Warning: ARG rant ahead. Feel fee to ignore if it's not your kind of thing.

Last year, I started following the XCOM / Internal Defense Directorate / Operation Hermes / Project Enemy Unknown ARG after I heard about people who had played the Bioshock Something in the Sea ARG started receiving packages. I had only briefly followed Something in the Sea but thought what I had seen was pretty cool so I was kinda excited for Project Enemy Unknown. And after seeing all the really cool items people got in the mail and the loose story that was forming through the artifacts, I became really excited. I love games that give you a bunch of evidence and then asks you to analyze it. They tend to be much more organic than being asked to solve a Vigenere or a Morse code puzzle.

All this excitement led me to write a guide ( http://wonderweasels.org/hermes/guide.html ) for the game as well as signing up on the Internal Defense Directorate site in the hopes that maybe I could get a cool package if they decided to send more things out. But then, just as quickly as things had started, the game was put on hold. A "Code Black Lockdown" was initiated and everything just stopped. However, you were encouraged ( http://projectenemyunknown.com/blog/?p=5521 ) to "Please register and/or update all contact information so that you may be apprised of further developments. You will be contacted by the proper authorities at the appropriate time." [For some reason, I never updated my website with the last guide entries that I wrote on June 4, 2010, but as I still have the files, I'll be uploading them later today.]

So with the game on hold, I dutifully registered my information with the Internal Defense Directorate and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Every now and then I would check back on the website to see if there was any movement (the last time was probably around May or June of this year - not entirely sure) and lamented another really cool game that just decided to throw in the towel.

Fast forward to last night (October 18th) when I saw +Joe Birdwell come into chat asking if anyone had gotten a strange phone call. I hadn't (unsurprising since I rarely give my home number and my cell doesn't have service at my house) but I was curious as to what game was calling people. It turned out to be for Citizen Skywatch - a game I was totally unfamiliar with. Imagine my surprise upon Googling for information to find out that it was the relaunch of Project Enemy Unknown. Then imagine my anger when I found out that this had been going on since August and I didn't have the slightest clue about it.

What was the whole point of my providing my contact information on projectenemyunknown.com if it wasn't going to be used to let me know when the game came back? Even if this was to be a complete reboot of the game, the puppetmasters had already proven that they were willing to use contact information of past players (from Something in the Sea ) to promote a new ARG. So why leave the players who had taken an interest in the first incarnation completely in the dark when relaunching? Was it just assumed that since we found the first one originally that we would somehow magically know that the second round had been launched?

I have no idea what the puppetmasters were thinking when they decided not to inform previous players of the relaunch like they originally said that they would. All I know is that they made a mistake in not doing so. Would their current audience be bigger if all of the original players had been informed of the relaunch? Would their be a more sizable buzz about the game if there were more players? Would this be one of the ARGs to play this year if more people knew and were talking about it? I guess we'll never know.

I do know however that 2k Games has lost a customer. I've proven time and time again that I can be marketed to. I bought an Xbox just so that I could play Halo 2 after I Love Bees ended. I even bought the original Halo game and the novels so that I could expand my experience. I bought and played Gun because of Last Call Poker. I drove over an hour to see The Host in a theater because of Monster Hunter Club. I bought my first NIN cd in years due to Year Zero I bought Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek because of the awesomely cool game (and not just because I was flown to Germany).

On the flip side, I'm also more than willing to avoid products when their marketing has pissed me off. 2012 never got any of my money and I even try to avoid Sony all together after the appalling way they treated players during that campaign. And after all the issues I had with The Inside Experience, any new computers in my future won't be Toshiba.

And now 2k Games and XCOM go onto the no buy list. Maybe it's just me, but when a company encourages you to sign up to receive new information when it becomes available and doesn't - it becomes a problem. What other "promises" are they going to make that they just decide to throw out the window whenever it suits them? I have no idea. But it's that uncertainty which completely destroys the trust I had in the puppetmasters and thus dictates that until that trust is restored that I distance myself from whatever it is they are trying to put out.

So great job 2k Games for convincing a new person to buy one of your games in the 3 short months of the original campaign and then having that conviction completely reversed simply because you could not be bothered to do something as simple as sending out an email like you promised. At least now I'll be able to take my time and really enjoy playing Mass Effect 3 on March 6th.
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