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First-Person Shooter Gimmick Backfires, Peeves Environmentalists

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Agoura Hills-based video game empire THQ's big plans for promoting its latest first-person shooter game turned out being the epic fail of this week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

About 10,000 red balloons were released into stormy skies Wednesday afternoon, according to SFist.

Each balloon contained a GameStop coupon for the game, Homefront, however, the balloons were quickly swept out to the San Francisco Bay by the prevailing winds. The highly visible promotion-gone-wrong drew immediate criticism. The SF Bay was named the nation's first wildlife refuge back in the 1860's, after all. The gimmick "destroyed the ecosystem," according to one blog.

"Your recent aerial spamming stunt in San Francisco was appalling and absolutely outrageous," a Facebook user named Teresa Aguilera wrote on GameStop's page, noted CNET. "Latex is biodegradable only after six months, which means the people and wildlife of San Francisco will be reminded of your irresponsibility far after the 'buzz' has faded away for you and your heinous video game."

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THQ contacted our sister site SFist with quick damage control, claiming they were sending out cleaning crews and that the balloons were "made from a 100% organic product and are 100% biodegradable." The balloons were meant to the balloon launch was meant to simulate "a method used by South Korea to send messages of hope to the North," according to THQ. Kind of like "Red Dawn" except substituting North Koreans for Russians.

Proving that even an epic fail of a promotion can be good PR, Homefront is killing it in its first week on the shelves, having already set a record with over 200,000 preorders ahead of its March 15 release.