The massive marketing juggernaut is in full effect (sorry) for Mass Effect 3. The long-anticipated conclusion to the epic space marines vs eldritch horror aliens trilogy becomes available on March 6, a few short weeks from now. Fans of the franchise (a category that decidedly includes yours truly) have a new wealth of trailers, screenshots, and tie-ins to whet their appetites and tide them over.
While some tie-ins look interesting, unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the two Facebook promotional apps that are currently running. The Mass Effect 3 Mission Command app at least presents some game characters, requires some game-related input (paragon or renegade?) and announces up-front what prizes participants are eligible to win. (The European edition had a hacking mini-game.)
The "Mass Effect 3 Recruitment App" lacks even that tenuous connection to the actual game. Instead, it feels like a generic Ponzi scheme wrapped in Mass Effect art and left to fend for itself. The app doesn't even bother to couch its demands in terms of needing to, say, draft all of humanity to fight the Reapers or save the world. The entire premise is as follows:
1) Tie the App to your Origin account. 2) Badger friends into signing up through links from you. 3) Keep badgering friends until five of them have not just played, but completed the ME3 demo.
Bothering everyone you know, repeatedly, until they finish the demo will reward you with some kind of vague, unspecified DLC for Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode.
It's clear that these Facebook apps (as most are) are glorified commercials, and I'm genuinely all right with advertising. But Mass Effect is already a pretty well-established franchise with millions of players eagerly awaiting their chance to continue Shepard's story. I feel we're all better off when advertising is honest about its commercial goals rather than recruiting me to bother everyone I can find on a massive company's behalf.