Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Splinter Cell Takes Viral Marketing To Another Level

It started with a tweet.

"www.splintercell.com has been hacked. We are trying our best to resolve the situation and will update ASAP."

Splinter Cell, a popular espionage video game franchise from game studio Ubisoft Montreal, is set to release its latest game in the first quarter of 2010, and an interesting viral marketing campaign has been launched to help promote it.

The first stage of this viral marketing campaign? Let's take down the website. While every attempt has been made to make it seem as though the video game's official website has been hacked by a third party, investigative minds have demonstrated that this is likely a ploy to hype the game. And I say it's a good one.

The website opens with Russian characters and appears to be loading a new page. Nothing happens. If you check the page source code (and I swear I'm not nerdy enough to think of doing this myself), the code says the following:
Th!s S!T3 hä¢KeD ߥ VL@d69
M3M0RY l3@K C0nfirm3d
c0nfID3N7i@L d@t@ c3r7ifi3d
Unix D@7@ f0ld3R Sc-hack/2009
http://bit.ly/6M12tE
V0r0n v2.1.f
If you click on the bit.ly link, it will lead you to an ASCII image of a raven. One supposes this is the symbol of the supposed hacker group.

While many viral web campaigns launch another website on which to toy with its audience, using the official Splinter Cell site for this purpose, and maintaining that a group of real-world hackers are responsible, adds another level of intrigue to the campaign.

The ongoing (fake) website hack is being chronicled through the Ubisoft Twitter account. A new tweet this morning says the hackers are now targeting the rest of Ubisoft.com. Interesting!

You've got my attention, Ubisoft. I really want to see how the rest of this viral marketing soap opera plays out.