SAN FRANCISCO -- While promoting its upcoming first-person shooter game Homefront at a staged rally, THQ released 10,000 helium-filled propaganda balloons. The only problem is that the balloons quickly came back down and many fell into the San Francisco Bay as it was raining and also because the balloons were weighed down by a Gamestop coupon for a Homefront multiplayer pack with a bonus in-game weapon. Local environmentalists were not amused, calling the stunt "polluting and littering." THQ claimed the balloons "were made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable." Check out this exclusive video of the rally and the balloons as they were released.
Homefront takes gamers to the year 2027 where the North Koreans have invaded the United States using a EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast that has knocked out the electrical grid and infrastructure. The balloons were intended to symbolize a method used by South Korea to send messages of hope to the North. South Korea recently released propaganda balloons into North Korea with leaflets intended to inform North Korean citizens about the uprisings in Egypt that recently toppled its longtime president Hosni Mubarak. North Korea had banned news of the Egyptian revolution and the balloon release prompted Pyonyang to threaten an attack on South Korea if the balloon launches continued. The THQ stunt was part of a staged rally purporting to criticize "North Korea's human rights violations," but in reality, was just a marketing stunt to promote Homefront's March 15th release on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC platforms.
On the sales front, THQ appears to have a hit on its hands, regardless of the balloon release debacle, as Homefront has already pre-sold 200,000 copies ahead of its launch in about two weeks. As part of its GDC marketing efforts, THQ also had a Homefront-marked North Korean food truck serving kKorean BBQ tacos. Any attendee with a GDC badge could walk up and get a taco as well as get a hands-on preview of the game.
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About the Author
John Gaudiosi has been covering videogames for the past 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, CNET, Wired Magazine and CBS.com. He has focused on the convergence of entertainment and videogames for outlets like Video Business, Home Media Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Gamerlive.TV and is also a freelance game columnist for Reuters and writes for outlets like Forbes.com, NVISION, Official PlayStation Magazine, EGM Now, Geek Monthly, PrimaGames.com, and Yahoo! Games. John also serves as the video game expert for NBC in Washington D.C. and has produced videogame documentaries for The History Channel and Starz Entertainment. John was named one of the Top 50 Game Journalists in the world by Next-Gen.biz in 2007. He is the co-author of Scholastic Books' How to Get into Videogames, Prima Publishing's Madden: Twenty Years of Videogame Football and Electronic Arts: The Official History.