6 Disastrous Publicity Stunts Video Games Actually Tried Out

A great video game sells itself. Do you want to play in an endless world of craftable blocks where the only limit is your imagination (and right angles)? Sold! Do you want to be the reincarnation of a dragon saving a fantasy world from evil (but not clipping errors)? Sold! Want to play an overweight plumber plopping down sewer drains and stomping on turtles? It's-a sold! But it's not only developers flexing their creative muscles. The soulless husks in marketing do their share too. And some of those high-level ghouls will stop at nothing to trick you into buying their games. For example ...

Advertisement

6
Battlefield 1 Turned War Atrocities Into Hot Marketing

In the run-up to Remembrance Day, i.e. the day we celebrate the end of some gruesome fighting, an EA galaxy brain thought it would be totally rad to get in on the proceedings by turning the Great War into the Dankest Meme, tweeting gruesome acts as fun lulz. Like soldiers posing in front of a destroyed zeppelin with the delightful caption "When your squad is looking on point."

Oh, the utter lack of humanity.EA GamesOh, the utter lack of humanity.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Or a GIF of soldiers being burned alive with the caption "When you're too hot for the club" -- a meme about as old as World War 1 itself.

When our prices get cut in half quicker than soldiers charging machine gun nests lol! #justWWIthingsEA Games"When our prices get cut in half quicker than soldiers charging machine gun nests lol! #justWWIthings"

To complete the marketing massacre, these tweets were posted with "#justWWIthings," as if getting your legs blown off by a mine in No Man's Land was a lifestyle choice. Journalists picked up on the tacky hashtag and rebuked EA not only for its insensitivity, but also for picking the worst possible time to get kids in the mood to teabag their great-granddad's corpse.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

EA frantically deleted all traces of the PR blunder, and said they would never again flippantly exploit the horrors of World War I to shill their wares. This was an apology they didn't offer a week before, when one of their devs tweeted to promote the game's official onesie (take that, people who think gamers are immature children) by comparing it to other essential "trench warfare" equipment, like gas masks and trenching shovels to bury your dead brothers.

Related: 6 WTF Video Game Ads That Traumatized Their Audiences

5
Battleborn's CEO Used Porn To Hype His Failing Game

Randy Pitchford has a "bad rep" in the industry, in the same way a belligerent drunk has a "bad rep" with his estranged kids. Various lurid stories about his combative nature and creepy expertise in barely legal porn have come out of the woodwork over the years. But when his big-budget multiplayer shooter Battleborn was failing to rake in the cash, Pitchford decided to put his perverted penchants to work spinning the game as an underground cult phenomenon by linking to the copious amounts of Battleborn porn he (accidentally, of course) found on Reddit.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

If that seems totally random, there was a strange method to Pitchford's madness. Overwatch, the world's most popular online shooter, is known for its fans creating tremendous amounts of Rule 34 pornography. So Pitchford probably thought it could also work in the opposite direction, somehow proving his very similar game was worth our attention by pointing out how many teens were getting off to crudely drawn cartoons of its female characters. The gambit was too late and definitely too skeevy. Battleborn quickly fell to pieces, and was ironically outlived by its porn subreddit.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Related: The 5 Most Cringe-Worthy Video Game Commercials

4
Castle Clash Used Tinder To Scam Lonely Men Into Buying Mobile Games

Back in 2014, internet security companies alerted the public to a next-gen kind of spam involving bots preying on Tinder users. The semi-sophisticated bots would pretend to be cute girls who casually mentioned they're really into video games, particularly the mobile game Castle Clash (you know, from those ads you'd skip on every third YouTube video). And wouldn't it be great if you also downloaded it, played it with her, and gave it your credit card information? Who knows, it might lead to a heated gaming moment between the sheets.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Why do bots only ever ask us to play a game to steal our money or launch our nukes?

Via BBCWhy do bots only ever ask us to play a game to steal our money or launch our nukes?

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Tinder quickly responded to the invasion and shut down most of the spambots, but it remains a mystery whether the game or its shady publishers were responsible for this gamer exploit. And to add a bonus level of slime to this scam, the bots' profile pictures were stolen from a small photography studio in Arizona. Guess Castle Clash's $13 million monthly revenue isn't enough to spring for a Shutterstock subscription.

