and all that. I get it. One is an RPG, and the other is a shooter in RPG clothing. While there’s very little to link the two franchises, this post isn’t about nuts and bolts, but rather is all about the misguided way some people treat things in the name of “love”. Also, I’m not talking about people who truly love the franchise and who are thankful that BioWare continues to support it…just those who claim to love it the same way people start a racist sentence with “I’m not racist, but…”