So…if you were trying to sell a video game, would laying a gutted, nearly decapitated dead animal out in front of journalists be the first thing that sprang to mind?
If you’re Sony, apparently the answer is "yes"—and now Sony Computer Entertainment has apologized for using a decapitated goat as part of a marketing stunt in Greece last month. The event—which also featured knife throwing, live snakes, and topless women dropping grapes into guests’ mouth—was designed to promote the adults-only launch of its God of War II video game title, which is based loosely on ancient Greek myths.
The dead goat was set up as an attraction at a launch party aimed at journalists and other members of the gaming press. Gusts were invited to reach into the bowels of the just-slaughtered goat and eat what they pulled from its abdominal cavity in what has been described as a Fear Factor-like test of fortitude. According to Sony Computer Entertainment spokesperson Dave Karraker, the insides of the goat were actually a traditional Greek soup, rather than raw entrails.
Images of the launch event—featuring images of the goat (with its head hanging by bits of cartilage and tissue), the topless models, and a male model dressed as the game character Kratos—appeared in this month’s edition of Sony’s PlayStation magazine. Subscribers who received copies of the magazine prior to it hitting newstands alerted animal rights activists and video game critics about the images and the goat.
In response, Sony has pulled the entire print run of PlayStation magazine. In a statement, Sony said: "On this occasion we recognize that we fell short of our normal high standards of conduct and apologize for any offense caused. We are conducting an internal inquiry into the circumstances of the event in order to learn from the occurrence and put in place measures to ensure that this does not happen again." Karraker said the animal had been purchased from a local butcher by the Greek company organizing the event, and was returned to the butcher after the event. Sony says it is determining which Sony employees approved the festivities.
Since its introduction in mid-March, Sony has sold over 800,000 copies of God of War II.