Its not often that a game’s release attracts some really silly or weird promotional stunts to get people interested and you’d think that after Activision not thinking enough about a Call of Duty: Ghosts promotion that PR people would not try something really, really silly that could go horribly, horribly wrong.
But they did! And now it’s Ubisoft’s PR team which has egg on their faces. They thought it was a bright idea to send review copies of Watch Dogs in a black, unmarked safe to Australian newspapers and gaming magazines, openable only by listening to a voicemail message.
One of the newspapers in question, Ninemsn, received the safe packaged in a cardboard box with a note attached to it telling the reporter reviewing the game to check their voicemail. Because the reporter it was sent to didn’t use voicemail, they decided to try opening the safe anyway, trying out number passcodes to see if they could bypass it. That’s when it started beeping.
Compounding the panic that began to ensue when the beeping commenced, the reporter revealed that she had received a phone call the night before, with the other person ending the call when she answered it. Spooky! The newspaper then called around to other publications in Australia to see if any of them had received similar safes, but none of the others had received theirs yet.
So with the safe beeping and no-one else receiving the same item, they did the sensible thing – call in the bomb squad, evacuate the building and find a change of pants.
A few minutes later four police cars, eight officers and a police rescue unit with a bomb squad member arrived on the scene. After scanning the safe on-site, they carefully took it into the building’s basement, where it was forced open to reveal that the contents were merely a lonely copy of Watch Dogs. It is not known if it was the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 or Xbox One version.
“There was a bunch of reasons this ended up looking weird,” Ninemsn publisher Hal Crawford said. “The PR company no doubt got carried away with their creativity and ended up sending us something the bomb squad had to open up.”
The newspaper ordinarily does not cover videogames. Ninemsn journalist Natasha Lee said “it was the dumbest stunt ever. [I] stood next to the journo who received it – she was in tears. Really creepy.”
Ubisoft later apologised for the traumatic incident, where it stated that the drop off “didn’t go as planned. “
“We unreservedly apologise to Ninemsn’s staff for the mistake and for any problems caused as a result,” the video game publisher said. “We will take additional precautions in the future to ensure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again.”