6 Viral Video Game Stunts That Were Just Sad For Everyone
It can't be easy coming up with promotional ideas for games. There's no "talk show circuit" for games like there is for movies or albums. Video games are PR nightmares being blamed for every violent or sexist act committed, and are literally responsible for taking $100 million from stupid children and giving it to Kim Kardashian. So it shouldn't surprise you that some of the stunts used to promote games are stupid, desperate, and insane. Here are six of the worst.
Halo 5 And UFC Team Up To Kill All Cross-Promotion Forever
In October of 2015, the Ultimate Fighting Championship teamed up with the game Halo 5: Guardians for a massive cross-promotional event. It wasn't a very strange idea. The UFC covers virtually every surface in sponsor logos. For instance:
Training Mask says, "Ads on dick baskets are less expensive but just as noticeable as billboards or skywriting!"
Sometimes having the name of your video game plastered all over a countdown clock, a bloody floor, and a man's hot pants isn't enough. So one of their ad-wizards came up with the idea to have the fighters incorporate some video game references into their trash talk.
The poor pugilists who were given this task were Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier, two polite adult professional athletes. The point is, if you're looking for someone to sneak in an insane reference to Halo while he threatens to knock your teeth in, it'd be hard to find two worse choices. And when the two started tweeting at each other during the lead up to their fight, their Halo referencing was such clumsy and blatant product placement, it made Adam Sandler look like Bill Hicks.
"With the same affordable taste and now with less child molestation, Subway sandwiches are a hole in one!"
Brace yourself. It began with Cormier taunting Gustafsson by saying:
Yes, this was a real thing someone typed with their actual human fingers. And it didn't stop! He continued:
If you're lost, and it's okay to be since this is fucking stupid, Spartan Locke is a character from Halo 5, not a sex act used in ancient Greece. Gustafsson had no choice but to strike back with a shoe-horned Halo 5: Guardians reference of his own, subtly featuring a Halo character featured in the hit Halo home video game series.
"Bitch, I will crush you like the weight of the robust bonuses included in the Halo 5: Guardians Mountain Dew Summer Blast Bundle.
#realtalk #whatamidoing #kiiilllmeeee"
It's nearly impossible to create fake joke tweets more ludicrous than the actual tweets these men allowed to be posted on their behalf. These are two of the most successful professional athletes and dangerous warriors alive, and they are talking like cartoon enemies from a toothpaste commercial. Just listen to this terrifying trash talk from the light heavyweight contender:
The internet obviously reacted with mocking laughter. In a sport where heavily concussed men are constantly trying to come up with unique ways to describe their opponent's impending doom, it's likely no one will ever top the absurdity of this. Also: We are confident it didn't result in a single additional copy of Halo 5 being sold.
Final Fantasy XIII's Louis Chocobo Bags
When a company like Louis Vuitton makes billions of dollars a year in profit, you'd think they could hire the best models, right? Or at least models that exist with real physical bodies? No, for their 2016 spring line-up, they hired computer-generated characters from Final Fantasy XIII as models. Which isn't even a very good video game. In fact, it's the worst-reviewed Final Fantasy game of the series and, one might argue, the double-worst place to recruit handbag models.
"Heal! HEAL! FIREBALL! Sir, whatever this object is, it seems broken."
This is Claire Farron, better known by her protagonist/stripper name of Lightning. She was the lead character of Final Fantasy XIII and even got her own spinoff called Lightning Returns. Don't let her gentle features and pink hair fool you; Lightning is a no-nonsense badass, who would probably see a clutch handbag as nothing more than a way to safely transport the genitals of a slain adamantoise to the nearest genital alchemist. Even in the ad, she seems to have no idea what they're for. She flips around and brandishes the purses like a programming bug accidentally replaced her sword.
The most feared item in the game: ... bag?
According to the official website of the campaign, Lightning "pushes the idea of the heroine even further." Because nothing says "heroine" like a dead-eyed sex doll cartoon threatening invisible enemies with a four-thousand-dollar handbag. What story are they trying to tell here? That style is an empty, deranged illusion for people living within several layers of pointless abstraction? That's a risky message for a company bundling $12 of parts and labor with $3,988 of empty, deranged illusion. And it's also just dull. Why not give her a nice Cactuar or Rangda to fight?
