Publicity stunts can be fun when they bring video gaming's trademark fantasy into the real world. That's why many might say, see a parade of Pikachus and involuntarily squeal out loud. But Pokemon are essentially cartoons; when you take violent, R-rated fare out of the game and onto the streets, it becomes a little less fun and a little more horrifying.
Such was the case for the marketing of Watch Dogs, which features a vigilante roaming around a realistic, GTA-ish world. Since the game's gimmick involves hacking everything and everyone, publisher Ubisoft thought it might be a good idea to make a little game out of their promotion. A mysterious safe was sent to the Australian offices at MSN, with a note attached that said "Check your voicemail." Problem was, the office didn't have voicemail, probably because they want to avoid their mom. Nobody knew what this thing was or who it was from. After someone entered the combination included on the piece of paper, the safe started beeping. And it wouldn't stop. This is where everyone started freaking out
The bomb squad was called and the case was eventually pried open, its true contents revealed.
As it turned out, they went through all that trouble for some crappy Watch Dogs swag. Ubisoft had included the wrong keycode with the safe, and somehow felt they were out of options after not being able to properly use voicemail. "What's the harm in sending a beeping metal box to a crowded office without notice?" is something someone had to actually contemplate for this kind of thing to happen.
You'd think Ubi would have known better, since they had a similar scare a few years before. Over in New Zealand, otherwise known as Australia's Shelbyville, another snafu resulted in several patrons screaming for their lives. You'd piss your pants too, if someone dressed like a mercenary barged into a bar and started waving a gun around. It was all a "clever" promotion for spy thriller Splinter Cell: Conviction, but that was made clear to no one, in part because the gun used for the stunt looked very real. The police arrived and everything was sorted without any real casualties, but it could have gone much worse if the prank had taken place in say, a country that doesn't have more sheep than guns.
By 2010, the music game fad was fading fast. Innovation in the genre was at an all-time low, and lazy band-themed titles were the order of the day. Guitar Hero: Puddle of Muddvayne Edition was starting to look like the new norm. That's where Seven45 Studios came in. Power Gig: Rise of the Six String was an upstart that was trying to change the game by pushing a more "realistic" style of guitar game that theoretically would actually teach you something other than how to get blisters on your fingers while playing Through The Fire and Flames on Expert.
To celebrate the coming of the new, they were throwing out the old. In this case, that meant tossing a bunch of Guitar Hero-style plastic instruments into an Icelandic volcano.
That's actually... pretty sweet, right? It's not like those fake guitars were doing anyone any good anyway. Hell, Goodwill stores would probably pay good money for this revolutionary method of plastic instrument disposal.
But there's a catch: The flashy ad that the Power Gig guys put out wasn't exactly on the level. About a year after PG was released and evaporated into instantaneous obscurity, a special effects guy posted a video chronicling his work on the volcano commercial. Judging from the original footage, he put in some serious time.
Wow, that's a hell of a difference. According to the video description, the Power Gig guys were disappointed when they reached the peak and saw what was basically an inactive volcano. That's where the special effects guy came in; essentially everything about the shot was changed, from the lava to the cliffside to the smoky, intimidating atmosphere. The only thing that's missing is Han shooting first and an awkward musical number at Jabba's Palace.
What at first seemed pretty rad is in actuality pretty disappointing. You can see where they were going with it, at least. The volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, was the same Icelandic beast that erupted and famously caused all those transportation problems back in early 2010. Evidently, by the time the Power Gig PR team got out there, the volcano stopped erupting. In fact, Eyjafjallajökull hasn't erupted since then, so as of now those plastic guitars are still strewn all around that mountainside. The only thing Power Gig guys did was litter all over a beautiful natural formation. And you know, put out a crappy music game that no one played.