This Fake Cocaine Stunt Set Up At An EB Games GTA V Midnight Launch Is Colossally Stupid [Update]

Obviously it's not real drug paraphernalia — it's fake — but at a midnight launch for Grand Theft Auto V, one store set up pretend lines of cocaine on an in-store sales desk.

Considering the reputation of video games, and the reputation of Grand Theft Auto in general, this seems like a completely idiotic move. Sure, it's a little bit of fun, but why take such a stupendous risk? You could make the argument that Grand Theft Auto V is an R18+ rated game, but we're talking about parodying the consumption of illegal drugs here, in a branch of the largest specialist retailer in Australia.

Obviously people were going to talk about this stunt, obviously someone was going to take a picture and obviously that picture would make its way to the internet. A source has informed us that this was an isolated incident by one rogue store and that EB's head office knew nothing about it, but this seems like extremely poor decision making by whoever was running the store in question.

I've been informed EB Games will be sending Kotaku a statement regarding the situation later today.

UPDATE: EB Games provided us with the following statement:

Regrettably, one of our EB Games store locations in Queensland set-up an unauthorised display within the store in support of the launch of the Grand Theft Auto V video game. The display included a white powdery substance that appeared to be some form of an illegal drug. We can confirm that the powdery substance was “sherbet”, a type of fizzy candy, and at no point did the store attempt to give any of the fizzy candy away. This was an isolated incident, and we apologise for any offence this may cause.

Via Reddit


Comments

    The drug use will only get the store banned if it's seen as having some kind of benefit or positive outcome for the staff. They could have avoided the risk by not naming it after a real world drug and calling it WHIZZ or PEPS or something.

    I bet this was a local store initiative which was conceived and executed by local staff, nothing more sinister (like HQ telling them to do it). Inb4 someone got fired.

    The OCD in me fears for all the places that powder will end in that desk and pc

    Stupid? Probably.
    Funny? Hell yes.

      I wasnt laughing. Its not even clever. Its dumb.

        Do you want a tissue? If you cant handle a joke, then please leave.

          Jokes are usually funny.

            Congratulations on your opinion

    the united states alcohol prohibition just gave Al Capone and criminals money while people drank garbage alcohol that killed people. Logic falls on deaf ears in regards to the war on drugs.

    check out this guy, he knows it too. http://youtu.be/2MCh18GfdTg

    Oh, the tonne of bricks is coming down on those stupid people.
    I see the joke. I see the point. I see the relevance, the context, the reasoning.
    What I DON'T see is how they thought this was a good idea. Mark my words - that store manager will be fired. No ifs, buts, or maybes. He or she is gone.

      Is it really that relevant though? Drugs have never been a real cornerstone of GTA stories.

      Relevant would've been a scantily-dressed manequin full of monopoly money used as a piniata. Also not cool, but technically more relevant to the GTA experience.

      Last edited 17/09/13 10:15 am

        The relevance is crime. A couple of lines and baggies with a non-descript white powder is a great visual metaphor for "crime", and crime culture. Also, drugs have played a supporting role in GTA for gameplay and story purposes, from Vice City's plot, to GTA IV's steroid-pumping coke-head mechanic, to Chinatown Wars' dealing minigame. While they may not be a "cornerstone", they're inextricably tied into GTA's overriding context.
        I'd argue that if you want to cheaply theme your store to reflect "GTA", as a property, fake drugs strewn over your counter is an effective (if utterly stupid) way to do so.

          Maybe so with past GTA games, but GTA V is more focused on heists/robberies/money (I mean look at the V in the logo, its designed how it would look on real american money). Why theme a store with something that isn't the main focus of the game?

            "Crime", visual metaphor. That's the best justification I can come up with. Like I said, I reckon it's stupid. I just don't have trouble making the leap, from that manager's perspective, of why having drugs everywhere would help theme their shop.

        >a scantily-dressed manequin full of monopoly money used as a piñata
        That's the most amazing thing I've heard all day.

          Make it a male mannequin. It may not be a real living being but it'd upset people if a female character got beaten up by guys.

      Get over it...no one should be fired, lighten up

        I didn't say "should". Knowing EB's way of dealing with these kinds of issues, they'll quietly give them matching orders as soon as they work out who to blame.

