Mass Effect 3, Or: The Trouble With Marketing
Mass Effect 3 is confusing fans with its marketing; with the direction it seems to be heading in. But why?
Mass Effect 3, out in about thirty seconds, has had the Marketing Train turn into a Marketing Rocket (Of Doom), hurtling towards the centre of the sun at 4,000 metres a second before exploding in a shower of derailed metaphors.
Basically: it’s everywhere. Trailers, website takeovers, articles, the demo, interviews – EA has all the angles covered and is doing a good job of letting the world know the game exists. But this has caused some consternation, and not just in the resplendent ranks of Play – the commoners have joined in the revolt, too.
What’s with all the explosions? Why is it being pushed as an action game? Where’s the 30-minute trailer showing how to work dialogue options? How come Femshep in the trailer looked nothing like the Femshep the public voted for? Why is there a demo for a massive RPG – how does it even work and what’s the point? Well, I’ve thought of some things I’m now going to put into words.
BioWare will not have compromised the integrity of Mass Effect 3. It’s the studio’s baby and it is too talented a company to allow meddling and marketing to get in the way of a clear vision that has been set out for years now. The action sections will have been honed and refined in an attempt to make them more fun to play – no idea if it will be successful or not, but this will still be an RPG at its core.
So why is it all shooty-bang in the trailers? Well that’s – at a guess – EA’s call. And I don’t think it’s a bad call. Think about it: who are they marketing Mass Effect 3 to? You, the fan? Hardcore gamers who already know what it is? No. They’re showing the public – those who don’t know a Turian from an Asari (ha! The idiots!). Those who simply do not have any knowledge this game exists, nor the inclination to bother seeking something like this out.
Also they’re sending copies of the game to space.
And how do you make people who have no interest in RPGs have an interest in an epic space opera? You show them the exciting parts. You show them the explosions, the running, the “we’re running out of time, Commander!” nonsense that’s oh-so-exciting to anyone with a soul. You show them the quick-fix excitement that will get them hyped and possibly, maybe, steal a few of the COD crowd away and lure them into a world they normally wouldn’t go near.
The demo, on the other hand, I am still confused about. First some full disclosure: I haven’t downloaded it or played it, nor do I intend to. I’m waiting for the arrival of the full game I have had pre-ordered for a few months now*. Nevertheless, the demo is obviously being used to tempt people in – people who have lapsed from the series or people who don’t know if they’re interested. But a demo doesn’t really give a full idea of what to expect – what you get – from Mass Effect. I know that even without touching it. It can’t be boiled down to a few set pieces and an idea of the mechanics; it’s a game you give yourself over to for dozens of hours and get invested in. Fine – there’s a demo, that’s cool. I just don’t get it.
I understand the multiplayer aspect of the demo, mind. That has to be thrown to the wolves so they can see if they find its meaty goodness delicious or not, as so far the furious fanbase has been flying blind (and furiously). That’s an element I get. Fair enough.
So there you have some thoughts. Put into words. And if you’ve read this far, you’ve read until the end. Pat yourself on the back.
*Second full disclosure: I love Mass Effect.