Hijinks! Square Enix Say: Threaten ‘Hits’ On Your Friends!

By John Walker on December 4th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Update: Gosh, that was quick. Before any other sites had even picked up on this one, Square have removed the app. Links from it now reroute to the main Hitman page, and previously sent death threats no longer work.

Update 2: Square have issued a statement apologising for the app. The full statement is at the bottom of the post.

Original: Square Enix aren’t having a brilliant Winter. With profits pointing downward, and Hitman a bit of a stinker, they surely must be on the phone with the Humble Bundle folks, trying to follow THQ. But everything’s going to improve with their latest marketing campaign for the disappointing baldie killer! “SQUARE ENIX,” says the email that’s just arrived in my inbox, “WANTS YOU TO PUT A HIT ON YOUR FRIENDS”. Ahaha! Threaten to murder your chums! And mock them for their looks, or the size of their breasts or penis!

Don’t worry! It’s jokey! You can pick jokey reasons to threaten people on Facebook (dead link removed – Tidying Ed) with a jokey murder! Reasons, amongst many others, like:

  • Her awful make-up
  • Her ginger hair
  • Her annoying laugh
  • Her strange odour
  • Her big ears
  • Her muffin top
  • Her hairy legs
  • Her small tits

No, I’m really not making any of those up. Square have really launched an advertising campaign for Hitman in which you can threaten people on Facebook using bullying terms, mocking people for their looks, and the size of their breasts. I murdered the puppy-faced Emily Madeupname because she’s cheating on her partner! That’s a reason it offered me. I threatened to kill someone on Facebook using this advert, telling Agent 47 to identify her by her small tits, and to kill her for cheating. Then she gets to watch a video of her being assassinated! OH WHAT LARKS!

Here’s how it all hilariously plays out:

Haha! You can threaten your friends with death via Facebook too. It’s cyber-bullying, sure, and making death threats online is illegal, but it’s for advertising! All in the name of jolly good fun!

For those asking, this is the work of advertising agency Ralph, who we’re informed have won an EMMY!

Update: Since publication this promotional app has been deleted, and a statement has been issued by Square Enix. It reads:

“Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.

We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done.

We’re sorry for any offence caused by this.”

A good follow-up, after a swift reaction, certainly. But it remains utterly bewildering that no one at the company thought of these issues before publication.

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249 Comments »

  1. PopeRatzo says:

    Man, that’s messed up.

    • yogibbear says:

      So is your face you RANGA wearing a Pope outfit…?
      PopeRatzo – “TERMINATED”

      • karengossage6 says:

        until I saw the bank draft 4 $6912, I didn’t believe that my cousin woz like truley making money part time from there computar.. there aunt haz done this for only 8 months and as of now repayed the loans on there home and bought a great Saab 99 Turbo. go to..www.Google.Mel7.com

        • kansdmwb says:

          Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPhone5-Ultra-thin Slide-out Wireless Keyboard for iPhone 5! I gave my 12-year-old children gifts at Christmas! We think that how? I’m like, I hope that my children like! Really great! http://800wx.com/a9

    • hatseflats says:

      Indeed. When I read this post my mouth fell open. This is stupid and douchebag beyond belief.

    • belgand says:

      I know, ladies with red hair are objectively better than those with other, lesser hair colours.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Yes it is. But it’s also as messed up as the game is without facebook. Sadly we only make the connection when people get involved directly.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    HITFACE!

  3. SlappyBag says:

    Was nice knowing you Square Enix.
    /me waves

    • rawrty says:

      Yeah, really. I mean I know it was a marketing firm but someone from Square had to give it the OK, right? This is pretty offensive to a lot of people and could be considered downright cruel if it was used to torment someone struggling with self-image issues…It’s hard to comprehend how someone would let this go live.

  4. Roz says:

    Her awful make-up
    Her ginger hair
    Her annoying laugh
    Her strange odour
    Her big ears
    Her muffing top
    Her hairy legs
    Her small tits

    Moans about sexism in gaming.
    Posts that.

    • John Walker says:

      I was killing a girl. I imagine alternative hilarious options would be there for a boy.

      • Dr I am a Doctor says:

        His awful make-up
        His ginger hair
        His annoying laugh
        His strange odour
        His big ears
        His muffing top
        His hairy legs
        His small tits

        Sexism is over, actually

    • jellydonut says:

      *woosh*

      that’s the sound of this article passing over your head at supersonic speed

    • int says:

      Her awful hair
      Her ginger make-up
      Her big laugh
      Her muffin odour
      Her annoying ears
      Her strange top
      Her small legs
      Her hairy tits

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      You’re not too bright, are you Roz? :(

    • InternetBatman says:

      Her awesome cake-up
      Her gingerbread
      Her annoying laugh
      Her delicous odour
      Her elephant ears
      Her muffin top
      Her dairy legs
      Her sweet bits

      Moans about lack of bakeries in house.
      Posts that.

    • jorygriffis says:

      Did you even read the fuckin’ thing?

    • roxahris says:

      The irony is that PC Gamer seems to have picked up on your post and called it sexist after listing the possibilities for BOTH men and women.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      As far as I can tell, it was RPS calling out the sexism of those comments, not agreeing with them…

  5. Zappanale says:

    Depends purely on the use. If you’re sending it to your hitman loving friend, it sure as hell ain’t bullying- it’s cool. Send it to some random person you dislike, then it’s bullying.

    And that use is not the responsibility or concern of Square Enix, but of the end user.

    • Mirqy says:

      Exactly. That was my reasoning when I gave away all those loaded guns to children. Now people are moaning that it was my fault people got hurt! Can you believe it?

      • Zappanale says:

        Somehow I don’t believe you have quite mastered the art of the comparative analogy. I’ll gladly give you one more try if you want.

        • Mirqy says:

          Maybe, maybe not, but I do comprehend the notion of responsibility.

        • RodHope says:

          I think he got it pretty spot on.

