Back in January here the game developer BioWare was eagerly touting the possibility of a movie based on their Mass Effect series. At the time it seemed like they were all talk, but they weren’t.

Variety says Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to the franchise with the intention of turning it into a movie with Warner Bros. If you’re a fan of Mass Effect this might seem like a good idea, but to me this project seems like a prime candidate to fall prey to the same thing which has torpedoed nearly every other video game to movie endeavor: It’s all about the user.

When you’re playing Mass Effect it probably seems like an incredibly rich, developed story. It’s a well made game, a fully realized universe there on your screen. It takes place in a far off future where humanity has entered an era of space travel. It follows one Commander Shepherd, who does the usual hero thing and saves the Universe from an alien race bent on wiping out all organic life (yep, kind of like the rings in Halo). Yet much of the game’s story on player choices, which means there’s really not a story without a person there pushing buttons. It’s the choices you make that really make it come alive. That’s something Hollywood has never been able to duplicate, that’s the reason so many video game movies fail, and it’s in full effect here in Mass Effect.

There’s another problem. Mass Effect is a space opera. How many successful space operas has Hollywood made? Ok now name one that isn’t Star Wars or Star Trek. Serenity? Huge flop. Chronicles of Riddick? Bigger flop and in fact to fix it for the third movie they’re abandoning the space opera format and going back to something intimate and gritty. Why? Because people won’t see space operas, no matter if they’re good, no matter how much money you spends, and no matter what they’re based on.

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