The UK Advertising Standards Authority has dismissed claims that EA and BioWare misled gamers with Mass Effect 3. Following significant consumer backlash, three players made official complaints to the ASA, challenging EA‘s promise that “the decisions you make completely shape your experience and outcome”.
Their argument was that while the colour of the frosting may vary, the cupcakes remained the same flavour – or, regardless of decisions and choices made in-game throughout the sci-fi trilogy, everybody is doomed to the same fate.
[img_big]center,7251,2012-03-08/ME3_Launch_1.jpg,Mass Effect 3[/img_big]
EA turned around and explained that the ending of Mass Effect 3 was not simply the final cutscene, but instead unfolded slowly over the last few hours of the game – a timeframe when consequences of Shepard’s actions are brought to bear.
The argument touched on war assets (the “collected people, forces and technology” earned throughout ME3), galactic readiness and Effective Military Strength scores, explaining that each of these factors determined the choices made available to players in the endgame – locking or unlocking certain cutscenes as a player progresses.
[EA] said almost every decision a player made in the game would impact the EMS score in some way, and they therefore considered that each decision would impact the player’s experience during the last hours of the game.
Each fork of this potential “end state” was considered to be “thematically quite different”, according to the ASA in its closing statements:
Whilst we acknowledged that the advertiser had placed particular emphasis on the role that player choices would play in determining the outcome of the game, we considered that most consumers would realise there would be a finite number of possible outcomes within the game and, because we considered that the advertiser had shown that players’ previous choices and performance would impact on the ending of the game, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
While this should end one element of the backlash against BioWare, the studio itself has taken steps to soothe the savage playerbase, announcing free DLC for Mass Effect 3, offering “further clarity” and “greater insight” into the controversial conclusion.