In an effort to eliminate the stereotype that playing video games turns people into violent, crazed, gun wielding madmen, Ubisoft chose to commit one of the stupidest PR stunts in recent memory to promote Splinter Cell: Conviction.
A few days ago in New Zealand, a man wielding a plastic toy gun terrorized patrons of Degree, a bar in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin. The man’s hands were bandaged too. Of course, no one knew that it wasn’t a real gun. All signs pointed to the crazed bandaged lunatic blowing somebody’s brains out, not that he’s an actor letting everyone know Sam Fisher is starring in a new adventure.
Witnesses said they heard someone shout “he’s got a gun” and outdoor drinkers dived behind their tables.
I doubt they were diving behind their tables in the hopes that new copies of Splinter Cell: Conviction were there. Police rushed to the scene and a shootout almost took place. The cops stated:
We consider these types of stunts to be very ill-advised and have real concerns a similar one may one day end in tragedy.
The only tragedy for Ubisoft is if Conviction doesn’t sell millions of copies, not if somebody’s intestines land in a someone’s beer. This has to be one of the worst PR stunts in gaming history. Who approved this?
Monaco Corporation, Ubisoft’s go-to PR firm in New Zealand, claimed ignorance, saying they didn’t know a gun would be used. Right.
Well, it could have been worse right?. Here are a few terrible ways Ubisoft could have promoted the new Splinter Cell:
- Have someone get drunk, run over and kill somebody’s daughter, and say, “Relax, Fisher’s got your back, but only on Xbox 360 and PC.”
- Do the exact same thing as they did in New Zealand, but on a plane 30,000 feet in the air, with a guy wearing a long beard and turban, quoting the Qur’an.
- Place some random dude in a real terrorist cell, armed only with the Modern Warfare 2 night vision goggles.
- Break into somebody’s home while they’re having sex and fall on top of them after the vent above their bed breaks.
- Send hundreds of copies of Conviction to Quarter Disorder to give away to the zero readers of the site.
[photo by Casey Rodgers / AP Images for Ubisoft]