Posted on June 11, 2012 AT 03:59pm
This week, we look at 10 of the worst PR moments – everything from cringeworthy statements to baffling responses to questions and suspicious behavior by PR mouthpieces. Nobody is safe with The 10, so take a look with us into some of the most memorable moments in recent history.
10. Dante’s Inferno’s comprehensive PR disaster, set up by EA:
Dante’s Inferno has quite the story regarding how it approached marketing the title. It began at E3 2009, where EA had hired a viral PR firm to send people posing as offended Christians, with signs such as these:
The signs were a little too well-made and self-aware, and the gaming masses caught on. However, this was just the beginning of the strange, unusual method of marketing a game based on sin. The next pit stop for this PR machine was Comic-Con, and it offered an entry into a contest based on your willingness to embrace “Lust” embodied in getting your photo taken with a booth babe. Humorously, a member of GayGamer’s staff won the giveaway after posing with a “BoothBro” – and wrote a poignant letter to EA regarding the tastelessness of this PR stunt. The winner was to receive a “date” with 2 (!) women at the same time, limo ride, and dinner.
The last stop on the PR train for Dante’s Inferno ended with envelopes with $200 checks distributed to gaming press sites. This article may be about bad PR, but when deconstructed, this stunt was definitely the most effective one out of all, resulting in delightfully cheap advertising, as each member of the gaming press that received a $200 check (meant to embody “Greed”) felt that they should write a story decrying this PR stunt, resulting in more exposure for Dante’s Inferno. It felt like at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Indy has to walk over the letter tiles to spell JEHOVA, but makes a bad step every single time he puts his foot down, until the end.
You win, EA. You win.
9. Ocean Marketing – The Fall of Paul Christoforo
There’s almost too much to tell with regards to the tale of Ocean Marketing. It all started from one email from a consumer who preordered a product from the Avenger line of controllers, and had not received an update on their shipping. What followed after the initial email could fill a book about how not to treat the customer – suggesting to the customer they should “put on their big boy hat,” telling your customer that you would put their order on eBay, and lastly, this gem:
“Really … 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. I Don’t have my controller so im gonna cry to the world … Really ?? Hey take that free time and do something more productive. All you had to do was check the like everyone else , people have inquired but you’re the douchiest of them all J”
Incredible. Thickening the plot, Christoforo was then asked by his client, iControl, to work under a pseudonym due to the bad press he received initially. Unbelievable. Add in being banned from PAX, yet finding photos online leaked to him and claiming they were his (they actually were another Penny Arcade forumgoer’s, sent to him with the intent of exposing him later) to chalking all of this up to “a bad day,” Paul Christoforo is a PR company’s worst nightmare – multiplied tenfold by him still having a job with the company.
8. Kaz Hirai, talking about the apparent difficulty in programming for the PS3:
“We don’t provide the ‘easy to program for’ console that [developers]
want, because ‘easy to program for’ means that anybody will be able to take
advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is
what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?”
This quote is one hell of a stretch to put in any sort of positive light. Never mind that nine and a half years offers room for innovation and new ways to use existing technology, but this quote is so unbelievably out of touch with game developers that it hurts. I understand what he’s trying to say – that the PS3 will require your programmers to be “artists” so to speak, made for geniuses to develop for, and will keep shovelware out–unfortunately, this mindset locks out a lot of good ideas for people who perhaps don’t have the same amount of raw programming skill on PS3. Truly a shame.
7. Velocity Girl
The year was 2005; Microsoft, debuting their 360 at E3, they put VelocityGirl on showcase to exhibit what Microsoft has to offer non-gamers.
“The Marketplace is going to be a way to get VelocityGirl reengaged with our market and reengaged with games”, Allard continues. “Because on the Marketplace, she’s going to be an active member of the community, the community of people that play games like Tony Hawk.”
“Now, she might never pick up a controller, never take a run in the halfpipe but she’ll be able to design and sell stickers, shirts, boards, sound tracks and even design her own skate park for those hardcore gamers like Striker.”
Long story short, VelocityGirl’s unused designs she was working on never, ever came to fruition. A shadow of a broken promise, VelocityGirl is still waiting, working on those Tony Hawk skins and skateparks for a game that was never there. Oddly enough, Second Life sounds like a better fit for VelocityGirl, where she can design all sorts of clothing, animations, and worlds.
