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Square Enix invites Hitman fans to "assassinate" people with "tiny tits", then thinks twice

Publisher accused of "encouraging internet bullying" over now-removed Facebook app

This month's Regrettable Marketing Stunt Award goes to Square Enix, by unanimous vote. The publisher has launched, and now deactivated a promotional Hitman app on Facebook which invited users to identify and "assassinate" their friends. Identify how? By way of physical features like "tiny tits", "muffin tops", "bad hair" and a "tiny penis", obviously.

Those so targeted were sent a personalised video (which they had to sign up to view), composed of Facebook details, profile pictures and shots of Agent 47 doing them in. Hitman fans and other developers took immediate umbrage at this, prompting a Twitter maelstrom. Among the protestors, we have Rocksteady's community manager Sarah Wellock. "With the horrific rise in internet bullying it seems like a risky move to publish an app that encourages bullying," she tweeted. "All press is good press?"

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"Aaaand once again, Games Industry, you leave me speechless," wrote Splash Damage's Ed Stern, adding "And here I was tutting complacently about over-reactions to game marketing the other day. Ignore me. Dear God. Gnnngh."

Square Enix weathered the storm for a few hours before pulling the app, and mailing us an apologetic statement. "Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends," it reads. "Those hits would only be viewable by the recipient and could only be sent to people who were confirmed friends.

"We were wide of the mark with the app and following feedback from the community we decided the best thing to do was remove it completely and quickly. This we've now done. We're sorry for any offence caused by this."

Today's bust-up raises the spectre of IO Interactive's controversial Meet the Saints trailer, which in my and Matt's view at least, is subtly sexist. The studio's Tore Blystad apologised for it in June.

Are you offended? Thanks to RPS for spotting this one.

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