On Nov. 3, Microsoft took over Times Square with a 600-person choreographed dance party to celebrate the launch of Dance Central (MTV Games/Harmonix), one of the games that can be played on the company’s newest controller-free Kinect for Xbox 360, which hit retailers the next day. The stunt was part of a series of all-day publicity events in New York City, including three gaming pods called the Mobile Playspaces where consumers could demo the product.
“We wanted to showcase the magic of Kinect and one of its title games,” Craig McNary, manager-Xbox Experience Marketing at Microsoft, told Buzz. “We were told by the City that it was the largest consumer launch in the history of New York.”
The event kicked off at 6 p.m. with performances by Ne-Yo and Lady Sovereign, as the 600 dancers dressed in purple “I Am The Controller” t-shirts moved in unison to choreography from Dance Central shown on a jumbotron set up in the middle of Times Square. Ne-Yo performed “Because of You,” and “Beautiful Monster,” and Lady Sovereign sang “I Got You Dancing,” which are some of the first songs offered as downloadable content on Dance Central. In addition to the more than 15,000 consumers watching the show in Times Square, the experience was extended throughout New York City on eight jumbotrons.
Inside the gaming pods, which were set in three different locations in Times Square, consumers provided their information in exchange for a chance to try out the game. They received a card with a personal code that allowed them to view a video of them playing the game on-site, as well as at home on a branded microsite from which they could share the video with friends and family on their social networking sites. The pods were set up like living rooms to give consumers a sense of playing in their own home. The walls were clear, which inspired passersby to stop and try out the product, too.
At midnight, Kinect and its games were made available for purchase at the Times Square Toys ‘R’ Us. The first 3,000 people to purchase the system received two free games; the first 400 people got the chance to attend an after-party at the Hard Rock Café and meet the game’s developers. Agencies: Mother, New York City; Purepartner by Design, New York City; Sparks, Philadelphia.