6. Shane Kim never got the memo
One of the more embarassing PR gaffes belongs to Shane Kim, VP of Microsoft Game Studios, and how he missed the memo that two years ago, Resident Evil 5 was coming to the Xbox 360. Below is the painful, awkward exchange between Kim and Game Informer. You can’t help but feel for Shane Kim, who is shaken.
Kim: Yeah, but here’s the thing: I think one of the most important, subtle announcements. Resident Evil 5 is coming to Xbox 360. Yes, it’s from Capcom, who’s been a great supporter of us.
GI: But we knew that two years ago.
GI: Resident Evil. It was shown at TGS two years ago.
Kim: No, but coming to Xbox 360.
GI: Yeah. It was at the press event.
Kim: I don’t think so.
GI: I’m positive. I was there.
GI: It was shown at both press conferences.
Kim: That RE5 was coming to…?
Kim: I’m going to have to confirm that. That was supposed to be the big announcement. Anyway, my point there though is that every major Japanese publisher is supporting the Xbox 360.
5. Capcom blames fans for the cancelation of Megaman Legends 3
Capcom tried to make Megaman Legends 3 a reality for many fans – by allowing them to sign up to their special DevRoom and help be a part of the creation of Megaman Legends 3. However, there were some critical parts left out of Capcom’s call to action. Namely:
“Capcom looked at the number of members registered in the MML3 DevRoom as the official number of units they could anticipate to sell if they green-lighted the title for Full Development. The game was never authorized for full time development because the numbers in North America were less than 4500. Which with development costs it was deemed Financially Unacceptable to release the title.”
Now, to access the Capcom DevRoom, it would require you to sign up and register to become a Servbot. It all sounds well and good, until Capcom’s EU branch posted this tweet:
“it’s a shame the fans didn’t want to get more involved if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds”
Long story short, a project that could have quietly died because it was financially unacceptable to release the title ended up biting the diehard Megaman Legends fans who so badly wanted a sequel. This went a bit beyond a snap at the people who loved the franchise, telling them that they were the reason why it couldn’t work out. A financially unacceptable game is nothing new – but being told you were the cause of it by Capcom’s EU Twitter is just a little more sting than fans deserved.
4. Ken Kutaragi wants more of your money
“Our hope is 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.” - Ken Kutaragi, 2005
This quote struck fear into the hearts of Sony fans, as the PS3’s price had not yet been announced. Unfortunately, their fears came true with the phrase “five hundred and ninety nine US dollars,” announced the next year, spearheading one of the most memorable E3s in recent memory. Between the price tag shock and the Riiiiidge Racer, Sony’s E3 can never be forgotten.
It is incredibly painful when a smug PR firm is exposed for what it is, but honestly, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com was so easy to identify as PR trash, it is a miracle that nobody in their studio stopped this atrocity from happening. What ensued was an awkward and painful video of people that were too old pretending to be people that were too young and trying to be whimsical and edgy without understanding how horribly transparent their entire video was. Luckily, even though the PR firm tried to erase all existance of their campaign, a YouTube user managed to preserve it for posterity. Have a look for yourself, and let us know if your skin crawls.
2. Jack Tretton owes us money!
Early in the PS3’s life cycle, Jack Tretton made this boast: “If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that’s been on shelves for more than five minutes, I’ll give you 1,200 bucks for it.”
Then Penny Arcade took him to task, going out with a camera and finding PS3s for sale by retailers. When all was said and done, they were looking at far beyond $10,000 owed them by Jack Tretton, but never collected. Penny Arcade got a popular comic out of that statement from Tretton, isn’t $10,000, but it did go a small way towards collecting their due.
1. Peter Moore – “Things break.”
Peter Moore, who was at the time Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft‘s Interactive Entertainment Business division, offered the above phrase in answer to Mercury News’ question about the 360’s astronomically high at the time failure rates. “Things break.” Peter, you’re right. Things do break. Our systems shouldn’t, however, break as often as they were. It was a callous response to a legitimate consumer issue, and a lot of people won’t be forgetting that pearl of wisdom any time soon. Peter Moore should take a lesson from Nintendo, who produced the N64, which is nearly impossible to break, even on purpose. Sorry Peter; things do break, but I don’t want the 360 extending its reach and breaking my bank too.
-Anything Peter Molyneux has ever said
-Sony’s decapitated goat for God of War II
-Sony producing the SIXAXIS without rumble, called it a “last-gen feature”
-Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami: “If RE4 isn’t exclusive to the Gamecube, I’ll cut my head off”
-SEGA does what Nintendon’t
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