Commander Shepard's New Enemy: The Better Business Bureau

By Rob Bricken in Video Games
Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 10:33 am
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I'm not making this up, and this is not a belated April Fool's joke. From Gamespot:

In a post to the firm's consumer news and opinion blog, BBB director of marketplace services Marjorie Stephens explained that BioWare directed a misleading advertising campaign for Mass Effect 3.

"The issue at stake here is, did BioWare falsely advertise?" she wrote. "Technically, yes, they did."

Stephens made her claim by analyzing two of the game's much-distributed marketing taglines. The first line she examined was a promise that Mass Effect 3 players will be able to "experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome."

Of the line, Stephens says BioWare did not deliver players the ability to fully craft their own unique experience. "There is no indecision in that statement. It is an absolute," she said.

The second marketing line Stephens referenced was, "Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even radically different ending scenarios."

Regarding this statement, Stephens says BioWare's messaging is very subjective. Reading this line, she claims, a player would have a difficult time reaching the conclusion that "the game's outcome is not 'wholly' determined by one's choices."

Stephens ended her blog entry by noting companies have a responsibility to accurately craft their marketing messaging.

While at first I was inclined to dismiss this as absurd -- I find it hard to believe the Better Business Bureau would even know about Mass Effect 3 unless some seriously disgruntled fan called them -- now I think this is actually pretty telling. Honestly, the BBB doesn't have a dog in this race; they're not engaged in a lawsuit against EA or anything, they don't give a shit about gameplay or art, they've just heard about the hubbub and offered their two cents, which happens to be that EA/Bioware screwed the pooch in making the players' decisions irrelevant in the ending (which seems to be what reasonable people are complaining about, more than the ending themselves). Not that EA hasn't already kinda capitulated with their "expanded ending" DLC coming this summer, but I imagine having the Better Business Bureau effectively say "Yep, the Mass Effect 3 commercials sure are lies" would be kind of a kick in the pants. Thanks as usual to SlyDante for the tip.

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