Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Halo: Reach Viral Marketing Campaign
It looks like Xbox Canada is having a viral marketing Campaign for Halo: Reach, similar to the one they held for Halo 3: ODST that we partook in detailed here and here.
Yesterday, two things occured:
1) Newsletter subscribers received an email that directed them to this site here. Not only does it announce a public Halo: Reach Canadian launch event on August 28th in Vancouver and September 4th in Toronto respectively, it first describes the gist of the viral campaign itself: to find advanced Covenant patrols with events culminating in, well, something this Saturday at noon in Toronto and at 1:00 pm in Vancouver. Apparently there's the chance to win the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo: Reach Bundle, and Twitter followers will be entered into a draw to win the Legendary Edition of Halo: Reach.
2) Xbox News launched in Canada to much disappointment. The catch, today's episode has Halo: Reach related info in the news ticker:
"0914210-^=1200-34*3 the Covenant is coming...attacks are imminent. A-271214.378.20104**_0 Gamers make great soldiers? Study suggests hand-eye coordination, problem solving required in game play, could help develop better soldiers. 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL"
So, what does that mean? Well, right now the current theory is that "0914210" is the launch date for Halo: Reach, and "1200" could be the time for the Toronto mystery event this Saturday. "34*3" could refer to 343 Industries, but I checked Halo Waypoint and nothing there.
The rest? I'm not sure. I tried using the numbers as coordinates, longitude and latitude, but nothing.
Like last year's campaign, I'll continue to update this post as quickly as I can as more is discovered. If anyone has any additional info, feel free to comment!
Update #1: Looks like the last numbers are the reverse of the first numbers: 0914210 and 012:^.419.0, though I'm not sure what the other numbers represent yet. The number reversal perhaps could hint at Toronto and Vancouver, different ends of the country, but I don't know for sure. I wonder if A-271214.378.20104**_0 might have to do with a UNSC serial number or AI service number?
Update #2: Last night's episode has a slight variation in the news ticker. It now reads:
"0914210 - =1200-34*3 UNSC HAS INTERCEPTED COVENANT MESSAGES...MORE INFO TO COME A-271214.378.20104**_0 PROTECT HUMANITY. JOIN THE UNSC TO DEFEND REACH 0.10.2012: .419.0*-+: UNSC_INTEL"
The difference from the previous days? "^^>@" are all characters now missing from the text.
You can also watch all three episodes of Xbox News below. Perhaps more characters will disappear in tonight's broadcast, and the message will become clearer.
More details as they develop.
Update #3: Thanks to "J" for pointing out that the Twitter site has now been updated with a link to a pic. So where is that location? Toronto? Vancouver? Your guess is as good as mine, as it's devoid of any recognizable landmarks!
Update #4: Last night's episode of Xbox News started by showing the UNSC Tower from the above update, and stated that it's located in Toronto. The pic shown (you can watch the episode below) on Xbox News displayed more of the background, and the location looked very familiar to me.
The ticker now also reads: "0914210 -^=1200-34*3 UNSC CONTROL POINT ESTABLISHED IN TORONTO. LOCATION CLASSIFIED A-271214.378.20104**_0 PREPARE YOURSELF FOR BATTLE - THE UNSC NEEDS YOU 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL"
On the way to work this morning, I took a slight detour and sure enough, the UNSC Tower is located at Queen and Soho. The following pics are taken with my own mobile's camera.
Not shown in the pics, there's a power cord running from the Tower to the parking ticket booth, so I expect the UNSC Tower will have pretty, pretty lights or something tomorrow around noon. Perhaps I should make the trip to downtown on my weekend after all!
Update #5: The Twitter site was updated earlier today with an image of a new UNSC Tower in Vancouver. Akin to the one found in Toronto, you can check it out right here. A more recent tweet has confirmed that details for tomorrow's event will begin arriving via Twitter at noon EST, or more specifically, "Location tweets."
So what does that mean? Sounds like a scavenger hunt of sorts to me!
Tonight's episode of Xbox News (video to come once available) also showcased what appears to be a copy or copies of the Halo: Reach Limited Edition delivered to Xbox Canada, as well as additional pics of the Vancouver Tower. The rest of the episode mainly contained gaming related news for a change, and discussed a kite-flying ban in my childhood park (lousy city of Toronto)!
But back to the Viral Campaign. I'm going to discount the ticker feed numbers as irrelevant right now, and I'm expecting a scavenger hunt tomorrow with copies of the Halo: Reach Limited Edition up for grabs. If I'm right, I'm expecting the winners will need to wait until launch to get their game.
Update #6: You can check out last night's episode of Xbox News below:
I'd like to thank GameShark for the videos, and also to both KowZ and TheBruce for their support and info as well.
