Internet protest is a powerful tool. Its power even stands testament in the modern gaming industry. The recent controversy behind Mass Effect 3′s ending and the subsequent protests to change the ending of the game have prompted me to look at the effectiveness of petitioning in the gaming industry. Can gamers really get what they want through organized online petitions? In short, yes, and the time is now.
Within the last year, an online petition called Operation Rainfall has been making gaming headlines on every major site – chances are you know what it’s about (you can skip ahead). Operation Rainfall is a fan-made petition to localize three Japanese RPGs for North America – Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower. Though available in Japan, Nintendo of America made no announcement of releasing these games in North America. Operation Rainfall began in response.
Simply going beyond forum wish listing, Operation Rainfall focused their operations on sending emails, Facebook, and Twitter comments to Nintendo of America along with other more unique efforts, such as pre-ordering the games on Amazon, even when they haven’t been announced for North America. As reported on Platform Nation almost a year ago, Nintendo responded, appreciating the interest from fans but set the record straight - there were no plans to release the games in North America.
Jump ahead less than a year later and Operation Rainfall has been a success – Xenoblade Chronicles is due to be released this week on April 6th. The Last Story isn’t far behind, with a June 19th release date. Pandora’s Tower has yet to be announced for North America, but its European localization this month is a good sign. Congrats Operation Rainfall.
People demanded the North American release of three Japanese games and two of them are almost here. Whether Nintendo of America planned to release the games all along is irrelevant. The internet banded together and it looks like they’ll be getting what they want. Maybe there is hope for Mother 3.
The movement has even inspired the cleverly dubbed Operation Moonfall, an online petition meant to persuade Nintendo to produce a The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3DS remake. While no Majora’s Mask 3D has been announced, even Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has acknowledged Moonfall’s demands, giving hope for a 3D remake.
Retake Mass Effect 3
This is the one you’ve been hearing the most about, even on Platform Nation. Many fans were disappointed by the ending of Mass Effect 3 and banded together on the internet, forming the Retake Mass Effect 3 campaign. It’s been such big news that even non-gaming sites like International Business Times reported on how some believe the recent two-week drop in EA’s stocks is a result of Retake Mass Effect.
Similar to Operation Rainfall, the campaign sent emails, messages, and even cupcakes to get their voices heard. Continuing the inventiveness started by Operation Rainfall, Retake Mass Effect also spread their cause by donating to the Child’s Play charity. While Child’s Play is no longer accepting donations from Retake Mass Effect, the campaign can call it good - in response to fan outcries, Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka has stated that his company is hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.” This comment suggests that we will receive DLC to clarify the game’s ending, although what that content entails is anyone’s guess.
With Retake Mass Effect 3, all eyes were on Bioware and their inevitable response. The campaign and subsequent media attention forced them to make a decision about the game’s ending. For better or worse, Retake Mass Effect and Bioware’s response will be looked upon for years when examining game developer/gamer relations.
The Power of Protest
Comparing Operation Rainfall and Retake Mass Effect is all about the internet; thousands of dissatisfied consumers created a demand and made their voices heard. The internet gives these consumers easy access to each other so they may combine and focus their efforts on specific goals, whether they’re requesting the localization of Japanese games or attempting to reverse a game developer’s creative decision. So what does this say for the gaming industry today? Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard – game developers are listening. Or at least we are forcing them to.
A message has been sent to gamers – the internet works.