This is the list of the top 7 Video Game PR Fails. PR is designed to make someone want something more, not make them want to run in the opposite direction. Who thought it was a good idea to tell people they need to work more hours in order to "deserve" a PlayStation? Or that decapitating a goat is a great way to get people to play your game? These are over the top attempts that backfired or just went horribly awry.
Ocean Marketing Fails on an Atomic Level
Source: Penny Arcade
Ocean Marketing (well, Marketting) was one of the biggest gaming news items of the end of 2011.
The whole hoopla was over something called "The Avenge Controller", which is an after-market controller designed to be comfortable and make game playing easier, some say that it gives you an advantage in the game without cheating.
It also helps disabled gamers up their skills to be able to seem uninhibited in their gaming, which is actually a really noble cause... which is what makes the whole debacle kind of sad (and then hilarious).
So of course, people jumped all over it. Seems like a good product.
It became so hugely back-ordered, though, that when one customer named Dave emailed asking where his device was, he was met with some automated responses...until the head honcho at Ocean Marketing PR (or Ocean Marketting as he spells it), Paul Christoforo, responded personally, in a pretty flippant fashion. Then it got worse when Dave responded in a really pretty mature fashion. Here's what Paul Christoforo had to say:
"Oh and FYI When a street date gets pushed by a publisher on a video game you pre ordered do you cry to them too ?"
"You just got told bitch … welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon, gamestop.com, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month."
Aside from the fact that this response is insanely rude, unprofessional, and insulting it is also extremely grammatically incorrect.
This is the head of a (formerly) successful marketing company.
Several emails were exchanged with spelling errors, horrible grammar, and insults, the most notable of which are:
Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro.
Dave shared these emails with with webcomic mainstay Penny Arcade, which has well over 3 million monthly readers, consisting of some of the most rabid fans on the internet. They also have their own little (huge, important) convention called PAX.
When the site published the emails between Dave, Chistoforo and, eventually, the head writer of PA, the sh*t really hit the fan.
Christoforo went on to not only insult Gabe from Penny Arcade, but seemed like a bully. So, Gabe got involved and then posted the emails.
Within hours the news was all over the internet and the legions of gamers were out for blood.
The article had been published with the full email conversation, including Paul's personal information, which was enough to give the internet access to his Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of social media.
Soon photos of Chistoforo were popping up everywhere with lines from his horribly misspelled emails as well as deep searches that found out he regularly posts on steroid webboards. (Kotaku)
Someone also, then, found out that Ocean Marketing plagiarizes all their blog posts and he also has a history of domestic violence.
This guy was being ridiculed relentlessly on Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon reviews and pretty much everywhere else you can think of -- often using actual pictures off his Facebook.
Someone made a website called wwebsiteasontheinternet.com.
A parody of the situation was up within a day:
Geico's main Twitter even got in on the fun:
And, of course, someone had to make fun of EA, who has famously bad customer service:
This prompted a response from Paul Christoforo, "I just wanted to apologize for the way our emails progressed I didn’t know how big your site was and I really didn’t believe you ran Pax , So for what’s its worth I am very sorry. Your post has obviously made my life very difficult and I have not slept yet dealing with all the spam and personal information intrusion as well as my family being smeared on the internet."
Gabe from Penny Arcade, being the badass that he is, basically posted a public response saying that it was not okay, that Christoforo is a bully, that we all grew up being bullied and that he needed to be taught a lesson (as Christoforo had a history of customer abuse):
"It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a s**t about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the f**king ground if I think I can catch them in the flames."
Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, there is no "take-backsies". When the owners of the company that makes the controllers found out what was going on they promptly fired Ocean Marketing. (Not before he posed as the CEO of Avenger Controllers it should be noted.)
Christoforo can now enjoy his time as an internet meme and hopefully he can get into anger management, as well as another career.
UPDATE: Turns out GT is actually doing an interview with the guy, which should be available soon:
Duke Nukem Forever PR Blacklisted
Social media can be an excellent PR tool, but in the wrong hands it can be a PR death sentence. Following less-than-favorable reviews of 2K Games’s Duke Nukem Forever, Jim Redner, who owns one-man public relations firm The Redner Group, took to Twitter to express his frustration, writing:
#AlwaysBetOnDuke too many went too far with their reviews...we r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom.
Can you tweet #Blacklisting?
This brought down a firestorm and Redner responded, "I do not support the McCarthy era notion of blacklisting".
He went on to explain how publishers have limited numbers of review copies, and that he was going to be more choosy about where they went from now on.
Even though he claimed to be sorry he still stands by what he originally said,"It is my opinion that when someone exceeds their journalistic integrity and publishes a scathing, derogatory, uncalled-for review, I have the right to question it,".
Hmmm, I guess a reviewer's opinion is exceeding their journalistic integrity they should just print what the companies want them to print? That seems about right.
God Of War II Release Party Includes Goat Sacrifice
When God of War II launched, Sony decided to throw a huge party in celebration. Why wouldn't thy?