        +1

        Some people need to lighten up I'm sure if they were the person responsible they would have a completely different tone in opinion.

        Helen. Love. Joys.

      EB seems to have made a lot of dumb decisions last night. Making a huge deal of giving the first copy they sold to a 10 year old boy, now this. *shakes head* I thought it was GAME who were notorious for stupid publicity stunts, not EB...

        Man I was at at the Sydney City store, and one of the first (or maybe the first? same kid?) Walked down the entire line rubbing it into every person's face that they got the game first.

    If there had only been adults at the launch events, which should have been the case since it was an R18+ game, this would not have been an issue.

    But we still have to consider the "think of the children" aspect, because as someone has already pointed out here or on twitter or something, the first sale at their local EB in Queensland was a 10 year old. FFS people, this is why we can't have nice things.

      To hell with the children. I don't have them, want them, or like them, why should I have to think of them?

      Think of the children? What, you mean the children who have a sexual encounter by age 12 (on average these days), watch R18+ movies before age 10, are exposed to almost every facet of life by 15 years and typically don't give a f**k?

      Yea, lets worry about some flour.

        And how exactly do you think it's gotten to that? Certainly not because anyone was thinking of them.

        What, you mean the children who have a sexual encounter by age 12 (on average these days)

        I'm definitely going to need some citation to believe that.

          What, you mean the children who have a sexual encounter by age 12 (on average these days)

          I'm definitely going to need some citation to believe that.

          Yeah, in the UK 12/13 is pretty much the common age, its disgusting, but unfortunately truthful (maybe not for Aus but I would doubt it). I used to be a police officer in the UK and in my last few years we had to deal with more and more issues of parental complaints about their own children having been involved with that sort of activity, and it was most often with children of the same age. No stats to prove it, just real word experience son

            Umm thats the problem with real world experience, its useless when trying to prove a trend. So im sorry that you have experienced that, but I would still need some more evidence other than "my years of a police officer" to prove that the average age of a person's sexual encounter is 10/11/12.

      Yeah, we actually need to stand up and fight against this sort of idiotic condemnation out of this 'think of the children' idiocy.
      This is like saying we can't have strip clubs, because there might be underage kids going in there for a drink. People need to pull their fucking heads in on this 'games are for kids' bullshit.

      (Yes, kids will still want to play the R18+ games. No shit. Every teenage boy I knew when I was a kid wanted to go to a strip club. Some of us when we were young and reckless actually succeeded and it was a heavenly wonderland that didn't traumatize us anywhere near as much as it traumatized our parents thinking that we might be, oh, I don't know... growing up. That's some scary shit, to a parent. But you know what? That's THEIR fucking problem, don't make it mine.)

      Last edited 17/09/13 10:46 am

        In fairness, a strip club is a restricted premises but an EB Games is not. If they're open for trade, then there's no reason a child can't be there. That's a valid argument and I want to head it off before it's used against me here.

        The fact that people were taking minors to a launch event for an adult game at midnight is severely irresponsible on the part of those parents/guardians, even not counting the fact that most of them were probably buying the game for the child in the first place.

        When I was a kid my dad and stepmother used to have cocktail parties in their rec room, and on those occasions I was put to bed. Granted on one occasion when I was eight I escaped from my room, entered the party and skipped around pretending to collect everyone's genitalia in an imaginary basket while loudly yelling "PENIS" and "VAGINA" depending on the gender of the person I was accosting, but this is a good example of why perhaps entry to said cocktail party could be more closely monitored, despite the fact that under other conditions (i.e.: daylight hours when a cocktail party is not in progress) I would have been welcome to enter the rec room and play with my Brave Star figurines.

          Matthew is right here.

          It’s not “like a stripclub”, it is exactly what it is, a retail store open to the general public (admittedly at midnight) which has a fake coke setup on the counter.
          It’s a pretty stupid thing to do and not particularly funny (although I guess that’s subjective).

            But can you buy anything but GTA V at a midnight launch? I'm not sure as I haven't been to one since the Gamecube came out, but it'd seem odd to be there for any other reason..