So, let's see what happens at noon EST today!
Update #7: It's quite fitting that my 7th update is the one that reveals all, given the franchise in question, is it not?
I met my associate Kedglo at the Queen and Soho UNSC Tower for noon, and while I was in transit, the first Tweet came out at about 11:30 am EST. The contents: Covenant forces spotted along with a set of GPS coordinates. The location: Yonge & Eglinton.
Considering the distance to cover and the time limit that was placed, we weren't going to make it in time. KowZ, TheBruce, and DJ Datz who were going to meet us at the Tower were able to redirect, what with them being in a car and all, so they got to the location in time.
The next location was soon revealed, and thanks to KowZ and his trusty laptop, he was able to inform us it was at Yonge and Bloor. So, Kedglo and I hoofed it there for one nice, long walk, and made it just in time.
We found a line waiting with two purple-shirted gents at the front, the Covenant advance force, handing out items and taking contact info. The items: A UNSC dog tag and Halo: Reach sticker. The info collected: Our name, email, and phone number. The reason: At the launch event on Sept. 4th, present the dog tag and a receipt showing a pre-order of the game, and you'll be able to participate in a match of laser tag, UNSC versus Covenant! We might also gain early access (need to wait for an email to confirm), and everyone who registered is entered into a draw to win the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo: Reach Bundle.
Once you signed up, there was no reason to proceed to additional locations, but of course the Covenant patrol kept moving, next to Yonge and Dundas, then to Bay and Dundas, and they're still going as of last check.
I want to thank Xbox Canada and their promotional company for putting this viral campaign together. It was a lot of fun, and here's hoping for more in the future!
KowZ also told me that some of you were looking around for me, and I'm sorry I didn't get to meet anyone in person. I will be at the launch event on the 4th of September, and I hope to see you all there!
Update #8: With the Vancouver launch event happening this Saturday, more info keeps on coming. Last night's episode of Xbox News can be viewed below, and features some changes in the ticker text:
Some new characters in there are causing HTML issues when I try to post them, and I'm not savvy enough to fix them I'm afraid, so go here to see what the ticker text now says (check Episode 6).
"A-271214.378.20104**_0" has been removed and "0828210*106" has been added, which represents the date of the Vancouver launch event. The site Remember Reach is also referenced, of course.
According to the Twitter feed, there's also something going on with FourSquare, and my guess is it's a chance for people who couldn't make it this past Saturday to get their chance at entering the draws, but I could be mistaken. I've never used FourSquare before myself, so if you give it a whirl tonight leave a comment and let me know what it's all about.
Lastly, KowZ reported on the Xbox Forums here that tonight's episode of Xbox News is now live, and the ticker text can be read in his update. I'll post the video once available.
Personal, I'm expecting all news this week to primarily be related to Vancouver's event, and next week for Toronto's.
More as it develops!
Update #9: KowZ is the man with his finger on the pulse of this campaign! This morning, he posted a comment with last night's video of Xbox News and for ease of access, here it is for all of you to view:
Thanks again KowZ, and to GameShark.com for capturing the videos in the first place!
More updates to come as the Campaign keeps truckin' on!
Update #10: Last night's episode can now be viewed below.
According to KowZ, tonight's episode of Xbox News actually contained a download token in the ticker text, but what exactly did the token unlock? Not sure, as it was used before KowZ could get to it!
Update #11: The 9th episode of Xbox News is now available below:
This past Saturday, the Halo: Reach launch event was held in Vancouver, and the good word from our neighbours on the west coast? Sadly, not that good. In the thread on the Xbox forums here, Necro2607 and GaussianMist paint a rather disappointing picture. Apparently, arriving on time and with all the requirements for "early access" still resulted in over an hour wait to play the game of laser tag. Xbox Canada didn't have enough t-shirts for everyone and even VIP access members went without that swag.
While lasertag was fun, the real kick in the face was that Halo: Reach wasn't at the event at all. That's right, you read correctly. This was the Halo: Reach launch event, and Halo: Reach itself was not present. Gamers could play Halo 3 or Halo 3: ODST only.
What a major let down for fans in Vancouver, and here's hoping the Toronto event this Saturday is better organized and more importantly, actually features the game for which the event is being hosted!
For those interested, Necro2607 has photos of the launch event here. The game of laser tag does look really cool, but no Halo: Reach...
Update #12: The Toronto event has come and gone! You can check out my write-up over here, and yes, Halo: Reach was present!
Thanks to everyone who followed along during this marketing campaign, thanks to KowZ and theBruce for extra info, GameShark for the videos, and of course, Xbox Canada and their marketing partners for putting it altogether!