Watch Dogs - an upcoming technothriller about paranoia and data distribution - has raised a few eyebrows with a recent promotion that leaked countless fans' actual e-mail addresses.
Publisher Ubisoft began an alternate reality game about a fictitious character named Joseph Demarco who runs an art gallery, dotconnexion. Players were urged to sign up for dotconnexion updates on the official site.
Today an update read:
"It is with great regret that we inform you that Joseph Demarco passed away in a tragic, yet unexplained accident. Being one of the most important philanthropists in the local digital art scene, his demise has left a deep void in the community. Out of respect for his friends and family, the dotconnexion exhibition will be cancelled. Sincerely yours, The dotconnexion Team"
Everyone who signed up for updates was sent an e-mail about Demarco passing away, yet whoever sent the message included everyone's e-mail addresses in the Cc section rather than the Bcc line. Now several users are stuck receiving countless e-mails in a massive thread. Kotaku has a blurred out image of the offending message.
Not everyone was affected by this. Apparently those with e-mail address beginning with numbers or letters early in the alphabet fell victim to this, while those with monikers starting with I and M were okay.
So is this a massive publicity stunt that ties into the game's themes of being controlled by unseen forces managing the flow of information, or a massive blunder on behalf of the PR team? For all we know, the e-mails in the thread could be plants. You can't trust anyone, it seems.
We've contact Ubisoft in an investigation of our own. We'll update you with what we find out.
Watch Dogs was the recipient of Eurogamer's Game of the Show award at E3. "If it does manage to deliver on its grand mission statement, Watch Dogs promises one of the most intelligent and imaginative twists on the action genre in years.," wrote Fred Dutton in his Watch Dogs preview.
No release date has been announced, but it's eventually coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.