              There are reports of trolls lining up at midnight launches to buy games that aren't part of the launch at 11:55pm, just to rile up the people waiting for midnight to tick over before they're allowed to be served, but I don't know if that happen here or very frequently.

                I would do that, But its not everyday i can have a large selection of games available for purchase when finishing work at midnight

                  I was offered various things at Midnight Launches like other games I might be interested in and Pre-orders. The only thing I ever purchased was a half price (XBox 360) Season pass. In Reality I got the points for half price and although I did infact use them on the season pass I couldn't pass on cheap MS points.

                  The EB I went to (Not GTA but another midnight launch) gave everybody a ticket as soon as you got there and followed the order. Despite the whining of #30 that he was first in line. We all saw him quickly run up and push in front of #1. I was #7 I believe. They also stopped doing purchases at 11:55 and infact had tried very hard to get everyone to the hand over your ticket heres your game method. Anybody who turned up had to wait.

                  And let's be smart if your going to a Midnight Launch wouldn't you stop by during the lead up and pay in full.

              Yeah you can buy anything they have in stock at a midnight release.

          entered the party and skipped around pretending to collect everyone's genitalia in an imaginary basket while loudly yelling "PENIS" and "VAGINA" depending on the gender of the person I was accosting

          So that is one of the most hilarious things I've read all day.

          I have to say i really loath children playing the same games as me. Now that we have R18+ children should stick to the rating system and its parents jobs to enforce this and not side step around it by supplying them with the content!

          A responsible parent shouldn't be buying booze or porn for there kids so why an explicit r18 game! Take there id's report them to docks or other child welfare agents and see if it continues for years to come! Its highly irrisponsible and maybe border line illigal!

          Support R18+ ratings, report children playing it to ms and sony and hope they ban the accounts! Report the parents if you sell the games and stop it in its tracks!

        Awesome idea: GTA VI's midnight launch at a strip joint. No kids, can leave fake blow around without offending, and chicks.

        But no running them over or beating them up for the $5 you just gave them. Kid or not, that's a baaad move!

          Especially in Australia where, if you did, you'd get kneecapped by the bikies that own the joint.

          Last edited 17/09/13 5:52 pm

      Sometimes it's inappropriate to think of the children. Like when you're having sex with a prostitute, or stealing a car full of dead bodies, or remorselessly mowing down pedestrians.

      Ludicrous! Kids should be in bed and adults understand that it's a joke. It's only stupid because politically correct morons who don't understand the context are running the world.

    Yeah they're screwed.

    "It's just a joke!" doesn't hold up anymore in this day and age. We're all too waggly with our fingers and our tut tut tutting.

    Last edited 17/09/13 9:39 am

      We've become a nation of humourless cowards and should be utterly ashamed of it.

    My local EB has smelt like weed for years??

      Why are there question marks at the end of this sentence? Are you not sure if your local store smelt like weed for years?

        He's stating that his EB store has smelled of weed for years and doesn't get why what's in the article is a problem.

        Grammar nazis are incapable of comprehension. I understand. There there.

          Personally, I thought he'd had a revelation, as if saying "so, that's what that smell was... I'd wondered for so long." When communication is unsuccessful, grammar nazism can help; elaboration is usually more successful, but correct grammar helps. In saying that, thanks for your elaboration.

    If I were EB upper management, I'd clean out that store of anyone associated with this prank - no ifs or buts.

    Regardless of the tie-in to any particular game, it sets the impression that staff engage in illicit drug use on premises. Brings the company - not just the store - into disrepute.

    The manager, if involved, is totally fired.

      Get over yourself, why would you want to fire someone over this? Unless you are perfect, dont cast stone.

      I remember when gamers were a good bunch of people. Now it seems as though you lot are a bunch of wowsers.

      At least the LAN gamers are still fun.

        It's not about gaming or gamers - it's about business.

        Businesses don't want displays of fake cocaine spread across their sales terminals, angled towards the customer.

        Could just maybe be setting a bad tone. Maybe.

        Pro tip: Maybe = it does.

      it sets the impression that staff engage in illicit drug use on premises.

      no it doesnt

      Get off your high horse, unpack your moral bandwagon and pull your head out of your arse

      everyone gets this is a joke and doesnt imply anything. Its just lame and not funny

      doesnt make it bad

      Last edited 17/09/13 11:05 am

        I agree that it doesn’t imply that they were using, but it doesn’t make it any less stupid.

