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The Top 7... PR disasters

5. Rule of Rose

The saga of Rule of Rose's downfall in Europe started out promisingly enough. The game's steampunk setting and Grimm's-fairy-tale tone looked appealingly quirky to survival-horror fans, and the idea of sinister children as enemies to the teen heroine made the game seem unique and high-minded. But then disaster struck: the game turned out to be slow, lifeless and dull, and press outlets that didn't savage Rule of Rose outright mostly ignored it. Obviously, desperate measures were needed, and what some suspect began as an effort to stealthily promote the game ended with a continent-wide moral panic and the game's cancellation in Europe.

It's not certain whether the story that sparked Rule of Rose's downward spiral was a publicity stunt or just irresponsible journalism, but here's what we know: sometime prior to the game's release, Italian publisher 505 Games hired Media Hook - an advertising firm known for creating story "hooks" to catch the interest of journalists - to promote the game. Then, on Nov. 10, 2006, Italian newsmagazine Panorama ran Rule of Rose art on its cover with the headline "He who buries the little girl wins."



Above: Sensationalist press led Europeans to react to Rule of Rose slightly worse than Jennifer's reacting to that maggoty rat

The story was a poorly researched piece about the supposed horrors of violent games, but it's notable for three reasons: 1) it focused largely on Rule of Rose, alluding to scenes of extreme violence and underage sexuality that never actually happen in the game; 2) it used several pieces of official Rule of Rose art - not screenshots, mind, but the kind of promotional character art that's generally sent out directly from game publishers; and 3) it drew the attention of several prominent Italian politicians, all of whom were horrified to learn of Rule of Rose and its possible effects on the tiny, innocent babies it was apparently being marketed to.

If the story (or at least its sensationalistic hook) was covertly planted by Media Hook in an effort to bolster sales, as journalist Matteo Bittanti seems to allege in this article, then the strategy backfired spectacularly. The Panorama piece sparked a moral outcry that snowballed across Europe, ultimately forcing 505 Games to bow to public pressure and cancel the release of Rule of Rose outright. It was a powerful lesson in PR gone awry, as well as a sad defeat for the game industry and for freedom of speech - although if it's any comfort to our readers in Europe, you didn't miss much.

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Top 7

24 comments

  • ShokuaHyuga - November 19, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    This is a gloriously shining example of why I hate hackers; you can't enjoy the game as it was meant to be enjoyed, can you, you have to pick through all the locks and find everything that was never meant to be found, assholes. P.S. I remember reading the GameInformer article that Ken Kutaragi quote came from.
  • ImAliveOMG - March 14, 2010 5:59 a.m.

    Hmmm... looks like some people need their comments replyed to by a 12 year old dimwit with A.D.D! @SuperBadnik 360 AND Wii? I understand the 360 part but the Wii!? Although you are right when you say the Wii offers a whole new experience. The whole new experience of... WII MUSIC! W00T! Can you feel the sarcasam in the air yet, son? You sure as hell better. @Vader999 It depends on what game you're playing on what console, you ass. @Cwf2008 Yes it was funny, now go outside and play with your friends so the grown-ups can talk. @Trakx Name 10 good E or E10 rated games for the 360, PS3 or both. How many did you come up with? Exactly. Grow some balls.
  • Vader999 - October 28, 2009 9:05 p.m.

    RickyV300 said: "ps3 is better by far the graphics pwn 360 in the ass" My. Balls. The Xbo 360 was more well recieved because aside from the initial red ring problem, which was fixed by the 2007's end, and it had way better games than the PS3. I dare you to bring up a game for the PS3 that is so damn good that I have to buy one just to get it. Most of the best the PS3 has to offer pales in comparison to the Xbox classics that the 360 offers. Aside from some Japanese PS3 only games, there is little that the PS3 has to offer that the 360 cannot......and there is a lot the 360 can offer that the PS3 cannot. To make it easy and simple......360 just PWNED PS3 in the ASS! It did, it will continue to do so, and it will always be that way!!! YEEHAW!!!!!
  • Cwf2008 - December 10, 2008 1:43 a.m.

    "My favorite TV moment was the September 11 attack." - IGN, June 15, 2006 Was that supposed to be funny? "What the hell is a GamesRadar?" - His immediate reaction after he hears about this article Sounds like China's reaction to Mitt Romney when he disapproved of China's decision to refuse a visa to that one Olympic athelete guy Mitt Romney: That was a bad thing to do. China: "What's a Mitt Romney?"
  • MyGameName - December 10, 2008 12:38 a.m.

