My Blood Boils, in Theory

Via Joystiq, we sort of learn that it may be possible that Sony slaughtered a goat as part of a promotional event for their new greek mythology-based platformer, God of War II. To be more specific, at a press event held at the Parthenon in Greece they slaughtered a goat by cutting its throat, leaving the head to dangle by a thread, then sliced open its stomach and had actors and guests feat on the offal within. The party also allegedly featured topless women serving guests by feeding them peeled grapes.

First let me say: Disgusting! Barbaric! I had been considering buying God of War II, but if this is story is true I can promise you I will never play it. Moreover, I have heretofore maintained general neutrality in the Sony vs. Microsoft portion of the console war (I love Nintendo, but have been open to the concept of buying a second console once prices come down a bit). If this story is accurate, it pushes me towards buying an XBox 360 rather than a Playstation 3, when the time is right.

But I'm not really sure the story is accurate. On the one hand, the story seems over-the-top. Topless women I can believe; that's par for the course in video game marketing. But slaughtering a goat? Eating the offal from its stomach? Really? On the other hand, the article at least paints a plausible picture for how it could happen: Sony turned regional marketing for the game over to an independent Greek company, which took things out of hand. Said Greek company may have incorrect ideas about what sort of images it is appropriate to associate with a multinational electronics conglomerate. The story then got reported by another outsourced Sony project, Official UK Playstation Magazine, which is ostensibly the source for the Daily Mail's article.

But here's the thing: If this really happened, it was the world's quietest press event. This event supposedly happened a month ago, yet we're only hearing about it now? What's more, and this is what I consider the most suspicious, there are absolutely no accounts on the internet about this event other than the Daily Mail article and articles that link to the Daily Mail as a source. The Mail article, in turn, appears to be based entirely on a phantom issue of Official UK Playstation Magazine which, according to the article, was recalled before it hit news stands. Now, allegedly, issues of the magazine have already been mailed to subscribers, so maybe confirmation will start to arrive in people's mailboxes over the next few days.

Still, suspicious! If this were a press event, you'd expect for a few press accounts to exist, or even a press release. Instead, the first the world learned of it was in a second-hand account of a photo spread from the news pages of a magazine that hasn't been distributed to the public yet.

It is possible, though, that all of the existing press accounts are in Greek, which would explain their not showing up on google searches. Perhaps news of the event managed to stay in Greece until Official UK Playstation Magazine reported on it for the first time in the English language. I suppose it's possible. I'm less sure that it's likely.

At the same time, the Daily Mail seems to really be sticking its neck out if this is a fake story. The Daily Mail may be a tabloid, and thus prone to sensationalism, but there are a lot of very specific claims made about Sony's behavior that would expose them to Britain's harsh libel laws. Moreover, the photo included at least looks like a Playstation Magazine-style layout. I'm particularly swayed by the inclusion of the Playstation logo in the corner; if the Daily Mail has created a mock-up of an OPM photo spread, including the actual Playstation logo is an open invitation to Sony to sue them for however much its heart desires.

The fact that we haven't heard anything official from Sony yet other than what's in the Mail article makes me very skeptical. I would say this story is slightly more likely to be false than true. Nonetheless, I am conditionally outraged.

UPDATE: Goat sacrifice confirmed. According to Sony, the party did happen, and there was a dead goat involved. However, the goat was slaughtered beforehand, not as part of the festivities, nobody actually feasted on the goat's offal, or entrails, or anything actually from the goat. Rather, they were served a meat soup that they referred to as offal, sorta like that game at Halloween parties where they pass the peeled grapes around and pretend they're eyeballs. The goat was apparently returned to the butcher from whence it came after the party.

So: Dead goat, yes. Slaughtered on-site, no. Offal, no. Topless serving women, yes. I still fundamentally object to the use of a slaughtered goat as a centerpiece for a PR event, but other than the apparent blood and gore involved I suppose it's not fundamentally different than a suckling pig. I also object to the topless women. I still plan on not buying God of War II as a result of this, but I may hold off on universal Sony condemnation. Your mileage may vary, though.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on April 29, 2007 11:09 AM.

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