Related: The 5 Most Offensive Attempts At Video Game Marketing

3
A Guitar Hero Ripoff Threw Plastic Controllers Into A Volcano

Power Gig: Rise Of The SixString (not a joke title) strove to bring credibility to the plastic instrument craze of the late aughts by providing a revolutionary technology called ... strings! In fact, Seven45 Studio's entire marketing campaign revolved around how their guitars were more realistic, more hardcore than any other music game studio. How hardcore? Well, does melting toxic plastic and shooting it into our atmosphere count as hardcore? Hmm, it doesn't?

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

To prove their utter disdain for plastic toy guitars and those who play them (i.e. their entire consumer base), Seven45 decided to tape a publicity stunt wherein they destroyed a bunch of their competitor's controllers. And inspired by every death metal album artwork ever, they figured the best way to do that was to load them into a cargo plane and drop them into the most metal-sounding volcano they could find, Eyjafjallajokull.

It wasn't the controllers that needed to be fired.

Seven45 StudiosIt wasn't the controllers that needed to be fired.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Now, you might be thinking: Does molten controller not pose a serious chemical hazard? Luckily, Seven45 never has to find out, since they weren't actually berserk enough to dump the controllers while the volcano was active. They CGI'd that in later, like the nerds they really are. So instead, all those controllers were merely littered throughout a nature preserve, shattering into tiny shards scattered over a mile-long radius.

Related: 5 Gloriously Stupid Times Video Games Tried To Sell You Crap

2
Resident Evil: Outbreak Caused A Literal Viral Panic

To promote Resident Evil: Outbreak, Capcom's European branch turned to a guerrilla marketing team for an outside-the-box way to market to a wider audience. They dreamt up a genius plan for a viral campaign based on the in-game zombie virus, telling gamers they could win prizes if they "infected" their friends by sending spam to their phones promoting the game. Said friends would then get a surprise message ... from an unknown number ... which read "I'm infecting you with the T-virus."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Needless to say, the stunt caused a minor panic with not-so-tech-savvy people, who feared their phones had indeed been infected with some sort of mobile virus. Despite the backlash, the marketing company's response boiled down to calling people stupid and gloating about how successful the campaign was at driving people to their website in a blind panic to find out who they have to bribe to get their sexts back.

Related: 6 Baffling Old-School Video Game Commercials

1
Hunt Down The Freeman Pretended To Be The Successor To Half-Life

Royal Radius Entertainment's Hunt Down The Freeman wasn't just another fan mod of Half-Life 2, but a licensed product with official characters and game assets. It even featured Gordon Freeman on the cover! Even more legit, it cost a lot of money -- $25 for a taste of what some had been waiting for over a decade. But that taste quickly soured when countless players started reporting that it was absolute garbage, filled with broken gameplay and bugs, the most prominent character being a constant "ERROR" sign in the middle of the screen.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But the biggest betrayal happens at the end of the game, when players finally realize that, spoiler alert, they don't find Gordon Freeman. Despite being shown on the cover, Freeman -- the only reason anyone bought this junk -- doesn't even appear. Half-Life fans threw a collective fit, turning Hunt Down The Freeman into one of the worst-reviewed games on Steam. But we do hear they're already working on a sequel: Hunt Down Royal Radius.

For more, check out If Video Game Commercials Were Honest - Honest Ads (Playstation X-box Gamer Video Games Parody):


Also, we'd love to know more about you and your interesting lives, dear readers. If you spend your days doing cool stuff, drop us a line at iDoCoolStuff at Cracked dot com, and maybe we can share your story with the entire internet.

Follow us on Facebook. Game on.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

47 Comments

Load Comments

More Articles

4 Shady Facts Netflix Doesn't Want Viewers To Know

Netflix is better than Hollywood. But barely.

144

5 'Huh?' White House Facts History Class Never Mentioned

The government has always been wild.

43

5 Heroic Movie Sacrifices (That Make No Sense)

Some characters are way, way too quick to give up and kill themselves.

125

6 Artworks That Caused Literal Death And Destruction

Art can be dangerous.

74

Marvel Studios Have Entered Their 1970s Phase

In case you hadn't noticed, Marvel is doing well.

46