THQ held an event during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to advertise their upcoming game, Homefront. It didn?t go over so big with environmentalists. Many of the 10,000 balloons, simulating those released in South Korea as a political statement, fell into the Pacific waters of the Bay.
Homefront, a first person-shooter video game, revolves around an invasion of the US by North Korean troops armed with nuclear weapons. THQ organized a mock rally of people demonstrating against the North Korean regime and the treatment of its citizens. The publicity stunt for the soon-to-be?released new Xbox game turned the event into a publicity blunder.
The original balloon brigade supposedly consisted of balloons containing messages of hope from South Koreans to their northern neighbors. North Korea characterized those balloons differently, saying they carryied anti-North Korean messages to their citizens, and the communist country threatened to fire across the border at anyone sending helium balloons their way.
The less revolutionary message carried in the THQ balloons was an offer from GameStop. Gamers, however, would have to take to the water to retrieve the wind and rain downed balloons floating around Pier 14 if they wanted to grab the prize.
Rod Fujita, a senior oceans scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund was "flabbergasted" watching the balloons drop into the bay. "I never expected to see something like this in San Francisco, where there’s such concern about the bay and pollution" the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Amy Ricard, a spokeswoman for the environmental group Save the Bay agreed saying, "…this is just polluting and littering,"
GameStop quickly distanced themselves from the criticism that spread on Facebook and Twitter saying: "The balloon drop stunt in San Francisco was created by THQ … and Game-Stop had no prior knowledge of it." THQ had a statement of their own defending their actions which said the balloons "were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable," "with no history of causing environmental pollution." However, they began corrective action: "We’ve retained a clean up crew to remove any potential lingering debris."
Well, whether you don?t care, or you think the potential pollution is a bad thing, you are now very aware of a new game coming from THQ ? and wasn?t that the point of it all?