The publisher first made it onto the hot seat after subsidiary IO Interactive released the infamous Hitman: Absolution "sexy nuns" trailer, which features killer clone 47 brutally offing a group of "sexy" nuns adorning fetish costumes. The trailer was immediately brushed off as offensive and IO Interactive was accused of being sexist. The developer immediately responded with profuse apologies, offering a backstory to the nuns and altering the level involving the nuns as consolation.
Square Enix launched a new advertising campaign in the form of a Facebook game to promote Hitman: Absolution. Players can choose to place virtual hits on friends in the forms of bullying threats with reasons such as, according to Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
§ Her awful make-up
§ Her ginger hair
§ Her annoying laugh
§ Her strange odour
§ Her big ears
§ Her muffin top
§ Her hairy legs
§ Her small tits
It doesn't take much of a stretch of the mind to see why Square Enix got into trouble over this game. After being decried for, once again, being sexist, Square Enix pulled the game and released the following statement:
“Earlier today we launched an app based around Hitman: Absolution that allowed you to place virtual hits on your Facebook friends. 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.”
It's surprising that the Square Enix marketing department allowed such off-color advertising to happen not just once, but twice. Maybe the publisher is following the philosophy that any level of press is good press.