    The PS3 was named the BEST BluRay player on the market. For the amount of money it costs, it better be!
  • Y2Ken - November 11, 2008 10:49 a.m.

    But in fairness, this was about PR disasters, and around that time, Sony was making quite a mess of things. Especially seeing as the technology they had was actually pretty darn good. The launch was a PR disaster. Since then, it's been constantly improving, and IMO it is the superior console. Sony just didn't put it across properly. And they're more than making up for it now. Oh, and just to clarify, I'm very much a PS3 gamer.
  • Thequestion 121 - December 10, 2008 9:52 p.m.

    Oh man, those were disasters. I didn't fully realize that the PS3 launch went so horribly wrong.
  • oryandymackie - November 13, 2008 9:50 a.m.

    Hey Kids! Do you want to be a spiky blonde prisoner dancing about the joys of PSP on a VGA camera? AND IT'S POSTED ON......YOUTUBE! Yo mon, dat PSP's got next-gen graphics! DA BOMB!
  • RandyChimp - September 11, 2008 6:47 p.m.

    this isnt really fair, i agree with the other things, but whats games radars problem with ps3? its doin okay now, ive owned it since the UK launch (which sucked, yes!) but all these other things are still crap. PS3 is advancing.
  • key0blade - September 10, 2008 2:56 a.m.

    "Yo dogg! Ya heard? Conglomex-brand Corn Snax be tha bomb-diggety, yo! Y'all can just taste the bio-enhanced Cruntulum-60™ flavor colonies in every crunchy bite. Word... izzle." Hilarious
  • Smeggs - September 10, 2008 1:36 a.m.

    I was waiting for the retard in the video to say "Fo-shizzle my N******"...it wouldn't have been to surprising, that ad was already borderline racist and he was humping a ladder with a santa hat that looked like a sex toy.
  • mentalityljs - August 1, 2009 3:40 a.m.

    Fu*k 360. I'd rather pay $600 on a PS3 and NOT have to deal with all the failures and extended-warranty (more$$$) bullshit that 360 owners had to. Plus, yes, you bump a 360 and your game is fu*ked. No warranty on your game for that, is there? Of course not! But Microsoft not taking action and responibility for things they should, and in a timely manner, for there shitty product is no surprise right? Right! And Microsoft, what a bunch of criminals you are! From the original Xbox release, making people pay extra for a remote and dongle to play DVD's, FU*K YOU! And now, what was an extra few hundred bucks for an HD-DVD drive? Fu*k you once more. Not to mention all the other shit you make people pay for that should be included. Sony fu*ked up, but Microsoft is 9 layers of hell further down from Sony!
  • FETALJUICE - July 28, 2009 4:45 a.m.

    I find it hilarious that Daikitana failed epically to the point where Romero is non-exisistant in the video game world anymore. John Romero had to have seen it coming with all of that overhype and arrogance that he would "make you his bitch". He got what he deserved; a healthy dose of reality. Seriously, who in their right mind would tell their own consumers you would make them their bitch? LOL
  • RickyV300 - July 10, 2009 7:01 a.m.

    ps3 is indeed the lowest bought system but by far the most powerful the 360's bland color pallet and ugly problems make it look horrible really? u bump your 360 when your saving a 100% complete gta 4 and you get scratch ring AND loos of data AND you have to buy the game AGAIN ps3 is better by far the graphics pwn 360 in the ass
  • penguinsrule3 - April 3, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    don't trash on the ps3 so hard, i mean what is microsoft doing about the red ring of death? and wtf was up with nintendo basically abandoning its hardcore fans? sony may have screwed up, but so did everyone else.
  • 044magnumx - March 25, 2009 11:47 p.m.

    i hate hackers
  • musashi1596 - January 22, 2009 6:27 p.m.

    It's a bit unfair to take such a dig at sony when you consider the way they apologised for the delayed launch.
  • tofu294 - December 31, 2008 3:04 a.m.

    all I want for christmas is a set of ear-plugs so I don't have to hear his song!
  • Trg564 - September 9, 2009 12:22 p.m.

    When they release the PS4, they really should keep Kutaragi somewhere he can never say anything about stuff by sony
  • killemall - March 27, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    AAaaa, poor sony...you got pwnd. I also weep for Daikatana, why did you remind me?

Showing 1-20 of 24 comments

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