5 Strange Video Game Publicity StuntsBy Ajané Celestin-Greer | August 1, 2011 | Features | No comments | Share
They say there’s no such thing as bad press, as negative attention is still attention, and is perhaps even more powerful than the positive kind.
Still, it’s hard to imagine what went through the minds of some of the following public relations’ spokesmen when they thought of these ideas…
5. Dante’s Inferno protest
On July 9 2009, a group of 13 protesters gathered by one of the entrances to the Los Angeles Convention Center. They were apparently there to protest Dante’s Inferno, the 2010 game based off the literary classic of the same name. The protesters declared EA the anti-Christ (as if that is news to some) amongst other religious oriented protests. They got the attention of various journalists and reporters, who then of course spread the word. Wiser people suspected a publicity stunt immediately, as the brochures they handed out pointed to wearesavedgroup.org, which promoted and bashed the game, as well as contained trailers and footage. A few days later EA admitted the stunt, and not long after real protesters started bashing EA for the protest, claiming it was “anti-Christian.”
4. Snoop Dogg blows up an armored truck
In a move that is either ridiculous, brilliant or both, social-gaming behemoth Zynga hired on Snoop Dogg to help promote their game Mafia Wars: Las Vegas in early August 2010. They rather cleverly stated that when the game reached 10 million users, they would celebrate by detonating an armored truck in the Las Vegas-area desert, and live stream the entire thing. But they didn’t mention that Snoop Dogg was doing it. Kind of makes you wish you were awesome enough to get paid to drive out to a desert and blow up a car, doesn’t it?
3. Sony’s God of War 2 release party in Athens
Back in 2007, Sony threw a big ol’ launch party in Athens. They did it right. Well, almost. They had togas, scantily clad women, drinks, food you could eat that came from the inside of a decapitated goat…
Yeah, not really sure what they were thinking about the last one either. Apparently because God of War is a violent franchise, Sony thought it’d be best to keep that in line with the series. So they bought a (presumably previously) dead goat, decapitated and stuffed it with offal, then proceeded to offer guests to reach inside and eat some of that intestinal goodness.
So apparently this somehow didn’t go over well with just about anyone, and they had to recall almost 80,000 magazines to try and hide the scandal. But pictures did make it to the Internet, and well…just look to the right.
2. Capcom’s missing body parts
Also back in 2009 (apparently it was a crazy year), Capcom Europe decided to try their hand at shocking people into buying their then latest game, Resident Evil 5. So reasonably, they organized a competition in London and asked participants to find bloody body parts around the city for a trip to Africa (I don’t get it either). Once they found said body parts, Capcom told the participants to:
Alert Capcom to your presence by standing on the bridge, holding the artificial body parts over your head and shouting 'Kijuju!”. We will be there, watching you, and will approach when you make yourselves known.That couldn’t have looked weird, right?
Apparently some non-participants were tempted to take the body parts and did so, causing quite a few of the limbs to go missing. The body parts were also smeared in chicken livers and blood, which surprisingly are a large contamination risk due to disease.
So to avert panic, Capcom decided to issue a statement, saying:
The body parts are very realistic and we don't want people to be alarmed by them. They've all been taken from their original positions, but we now have no idea where they are.
If you have them, please either return them, or dispose of them in a responsible and careful manner. In addition, chicken livers were used for added gore, and, uncooked, they can be dangerous.
Though they probably did not get back all the limbs, luckily for Capcom, no charges were made although some residents did complain.
1. Homefront‘s balloons and YouTube advert
The most recent big stunt some of you might remember. To promote its FPS game Homefront, THQ decided to get their word across in a big way. In March of 2011, THQ first decided to release 10,000 red balloons with advertisements about the game in San Francisco, California. These balloons made it over the San Francisco bay which apparently has a very delicate ecosystem. The city itself is very conscientious about adding more pollution, so this did not go over well. Activists tweeted and protested and shouted at GameStop who they believed to be the perpetrator. Later GameStop posted this response on their Facebook:
We understand the concerns consumers have regarding the impact balloons can have on the environment. However, the balloon drop stunt in San Francisco was created by THQ, the publisher of Homefront, and GameStop had no prior knowledge of it. THQ has since informed us that they released soy-based, biodegradable balloons. Comments and queries should be directed to THQ media relations.
A few weeks later THQ kept with their Homefront advertising campaign and decided to once again get people’s attention in a big way. For a short period of time when you visited YouTube, a banner took over the whole front page stating that North Korea had attacked the U.S. I myself remember being confused as I looked at the banner to try and determine what I was seeing and what this meant.
I then followed through with the link and then realized it was just an advert for Homefront. Needless to say, I was not the only one a bit annoyed by the banner. Unfortunately most people did not even check to see if it was real and rushed on social networks to declare the news— even though it was labeled as an advertisement, and when you clicked on it, it took you to a Homefront trailer. Although many people were upset, it definitely did work in getting attention to the game, negative or otherwise. However in a time where war is ever likely, it wasn’t the most tasteful way to market their game.