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.