        • ucfalumknight says:

          While a bit extreme, it is essentially the same argument.

          • sarcasm83 says:

            It is nowhere near the same arguement. *facepalm*

            Videogame marketing app on facebook, with what you can fictionally contract “your-friends-only” with juvenile insults is NOT the same arguement as handing out lethal firearms to children.

            If you think that’s even moderately the same thing, I suggest some form of counceling and am NOT surprised you people are so offended.

            But as it stands; It was only available on facebook. It was only available to be used between friends. It was fictional and non-serious.

            Sure, I wouldn’t expect this from a Hitman game and it’s somewhat disappointing, but is this the moral catastrophe you people make it out to be? It sure isn’t.

            Something I’d expect a South Park videogame to do.. though sure, they’d go way further and never apologize.

            BUT COME ON – this isn’t what’s wrong with the world today. This isn’t a problem. Move along for gods sake.

    • Miltrivd says:

      Is funny how you really think that makes any sense.

      • Zappanale says:

        Let’s put it this way. I sent one of these to a friend earlier today, with the hit reason being his small penis.

        He found it funny. This is the context I’m talking about. We, sitting here, do *not* get to judge if it’s funny or not to put out a hit for “having small tits”; the only people capable of making that call is the recipient of the video message.

        • Premium User Badge

          Crimsoneer says:

          You and your friends have a terrible sense of humour.

          I really don’t see how “you have hair legs”/”small tits” could be interpreted as a good joke.

          • Zappanale says:

            And here’s the kicker; I didn’t select those options because a) I personally don’t find them funny b) they aren’t applicable. However, what I find distasteful is your assumption that you get any say over what a private joke between me and a friend can be. We do not; and I do not get any say over what a private joke between two other people can be. To assume otherwise is intrusive and bigoted.

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            I’m perfectly entitled to judge other people, thank you very much. If somebody thinks telling people they have small tits or hairy legs or a small penis is particularly funny, they are a spectacular dickhead, in my opinion.

          • Unaco says:

            Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Some people think Frankie Boyle is hilarious, others that he’s purely offensive. Jonathan Swift recommended the Irish poor sell their children to the rich, as a source of food (“a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food”), which many felt was in… poor taste. Rabelais recommended wiping your arse on the neck of a still living swan, something PETA wouldn’t be chuckling at. Julian Clary joked about fisting Norman Lamont on Hampstead Heath… the Daily Mail took offense to that, as did Mrs Lamont.

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            There is a massive, humongous difference between Frankie Boyle making fun of people on national television, and a marketting department giving people the ability to publicly shame people over the size of their penis.

          • Zappanale says:

            I can’t reply to your new comment over Frankie Boyle being on TV, but Yes, that is precisely what I wanted to say. Boyle is broadcast to the general public; there is more reason to be concerned over his antics, but that’s a whole other debate on how TV channels should be regulated, I guess.

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            Oh it’s not the same at all, and you know it. Calling Kerry Katona an idiot is nothing at all like publishing in facebook that this girl you know has small tits/hairy legs and should be ashamed of them.

          • Zappanale says:

            Well, firstly, a factual correction: The video that is created for your recipient is not publicly view able, but only by the person who receives it, so that element doesn’t apply- not even on public facebook accounts. It remains a private joke.

            Secondly, I believe the first part of your Boyle post to be correct- He does make a lot of jokes he ends up apologizing for, but were he in private conversation telling them, that would not be a concern of anyone else. That he is often on major national broadcasters saying these things is, however, potentially a problem.

          • Unaco says:

            What about publicly shaming Norman Lamont as the, supposed, anal recipient of Julian Clary’s fist(s) on Hampstead Heath?

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            True, the actual justification for the hit isn’t public, so it’s not quite that bad. Although the fact you’re sending one is. Fair point.
            It is, however, still pretty colossally insensitive. Couldn’t they just have shown a modicum of common sense and used inoffensive ways of identifying people?

          • John Walker says:

            Oh lordy unaco – Swift’s A Modest Proposal is the most elegant piece of satire ever written. It was a loud, passionate protest against the way Irish people were being left to starve. It has nothing to do with this!

          • Zappanale says:

            (Re Crimson’s latest post). Yes, they most certainly could have implemented this better. I know for one that were I in charge, I would probably leave aside many of the options listed in this article.

            I can’t help but feel we’ve reached some sort of agreement at this point. POLITE DISCOURSE FTW.

          • Unaco says:

            It has something to do with this John… it’s a (brilliant) piece of comedy (very well written, and with a real social motive behind it), that can be misinterpreted, taken out of context, viewed in a certain light and seen as outrageously offensive. Very similar to this campaign… although there probably isn’t that many lights under which this can be viewed as funny but not offensive.

            It’s different strokes for different folks… if people want to laugh at Swift, that’s fine, surely. If people want to laugh at this, as a joke amongst friends, that is fine as well. Isn’t it?

          • Cooper says:

            That’s the difference Unaco.

            This isn’t a brilliant bit of comedy.

          • Unaco says:

            I agree… it’s a pretty shitty bit of comedy. But DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS.

            Other people can find it funny. Surely.

          • apocraphyn says:

            No, it’s not a brilliant piece of comedy – but it’s nothing to be mortally offended over. It’s something that can be sent to your friends on Facebook, not anyone on the planet – if someone’s getting “bullied” through this marketing campaign, they probably shouldn’t have added the bullies to their friend list.

            As Unaco said, if people want to laugh at this as a joke amongst friends, then they can do so. I just did. (Granted, some of the options go a bit too far, which is pretty much why this article came into being.)

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            Except that this is HITMAN. This is one of PC gaming’s greatest franchises ever – it’s classy, sophisticated, adult, and yes, at times, pretty damn funny. This is corrupting a fucking idol. And the worst part it, people will probably love this PR crap, it’s going to sell, Absolution is going to make gazimillions, and we won’t ever get a proper Blood Money sequel :(

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

            “if someone’s getting “bullied” through this marketing campaign, they probably shouldn’t have added the bullies to their friend list.”

