Mass Effect 3′s Advertising Was Never the Issue

Here’s something that needs saying, because it’s apparently back on everybody’s radar: Players who felt misled about Mass Effect 3 never thought it was about the advertising. It was about misleading statements made by the game’s developers.

So all the journalists who are reporting on the ruling of the UK Advertising Standards Authority finding that Electronic Arts’ advertising on Mass Effect 3 is not misleading, and relating it to the larger debate about the game’s ending — you’re missing (and have missed and continue to miss) the point. Especially when you’re using that ruling as some means of demonstrating that EA and BioWare were in the right with Mass Effect 3 and that the fans who were upset were wrong.

That’s the coverage I’ve been seeing lately, anyway. A lot of stories running down the facts, then throwing in a little bit of journo editorializing roughly of the opinion of, “Well, I’m glad this controversy is over and I hope those noisy nerds sit down and shut up next time.” Worse is what’s going on in forums and comments, where the opinions are less thinly veiled or polite. That’s where pro-ME3 ending folks are using the ASA ruling as full-on proof that their beloved developer and publisher were right and those uppity, angry fans were just a bunch of basement-dwelling jackasses who would never have been happy.

The adults have spoken, this viewpoint declares. Stop crying, play the games you’re given and like it.

The ASA deals with advertising messages. This is a really important distinction to make. In EA’s advertising for Mass Effect 3, all that was discussed was this statement: “Your choices affect the ending.” And that’s certainly true — while players might not be happy with the diversity of those endings, you can’t deny that, as the ASA rules, they are thematically different. Even if they are, largely, effectively the same. But EA said multiple endings, and three slightly different, thematically disparate endings qualify.

EA is in the clear here. But then again, nobody was ever saying EA lied to anybody. They were saying BioWare did.

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27 Comments on Mass Effect 3′s Advertising Was Never the Issue


On June 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

Thank you for this. After the whole ending controversy, I ended up being more upset by the lack of informed journalistic discussion on the issue than the actual ending. It’s nice to see a well-reasoned and informed article on the subject.


On June 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

Finally at least one article trying to differentiate and no emotional, even rabid response. The overall reaction on too many sites were simply gross and more often even dismissing core values of a free society without a second thought in regards to the issue itself and the complaint.

Sincerely, you again gained more respect least from one reader.


On June 15, 2012 at 10:21 am

I would have been alot less angry and the issue wouldn’t be as big if only Casey Hudson came out of Pax and said to the fans” I humbly apologize for the statements that I made about the endings.” Rest assured that I and the Bioware crew is hard at work at resolving this issue.


On June 15, 2012 at 11:26 am


What about the 90% of us that liked or didn’t care about the ending?


On June 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm

@lol “What about the 90% of us that liked or didn’t care about the ending?” the majority of people didn’t like the ending not the minority. As for the people that did like the ending or just didn’t care you have the choice of not downloading the ending dlc when it comes out.

Maurader Shields

On June 15, 2012 at 1:47 pm

To a degree though, I actually feel that ME3 WAS the End Game. A 40 hour Outro where all my decisions from ME1 & 2 came together. Tali committing suicide, Wrex in charge…my one true love Liara…Morden…if only you made it through the suicide mission. The female krogan, dead because of my choices in ME1.
Yes, the actual ‘final outro’ didn’t mean much, but if I replayed ME1 + 2 again, ME3 would play out differently. Perhaps I’m just choosing to ignore peoples ill feelings , but I have much bigger things in my life to worry about than whether BioWare should be found guilty of fraud or what flavour cake to send them.


On June 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I suppose the Bioware poll where 67,296 dislike the ending, and 1613 people like it, really means that people disliking the ending are in the minority huh?


On June 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm


Yeah actually, considering the game sold 900k copies in 24 hours. It’s not even a drop in the bucket.

I’m happy with the endings, and like Casey and Bioware said. It’s the end of Shepard’s story, not Mass Effect.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

@lol It’s been said before, but launch week sales before people knew what they were getting into are not a measure of the community’s satisfaction with the game. 900k people buying the game on Day 1 and finding out on Day 10 that they didn’t get what they wanted doesn’t mean the majority was happy.


On June 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm

@Phil Hornshaw

And the poll results were taken after the game was sold. Even if the 70k people who didn’t like the ending didn’t buy the game there would still be 830K people who bought it and were satisfied with the ending OR didn’t care about it.

Either way it goes this issue was blown way out of proportion, like I said before if the hardcore fanboys (which was probably the 70k people who didn’t like the ending) didn’t leak the original script EA/Bioware would of never changed it out of fear of nobody pre-ordering it because they knew what the ending and script was.


On June 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

@lol So what if the poll was taken after the game was sold when would you take a poll, before the game sold?

“Even if the 70k people who didn’t like the ending didn’t buy the game there would still be 830K people who bought it and were satisfied with the ending OR didn’t care about it.” just because 830K people didn’t vote does not mean that they were happy with the ending or didn’t care about it, they could have not liked it but just didn’t vote, in the end you can’t use a lack of data to prove whether or not people liked something or they didn’t. The data we do have is from polls and they all show that far more people disliked the ending than enjoyed it.


On June 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

@lol So what if the poll came after the game was released, when should they have polls before the game is released?

“Even if the 70k people who didn’t like the ending didn’t buy the game there would still be 830K people who bought it and were satisfied with the ending OR didn’t care about it.” You can’t say that 830K people liked the ending or just didn’t care because they didn’t vote, by that logic i could say all 830K people didn’t like the ending but just didn’t vote. You can’t use a lack of data to decide whether or not people liked the ending or not, what we do have are polls and they all show that far more people disliked the ending than liked it.


