The launch of Mass Effect 3 is without a doubt one of the most disastrous I have ever witnessed. First, we learned of the import save problem if you decided to move your game to the new Cloud storage feature. The only solution is to track down the hard drive on which you originally finished the game; an impossibility for some. BioWare is offering no other solutions.

Second: just yesterday, we learned of the Shepard face import problem that also has no official solution… yet. This one BioWare is going to fix. In the mean time, there are a bevy of homebrew solutions, but all are overly-complicated.

Then there’s MY problem… This is what NewEgg sent me today:


In a way, this was my fault. I was lazy and didn’t anticipate that Amazon would run out of the Collector’s Edition copies so fast. I thought I’d just wait it out and get it at the store. Then I realized that plan may be folly, and I needed to order it online. The exact same day, a good friend pointed me to a NewEgg sale with free shipping. Save $13? Why not!

I’ll tell you why not: instead of sending Mass Effect 3, I and countless other pre-orderers received a brand-spanking-new copy of Madden ’12! I thought at first there was just a big, annoying EA ad on the back of the disc, but, no, it was the wrong game. I must have stared at it for a full minute, letting this sink in.

I hopped onto my email thinking it’s possible I somehow placed the order wrong. My promo code didn’t work at first, and maybe the order process screwed up. I didn’t even have to find my confirmation, because there was a brand new email from NewEgg sitting there at the top of my inbox, apologizing for the inconvenience, and saying they would call me with further information. The hell with that, I have a game to play.

I have no idea yet what NewEgg plans to do about this; the customer service line was busy all three times I tried calling.

Before this, the only launch I can think of that was so botched was Fable III — between the disappointment of the game itself and the import problems, I distinctly recall having a very poor time. (To be fair, the NewEgg problem wasn’t BioWare’s fault.) But that game was not nearly as high-profile as BioWare’s Mass Effect trophy. Both are a type of role playing adventure, and both allow you to choose a male or female protagonist for your journey. Fable III never entertained a Facebook contest to help finalize the official look of its female character, whereas FemShep has inspired such fervent loyalty in the Mass Effect fanbase I can scarcely think of a more popular ass-kicking space chick (except Samus Aran, of course, but Team Ninja almost ruined her).

The parallels are a little too eerie, though. One should expect these problems to have been handled more smoothly (or tamped out before they became problems). For a long time BioWare was mum on the subject, with one developer telling us to “just deal with it”. I get it: crushing deadlines, countless hours of bug tracking, and the desire to get the damned thing done probably take a toll on a guy or gal.

But, seriously, this is your brand image we’re talking about.

Unlike Fable III, I’m sure Mass Effect 3 is still a pinnacle of game design and execution.

I just wouldn’t know, because I haven’t had a chance to play it yet.

UPDATE: NewEgg Called; They Want Their Madden Back

Fortunately, they are also going to expedite the shipping of my ME3 copy to Next Day, which means it should get here just two days after it originally came (and three after the release date!). In return, they want me to print up a shipping label and send back Madden in (presumably) the same box that ME3 will come in.

Only… the Madden disc didn’t come in a box, just a mailer envelope. They don’t expect me to BUY a box, do they…?