If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check out Matt’s article entitled “Why can’t Sony do anything right?“. Now, as I do respect Matt’s opinion, I would just like to take a few minutes and explain why he’s wrong. Now even though I think Matt is wrong about his overall view, he does have a few facts in his article, and I’ll start there.
The ugly truth is Sony has handled the ARG (Alternate Reality Game) side of District 9 pretty badly. They began it back in August 2008 by launching MNUSpreadsLies.com, D-9.com and MultiNationalUnited.com. At first I was crazy about it. I read everything I could on all the websites and then I waited. Waiting days turned into weeks, which turned into months. I would actually play off the lack of updates by saying “Well, it comes out in August ’09, so don’t be worried . . . soon enough we’ll be searching away”. Soon enough came 6 months later.
Now, that’s the bad side of District 9. What you need to know, and what Matt neglects to make his point, is that a viral campaign consists of many aspects- videos, websites, signs, etc. An ARG is only one part of the viral. District 9’s ARG is weak and there’s no denying that, but their viral campaign is tremendously good.
Sony has billboards up in major cities and other advertisements likewise, and that is what I consider to be the essential aspect of a viral campaign. Sony also does break the fourth wall (meaning they reference reality – that it’s a game – within their game) on every website. Although I don’t agree with it, I understand why Sony did it. When they released the first trailer they put the website “D-9.com” on it. Had they not broken the fourth wall, everyone going to D-9.com would’ve been confused out of their mind.
Matt continues on by bashing the Angels and Demons viral campaign, which in my opinion wasn’t much of a viral campaign so I wouldn’t have bashed it as such. Then he moves on to 2012, a movie which is releasing in November. Matt complains about the lack of updates with District 9, but then he bashes 2012’s campaign . . . which was updated almost weekly (although ironically its in a lull). He also neglects to mention the very well designed websites both the District 9 and 2012 ARG’s include, they’re beautifully done. And Matt, wait until the movie comes out before you start complaining about the plot. Who knows how they’ll keep people alive, why don’t you wait to find out.
In the end, Matt says he’s bashing Sony’s viral campaigns, but he’s not, he’s bashing their ARGs. He neglects the positive points to show you the negatives.
Go take a walk in a garden and look at the more beautiful things in life.
Nicholas S. Butler
Nicks final thoughts… While it is true Sony has some problems operating ARG-style websites, their viral campaigns are working. I mean, why else would the L.A. Times be writing a story on it. Billboards and other signs gets people talking, hence, viral campaign. Oh yeah, follow me on twitter!