"You can't put a Rangda in the ad? We Rangdas are, like, 60 percent handbag already!
Remember us from Final Fantasy XIII?! You know ... Rangdas!"
The weirdest part of the campaign had to be the "interview" that Lightning gave to the UK paper, the Telegraph. Due to the problem of her not existing, some poor journalist had to pretend to be talking to a character from a game she'd clearly never played about the great honor fictional characters feel when hired as real-world fashion models. It was all just impossibly nuts, like it was a dry run for one of Skynet's wackier infiltration schemes.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III Starts A Fake War
It's hard to keep marketing ideas fresh for a game that releases a slightly different sequel every six minutes, but the Call of Duty series has managed to be one of the top-selling franchises thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign. Maybe too aggressive. Actually, now that we think about it, certainly too aggressive.
In September 2015, the Call of Duty Twitter page underwent a complete overhaul to remove all mentions of the video game and disguise itself as a legitimate news source called the "Current Events Aggregate." Are you confused? So were the people suddenly reading about devastating terror attacks in Singapore.
"Rescue dogs are searching for survivors, but you can find them now on both PS4 and Xbox One!"
For four hours, they tweeted news and images from the city being attacked. Virtual lives were lost, virtual riot police were dispatched, and virtually all Twitter users agreed it wasn't very cute. The final tweet at 10:37 p.m. said "This was a glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3" but it may as well have said "LOL JK. Shout out to all the real terror attacks and riots going on! #DoritosFlavorWar"
This edgy and extreme marketing was, naturally, met with accusations of distaste. Even the people who made the game, Treyarch, thought it was in terrible taste, and they disavowed it and apologized almost immediately. It was all so badly received, the Call of Duty Twitter page deleted the entire campaign. To make matters worse, even in this era of rampantly unchecked facts, everyone's first reaction was "this is irresponsible" not "this is real." When your PR campaign creates a fake terror attack that doesn't even trick FOX News, you've failed in two different ways.
Sony's Intentionally Terrible Music Video Went Accidentally Just Terribly
One of the underlying problems with the internet is its ceaseless, pathological dishonesty. And of all internet dishonesties, videos are the worst; they present fake situations often for no reason other than to make an audience feel stupid and chip away at the trust any of us might have left in anything. Those strangers that kissed weren't strangers at all. Every idiot who falls down was paid to do it by Jimmy Kimmel.
Back in 2006, the concept of streaming video was still relatively new. In order to promote the PSP, their new handheld console intended to challenge the mighty Nintendo DS, Sony tried to make it the star of a bad viral video, in the style of the Star Wars Kid.
A blog appeared online called "Alliwantforxmasisapsp" which was supposedly written by a guy named Charlie. He was so outrageous and stupid, you guys, and he was trying to get his friend Jeremy's parents to buy him a PSP for Christmas. It culminated in a "music" video that tried for "lovably bad" and missed, landing much closer to "Anne Frank museum fire." Take a look at this garbage shit:
Making a bad music video isn't unusual, but this was so far from reasonable human behavior, viewers grew suspicious. And Sony greatly underestimated the detective skills of internet sleuths. Somewhere close to instantly, they uncovered that the blog was created on a domain owned by Zipatoni, a marketing firm hired by Sony to promote the PSP. Zipatoni's idea was apparently to combine lying with lameness and hope for the mean-spirited nature of the internet to propel them to relevance. Which sort of worked since everyone's disgust and disappointment at their awful lying was far greater than the disgust and disappointment would have been at their awful songwriting skills.
It's rare to fail at failing so hard you sort of succeed at failing. But then Sony ruined it after they responded. They apologized in the smuggest, shit-eating way possible. Again, take a look at this garbage shit:
"So totally nailed and snagged, bros! We still be top coolwhips, though, right homepants! Fronk ya on the flipjack, playas!!!"
