MMOs are a business just like anything else. And sometimes developers, publishers, and PR departments alike need to try to shake things up and gain some attention towards their game. Usually this involves something simple like a welcome back weekend where players get to play for free, or giving out free trials, or bonus experience and things of that nature. But thinking outside the box is always a sure-fire way to garner attention when you really need it, and the following List is what I consider to be five of the goofiest (but effective) ways to get people to take a second look. If nothing else (though two of the games ultimately died a painful death), these promotions got people talking about the titles they were tied to. And hey, all press is good press right?
The No Elves Global Agenda Campaign
It’s actually brilliant marketing, but it’s still goofy. Global Agenda is a top-notch F2P FPSMMO from Hi-Rez Studios, and when it launched it was among the first of a new wave of games to ditch the fantasy tropes and do away with all things elven. Just check this page if you need any proof that the lads and lasses at Hi-Rez have a sense of humor. On top of it all, you can now actually get a helmet that makes you look like an elf for kicks...if you like wearing what amounts to a giant “Kick Me” sign on your face.
Buy Anything & Get Auto Assault for FREE!
This isn’t exactly something NCsoft or NetDevil planned I’m sure, but back when Auto Assault was alive and floundering around (I love the game, don’t take offense) there was a point when Gamestop and its other stores ran a promotion to help alleviate the retailer of its excess AA copies. You could come into the store during this period and buy any PC game and walk out with an additional free copy of Auto Assault. This was basically a full year ahead of the game’s closure too. So here’s hoping some of you took advantage of that deal. Man… I wonder why no one thought of this when all those Atari cartridges for E.T. needed to be put in a landfill.
The Sparkle Pony - WoW
Okay, so technically it’s called the Celestial Steed, but I still think this deserves a spot on the list of oddball MMO promotions. World of Wacraft has never taken itself too seriously, but this pretty much ushered in the era of optional content for the game, and the optional content almost always borders on the absurd. Luckily, the world of Azeroth is rife with humor and the game does a decent job of poking fun at its subject matter. But this is basically the equivalent of putting a $10 My Little Pony into the game. No matter how hard Blizzard will try, they can’t really deny it… but they probably don’t care as they fly on the Sparkle Pony’s wings all the way to the bank.
This one could have been number one, and maybe to others it still should be. But Tabula Rasa’s Operation Immortality is as an old and retired blogger once put it “the weirdest MMO promotion ever”. Basically the now infamous Richard Garriott and NCsoft deemed it a good idea to take select players’ DNA into space with him and to leave it there on an “Immortality Drive”. It all makes some semblance of sense if you played TR, and were familiar with its cloning, but it’s still very strange. And since weird is not quite goofy, I still say the following deserves the #1 spot on this week’s List.
/Pizza from EQ2
Shortly after it launched in 2004, EQ2 and Pizza Hut teamed up to give addicted MMO players even more reason to never leave their desk chair. Simply type /pizza into the chat box, and you’d bring up a menu to order some tasty treats from your local Hut. This promotion has since ended, but it certainly generated plenty of press at the time for EQ2 (both good and bad), and in my eyes it’ll forever be one of the goofiest PR tie-ins I’ve seen in MMO-dom. Of course, that is until /diaper or /prostitute become a reality.