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Electronic Arts has taken video game marketing to scary new heights.
To commemorate the March 6th release of their highly-anticipated role-playing game Mass Effect 3, the company decided to launch a handful of advance copies into space. Literally. Like, they crammed them into weather balloons and shot 'em into the stratosphere.
The point? Each game contains a GPS tracking device; fans were told to follow those coordinates to find the games as they landed back on Earth. Locate a copy, and you've got a solid week with the game before it's in stores.
At least, that was the plan.
Mother Nature had her own plan, it seems. The first two copies sent into orbit, both launched from the San Francisco bay area, survived the insane round trip flight only to land in hard-to-reach spots a few hours away in Seaside, California. One copy wound up tucked away in a dense forest protected by overhead brambles and bushes while the other decided to hang out in the upper branches of a 150-foot tall tree.
A dozen or so diehard gamers spent two days trying to figure out how to get it down. Baseballs didn't work, nor did a slingshot. If ever we could use personal jetpacks, now is the time, science.
But alas, science has officially failed us. According to a post on the Mass Effect Facebook page, the tree recovery attempt ended in vain due to safety concerns (and a distinct lack of jetpacks). From the post:
"It is unfortunate, but we have to require all participants halt further investigations due to legal and safety reasons. We are floored at the support, involvement, and contribution of the ME3 community in the last 48 hours, it has been nothing short of an amazing adventure."
Despite the rough start, the Mass Effect 3: Space Edition promotion seems to be faring much better in other cities. Packages launched in Las Vegas, New York and London have been recovered. Berlin is up next.
Update: EA has sent word that the first Seaside package -- the one trapped under fierce brambles -- has been found by this dedicated group of gamers, who hacked and slashed their way through the dense underbrush. The tree package, however, is still stuck in a tree.