From the “what the hell?” desk today comes word that EA is sending copies of Mass Effect 3 into space — literally — as a sort of interplanetary space hunt. Whoever finds the game when it hits Earth again will win a full retail version of the game before it hits retail. The promotion has got to be the first of its kind in the game industry, and the whole program seems a bit forced, but we’ll let EA’s announcement speak for itself:
Starting on February 23 (today), EA and BioWare will be making history by launching the first copies of Mass Effect 3 into outer space! Blastoff will take place in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and cities in Europe, giving gamers all over the world the opportunity to track and collect these limited early copies as they touch back down on Earth. The lucky fans who win this intergalactic scavenger hunt will be the first to own Mass Effect 3 before the game hits store shelves on March 6 in North America and March 9 in Europe. See www.masseffect.com/space for more information.
To successfully dispatch the Mass Effect 3 Space Edition into orbit, BioWare is partnering with Ben Longmier, Ph.D., of Project Aether, a program at the University of Houston designed to promote accessible space exploration for high school and college students. The Aerospace Engineering students of the High Altitude Balloon Club at Texas A&M University will be assisting with the launches in order to gain valuable first-hand experience before setting out on their own trip to Fairbanks, Alaska. EA will be donating the brand new equipment and hardware used in the Mass Effect 3 Space Edition launches to aid the gifted students at Texas A&M in their attempt to discover more about the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. The valuable data generated from this groundbreaking research project will be used to help better predict weather patterns and protect communication satellites from harmful solar flares.
By using high altitude weather balloons and specially designed payloads composed of HD cameras and GPS tracking devices, the dedicated team will handle the launch, recovery and delivery of the Mass Effect 3 Space Edition copies. Starting tomorrow, with the first launch in San Francisco, fans can get a birds-eye view of Earth and track each Space Edition’s journey by logging into the Mass Effect space site. Official Rules and registration for the Mass Effect 3 Space Edition Contest for the US locations will be available at the site prior to the targeted 7:00AM San Francisco launch.
Also, BioWare announced yesterday that PS3 owners will be able to pre-order Mass Effect 3 as a digital release through the PlayStation Network. This digital copy will be available for download on March 6 and will feature an exclusive PlayStation theme and the M-55 Argus Rifle.