            Nice victim blaming asshole

          • Unaco says:

            Crimsoneer… so, your problem isn’t with this marketing campaign, it’s with Absolution. Faux outrage then?

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            I’m not “outraged”. I think it’s sad and a little pathetic. Not to mention seriously shameful that this is what an industry has come to. I don’t mind Absolution, but this entire stunt stinks of what a 5 year old would come up with in the playground.

            Just…why? Why do we have to resort to being offensive and childish to promote a game about assassination? Seriously? Penis and boob size jokes? That’s just fucking insensitive and sad.

            I doubt this is really going to be used to do much cyber-bullying. It’s still a shameful display of how pathetic our industry can be, at times.

          • apocraphyn says:

            Oh, I’m sorry Donald Draper, do you indiscriminately add people to your friends list? Your problem.

            @Crimsoneer: Slightly diverging from the topic, but hey diddle diddle. It is a shame the marketing has been so immature, they certainly do seem to be wilfully dragging the series into a mire along with it…

          • Twitchity says:

            The key problem is not that two people might share a tasteless joke. The problem is that a multinational corporation has created, as a centerpiece of its marketing efforts, a shockingly misogynistic and unpleasant application. At a minimum, it’s solid #1ReasonWhy territory; at a maximum, it’s proof that the people who came up with this, helped created it, approved it, and authorized the budget for it are Very Bad People Indeed.

            Sadly, they probably pitched the concept entirely on being “edgy” and likely to draw attention to an underperforming SKU. (The same agency does work for Gearbox, and you can just imagine what they came up with for DNF.) From that standpoint, I suppose it worked. On the other hand, they’ve certainly made sure that I’ll never pick up another Hitman SKU again.

          • apocraphyn says:

            Oh dear, here comes the misogynism bandwagon. I think it’s a fundamental example of equal rights for men and women, since it allows you to make light of men for having “small penises” and women for having “small tits”. If you’re gonna attribute misogyny to this, you’ll have to apply misandry to it in equal measure.

            Apart from that, yes. It’s idiotic. But look how successful it is, what with us all talking about it so fervently!

          • ucfalumknight says:

            John, I was going to write an “Essay that Made Me” piece with Swift’s Proposal as the cornerstone! Well done!

          • Phantoon says:

            No, no, no no no. NO.

            No more “different strokes”. Some comedy is empirically shit and lazy, and it’s okay to call a terribly lazy joke bad. Besides, what’s the context here? Your dick is small! I am cheating on my husband with you! Now to clean up the evidence!

            Because that has context, and could be made funny. With no context, “you have a small penis” brings up many questions: You’re going to kill this man now for his small genitals. Why do you know he has small genitals? Why does it annoy you so? Were you spying on him and you were disappointed? Are you an insane stalker?

            The essence of successful comedy is to ask “Why is this like this”, not “hurrr”. It’d be like if Seinfeld (by the way, the WHAT’S THE DEAL joke? That was on an episode of Seinfeld) opened with “AIRPLANE PEANUTS!” and that was the entire joke. lolololsorandumb isn’t funny when you don’t even build your own context for it, and comedy is smarter than that anyways.

            I shall rant further if this continues to be a thing where bad comedy is considered fine. Laziness is bad.

          • Unaco says:

            And how, exactly, do you determine if some comedy is ‘empirically sh*t’? Please, enlighten us Phantoon.

          • Hahaha says:

            Crimsoneer you know the size of your friends dicks? we aren’t all that curious about what are friends look like.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Unaco: Beating a dead horse is probably a criteria. Also, that someone finds something funny does not make it good comedy, it merely makes it comedy.

          • SavageTech says:

            I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some good natured ribbing, and I’d argue that the app would’ve been fine if they allowed users to fill in their own reasons rather than providing some that are potentially offensive and not all that funny.

            If you could just fill in the blanks I think it would be hilarious to tell your friend you put a hit out on them for “not flushing the toilet last time you took a dump at my place” or “failing to return my Firefly box set after an entire year of ‘borrowing’ it.” Granted, I think putting a hit out on someone for having a small dick is fairly amusing too; it’s an utterly ridiculous concept and if one of my friends thought it up themselves I’d be amused. However, it was stupid to make a slew of insulting canned options in the app itself because it has the potential to offend those who don’t think it’s funny, whereas a private message between friends would have no such impact–or, if it did offend, then the blame would be on the sender rather than the mode of sending.

        • Lewis Denby says:

          If you and your friends find it funny, then by all means make those jokes in amongst your group of friends. But this is a PR team ENCOURAGING people to do it to THEIR friends, which is entirely different. Surely you can see that!

          • Zappanale says:

            No, because it is no different from myself linking a poor taste joke from Sickipedia to a friend. Im not in the habit of doing so, because I’ve never found sickipedia funny; but that’s besides the point here. If you can identify some element that genuinely makes it different that I’ve missed, by all means let me know and I’ll reconsider.

          • subactuality says:

            It’s different because literally the entire purpose of a social marketing campaign like this is to reach people who have never heard of Hitman, or have yet to buy it. People who are already in on the “joke” are not the intended audience here. This is designed to spread virally through social media, to reach friends of friends of friends, etc. If this were an option limited to within the actual game itself, I don’t think I’d have a problem with it, because everyone involved would understand the context. As it stands, it’s more akin to you randomly emailing horrifyingly tasteless jokes to your entire extended family and their friends.

          • top8cat says:

            I’m not a funny fellow, nor do I find many things offensive. With that said, I do not find the app to be funny nor offensive. My page is set to private and only my closest friends and family may access it(beyond Facebook, hackers and advertising companies). That said not everyone runs a Facebook page resembling Fort Knox, so I understand that this can [very] easily escalate into something horrendous. However, if my brother or friend were to put at hit stating ‘small penis’ I would immediately understand the reference and respond with a quote(an inside joke of sorts).

