I spend a fair amount of time on reddit. Actually, if I’m being honest, I probably get most of my information about the world from reddit, which is probably why I’m obsessed cats and atheism.
During yesterday’s travels, I ran across a user named angryatEA who was, predictably, complaining about EA . Specifically, the user was upset over the cancelation of a 1.6 Million dollar Battlefield 3 tournament that EA had been using in their early advertising. The tournament, apparently, wasn’t officially canceled, but it simply never materialized, and this made our friend, well, angry.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time in gaming. Publishers aren’t under any kind of legal obligation to follow through with their advertised promises as long as they’re not blatantly lying or misleading consumers. Activision had an incredibly long list of promises for Call of Duty: Elite, but a many never coalesced after it became obvious that fans were less receptive to the service than expected.
The same is probably true for the BF3 tournament, so the fact that it never happened isn’t really surprising. But it does raise a few ethical questions about the types of promises that advertisers make. Campaigns like this one are meant to bolster sales by showing off the confidence that a publisher has in their product. After all, if they can afford a 1.6 million-dollar tournament, they must be assuming that the game is going to fly off of the shelves, right? But if the promise is entirely dependent on consumer response, and this is an accepted form of advertising, couldn’t publishers just make whatever ridiculous promises they can think of and then retract them when sales don’t live up to expectations?
I’m not willing to say that they’re being dishonest, but it would be really hard to tell the difference.
And this is why fine print exists. I’m sure EA covered all of their bases in the fine print of the contest announcement (though, it’s been removed, so we can’t really check), but that doesn’t make the situation any less annoying.
Part of me wishes that we, as a community, would hold publishers accountable for these hollow promises. Not only would it force them to think before they speak, it would strengthen the gaming community in general.
That’s never going to happen, though. Gamers pretty much hate everything, and that includes their friends, families, and favorite games. So, even if this tournament had gone off without a hitch, I’m sure gamers would have found some reason to hate it.
Maybe its fade into oblivion was the best thing for everyone.
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Date: December 5, 2012