Earlier this week, I took note of the Mass Effect twitter account informing us followers of maker BioWare’s one day shopping special: hoodies capped at $50, discounted t-shirts and free shipping. The latter was the most important part, given past experience with BioWare had taught me they charge more for shipping to Australia than they do the actual product.
I received the news in the morning while I was at work. Quickly, I headed to BioWare’s website to check things out and – lo and behold – witness they actually did offer free shipping to Australia. Hooray! But being that work is work, I postponed actual purchasing till I got back home.
I got back home, I switched my computer on, I warmed my credit card up for the upcoming exercise, I headed to BioWare’s website, and… I saw that the free shipping message had now been switched into “free US shipping” instead. I tested the affair, and again, BioWare was true to its [current] word. I wasn’t the only one devastated; my wife, who saw this as a great opportunity for her to get me a Christmas present I would love, was also disappointed with the opportunity fading into the ether. [Not that I think it that hard to get me something I'd like.]
I tweeted my opinion of the matter to BioWare’s @MassEffect account but, to date, received no reply. Regardless, the whole affair, as silly as it was, turned out to have huge impact on me.
I’m a big Mass Effect fan and I do not hide it. But this, this shattered the whole illusion as effectively as a tank ramming through a paper wall. Sure, I can see how BioWare’s original offering would get them a flood of online orders from Kreplakistan; but isn’t that the whole point of Black Monday/Friday/whatever offers?
The question here is just how much a profit seeking company can toy with its fans. Apple does it all the time and its the biggest company in the world, value wise. BioWare does it by offering great content in the shape of my all time favourite video games. There is a limit, though, for how much they could stretch their credit. As far as I am concerned this week’s build-up of expectations, followed by their utter evaporation, stretched things too far.
Mass Effect, I now officially renounce you.
Image copyrights: BioWare