Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/22/mass_effect_3_survey_scam/

Mass Effect 3 crooks trick gamers with fake 'alternate ending'

Bioware to cough actual alternate finish next month

By John Leyden

Posted in Games, 22nd March 2012 16:28 GMT

Scammers are targeting gamers left unsatisfied by the controversial ending of popular video game Mass Effect 3.

Gamers dissatisfied by the conclusion of the recently released final chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy of video games, which completes the story of main character Commander Shepard, are invited to download an "alternative ending".

The links lead to download files that invite marks to complete a worthless survey designed to harvest personal information from gamers. Promises that the survey allows users to obtain a password supposedly needed to unlock the downloaded zip file and get at an alternative ME3 ending file are cobblers. In reality no content related to Mass Effect 3 or video-gaming more generally is on offer and the whole approach is simply designed to squeeze affiliate marketing money from dodgy marketing firms at the expense of gamers.

The scam was spotted by Chris Boyd, a security consultant at GFI Software, who warns gamers to be aware of this and similar scams they may encounter when they search for "better" endings to the game.

Game publishers Bioware are due to release an officially sanctioned alternative ending to the game in April.

Survey scammers have targeted video game enthusiasts in the past, normally in the run-up to an eagerly anticipated release. The Mass Effect 3 scam is a slight variant of the same basic approach because it latches onto a newsworthy controversy about an already-released title, rather than pent-up demand. As such, the approach is arguably more plausible and more likely to attract a mass of victims.

Mass Effect is a action-based role-playing game. Gameplay in Mass Effect 3 is influenced by decisions made in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. However the current ending of Mass Effect 3 is not much affected by a player's decisions during the preceding games, hence the controversy. ®