How Mass Effect III cost the UK tax payer thousands and mocked our democracy.
In Games Industry - posted on Mon 27th February 2012 8. 41PM
I'm somewhat upset about EA and MischiefPR's latest stunt at petition.masseffect.com. It encourages Mass Effect fans to sign a petition to the government demanding them to release information about UFOs. The petition (which may have been pre-existing) is placed on a site that allows UK residents to directly contact the government with their concerns, any petition with over 100,000 signatures will be considered for House of Commons debate.
It confounds me that MischiefPR and EA's lawyers thought that drowning out legitimate democratic discourse is an OK thing to do for the financial gain of a large multinational corporation. Yes, the site has its fair share of crackpots spoiling it already, but that does not make it fair game for abuse.
And here is the nub of the matter: This is costing the tax payer a lot of money. The budget for the Directgov umbrella site is calculated at around 25p per visit. Hansard shows that every year budget increases have been directly linked to traffic. This means, if it gains any traction, this seemingly harmless stunt could cost the UK taxpayer a significant amount of cash. In our financial climate, with this government, we can't afford any such misallocation.
I don't know how much traffic EA will get this week with its mass media campaigns, probably hundreds of thousands of visitors. If just a fraction go through to the petition, say a modest 100k, in the context of the Tory cuts, that's the cost of a nurse to the NHS for a year. Is that acceptable?
EA should do the right thing: Take the site down and apologise.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this blog are solely my own and not those of my employer, sponsors or research centre.(2) comments :
Comment by Emily King on Mon 27th February 2012 9. 28PMI wondered what that long image you posted earlier was about and now I understand.
This is ridiculous. I can't believe that EA and MischiefPR ever thought this was a good idea.
Comment by Bob on Mon 27th February 2012 9. 46PMWait, the government run a site that costs 25p a visit, at no return, and we blame EA? I think we have some misdirected rage here.
After all, of the four petitions to reach the threshold, none have had successful results. Just like the previous incarnation of epetitions.
On the other hand, this may be because compared to the rest of the petitions, EA's is almost sensible. "Convicted London rioters should loose all benefits"? The most popular of the last version was Jeremy Clarkson for PM!
This may be a weird stunt; it certainly isn't anything *wrong* on the part of EA and their PR.