            All in all, if you’re offended then you should rethink who you allow to access your Facebook page as well as what you allow access too, and a company should understand that not everyone uses a Facebook page for the sole purpose of communicating with the closest of peers.

            Far from a black and white answer, I understand, but the best one such as myself can muster(willingly).

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          It’s cool that you can make jokes with your friend, but you need to send him spam mail to do it? Can’t you just, y’know, make up a joke?

          • Phantoon says:

            Comedy is hard. Linking youtube videos of people being funny is easy.

  6. MrLebanon says:

    Who the hell works in their marketing department

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      “Ha ha there’s no such thing as bad publicity right guys?

      …Guys?”

  7. Scissors says:

    Wow, cringing here. Make me forget this, please.

  8. bit_crusherrr says:

    No jokes allowed!

  9. jumblesale says:

    Ban this sick filth.

    • apocraphyn says:

      POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GAWN MAAAAAAAAHD!!!

      • Nim says:

        Political correctness aside, I fairly sure it is illegal to threaten someone’s life even as a joke up here in the frozen north.

        • f1x says:

          Well,

          I dont think its the same posting on “I’m going to kill you” on someones facebook wall,
          than virtually sending him an imaginary hitman from a famous game over a facebook APP

          I mean if you posted a picture of swarzenegger in terminator 2 in someone’s facebook wall that said “Emily Madeupname you are terminated”, would it be so much offense? or would it be considered bully or death threat?

          But then, problem comes with the second part, those stupid “reason of the kill” and “identified because small tis”… now thats not fun

          • Groove says:

            I think the key points are:

            - the personalising of it
            - the offensive comments
            - the direct nature of ‘I hope you get killed!’

            To use your (essentially fine) example, if you had a picture of Swarzenegger in T2 and a caption that read “I’m going to beat you to death and steal your clothes,” then it would still be a movie reference, but it wouldn’t be okay.

        • Lanfranc says:

          Yeah, it could pretty much be a Malicious Communications Act offence waiting to happen.

  10. Belsameth says:

    Hairly legs *are* a good reason for a hit tho…

    *hides*

    Either way, yet again a marketing company that completely misses the mark (:p). I wish it didn’t happen so damn often…

  11. t1gerdog says:

    Stupid marketing drones should get hit.

    • The Random One says:

      “You will recognize them by their small brains.”

  12. deimonian says:

    It takes a special kind of skill to mess up marketing this bad.

    • Premium User Badge

      Museli says:

      We’re all talking about it, so in their twisted little world-view, that makes the campaign a success.

  13. mikmanner says:

    Holy shit, this is going to hurt, it’s like viewing a car crash.

  14. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    What the horse-bothering dung-digging rhomboid STUFF where they thinking, exactly?

  15. Artista says:

    Does the target even know why she got killed? I see you’re able to choose some bullshit reason to put a hit on her, but then it just says “Agent 47 is going to kill you! Watch it all here!”

    • John Walker says:

      A narrating voice states how to identify you, “she has small tits”, and the reason for the murder appears on 47′s laptop in the video.

  16. mbp says:

    The effing idiots. What a disgusting campaign.

    I feel like shopping them to the Daily Mail and Fox news myself except that woudl only get them undeserved publicity. I just hope this stupid stupid campaign vanishes into obscurity.

    • woodsey says:

      Considering both of those “news” outlets are rampantly sexist, I wouldn’t think they’d give a crap.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Oh dear.

  18. PrintedCrayon says:

    The guy options are stuff like:

    His bald head
    His huge muscles
    His tiny penis

    Which in comparison doesn’t seem as bad as what the girls options are.

    I’m assuming marketing thought this was all a bit of fun, which is stupid of them.

  19. Lolmasaurus says:

    Down with this sort of thing!

  20. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Somebody got hit in the boingaloings!

    But yes, this is an awful idea.

  21. Optimaximal says:

    I do like the bit where you have to prove your age to see how you get shot by 47.

    edit – I also like the bit where it went wrong and I ended up posting a hit on myself on Facebook.

    What a travesty.

  22. Unaco says:

    I can see that it’s a not very good marketing campaign, but I’m not really seeing why the outrage and offense.

    • Cooper says:

      Really?

      Because actively encouraging people to take part in bullying and death threats dressed up as advertising is only bad marketing?

      And not, say, an incredibly disgusting decision given that online harrassment is a major issue, and that death threats are, technically, illegal?

      • Unaco says:

        “Because actively encouraging people to take part in bullying and death threats dressed up as advertising is only bad marketing?”

        It is entirely fictional death threats, and done between friends (unless they’re members of the Mob) isn’t really going to be bullying though, is it?

        • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

          Oh I didn’t realize this was guaranteed to only ever be used between the very best of friends who all have a thorough understanding of Hitman series canon

          • Unaco says:

            Well, it’s restricted to those people who are on your Facebook Friends List. I’ve never used Facebook, so I’m not sure how restrictive that label is. It is intended to be used between friends.

            If they don’t happen to have an understanding of the Hitman canon, I’m sure the massive adverts that’ll be going along with the video will inform them… it’s an advertising campaign, after all.

          • gwathdring says:

            Not very restrictive at all. It is not uncommon for people to have “Friends” lists that incorporate large swaths of their social ring more based on how frequently they want to be updated about what said person is up to than how close they are interpresonally. There are certainly exceptions to either extreme–the Friend Everyone Alive guy every high school has and the (I hope) much more common “Facebook friend means really close Friend.”

          • Hahaha says:

            Wait so peoples misuse of facebook and the lack of knowledge of what a friend constitutes is somehow a reason for this not to exist? get the fuck out, I feel sorry for anyone who revived this and jumped to the conclusion this was in any way real or an attack on them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Also, I hope sending a message to a female friend saying that one is killing her for her small tits only joking removes ones from the gene pool. Would be a small silver lining.

