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Game-maker Bows to Power of Social Media

The ending to Mass Effect 3 left many gamers disgruntled–to the point that a petition to the Federal Trade Commission was filed complaining about how the game maker used deceptive advertising in its description of the game. Now its appears Electronic Arts and BioWare are about to cave—but probably not because they fear an inquiry from the FTC. Rather, it is the fury of their fan base they are seeking to appease, which has gaining momentum and a microphone via social media.

In a blog post, BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka  said that "the team and I have been thinking hard about how to best address the comments on ME3’s endings from players, while still maintaining the artistic integrity of the game."

Many Lessons

The story of Mass Effect 3 has many lessons from which a marketer can draw, but the power of social media trumps them all. Other twists to the story, though, are also instructive to marketers. For example, many fans were outraged at the way the game was described–that is, they believed they were promised a way to change the impact the ending.

Arguably (spoiler alert) that was not the case as the earth ends up being destroyed no matter what actions the gamer takes. Hence, the crux of the complaint to the FCC.

As one reader responding to an article in the E-Commerce Times about the subject said: "They advertised 16 distinct different endings based on your decisions throughout the three games. Instead we got 3 semi different endings that were the same regardless what you decided…It's like buying a car with a CD player and automatic locks, but when you pick it up it has a tape deck and manual locks. You were advertised one thing and you were given another…"

Although the FTC never officially responded to the complaint, many attorneys didn’t believe the complaint was viable. "It's difficult to conceive of any Bioware ad that would support this lawsuit," Jim Gibson, who teaches computer law and directs the Intellectual Property Institute at the University of Richmond School of Law, told Forbes. "No reasonable consumer would rely on statements about a 'great ending' or 'compelling storyline.'"

Games Dominate Mobile Apps, Set for Revenue Growth

The uproar also highlights the immense popularity of gaming in general. Games (49%) and social networking (30%) capture the largest proportion of consumer’s time spent with mobile applications, according to January 2012 analysis from Flurry.


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