On June 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Just given the overwhelming amount that the Dislike trumps the Likes, it is reasonable to assume that if you took a poll from everyone that did own the game, that the results would be similar; it may not be everyone that bought the game but it is a very significant amount of Dislikes compared to Likes.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Sorry, @lol, but your logic is flawed. You’re assuming that as soon as 900k people bought the game and played it through, they all stood up and said, “I have an option to sign on to the Internet and voice my discomfort.” Then, 70k people who disliked the ending did that, while 830k people who didn’t said, “forget it, I have no reason to go on the forums!”

Obviously, that makes no sense. Of course, not every Mass Effect 3 player is on the BioWare forums. Not every Mass Effect 3 player took their discomfort to the Internet. Not every Mass Effect 3 player took part in the polls. The forums are simply a sampling of people who play the game, and not nearly a scientific representation of the population — either for the game or against it. To assume that 830k people DIDN’T take part in the poll and therefore loved the game or didn’t care is making a huge assumption that doesn’t follow.


On June 15, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Face it people, no matter what happens opinions are not going to change. Some people will always always defend the ending no matter how craptastic it was. Funny thing is, how are the dissatisfied people considered the minority. I haven’t seen a online or otherwise petition trying to save the ending or even say just how much they loved it. Every site I’ve been on has been 10/1 dissatisfied to satisfied. Really doesn’t speak well to someones, ( I won’t mention there name ), arguement.
I for one hated the ending but didn’t make much of a fuss, and I’ld bet lots and lots of money there are MANY MANY more of my kind out there. Oh and for one other point. Most of the sales where made before the ending screw up was made public. Sales dropped drastically after that. I have alot of friends who wont buy it till it hits the discount sales. Just saying.


On June 15, 2012 at 11:37 pm

“But then again, nobody was ever saying EA lied to anybody. They were saying BioWare did.”


Um….lets say for some freak reason you we are at a comic club and a ventriloquist comes on stage and starts doing his act. You get called on stage at one point for some audience participation. The dummy starts to insult you and he’s really laying it on thick. He’s going after you, your mom, your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband ect… So I ask, who do you hit? The dummy or the guy with his hand up the dummy’s ass pulling the strings?

See what Im getting at here?


On June 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

“So no, EA is not guilty of false advertising (unless you want to start talking about whether video game journalism is actually advertising, but that’s a debate I don’t think we can have right now because the truth will make me cry), because EA never put anything false in its advertising. ”

Finally a site that isn’t e. Thanks.


On June 16, 2012 at 12:04 am

PS. lol writes like an ea social marketer, i.e. Shill


On June 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

I don’t care that much about the lack of different endings. Let’s be honest the game often doesn’t vary much between choices, you just get a different character to do almost exactly the same stuff. (Wrex vs. Wreav, Miranda vs. her sister, Samara vs. Morinth, Mordin vs. Padok Wiks, Rachni Queen vs. rachni queen copy, Grunt vs. Dragg, Admiral Tali vs. non-Admiral Tali, Kaidan vs. Ashley). So the multi-color endings are not much different than the “choices” in the rest of the game.

I could even live with the deus ex machina at the end, if glow kid would at least say something coherent and logical. But its logic is absurd and the idea that Shepard would then capitulate and go on and impose on the galaxy the choices offered by the villain, a clearly genocidal and psychopathic hologram, is just silly.


On June 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

Excellent article!
Gamefront is now my first source of information for gaming related news.


On June 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

This is the only game website that I think isn’t on EA’s payroll. *Referring to IGN’s article about the “minority” of gamers that hate EA aaaand it’s comment section filled with EA hate.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm


Fair enough, but in terms of the EA/BioWare situation — well, I don’t really know. It’s convenient in a lot of ways for people to say that it’s EA’s fault and that BioWare isn’t to blame, or to imply that EA is the puppetmaster and that BioWare is the puppet, but that’s reading into the situation quite a bit with a lot of information we don’t have. If we say we like BioWare and hate EA (a popular opinion), then siding with BioWare and telling a story in which EA is the bad guy is easy.

But if we stick to the facts, which I feel we must, all we know is that BioWare said some stuff about the game. EA may well have been some kind of puppetmaster in this case, but we don’t actually know. All we know are the things said by BioWare. We may never know what the inside story behind the game might be.


On June 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Really glad to see this. IGN had an article that was basically them defending EA and saying that the ending controversy was over and was never anything to being with. That’s plain stupid. If it wasn’t a big deal, why would they be making the Extended Cut. That article went on about how people didn’t like EA because it made money and that was the main goal. Well, that just shows that this was, and still is, a big deal. EA wouldn’t have authorized Bioware to work on the EC, which is going to be free, if this wasn’t a big deal.

Mr Glassback

On June 17, 2012 at 5:01 am

Blame the puppet master AND the slut of a puppet who readily bent over with such enthusiasm.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm


Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.


On June 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

Gamefront is my new website for gaming news, way to much bia’s anywhere else.


On June 25, 2012 at 2:50 am

Bioware pre-launch quotes

“(The presence of the Rachni) has huge consequences in Mass Effect 3. Even just in the final battle with the Reapers.”

“There are many different endings. We wouldn’t do it any other way. How could you go through all three campaigns playing as your Shepard and then be forced into a bespoke ending that everyone gets? But I can’t say any more than that?”

“It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C…..The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.”

“Of course you don’t have to play multiplayer, you can choose to play all the side-quests in single-player and do all that stuff you’ll still get all the same endings and same information, it’s just a totally different way of playing”