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Opinion

New Hitman Facebook App Promotes Bullying

Stupidity knows no bounds.

In the couple of hundred emails I get most days, I filter out most of the silly bits and pieces. The transparent or unoriginal marketing ploys and the numerous pleas for Kickstarter promotion get ignored. The single image teasers are cast aside and the white noise of overtly sexual poker apps for mobile devices and PCs are closed without response. But every now and then, something arrives that’s a little bit too bizarre to avoid.

Today, an email came through from Square Enix. It’s a standard second phase promotion that they’re doing with a little Facebook application to try to get people to buy Hitman: Absolution. The headline reads “SQUARE ENIX WANTS YOU TO PUT A HIT ON YOUR FRIENDS.” Which is aggressively toned enough but might be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek attention grabber for some fun.

Actually, the email goes on to point out that the app they’re promoting “has its tongue firmly in its cheek, allowing users to input whatever ridiculous reason they want for their friend to be terminated.” Fair enough. Although, if you have to tell us your “experience” is intended to be tongue-in-cheek then you probably haven’t finished refining it yet.

As the promo email said, you can enter whatever “reason” you want for wishing to terminate the lives of your Facebook friends with your tongue in your cheek. You could enter anything you want here. It’s like a cyber bully’s wet dream. First, though, you’ve got to tell your Facebook murderer how they might identify the person you want to terminate.

Again, anything at all can go in this box but let’s have a look at some of the reasons Square Enix suggests with the drop down menus supplied by the app.

  • Shortness.
  • Strange odor.
  • Silly hair.
  • Ginger hair.
  • Huge gut.
  • Awful make-up.
  • Big ears.
  • Eye bags.
  • Her hairy legs.
  • Bad tattoos.

I chose something for Kris which was obviously untrue, because I love Kris and I didn’t want him to think I might be serious about bullying him via the internet.

Next, we have to choose a reason why we might want this person killed. I neglected to publicise the real reason I might wish harm on another human being and instead returned to the handy drop down list of reasons Square suggest might lead me to take another human life with my tongue firmly in my cheek. Here’s a small selection of the reasons Square suggests:

  • Smells bad.
  • Laziest person alive.
  • Cheating on their partner. (wow.)
  • Farts too much.
  • Never buys a round of drinks.
  • Small tits.

Again, I chose something that I knew Kris wouldn’t mind me choosing so that my digital attempts to undermine him weren’t taken seriously.

Once you’ve selected a defining characteristic and an annoying habit, you order the hit and the app helpfully encourages you to put out another order to kill someone else. Your former friend will get a message on their wall to let them know you never really liked them anyway and they get to watch a short video which uses their Facebook info to put them in the hands of Square’s assassin.

Of course, this is just the latest in a series of poorly judged attempts by Square Enix to promote their products. At various stages in its run up to retail, they seem to have sorely misjudged the cultural environment they’re going out in front of and the ramifications of what they’re actually demonstrating. A lot of the furore that erupted over their “sexy nuns” trailer made assumptions and jumped to conclusions that were easily grasped but ambiguously intended. This latest app for Facebook surely can’t be seen as anything other than a tactless, clueless promotion of cyber bullying.

Let’s not forget that cyber bullying is a serious issue in this modern, connected world. You only have to read the news semi-regularly to hear stories of young people who have considered self-harm or taken their own lives because of the pressures of bullying over the internet and, “tongue-in-cheek” or not, this is a tool which could very easily be used to cause emotional distress to others. In fact, Square Enix seems to be encouraging that.

So, let’s all point at the gingers, the smelly, lazy, eye-bagged freaks with big ears and tiny penises. Those who wear “awful” make-up or have small tits. Let’s all highlight the idiosyncracies and physical traits that people we profess to be friends with might have insecurities about. Let’s all point at people who have minor differences to us and tell them we wish they were dead.

It’s okay, it’s ONLY A JOKE LOL!

Update 1: It looks like the app might already have been taken down – the link in the PR email no longer directs to the contract-killing simulator.

Update 2: Square Enix has emailed around a statement regarding this app:

Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.

We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we’ve now done.

We’re sorry for any offence caused by this

Well done to the PR team for realising when something was wrong and taking swift and decisive action to remove the problem.

16 Comments
  1. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    dear o dear, that is poor.

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 15:28.
  2. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Picking on gingers. Won’t be buying any more of your games you tosspots.

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 15:30.
    • Bilbo_bobbins
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      do you like Ginger nuts Tuffcub?

      Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 16:16.
  3. skibadee
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    terrible idea.

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 15:31.
  4. Nismo400R84
    Member
    Since: Aug 2012

    Sounds like something for Jeremy Kyle

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 15:44.
  5. bigbaldwolf
    Member
    Since: Mar 2012

    I’m glad it’s been pulled already. It was a stupid idea to begin with

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 15:53.
  6. bmg_123
    Member
    Since: Feb 2012

    Sounds like Square need to sack their PR boss…

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 16:02.
  7. avengerrr
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    Idiots, I’d love to see which excuse for a marketing man came up with that idea lol

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 16:22.
  8. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    This is actually a bit sick.

    There’s been a lot of attention in Ireland to cyber-bullying lately, with a few tragic cases of teenagers taking their own lives over it.

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 16:29.
  9. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    …Well thats me put off from buying the game, thanks Eidos.

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 17:08.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Me too.

      Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 17:14.
      • avengerrr
        Member
        Since: Oct 2012

        To be honest, I don’t bother with this game because of these kind of principles anyway. I don’t really need a disgusting app which basically is microcosm for Hitman’s themes to show me or put me off.

        I’m surprised out how many people are responding to this with disgust o.0 most puzzling.

        Comment posted on 05/12/2012 at 00:47.
  10. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I’ll be buying the game so I can beat the Square Enix staff to death with it. Suck my irony!

    Seriously, though, what a truly tragic way to try and promote something. I can see how the initial idea came up as friends can usually take ribbing but why didn’t someone simply stop and think things through? It should’ve been stopped the moment the idea was passed onto someone with a brain. :-\

    Comment posted on 04/12/2012 at 17:18.

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