      • Unaco says:

        I haven’t tried it myself, and I won’t be trying it… but it appears the ‘small tits’ thing is a means to identification, rather than a reason for the assassination.

        • sinister agent says:

          It’s a deliberate insult and really can’t be interpreted any other way, unless you know of anyone who distinguishes between strangers by measuring their breasts.

          • Unaco says:

            Is it really a deliberate insult between friends though? If, say, the other members of the Hivemind were to point out what a terrible, terrible healer John Walker is, would that be a deliberate insult levelled at John? Or would it be some banter between friends?

          • El_Emmental says:

            +1 sinister agent.

            @Unaco: being a “bad healer” is a negative opinion on someone’s ability, skill, at a specific part of a game.

            Negative opinions on someone’s physical appearance/characteristics is very different, it’s something you can hardly change (even when being overweight – losing weight isn’t just down to ‘eat less, move your ass’, psychological issues are the main cause).

            It’s not hurting the confidence someone has in a specific part of game (healer), it’s hurting the self-perception of your body and the most intimate form of self-esteem.

            Call someone a complete fool at tennis, unless it’s the only thing that matters in his/her life, that person will move on and do other things, where (s)he could be better at. Call someone ugly, fat, or too small, and that person will be left with no choice but doubt about himself/herself.

            And seriously, tiny penis, tiny boobs and gingers.

            That’s the low-blow of the young teenagers too stupid to have responsibilities. One might think that joking about assassination and death threats would require a certain level of maturity, but apparently the company responsible for this stunt thought the XBL kid was the prime ‘target’ (sic).

          • Unaco says:

            I agree that it’s pretty crass and low brow and immature. But I still don’t think that, when between friends, it is an insult, or offensive, or going to damage someone’s self esteem. It can even have the opposite effect… the insult as a term of endearment.

          • El_Emmental says:

            I used to think that too, but in the long run it actually hurts the self-esteem, people start to take it seriously overtime.

            This is why most of us (= group of highschool friends) stopped using the running jokes about each others on a regular basis, nowadays it’s just a “once a month” hint at it and that’s it. Instead, we’re looking for new ones, and make sure to change them frequently.

            The thing is, as long as you’re feeling good, comfortable in your own skin, it doesn’t hurt you, instead it’s making you feel better as you know it’s simply teasing, and it’s used because it isn’t actually meant.

            But when you’re feeling down, when yet another life crisis kicks in, when you’re at the bottom, these things will resurface and slowly start haunting you. This is why real friends never insist on these “jokes”, to make sure they don’t backstab their friends when they’ll be in a vulnerable position.

            When you’re drowning in doubt, paranoia will show up and the “jokes” will become serious remarks. Half the negative reaction is regarding these “small tits/penis” jokes, the other half being the death threats.

            The “identification” traits should have secured a humorous tone and interpretation of the trick (“stole my ice cream”, “took all the milk”, “made fun of my pony figurines”, “called 47 ‘Hitman’ “, “spoiled the ending of *”, etc). They instead turned the joke into harassment-like threats, by using hurtful attacks. This is where it went from “dark comedy borderline trick” to “total disaster”.

    • KikiJiki says:

      Sending malicious or threatening communications is illegal in Britain, and can land you in jail. No I’m not making that up. Nobody even has to receive them, the act of sending it is enough.

      • Unaco says:

        So… because it’s “illegal”, that’s a reason to be offended and outraged by it? I take it you were against that guy who made the joke on Twitter about blowing up the Airport as a joke. It was a malicious/threatening communication, surely.

        • KikiJiki says:

          Nope. I think the law as it stands is horribly written, subjective and stupid, but it doesn’t change the legality of sending communications like this. There have been cases already where obvious ‘jokes’ resulted in sentences of several years – the ‘riot inciters’ from last year got 4 years for a facebook post, a young man was arrested and detained for ‘offensive’ tweeting at Tom Daley as well. It’s a shit law.

          Pointing out how monumentally awful this advertising campaign is is good imo – an advertising agency like this should really be aware of the potential repercussions of their campaign.

          • Unaco says:

            I agree that it’s a bad advertising campaign. But why are you outraged and offended by it? Because it’s illegal? That seems to be the only reason you’ve given.

          • KikiJiki says:

            I’m not outraged or offended personally, though I can understand why people would be given that it’s trying to make a funny out of something quite seriously looked down upon by the law here in the UK.

          • mondomau says:

            Not to detract from the general crass stupidity of this campaign, but I think you’re mixing up ‘what people are actually bothered by’ and ‘what interfering law-makers and screeching Daily Mail pundits want you to be bothered by’.

    • bwion says:

      I am outraged and offended by abject stupidity. It’s about the only thing I am outraged and offended by.

      And this marketing campaign was really, really stupid.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      For me it’s that the insults are sexualised (breasts, waist, hairy legs) and concern discourses that are used to marginalise women by placing importance on their breasts, waist size, physical attractiveness. These are misogynist discourses as they concern a womans attractiveness, presenting the purpose of women as being there to please men and their (portrayed) failure to do so through small breast size, muffin top, not shaving legs etc. as a reason for insult. To put it a better way presenting having small breasts as a matter for insult perpetuates the harmful social attitude that a woman should have big breasts as these are attractive to men and the purpose of women is to please men.

      I’m aware that there is a similar set of insults for men that you might try to justify this with, so to prempt this I would say that A) Yeah it perpetuates unhelpful attitudes about men and this is shit as well, B) Men are much less socially marginalised so the discourses that the male insults perpetuate are less problematic and C) Men are not objectified as being valuable only in their ability to please women in social discourse so the male insults do not perpetuate this as a harmful social attitude.

  23. dE says:

    I’ll say it here, loud and clear: If someone puts a “hit” on my head, I’ll take it serious. Death Threats and Cyberbullying aren’t a joke. So I’m not going to see them as one and instead contact local police and talk to them about the death threats I’ve received.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      This is going to be one massive fucking awkward moment down at the local nick.

