Remember last year, when a debacle of a partnership between Taco Bell and Sony left some PlayStation fans feeling cheated and misled? The two companies are partnering again—and the collaboration sure sounds familiar.
This time around it's a contest to win free PlayStation 4s:
The “Play the Future First” promotion runs in the U.S. from Sept. 26 to Nov. 10, and gives fans the chance to win the highly-anticipated PS4™ system before it hits stores nationwide on Nov. 15. During the promotion, each PS4 branded Taco Bell $5 Buck Box or Big Box – which includes a Cheesy Gordita Crunch or Crunchwrap Supreme®, a Burrito Supreme®, a Crunchy Taco and a medium fountain drink – will provide a unique code for consumers to text in for a chance to win a PlayStation 4 prize pack. The prize pack features one PS4 system, one copy of the exclusive PS4 game, Knack™, and a one-year membership to PlayStation®Plus (PS Plus).
If all this sounds familiar to you, that's because it's the same exact promotion that went awry last year, when Sony gave Taco Bell $5 Buck Box eaters the opportunity to win PlayStation Vitas. Sony customers who were told they had won Vitas never actually received their prizes in a nightmare that Taco Bell eventually blamed on technical issues. Meanwhile, hackers said they had gamed the system and figured out how to win Vitas without having to eat all those tacos. Some misled gamers eventually won their Vitas, months later, but the whole event was a disaster for everyone affected.
Which sort of makes this part of the press release feel like a slap in the face to everyone who was involved (emphasis mine):
“Following the positive response from the gaming community for the PS Vita campaign last year, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Taco Bell to tap into the excitement as we prepare to launch PS4 on November 15,” said Guy Longworth, senior vice president, brand marketing at SCEA. “PlayStation and Taco Bell both have some of the most loyal fans in the world, and this promotion rewards them by providing an extraordinary opportunity to get their hands on a PS4 before it hits stores.”
Interesting language considering how many people were infuriated by last year's contest.
This time around, entries will be checked via text message instead of the web portal that was so fickle and easy to manipulate last year. (At one point during the contest, I could access the "You won!" screen just by typing in a URL on my browser.) Will that stave off hackers and prevent the sort of issues they faced in 2012?
I've reached out to Sony to ask why they'd want to go through this again, and I'll update if they comment.
UPDATE: "Sony Computer Entertainment America partnered with Taco Bell because of the strong engagement from PlayStation and Taco Bell fans during the Vita program, which surpassed 3 million entries," says a Sony rep.
When asked how Sony plans to prevent last year's issues from repeating this time around, the rep said: "We’ve simplified the structure of the 'Play the Future First' promotion to avoid any confusion and make it easier for consumers to see if they won. The main way for people to enter for a chance to win is by texting the unique code found on either the $5 Buck Box or Big Box purchased at participating Taco Bell locations."