It was, after all the follow up to one of the largest games they ever released. What better way to do so then have a good ol' fashioned Bacchanal? They held the party in a Grecian Temple like room and had the staff dressed in togas and women wandering the room naked except for a bit of body paint.
It was all fun until they trotted out the main centerpiece of the party, a decapitated goat carcass.
It was meant to reflect an animal sacrifice. That makes it okay, doesn't it? Maybe, but hey, it didn't stop there. After the goat remains were revealed, the hosts invited the guests to try some of the innards. Raw.
Needless to say that even though this little stunt put animal rights activists up in arms, the game still sold like gangbusters, but this turned off a lot of people to the company and made a formerly off-the-political-map game, something for animal rights activists to complain about.
Rule of Rose Banned Due to Marketing Ploy
Whoever was in charge of marketing played with fire when they went for the "any publicity is good publicity" on this one got burned. Beyond recognition.
The PR firm tried to sensationalize the game by alluding to scenes of extreme violence and underage sexuality that never actually happen in the game; it used several pieces of official Rule of Rose art. Not screenshots, but the kind of promotional character art that's generally sent out directly from game publishers. And, given that the game stars a bunch of female minors, this set off a few red flags for some distributors in Europe.
This information was published in an Italian magazine and it drew the attention of several prominent Italian politicians, all of whom were horrified to learn of Rule of Rose and its possible effects on the tiny, innocent children it was apparently being marketed to. Europe promptly banned the game and forced 505 Games to cancel its release.
The game had already been released in the US though, making most who played it wish that they had tried the same marketing move here.
The game was met with average reviews, most of which highlighted its thought-provoking storyline.
But if you get something banned in Europe, it's gotta be pretty bad.
Dante's Inferno's Sex Slave Contest
EA came up with a "Sin to Win" contest where they asked Comic-Con goers to a dinner and "sinful night with two hot girls, a limo service, paparazzi and a chest full of booty."
To enter the contest, you needed to "commit acts of lust" by taking photos with the booth babes working the Dante's Inferno booth or any other booth babes at the show. Those photos then had to be uploaded to Twitter, Facebook or emailed to Electronic Arts.
The contest details were written on the chest of a woman in fake tattoo and also offered five runner-up prizes. But if you read the rules it says the judges reserve the right to disqualify any submissions that are "inappropriate for any reason, including without limitation, for depicting or mentioning sex, violence, drugs, alcohol and/or inappropriate language."
So, they wrote the rules on someone's boobs, named the contest "sin to win" with the objective of "lust" and then said they couldn't depict sex in their entries. So, that's fine, since they'd be sexually harrassing strangers otherwise.
But the bad part? It's in the fine print. The part about "oh, by the way, don't molest all these women at this show" was in the fine print. So, they basically told people to rub up against sexy strangers hired to be somewhere they're ogled all day. And to do it as many times as you can to increase your chances of winning. Just pictures, yet this caused such a huge controversy that it really did more bad for the game (and the marketing company) than good.
Sony PlayStation 3 Pricing and Then Promise Fail
Former Chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment Ken Kutaragi got himself in a bit of trouble when he did an interview with a Japanese economic website. Kutaragi said Sony's goal for the PS3 was "for consumers to think to themselves 'I will work more hours to buy one'. We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else."
This made consumers nervous about how much the game console was going to cost and suspicious of Sony. When the price was finally revealed to be $599 it turns out that Sony wasn't far off, most people would have needed a second job to afford such a steep price. Not only that, but when it was released people stormed the stores and buy up all the units just to turn around and sell them for a higher price on eBay. This, of course, pleased the higher ups at Sony.
In fact, one exec was so pleased that he said if anyone found a PS3 on a shelf for longer than 5 minutes, he would give them $1,200. A reward he never made good on even when the Penny Arcade folks found 11 in a local shop. Guess he didn't have the $13,200 on him at the time. Fail.
Acclaim BMX Fail
Video game giants Acclaim have had a hit and miss career, so when they came up with a new BMX game they thought "You know what would go good with this? Nudity."
So, Dave Mirra BMX XXX was born.
One problem they ran into, and this was a minor one that they shouldn't have been expected to think of in the first place, is that they never got the okay from BMX icon Dave Mirra himself.
They just attached his name to a video game in which topless female BMX enthusiasts helped out pimps and copulating dogs in order to unlock videos of strippers.
Mirra left the project shortly after he was informed that he was part of it and sued Acclaim who promptly shortened the name to just BMX XXX.
When the game was released it had mixed reviews outlining that game play was terrible, but most people over-looked reviews because of the nudity. Kind of like how most of us overlook sh*tty plots in porn due to nudity.
Once players got the game they were disappointed the torsos on the models looked like department store mannequins with with water-filled plastic bags stapled to the front of their torsos.
Accliam ended up with a host of lawsuits and problems, like other failed promotions offering cash prizes to anyone willing to defile a dead relative's grave by carving an ad on their headstone or by legally naming their baby "Turok" after a mediocre game series.
Finally it claimed bankruptcy in 2004 and closed its doors much to the relief of mothers, the elderly and the world (although that Maximum Carnage game for the Super Nintendo was pretty awesome).