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CREATIVE STRATEGY: Computer game launch is a bit spaced-out

I rarely review advertising/PR stunts, for the obvious reason that most of them are barely worth a comment, let alone an article. However, the launch of 'Mass Effect 3' from EA Games is a wee bit special.

Mass Effect 3: EA Games reaches for the sky with launch promotion

Mass Effect 3: EA Games reaches for the sky with launch promotion

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A bit of background and history for non-geeks in the audience. ‘Mass Effect’ was created by a company called Bioware as a science-fiction trilogy, role-player game. You customise the central character, Commander Shepherd, and set off on your adventures with your squad.

While the science fiction-y elements may be familiar (the Bioware designers love a good homage), the game’s distinctive feature is the ability of your character to have dialogues that help develop his/her personality in a convincing way. Also, your character's actions will have consequences for yourself and others.

For the gamer, this emotional investment merely served to heighten anticipation for the second in the series. ‘Mass Effect 2’ still delivered on the central premise, while removing any of the technical glitches that had spoiled the fun. No wonder it won more than 150 awards, including Game Of The Year at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts

In the meantime, Bioware’s success had caught the attention of big boys EA Games. Now that the creators of ‘Mass Effect’ were part of the EA stable, it would be only a matter of time before marketing muscle came into play.

Back to the stunt then. On 9 March, copies of ‘Mass Effect 3’ will be attached to weather balloons and released into the stratosphere.

Not quite space, but on the way. The choreographed launch will take place over London, Paris, Berlin and major cities in the US.

The balloons won’t survive their journey, leaving the games to fall to Earth.

Who knows how many of them will actually do this, but ‘Mass Effect’ fans can track the packages on a website and use GPS to pick up a free copy when they touch down.

But it really doesn’t matter if anyone takes part or not. With this cute nerdy stunt, EA Games clearly sees the value of good old-fashioned column inches.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones

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