        I’d consider sacking staff involved in this if I ran head office. I get the context, the need to not overreact and whatnot, but setting up a fake coke pile on the front desk is just stupid.

        In my view it’s childish, stupid and embarrassing for the company.

          There is always the chance of one guy not getting the joke and taking it the wrong way as well. From a business standpoint, you don't want to run the risk of alienating ANY customers.

          These guys ran that risk, and that is detrimental to the company.

          Not to mention how up and arms and controversial all this kind of stuff gets; it is a joke, yes, but it was bound to be a joke that gets blown out of proportion. You don't want that - no joke is funny enough to risk a bad reputation or alienate ANY customers/potential customers when you're a massive company like EB.

          Last edited 17/09/13 5:57 pm

        This is from a BUSINESS perspective. Whether you, I, or even the people making the decision at EB agree with the stunt or not is utterly irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that this could potentially damage EB's brand - not with the gamers who would be at the event, who are already there through brand loyalty anyway - but with the parents of children who shop at EB, but are happy to shop anywhere where the staff can point at the Skylanders figures and DS travel bags. If ACA or Today Tonight or any other of those horrible fear-mongering excuses for broadcast journalism get their hands on this, it would cause untold damage to EB's brand and reputation with casual customers.
        They'll hope that doesn't happen and, as a pre-emptive counter measure, quietly dismiss the workers responsible. At least then, if it becomes a media shitfight, they can point at their response and say "we don't endorse illicit drug use in any way, shape or form, and have already taken appropriate disciplinary action."
        This is now a PR excercise in minimizing the potential damage, and firing those responsible is the absolute first thing they'll do in order to achieve that.

          @foggy @stu @beardshamans

          All these long essays about business and reputation

          You forget that the people lining up for the midnight launch are the same people who will be mowing down pedestrians, robbing stores and banging hookers (Virtually) in a few hours

          You really think these people would be offended or misinterpret a fake coke stash?

          My only quibble with this stunt is that it used drugs not money because GTA is more about money

          but the only reason ACA will pick it up is because they were drawn attention to it by someone pretentious enough to preach morals over a joke to people that play GTA.

          Sure it may be bad taste in the general sense, but this was an isolated incident and directly marketed to a specific demographic who dont need their tampons everytime they go buy a GTA game

          The other issue is that nobody needs to be fired over something like this.
          Why ruin somebodys life because reverend lovejoys wife wants to think of the children

          Last edited 18/09/13 1:19 pm

            Somebody took a picture of it, and put it on the internet. Sure, your argument would work, if the internet didn't exist and if the people in the store that night were the only people who saw it, but the fact that we're talking about it now means that they weren't.

            I don't think someone's life should be ruined over this either, but business is business and business has to do what it has to do.

            I agree that it totally shouldn't be a big deal, but it would be naive of me to think that there aren't people who are totally getting up and arms about this. And they're perfectly entitled to, you know; middle age mothers are allowed to be offended, as much as it pains me to say, and believe it or not, that is their selling demographic: mother's buying games for their kids. Do they want to run the risk of tarnishing that, just before Christmas? Nope, not at all. That risk is something they wouldn't want to touch with a million foot pole, yet somebody in the company got their dirty hands all over it.

            Last edited 18/09/13 2:36 pm

            Pretty much what Captain Ballsack said. Personally I've got a pretty thick skin and I don't care how people market GTA.I don't think kids need to be sheltered from the realities of the world, and if a child was present at that midnight launch I don't think they'd be scarred in any way by the fake drugs on the counter.
            But my opinion is irrelevant. My contributions to the discussion have been about what EB would most likely do in response, and justifications for why I've formed those opinions.
            That this stunt is potentially bad for business is irrefutable. EB's actions, if any, will be made from that basis, not whether commentors on the Internet who are most likely within GTA's demographic think the stunt was offensive or not.

            I spent last night playing GTA V and I can tell you that if I saw that at my local store I’d think it was stupid, childish and offensive.

            Each to their own and all that, but I don’t think it takes a “Reverend Lovejoy” type to come to the conclusion that the idiots who did this should stick to their day jobs (selling software).