      • dE says:

        Death Threats are not funny. Never are. Neither is cyberbullying. I’m fully aware that a lot of people seem to think “no harm done” but the psychological harm done by bullshit like death threats and cyberbullying is massive and dangerous. I’ve seen the damage things like this can do and I’m taking it serious.
        Case in point, I’ve received death threats in the past and contacted police about it. Lo and behold, there actually was an awkward moment. When the person that wrote them had a little talk with the police himself.

        • Premium User Badge

          Crimsoneer says:

          Don’t get me wrong, I agree completely. And cyber-bullying absolutely should be dealt with by the police, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to help. But I’m still not sure I’d actually qualify this as a credible death threat. But yes, they will most definitely have a few stern words, although I’m sure they’ll moan about it.

        • duchessprozac says:

          Talk about a disproportionate response. Reporting someone for death threats you know damn well aren’t real is a really dickish thing to do. This can be used to bully people, but if people who are not otherwise bullying you are sending it to you and you know it’s not a real threat, having them picked up by the plod makes you a bit of a prick.

          • Nim says:

            “Know your audience” comes to mind.

          • dE says:

            Why is it that while physical assaults are always blamed on the attacker, mental assaults are blamed on the victim? For reference, a broken bone caused by a kick heals in months. Depression caused by bullying takes years to heal – and maybe never will heal. There are no “it was only a joke, sheesh” excuses for broken bones. There shouldn’t be for broken psyche either.

            Yet someone subjected to mental assaults (to quote some of the replies and put them into perspective):
            - is a bit of a prick for seeking help against assaults.
            - is wasting the time of the police for trying to defend themselves without resorting to violence as well.
            - is a real dick towards the poor and innocent attacker.

            This thing is directly taking someone’s profile picture and integrates it into the kill message. This is reaching directly into someones privacy, down to the most personal levels. It then proceeds with insults aimed at things people are culturally trained to be very conscious about. Followed by a terminated message. All packaged in one neat little death threat package and the suggestion that you hired an actual hitman to kill said person. This isn’t broken bones, this is a called shot to the solar plexus.

            So no, I’m not going to sue anyone over this. I don’t use facebook so I’m kinda immune to this. But I’ve allowed myself to a little social experiment here, based on personal experiences I’ve had with Death Threats in the past. The important thing is, that defense from bullying shouldn’t count as a disproportionate reaction. The other impotant thing is, you are damaging someone else, even if that person reckognizes it as a joke. As I said, there is no “just a joke” excuse for a broken bone. There isn’t one for mental attacks either.

          • Premium User Badge

            Malibu Stacey says:

            Just want to say well said dE.

          • mondomau says:

            Jesus fucking christ, you need your head adjusted. I can’t find fault with any part of your tirade, it’s all true when you’re talking about something other than a social networking app that is clearly linked to a Video Game about murdering people for fun.

            There are many things to criticise here, and valid points to be made about bullying and crass stupidity of PR goons, but I think banging on about involving the police and then clambering up on your soapbox is a little over the top.

          • duchessprozac says:

            dE, I never said a victim of cyberbullying or death threats is a prick for reporting it. I said someone who reports something they know is most likely a joke is a prick. Stop trying to twist what people said.

            Also, I’ve been a victim of bullying and death threats, along with people attempting to act on the threats for most of my life and whilst I wouldn’t like to receive one of these stupid, ill-thought messages, I have something called common-sense which stops me from attempting to ruin other people’s lives over what they thought would be a good joke to play on me.

          • dE says:

            Couple of questions:
            So magically, everyone that receives this message is aware it is meant as a joke? It’s a marketing campaign, what are the chances it’s directed towards people in the know? And because it is a “Joke”, sheesh it’s okay? Why the dichotomy between physical and mental assaults?

            Couple of points:
            It doesn’t matter if something is a Joke or not, as that doesn’t change the damage. I’m sorry, calling someone let’s say a Pansy and then laughing about it and continuing with a “Just kidding”, doesn’t lessen the impact at all. I made this example because the references in the dropdown menu of the app were similarly themed.
            And ruining someone’s life over this, which doesn’t happen – they’re mostly given a warning, would however be karmic in nature. As these “jokes” certainly can ruin the life of the victim. Please keep in mind, that this is also not “just” a death threat or “just” some bullying, this incorporates someone’s profile picture into an assassination scene. It’s something very personal and thus hard hitting.

        • Berzee says:

          “the psychological harm done by death threats is massive and dangerous…Case in point, I’ve received death threats in the past”

          Ah.

      • gwathdring says:

        I know nothing of dE’s social context, but some food for thought: even “just among friends” jokes can turn into bullying. I had a friend in high school who got picked on by our friend group. It started as just “jokes among friends” but over a few years I started getting really uncomfortable with it where before I simply didn’t participate. He ended up getting really hurt by it and I didn’t do nearly enough to help (made worse by me being the only one who ever stood up for the guy at all). If everyone says the same jokingly mean things about a specific person over and over and over … there’s a point where it stops seeming like a joke. Not exactly like a joke, at least. There’s a point where it becomes otherizing. Sometimes people own that and encourage that; the friend that WANTS to be seen as the crazy, stupid Wildcard and encourages that stereotype at every turn … but even then it isn’t necessarily sought for healthy reasons.

        Sure there are times when police action (or earlier in life, action by school officials) is less applicable than one-to-one communication. But sometimes you just don’t have anyone else you can go to who will take the issue seriously.

    • captainparty says:

      Wasting police time is also illegal, so I’m going to report you to the police

  24. Utsunomiya says:

    It’s still better than the Mountain Dudebro one.
    I am so going to place some hits.

  25. Spoon Of Doom says:

    I think it’s really not okay to use Ms. Madeupname’s name and account out here in a public article. Did you even ask her?

