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'Retake Mass Effect 3' donations remained largely with Child's Play, 'a handful' requested refunds


When thousands of people took to a Facebook group rallying Mass Effect 3 players to "demand a better ending," their efforts were represented by a "donation protest." The protest raised just over $80,000 in donations to Penny Arcade's "Child's Play" charity, and arguably contributed to BioWare's decision to respond with an upcoming addition to Mass Effect 3: "Extended Cut."

Regardless of the group's success, Penny Arcade co-founder Jerry "Tycho" Holkins halted the fundraiser. "Child's Play cannot be a tool to draw attention to a cause. Child's Play must be the Cause," Holkins said of hypothetical future efforts. He also cited Child's Play project manager Jamie Dillion as "buried under mail" from donors who didn't clearly understand exactly what they were giving money to.

"Apparently some of the people giving to the cause seemed to think that they were paying for a new ending to Mass Effect. She's been asked what the goal is, and how much they need to raise in order to get the ending produced," Holkins wrote. "We've also been contacted by PayPal due to a high number of people asking for their donations back. This is in addition to readers who simply couldn't understand how this was connected to Child's Play's mission. We were dealing with a lot of very confused people, more every day, and that told us we had a problem."

That doesn't mean, however, that all of those folks were demanding refunds. "Essentially, there were a handful of people who requested their donation returned, which we did. The large majority of the funds were not returned and will be distributed to the hospitals as normal. If anyone feels that they would like their donation back, we are happy to do so," Dillion told us in a recent email.

Despite some initial confusion, the donations situation seems to have worked out. Dillion and Child's Play are still happy to offer refunds to folks who didn't realize where their money was going. The biggest issue, she said, was parsing regular refunds and PayPal disputes from the "Retake Mass Effect" campaign. "PayPal disputes are not uncommon – people have stolen cards, donate in error or a host of other things, and we are always happy to refund money. It does make it impossible, though, to pinpoint which refunds may have been from Retake Mass Effect and which are related to regular disputes."

While she couldn't give a specific percentage breakdown, Dillion added, "The percentage of money refunded was very comparable to our normal amount of refunds, and the rest of the donations will go to providing kids with video games, books, and toys to make their hospital stays a little easier." If anyone is still in the dark and wants a response as soon as possible, Dillion suggested they get in touch with Child's Play through the organization's contact page.

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