A global treasure hunt that generated 7.8M+ views.
What do pirates, golden bananas and a global scavenger hunt have in common? We leaped at the opportunity to work on an alternate reality treasure hunt to release XBOX’s new Sea of Thieves game into the world.
Xbox together with Edelman & No Mimes Media
alternate reality game clue
gamers on location
Going bananas for an AR game launch
XBOX launched their new multiplayer Sea of Thieves video game with a cross-channel campaign including an alternate reality treasure hunt, planned and created by the ARG experts No Mimes Media. The first group of gamers to solve a series of 15 complex clues and save the stranded pirate Umbra would be awarded €80,000 worth of golden bananas. Yes, a bunch of bananas formed from real gold!
6 cities from around the world were selected to host an alternate reality game clue, and of all the maritime cities across Canada, Victoria was chosen to host one of them. (We heard Victoria was chosen because we were here, and our friends at No Mimes Media knew we could pull this off). Check out the video below for a peak at how our clue turned out.
Heave ho! A global race.
Our first challenge was to find an iconic location in Victoria within view of the ocean that would be high traffic at 9am when the clue was released. The concept needed to feel distinctly pirate-y and in theme with Sea of Thieves so gamers coming to the location would know who to approach for the clue and have it feel like a part of the story.
We had to be careful to orchestrate everything perfectly on time. With the clue going live at exactly 9am PST, gamers from the Sea of Thieves community all over the world were expecting footage of it to be live and posted within an hour. We had to provide footage for the clue and capture additional footage for XBOX’s case study all in a short period of time to keep the race on schedule and keep things fair for players in person and online.
X marks the spot
No Mimes Media wanted our game piece to be hidden in a pirate-y ballad sung by a squeeze box player. No, not an accordian player, but a squeeze box player. No problem. Right?! While that may sound simple, finding a talented squeezebox player is much more difficult than you’d think. We reached out to our networks, and found two. Both required “field trips.” We found our perfect squeeze box player, who auditioned in an Irish bar. Next, we needed to source his pirate wear that would fit the pirates in the game.
On game day at 9am, our squeezebox player started busking in Bastion Square with the salty breeze adding to the scene. While playing, Sea of Thieves gamers appeared and interrupted to ask for The Ballad of a Thousand Grogs. Gamers were then rewarded with a personal audience to the clue before it was released to the rest of the online community an hour later.
Part of a larger Sea of Thieves story
The fastest selling new first party title on Xbox One
New stories across 18 countries
Site visits in two weeks
Views across owned channels
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
When participating in a global game launch incorporating alternate reality elements, it’s all about making everything accessible. Online and offline channels have to be considered and time zones balanced. For the Sea of Thieves launch this meant that the 9am PST timing was paramount to give people finding the clue in person a slight advantage while still giving XBOX a quick footage turnaround to include the rest of the global audience.
"One Net played in integral part in our Victoria live puzzle event for The Banana Quest, helping us brainstorm, quickly finding the talent that we needed, and ultimately getting the job done in a crunch! Love these guys!"
- Steve Peters at No Mimes Media