    Edit: Removed embarassing typo. Is “poor spelling in RPS comments” a reason to get someone assassinated?

  26. Premium User Badge

    Thirith says:

    They’re probably aiming for edgy humour, but instead it comes across as adolescent and sniggering. Well, from what I’ve seen there’s a good chance this represents the game rather well. Not so much “Ban this filth!” as simply put off by the sheer snide tackiness.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. It’s almost got that cheerfully-insulting-birthday-card quality about it, awkwardly married to “I hope you die!” and a stylistically grimy and unpleasant game.

  27. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    “Square Enix aren’t having a brilliant Winter.
    With profits pointing downward, and Hitman a bit of a stinker /…/”

    Thought that was the beginning of a rhyme post. Was disappointed.

    I find this mildly offensive, but mostly lame. The sexist vibe is a bummer. :/

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah, Sexist Vibe’s last few albums have all been going downhill.

  28. MarcP says:

    So, a poorly done and offensive “je tue un ami” spoof. Well done, Square Enix. Living at the edge of innovation.

  29. QualityJeverage says:

    I quite enjoyed Absolution.

    Thanks for making me look like a twat Square.

  30. Sulaco says:

    Pardon my French, but what the fucking fuck?

  31. woodsey says:

    Just so we’re clear, the reasons for the ‘hit’ that you listed are pre-defined ones that they list for you, that’s not you messing and in reality you can just type in any reason you want, right?

    Because if so… fucking hell.

    EDIT: Nevermind, just saw it in the screenshot. If I were to cringe any harder right now I think I’d lose brain cells – and I’ve lost enough already from just hearing about this.

    • The Random One says:

      Pretty sure that if you could type anything John would have written “disastrously offensive marketing”.

      • NathanH says:

        Unless the only option was “gobshite apologist for sexism”, perhaps.

        • QualityJeverage says:

          Words like “gobshite” are at least 70% of the reason I venture into the comments on RPS.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Oh but “gobshite” was a featured word in an actual article!

  32. karen says:

    No sexism in video games y’all! Its truly the most egalitarian hobby, and furthermore,

  33. MiniMatt says:

    Last year a bloke got four years in prison for suggesting on Facebook that folks should have a riot in McDonalds (nobody turned up).

    Now I’m not suggesting that court case and this marketing campaign are directly comparable, there are all sorts of problems with that, least of all being I was not the judge nor jury in said trial and therefore don’t know anything about it beyond the screaming headlines.

    But suggesting a riot on facebook and suggesting a hit on facebook – it is sort of similar if you really squint hard. And I seem to recall the “but it was a joke I didn’t mean it” defence not working out in the former scenario.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I’m a bit aware that I’ve hit the hyperbole button with considerable force there so I’m tempted to backtrack a little.

      Nevertheless threats on the internet are threats on the internet. Whether they’re threatening or not is entirely down to context. The context in the above mentioned case obviously being widespread rioting less likely to engender the “it was a joke” defence being believable. Although the “Twitter Joke Trial” whereby it took three appeals to quash a conviction of making a bad joke within 140 characters of an airport highlights that context can become distorted in the minds of the legal system.

      Still, responsibility obviously lies with the sender and not Squenix as an enabler. The only thing they’d be guilty of is really really questionable marketing.

      • KikiJiki says:

        The thing is, the hyperbole is scarily close to the truth of how these cases seem to be viewed by the legal system in the UK. The Malicious Communications Act 2003 (think it’s that one, anyone knowing better can feel free to correct me) is horrendously written and doesn’t seem to allow for any sort of leeway. You send something ‘malicious or offensive’ and you’re potentially in the shit, whether the intended recipient saw it or not.

        • Lanfranc says:

          Just a couple of weeks ago, a guy in Kent was arrested for posting a picture of a burning Remembrance Day poppy on Facebook. So, yeah.

      • Groove says:

        I actually thought you were pretty light on the hyperbole there.

        Imagine if someone that received one of these message was murdered or went missing. It’s tiny odds, but holy fucking shit, just imagine the fallout on that one.

  34. Medicine says:

    Target: Squeenix’s Marketing Department
    Reason: One too many hits on the ol’ crack pipe; crimes against comedy, etc.

  35. NathanH says:

    I hope there isn’t a “His Big Ears” one because if all my friends find out about that I’ll be getting spammed with hits, no doubt.

  36. zachforrest says:

    Bizarre.

    I don’t want to seem glib…but isn’t being bullied over Facebook like walking voluntarily into a zoo of animals you don’t like and have them throw shit at you?

    • NathanH says:

      Opting out of facebook is probably quite annoying in many social circles, I guess.

    • monkeybars says:

      No, because humans aren’t animals. Being bullied over Facebook is like walking voluntarily into a classroom and then being mercilessly berated by your peers there.

      Should someone have to shut down their Facebook profile, which they use to communicate with their friends and has pretty much become as standard as owning a cellphone in 2012, because other people are being assholes? Wouldn’t it make more sense to deal with the assholes? Or should we lock every innocent victim in jail to keep them safe from their attackers?

      • wr0ng1 says:

        “humans aren’t animals”

        Erm, yes we are. Primates to be specific:

        Domain: Eukaryota
        Kingdom: Animalia
        Phylum: Chordata
        Subphylum: Vertebrata
        Class: Mammalia
        Subclass: Theria
        Order: Primates
        Suborder: Arthropoidea
        Family: Hominidae
        Genus: Homo
        Species: H. sapiens
        Subspecies: H. s. sapiens

        • monkeybars says:

          Thanks for the science lesson, tips. And the c+v from Wikipedia, must’ve taken you a whole 10 seconds to beef up that post and make you seem smarter. But semantics hardly helps anyone’s argument here, let alone yours. Hey, what do we keep in zoos? Is it animals? I bet it is. Do we keep humans in zoos? No? So you’re telling me that although humans are, technically, animals, we still use the term “animal” to distinguish between non-human animals and human animals?

