Fans upset with the outcome of Mass Effect 3 have been crying "false advertising" since the get go, arguing that the ability to "completely shape" their experience as promised by EA and BioWare never materialised. According to the Better Business Bureau's Majorie Stephens, they were right.
In a posting on the consumer protection organisation's Consumer News and Opinion Blog cloyingly titled "Mass Effect 3 is Having a ‘Mass Effect' on Its Consumers for Better or Worse", Stephens explains that technically yes, BioWare's marketing campaign for Mass Effect 3 does contain false advertising. It's a problem of absolutes, something that should be avoided at all cost in advertising circles.
The issue at stake here is, did Bio Ware 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.
Let's put this in context. If I were to tell you I make the very best lasagna in the entire world, that's an absolute. Worse, it's an absolute based on opinion, which would open me up even more. Is that false advertising? Yes, my lasagna sucks. It is, however, better a few days later with the addition of liberal amounts of shredded cheese.
Stephens also analyses the statement "Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilisations, and even radically different ending scenarios." It's a statement that could indicate that the previous statement wasn't quite true, but a consumer would have to dig deep to come to that conclusion.
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.
If I ever form a game company, we're never saying anything. We'll just quietly slip our games under your door and run away.
Does this mean that BioWare is in some kind of trouble with the BBB? No, but its blogger agrees with the whole false advertising thing, which should make everyone feel a lot better about the whole thing.
"Mass Effect 3 is Having a ‘Mass Effect' on Its Consumers for Better or Worse" [Better Business Bureau Blog]