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Square Enix and IO Interactive have never shied away from some of the more risque elements of marketing the Hitman franchise. Their latest move, however, has people giggling and gagging at the same time about the implications of the advertisement.
Game Informer pointed to a post on Twitter from the social media manager for the Total War franchise, Grace Blaise, who snapped some photos of the Hitman advertisement from Square Enix... which was conveniently located in the bathroom stalls. Check it out below.
As you can see, there's a stream of blood running from the stalls... it didn't take most people long to figure out what it looked like.
However, Grace mentions that the ads were located in both the male and female bathroom stalls, so it was equally awkward for both facilities.
This is nothing new for the Hitman franchise. Years ago, there was the ad with a dead woman in a bathtub that had people up in a frenzy over the depiction of a model-type, dead in the bathtub. Following that they had the controversial sexy nuns, which had a lot of puritans completely off their rocker attacking Square Enix for displaying nuns as assassins wearing PVC bondage gear.
Practically for each new Hitman – other than the first two games – there seems to be some sort of controversial element to them in the marketing department that eventually gets people talking. Then again, it's like that old saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity.
In this case it's likely that Square is hoping for some sort of controversy to spawn around the ads given that they probably really want this latest Hitman reboot to sell quite well. The newest game is doing something rather different as an AAA title... focusing on smaller, episodic releases throughout the year with each episode costing $14.99. Alternatively, gamers can buy the full season of episodes for $60.
The episodic structure of this newest Hitman hasn't gone over too well with some gamers who feel as if publishers are trying to abuse a new payment model instead of just offering a complete game. Square Enix also uses this episodic structure with Dontnod Entertainment's Life is Strange series, which in turn borrowed the structure from Telltale Games' series, and has seen a lot of success using the method.
With the advertisements aiming to take some of the heat off the new pricing model, and the fact that Hitman doesn't have the best reputation on Steam at the moment due to the always-on DRM and Denuvo DRM – both of which has gamers questioning why Square would use such restrictive DRM measures on a single-player game – Square Enix is probably hoping people start talking more about the bathroom ads than the shortcomings of the game.