Mass Effect 3 "technically" had false advertising, claims BBB

Ever since Mass Effect 3 came out about a month ago, BioWare has had to defend itself against fans who were not happy with the ending of the sci-fi RPG. One fan claimed he even lodged a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. Earlier this month, BioWare announced plans to release a free DLC pack later this summer, Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut, which the developer promises "will give fans seeking further clarity to the ending of Mass Effect 3."

But did BioWare make statements about the game and how the players controlled the outcome that it didn't keep? That seems to be the conclusion of an article on the Better Business Bureau website. The article uses an example of BioWare's own statements about the game on the official Mass Effect web site.

  • 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.

The article claims that BioWare's wording in those statements don't really describe how Mass Effect 3 reacts to its players. It says:

The issue at stake here is, did BioWare 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.

The article does point out that these words on the game's website don't take into account other statements made by BioWare or publisher Electronic Arts about Mass Effect 3 in other advertisements or promotions. However, it does add that game developers and publishers "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."

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