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Eat Lead with Matt Hazard

| 3 Oct 2008 21:00
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It turns out fake retro gaming icons make fun marketing ploys.

For those who might be wondering, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is an actual game set to release early next year on Xbox 360 and PS3. However, don't be surprised if you've never heard of the purportedly time-worn franchise that dates back to the early 1980s; it doesn't really exist.

In a hilarious rogue publicity maneuver, D3Publisher has spent quite some time weaving an elaborate back story for its latest gaming endeavor. The company's guerrilla ad campaign revolving around the fictional Matt Hazard borders on absurdity - in a genius sort of way. It lampoons classic videogame franchises and the gaming industry itself in a pleasantly tongue-in-cheek manner.

The intentionally horrendous fansite detailing the entire "history" of the Matt Hazard back catalogue is nearly indistinguishable from any of the slapdash Geocities fansites that cropped up to worship gaming franchises in the not-too-distant past. Followed by a bizarre blog and now a Matt Hazard Facebook page, the strange sequence of stunts finally resulted in actual game announcement.

Fortunately, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is not a complete fabrication, like the marketing blitz surrounding it. In a recent GameSpot interview, D3Publisher's marketing manager Sam Guilloud shed some light on their odd homage to the last 25 years of gaming's history.

"The back catalogue of Matt Hazard assets we've released, including some eyebrow-raising box art, screenshots, websites, and other marketing materials, are here to remind us all of some of the most infamous moments in gaming history," said Guilloud. "As gamers ourselves, our intention has never been to flay sacred cows, but we also know that we're ready for some direct parody of the games and past marketing campaigns we all grew up with. Gaming's a lifelong hobby, so we want to tap into everyone who fondly remembers the milestones we've referenced."

Mission accomplished. The game itself appears to be as wacky and humorously-minded as the promotion efforts behind it. Stay tuned for more Matt Hazard shenanigans next spring.

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