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[SPOILERS] UK Advertising Authority: Mass Effect 3 Ending “Not Misleading”

June 15, 2012

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that no further action is necessary against EA’s advertising forMass Effect 3. Gamers raised the issue about the following quote, suggesting that the ending does not radically change:

“INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING EXPERIENCE THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END OF AN EMOTIONAL STORY UNLIKE ANY OTHER, WHERE THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE COMPLETELY SHAPE YOUR EXPERIENCE AND OUTCOME … Mass Effect 3 plunges you into an all-out galactic war to take Earth back from a nearly unstoppable foe – and how you fight that war is entirely up to you. Choose a fast-paced cinematic experience or delve into a deeper, more choice-driven narrative. Either way, intense combat propels the action as you fight to unite a war-torn galaxy against a common enemy … Along the way, your choices drive powerful outcomes, including relationships with key characters, the fate of entire civilisations, and even radically different ending scenarios”.

The ASA said that whilst they ‘acknowledged the complainants’ belief that players’ choices in the game did not influence the outcome to the extent claimed by EA’, they concluded that ‘the three choices at the end of the game were thematically quite different, and that the availability and effectiveness of those choices would be directly determined by a player’s EMS score, which was calculated with reference to previous performance in the game(s).’ They also noted that ‘there appeared to be a large number of minor variations in the end stages of ME3, and that those were directly impacted by choices made by players earlier in the game(s).’

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.

Advertising Standards Authority

EA offered its own defence of the ending, saying that they ‘did not consider the “ending” experience of Mass Effect 3 (ME3) was limited to what appeared in the final cut scene, and that the consequences and implications of player’s choices were actually presented during the last three to five hours of the game.’

They said the effectiveness of the choice made was also dependent on the EMS score, for example whether the main character “Shepard” would survive and whether the Earth was destroyed. They said there were also a large number of other, more minor, variations. In particular, they explained how the outcome of the Geth/Quarian Campaign and the Genophage Campaign would impact on the cinematic experience at the end of the game, and the implied end state of the player’s story. They said that characters who had died during previous games in the series, as a result of player actions, would not be present in ME3, and that other actions in previous games could also lead to the death of supporting characters in the game.

What do I think of all this? Well, the Quarians, Geth, relationships et al provide closure to the relevant side-plots, but that is what they are. Side-plots. They’re not the main story, and they are meant to contribute to the ending, not represent part of the ending. Okay, so Quarians and Geth make friends. Everyone’s happy. Is that the end? No, of course not, because Big Robot Guy and Admiral Quarian Lady say they’ll help with the Crucible’s creation.

EA’s trying to pass off the whole game as an ending experience, and I agree with them. That’s why I consider the game finished right before the whole mindless charge-come-Crucible-come-ghost-kid debacle.

Original source: Advertising Standards Authority: ASA Adjudication on Electronic Arts Ltd, Mass Effect: Story

Image link: Mass Effect

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