          What a not crazy, completely normal thing I did.

          • hello_mr.Trout says:

            jails = human zoo

          • monkeybars says:

            Yes, what an apt comparison you have made, xXAnarchySheepleXx. I always like to take my kids to the jail and go see the exhibits. I heard the new cannibal pavilion is great.

        • Lanfranc says:

          Or sometimes more like “Subspecies: H. s. disputativus” around here.

      • SavageTech says:

        Should we curtail people’s freedom of speech because some people choose bad friends and put up with their bullshit instead of standing up for themselves?

        Jesus Harold Christ on a rubber crutch, this isn’t hard. If someone is an asshole to you, then stop being their friend. Facebook makes this even easier; with a couple clicks you can make sure you never see any of their ill-mannered personal attacks for the rest of your life. That way you can keep your Facebook account and not put up with harassment. Problem solved.

        I was bullied as a kid and I think the increased awareness of the problem is a good thing, but after a certain point the “anti-bullying” movement becomes utterly ridiculous. Nobody deserves to be constantly harassed or made to feel inadequate, but completely sheltering people from reality isn’t going to help them in the long run. It’s far better to give people the tools to deal with bullying than to try and remove all possibility of bullying because the latter is impossible.

        • monkeybars says:

          I never said anything about removing the program entirely in my post, like you’re inferring. Though I do think it’s irresponsible for a company offer a platform to encourage it.

  37. NathanH says:

    Maybe they could set it up so that you can only target someone who display their age and is over 18. I have no idea about how easy doing that is. But if it was restricted to murdering over-18s only it probably wouldn’t be too bad to me.

    • AndreasBM says:

      It is adults only.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      I don’t have any friends under 18 on my fbook to test it on, but would an app be allowed to get age related information off a person who hadn’t opted into it, i.e. the recipient?

  38. JackDandy says:

    Man, I’m not what you would describe as politically correct but this ad campaign is just dumb as hell

  39. Premium User Badge

    harvb says:

    This is in shocking poor taste.

  40. AndreasBM says:

    The video is incredibly well made, and it is of course only for adults – I think it’s pretty hilarious.

    I used to think the semi-subjectiveness on RPS was pretty great, but you’re kind of running in circles with this. We get it, you don’t like Absolution, you didn’t like the Saints trailer, but now you’re reporting on little FB-apps? And come on, it’s not that bad, it just seems you’re grabbing every chance you have to stomp on Squenix and Hitman.

  41. qizarate says:

    Relevant:

    “By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now.” (Bill Hicks)

  42. Eddy9000 says:

    Sorry, just managed to get onto the website, I stand corrected on my previous post.

    • Adam Smith says:

      It is a drop-down menu and those are the options.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Yeah no, changed my post as soon as I managed to log onto it (before I saw your reply) or else I would have let my original stand and used an EDIT to correct it in case anyone else made the same misinterpretation. That really is tasteless marketing.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Ronin2.0 says:

    *BEEP* Hello? Hi, this is Richard from Hotline Miami business consulting. We should be sending someone along shortly for a consultation with Agent 47 and Square Enix. *CLICK*

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Haha I’m loving that game. Would be more like “Hi this is Miami pest control. There’s been a severe outbreak of cockroaches in the Square-Enix marketing department; our last agent was not up to the job and it requires finishing. Our client has requested the utmost discretion”.

  44. unangbangkay says:

    As moronic as this campaign is, it’s par for the course…for EIDOS. Eidos’ less-than-stellar reputation marketing-wise has been long known.

    And yet I see on various forums and unmoderated comment threads, some of the anger’s being directed at Square Enix because “this is the way things are marketed to Japanese otaku”. Ugh.

    Certainly SE bears some of the responsibility for not acting to excise some of the ill culture following their acquisition, but accusations like the above are revisionism at its worst.

  45. bwion says:

    Aside from the other, um, brilliant aspects of this thing, I give it, oh, a day, tops, before someone gets the bright idea of sending one of these to someone famous (or, heaven help us, a political leader) and then the FBI and the Secret Service and whoever else descends upon Square-Enix like a horde of locusts.

    I suppose it would very effectively raise awareness of this Hitman game or whatever.

    I don’t really get marketing.

    • wr0ng1 says:

      I was considering it, but am still waiting for Boris Johnson to accept my facebook invite.

  46. LookingAfterBags says:

    I liked it

  47. Eddy9000 says:

    Hey, just out of interest would it be possible to add links to stories like this for the company’s feedback or complaints department so that action can be taken by your readers more easily? Not sure if it would cross a line between your notions of journalism,politicism or neutrality but thought I would ask.

  48. Marik Bentusi says:

    Is this from the same brain that came up with EA’s ads for Dead Space 2 and Dante’s Inferno?

    • X_kot says:

      Gah, why’d you have to remind me?! Can’t…forget…awful…marketing stunts…

  49. Juicetin says:

    I don’t understand how publishers, PR firms and advertising agencies think these sorts of tactics are acceptable just because they are appealing to a gaming market.

    Then again, which industry doesn’t suffer with these sorts of problems? Just because Rihanna’s latest video/album/single is totally tasteless we don’t assume that all music is a thinly veiled attempt to create a popularly acceptable synthesis of pornography and pop.

    I think if we’re to object to the unfortunate marketing methods employed by the games industry we should do this in the spirit of feminism, equality and humanitarianism – not merely as disgruntled gamers who find their hobby misrepresented. Reject booth babes because the practice debasing and vile, not because they’re making your past time look less high brow. The same has to be said of idiotic campaigns like this one which will inevitably have serious consequences for some – stand against online bullying and sexism because these practices are unacceptable and shouldn’t be encouraged. Saying ‘we’re gamers and we’re not idiots’ is not in any way helpful because it makes gamers seem more concerned with their collective image than serious and worrying behaviour like this.