It turns out the San Francisco Water Board gets a bit testy when you dump 10,000 balloons in the local bay.
As part of a series of bizarre stunts designed to promote Homefront, TrashTalkFCM – a marketing company working for THQ – released 10,000 red balloons at last year’s Game Developers Conference. The majority of the balloons, which were carrying little notes demanding people pre-order the game at Gamestop, ended up floating in San Francisco Bay, much to the chagrin of the locals.
While Gamestop were quick to wash their hands of the matter; insisting that they had no idea what THQ had in mind for the event, TrashTalkFCM took responsibility for the incident and helped with the cleanup operation. That didn’t stop the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board from issuing them a $7000 fine earlier this week, however.
Shortly after the incident took place THQ released a statement insisting the balloons were biodegradable. It did little to placate Bay Area residents.
“It’s still trash,” said one resident. “It’s biodegradable over time, but a bird can still get entangled in it right now. A sea lion could be curious about it, bite it and swallow it. It could clog their stomach and cause them to die–right now. Biodegradable takes time to happen.”
So was it worth it? Kind of. Despite negative reviews, low scores and publisher THQ’s stock prices plummeting by 21% the day of its release, Homefront managed to clock up a million sales in its first week. That didn’t stop THQ from shuttering developer Kaos Studio shortly after the game’s launch, however, and there’s been no mention of the planned sequel for quite some time. It does let me work in this totally unsubtle reference to a certain German pop song though, so it’s all good.