This post originally appeared on Techdirt.
At the E3 Expo a few weeks ago, Electronic Arts showcased an upcoming game, Dante’s Inferno, to awkward protests from a group of concerned Christians going under the name, “Salvationists Against Virtual and Eternal Damnation.” They had signs like “Trade in your PlayStation for a PrayStation,” “Cheat codes won’t save your soul,” and “Hell is not a game,” as well as a 1996-esque website complete with animated GIFs and multi-colored all-caps text. The protest was covered by the LA Times, the San Jose Mercury News and many gaming blogs. That sort of controversy might make the game more appealing to some… except, EA admitted that the protest was entirely staged by the viral marketing firm that they hired (though, it didn’t fool everyone).
As the popular gaming blog Joystiq puts it, there’s got to be a better way to promote the game. A faux controversy might seem like a clever idea, until people realize it’s just a publicity stunt. Plus, it doesn’t seem very smart to alienate Christians when you could be selling them the game instead (as Thomas Peters from AmericanPapist.com writes, “getting to play Dante as he slashes his way through hell? It sure beats Tetris.”). Electronic Arts recently landed in some hot water for another clever viral marketing idea, which involved shipping brass knuckles with the Godfather II press kit, despite mere possession being a first-degree misdemeanor in some states to which they were shipped. They get points for creativity, but they might want to think twice before acting on some of these ideas…
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