Marketers need to take notice of how fast people can turn against you, as Bioware, the makers of Mass Effect 3 found out. While they had advertised that based on decisions, there would be a possible 16 different endings, the truth was that there was only 3 endings in the game. While the average person probably thinks this is a bit of a silly complaint, thousands of gamers complained – and even complained to the FTC.
What can marketers learn from this? Well, first, that Social Media is one of the most powerful things on the planet now. When people get together and complain about something (or hopefully praise it) others listen and gather on. While some people might have not noticed this defect in the game, as soon as other gamers started mentioning it, people got even more enraged.
As a reader of the E-Commerce Times pointed out: “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…”
Well, in response to all the complaints and the social media backlash, Bioware has promised to add more endings, that will be downloadable in the near future.
Marketers, affiliates and networks need to pay attention. One article, one negative comment from a consumer can turn into a backlash. Guys like Jesse Willms thought nothing wrong with scamming consumers, until many of them turned to social media and started to realize that other people were also being scammed. The result, he lost the $350M that he made, and has to sell everything that he made, pay back the FTC and has pretty much ensured he will never work again in this business.
Again, pay attention. The days where you can trick consumers are gone. We’ve seen enforcement actions increase exponentially, and the reasons are simple: consumers are educated more, they talk to each other more and they know how to report bad-stuff to the government. If you are “rolling” in the dough because you’ve tricked people to buy Acai Offers, or you think that you got away with putting bad ads on Facebook, you’re probably wrong. Someone paid attention, someone is looking at you, and if you are big enough you’re going to get caught. Social Media has changed the entire game.