Mass Effect 3 Accused of False Advertising by Better Business Bureau

BioWare’s announcement last week of the upcoming Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC was a major step for the developer in quelling the vociferous attacks levied on them by many an outspoken fan, allegedly for misrepresenting Mass Effect 3’s promise of a unique custom experience. Only time will tell if the DLC — which aims to build off of each player’s pan-iteration save data and add more context (but no gameplay) behind the final endings — will have the desired soothing effect, but the drama won’t be disappearing any time soon.

The Better Business Bureau, better known as the BBB, has decided to speak out (sort of) against Mass Effect 3 and BioWare by asserting that the game did indeed stage a misleading marketing campaign on the premise of a completely controllable outcome.

The argument comes from Marjorie Stephens, Director of Communications at BBB of Northern Indiana, who published a BBB blog post on Tuesday dissecting two of the marketing taglines found on the official Mass Effect website:

  1. “Experience the beginning, middle, and end of an emotional story unlike any other, where the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome”.
  2. “Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilizations, and even radically different ending scenarios.”

Stephens sums up the situation succinctly.

“The issue at stake here is, did BioWare falsely advertise? Technically, yes, they did.”

Pertaining to the first tagline, Stephens argues that it’s “absolute;” there’s no indecision or alternate conclusion a consumer would reach by reading it. Stephens does deem the second line to be more subjective, however, but she still maintains that it would be difficult for gamers to assume anything other than having universal control over the final outcome.

“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.”

Stephens’ sentiments would seem to echo much of what we’ve been hearing from disgruntled gamers for over a month. One fan went so far as to file a compaint over Mass Effect 3’s advertising with Federal Trade Commission back in March, and we’ve seen no shortage of frustration venting through online petitions, a Child’s Play charity drive, and a cupcake bake to keep BioWare awake at night.

Mass Effect 3 BBB False Advertising

Be that as it may, the blog posting doesn’t suggest any official indictment by the BBB as a whole (BioWare holds no BBB accreditation status in the first place, according to a search on their Canada directory). Nor is the BBB an official organization of any government — a somewhat common misconception given their “bureau” title. Stephens’ own use of the word “technically” speaks to how, even though ME 3’s advertising may be self-evidently misleading, there’s not much court-of-law evidence to prove that choosing “Ending X” over another ending wasn’t what BioWare technically meant by shaping the “experience and outcome.”

Ranters, do you think Mass Effect 3 was falsely advertised by BioWare — and EA, for that matter? Will the free Extended Cut DLC atone for their mistakes, or are you still looking for more closure?

Be sure to check out our spoilerific Indoctrination Theory feature for an extended discussion about the controversial ending.

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple

Source: Better Business Bureau Blog [via GameSpot]