The game, Mass Effect 3, has caused a “mass effect”/controversy amongst its consumers. Consider this: If you had purchased a game for $59.99 or $79.99 for the digital download version and were told that you had complete control over the game’s outcome by the choices your character made and then actually had no control over the game’s outcome, wouldn’t you be disappointed?! Many gamers have spoken out in online forums, via Facebook and Twitter, leading to the creation of Facebook fanpages in favor of and against the game’s outcome. What caused all of this hype had to do with the marketing of this product. Here are some examples below from their website, http://masseffect.com:
- “Experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome”.
- “Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even radically different ending scenarios.”
One gamer, in particular, who goes by El_Spiko was so upset by all of this that he filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and posted his action online, which created quite a frenzy in the media and the online world.
The issue at stake here is, did Bio Ware falsely advertise? Technically, yes, they did. In the first bullet point, where it states “the decisions you make completely shape your experience”, there is no indecision in that statement. It is an absolute. The next statement is not so absolute. It states “your choices drive powerful outcomes”. A consumer would have to very carefully analyze this statement to come to a conclusion that the game’s outcome is not “wholly” determined by one’s choices. This statement, really though, is very subject to interpretation. Also this is just a small example of their advertising and does not take into account anything that might have been said, as far as their public relations and other advertising campaigns.
The lesson to be learned here is companies should give careful consideration to how they word their advertisements. Otherwise, there could be detrimental effects, especially in the era of social media and online forums. For questions regarding advertising, please see BBB’s Code on Advertising at http://www.bbb.org/us/bbb-code-of-advertising/.
One positive thing that came of this, though, is an online charity, “Retake Mass Effect 3 Child’s Play Charity”, where funds of over $80,000 were raised. Proceeds will go towards providing “video games for the patients at Children’s Hospitals all over the world”. As with any charity, though, it is wise to verify where funds are actually going. Go to www.bbb.org for a charity report!