Listen: Hear that? The Internet seems so quiet! There’s a little murmuring about the shoddiness of E3 2012, maybe a little grumbling about problems with Blizzard’s Diablo III service, but by and large there isn’t quite as much griping around these parts as their usually is. It isn’t like it was just three months ago, when Mass Effect 3 came out. Judging by fan reaction online you would think that, upon completing Mass Effect 3, Dr. Ray Muzyka appeared at people’s homes and shot their dogs. That is how bad people said the ending of the game was. So bad that they needed to start charities to have it changed. So bad that BioWare and EA promised they’d change it. So bad that the Better Business Bureau decided to investigate whether or not BioWare was guilty of fraud, tricking players into thinking they controlled the story of the game.
They didn’t do that last one according to the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s equivalent of the BBB.
The ASA released a statement on Wednesday saying that EA and BioWare are not guilty of false advertising in regards to Mass Effect 3. It’s statement reads:
“The ASA acknowledged the belief that players’ choices in the game did not influence the outcome to the extent claimed by EA. However, we considered 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 score, which was calculated with reference to previous performance in the game(s). We also acknowledged that there appeared to be a large number of minor variations in the end stages of Mass Effect 3, and those were directly impacted by choices made by the players earlier in the game(s).”
“Whilst we acknowledged that the advertisers 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 realize that 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.”
In short, the ASA says that people got exactly what EA promised and the publisher isn’t legally responsible for delivering anything different.
They’re right too. Mass Effect 3’s ending wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t the end of the world. EA and BioWare didn’t rob anyone. Frankly, it still seems baffling that people were more angry about the ending than the fact that EA charged them extra for a crucial chapter from the middle of the story. That seems a lot more egregious ultimately, right?