Games maker EA has incited a wave of backlash over the latest marketing ploy for their upcoming action game, Dante's Inferno.
In an effort to promote the title at last week's San Diego Comic-Con event, EA decided to run a contest asking showgoers to "commit acts of lust" with any models working at the convention's myriad booths. They were then instructed to submit photos via social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. The winner would receive "dinner and a sinful night with two hot girls, a limo service, paparazzi and a chest full of booty," while five runners-up would have to make do with a copy of the game, a $240 gift card and assorted game merchandise.
Of course, EA gave themselves an out, noting on the official rules page that "...judges reserve the right, in their sole and absolute discretion, to disqualify any Submissions that are inappropriate for any reason, including without limitation, for depicting or mentioning sex, violence, drugs, alcohol and/or inappropriate language." In other words, don't get crazy while you commit your "acts of lust."
Unfortunately for EA, the gaming community hasn’t responded well. Twitter posts about the marketing effort have been largely negative; tweets to #EAfail have spiked, with many accusing the company of being tasteless, immature and sexist. In turn, those responsible have issued a respectful if unapologetic tweet right back:
"'Commit acts of lust' is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps," it reads. "Also, a ‘Night of Lust’ means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante's Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes."
It's just the latest EA marketing stunt to go awry. Back in April, the company got in hot water for sending journalists illegal brass knuckles to promote their game based on The Godfather II. And at the E3 trade show in early June, EA angered Christian groups after making waves with a viral marketing campaign for -- you guessed it -- Dante's Inferno, this time featuring fake protesters.
Dante himself never had this much trouble.