Hitman Hands Out Giant Checks To Strippers
To the fans of the long-running Hitman series of video games, and to the people who tried to slit their wrists with a popcorn box while watching the Hitman movie, we have a question: When he isn't meticulously planning assassinations that go wrong within minutes and turn into bullet tornado bloodbaths, what does Agent 47 do with his spare time?
If your answer was "hang around Las Vegas judging stripper contests" then you probably skipped ahead. Or maybe you listened to Howard Stern in 2004 when he did a week of live shows in Las Vegas. The shows involved a lot of on-air boozing and morally questionable behavior like hosting a "Miss Butterface" contest to pick the ugliest girl with the hottest body. They trotted out strippers with their heads covered in paper bags who revealed their faces to an audience both horrified by their beast-like features and their sudden and permanent loss of all self-respect and self-esteem. And that contest's sponsor? The video game, Hitman: Contracts.
Congratulations to the makers of the movies. You aren't the biggest failures involving this franchise.
Due to the overindulgence of alcohol, the magnetism of Deuce Bigalow 2 star Rob Schneider, and the high-stakes mixed feelings of the Miss Butterface contest, the show got rowdy. And when an actor portraying Agent 47 from the hit video game Hitman came out to present a giant $25,000 check to the most bangable ugly girl, it went a little off the rails. In probably the exact way everyone should have expected.
Aaaaaand this is unsalvageable.
While Howard's co-hosts were loudly describing the awfulness of the bikini-clad winner's shitty face, the actor portraying Hitman was having a terrible time getting his promotional speech out. If you thought Gustafsson and Cormier's Halo 5 trash talk was bad, it's because you haven't seen a male stripper try to present a "Hitman: Contracts on PS2 and Xbox" check for the Howard Stern Miss Butterface 2004 Contest to a confused bikini model.
He stood there, stuttering like an asshole while a crowd of drunk idiots with confused boners called him a "homo." It was a total nightmare in every direction. If history's greatest minds got together to brainstorm on how to fit the most worst things in a room at once, they would come up with something very close to this.
PaRappa The Rapper: I Now Pronounce You Mr. And Mrs. Rapper
A wedding is a sacred day honoring your relationship in the presence of your family, friends, and god. Or it's a stupid publicity stunt where you're dressed like a rapping dog for a chance at 1,000 pounds. Meet John May, who used his wedding day to try to win an Official UK PlayStation Magazine contest in 1998 called "A Grand Day Out." All he had to do was perform the craziest PlayStation-themed stunt. And he did.
"Kick! Punch! My bride wants to cry!"
For those who don't remember, PaRappa the Rapper was a game about a flat cartoon dog, and you helped him through his day by rhyming for him with your controller. Hit the buttons just right and he raps weird songs about karate or waiting in a bathroom line. Miss by a little bit, and he violently stutters and makes fart noises. It's great either way.
"Nevertheless you getta lesson from teacha now!"
It's a fun game, but PaRappa is not high on the list of characters someone would dress as for their wedding. It's barely a talking point costume at a furry orgy. But somehow John talked his wife into letting him turn their special day into a sad, confusing anecdote in the wild hopes of 1,000 pounds, which even back in 1998 was nowhere close to ruin-your-fucking-wedding money.
And yet one hot summer day in England, a man and a woman shared their vows in front of a church full of people while the man was dressed like a cartoon dog that 4 to 5 percent of them recognized. They also included other PlayStation themes like a wedding cake with the PSX controller buttons. Just look at all the joy it brought to the young people!
The costume says "fun," but the guests' eyes say "help" and "huh?"
This story has a happy ending at least, as John and his wife are still married to this day. And can you blame him? When you find a woman who lets you play video games all day, you keep her. When you find one who lets you wear your PaRappa sex costume in front of her entire family, you never let her go.
Scott Elizabeth Baird can be found rooting for the White Walkers on Twitter at - https://twitter.com/ScottEBaird
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For more terrible outcomes everyone should've seen coming, check out 5 Psychotic Marketing Stunts That Traumatized Their Audience and 5 Social Networking Promotions That Backfired Spectacularly.
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