    Is this really that big a deal? While it's kind of a daggy and boring joke, is it any different from fake/imitation video game weapons that are sometimes on display?

    Probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but not going to sell any more copies because of it.

    Its not really a big deal but ....what was the point? Its just dumb. No real benefit of doing something so stupid. Its a midnight launch of a game....the people who are there already know what they are there for....what was the point of this?

      I'm not sure about you, but the people I know often engage in these things called "jokes" which we do for "fun". These might not be familiar concepts to you, maybe you should google them

        maybe you should google the definition of joke. Has something to do with humor....which was missing from this idiotic "stunt."

          I'm glad I don't subscribe to your brand of humour. Seems like it wouldn't be any fun.

          Well, I'm glad we have you to tell us what is and is not humor. Without you, people might be mistaken in believing that humor is actually a subjective thing, and what one person finds funny another might not. But no, we have you telling us that you have the ultimate and objective definition of what is and is not humor. Now you can set us straight, and tell us that what we find funny isn't actually humor. Thank you. Thank you for showing us the way

    I'm absolutely shocked and appalled.

    They know it's meth in GTA V and not cocaine, right?! Amateurs.

    I don't see the issue. I think it is in context with an already r-rated game at the said games adults only release event. They are not exposing children to it and it is quite funny and well within the realms of the parody of the game. I remember a guy at one movember event, who ended up winning a prize, came dressed in an eighties suit and would open a briefcase and put his face into it occasionally coming up with a face covered in white powder. Another great parody of drug culture in context and quite humerous. I think we need to be a little less precious about this stuff. There are enough real world issues we are told not to laugh at so adding this one is silly. Let the fun police comment but don't join the force. But then my opinion may blow.

    I hope EB gets slammed for this stupid stunt.

    I don't see the problem, a little tongue in cheek ADULT humour at a midnight launch and it's not hurting anybody.
    And if there were children present, well there shouldn't be in the first place at an ADULT game launch.

      At the launch I attended, there were a *lot* of people under 18 present. Or at the very least looked under 18. Certainly quite a few in the 10-15 age bracket. Sidenote they were obviously there with parents but still.... flagrantly disregarding the R18 sticker.

    what store was it so i make sure i never attend or purchase from there? i have played games for 30 years and have been trying to shed the tag of kiddie gamer but this goes too far. whilst i am aware GTA is an 18+ game, there is a line when it comes to promotion and this has crossed it in my opinion. drug use is NOT a joke, i have spent time working with people who have been addicted to drugs and it's not a joke

    It's buffing compound, they were trying to buff out the scratches in the perspex monitor cover before the store opened.

    Just because we play games that include drugs in them doesn't mean that we should promote said activities in real life. Especially drugs, who had caused lots of problems and is one thing we shouldn't take lightly.

    Someone up there mentioned having replica guns - as long as they are not being presented in a manner where the guns look like they're being used, it's okay (e.g. Wall displays) but if you have some dude standing there with a gun in his hand and no explanation... well...

    Last edited 17/09/13 11:22 am

    This stunt reeks of lame.

    Unlike the GTA series, which does the "controversial" stuff with humor, intelligence, and a good dose of satire.

    Last edited 17/09/13 10:42 am

    Why cocaine? The main focus of GTA V is almighty dollar. They should have just gotten a lot of fake money or something.

      The main focus of GTA5 is armed robbery....they should have made the customers go in three at a time with fake guns and scream at the stuff til they gave them there copy of GTA5.

    I'm more concerned people even bothered to go at midnight for this game....never realised how popular it was without the heavy modding that the PC community has over the consoles (unless the consoles do the same). * edit * I haven't played GTA since 3, can you even mod the latest ones... *

    Any ways, great stunt, this is probably one of the few times EB Games will be shown in a article anywhere and talked about.

    Last edited 17/09/13 11:02 am

      my thoughts exactly

      i was so excited when 4 came out

      but i was completely belated when i heard no PC for 5

        i dont get you people, the PC versions have never been announced or released alongside the console version, just wait a damn while.

          bit hard when all the /gaming sites are going on and on about gtaV and i cant/dont want to play it on console

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