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Get Paid One Million Dollars to Pitch a Perfect Game … in a Video Game

Yes, it’s a brazen publicity stunt, but it’s still darned effective: 2K Sports is offering one million dollars to the first person who pitches a perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10 for the XBox 360 or PS3, provided they do it before May 2nd.

For the less athletically-inclined, a perfect game is “a baseball game in which the same player pitches throughout the full game without allowing any player of the opposing team to reach first base by a base hit, base on balls, error, or any other means.” There have only been 18 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball. But this is not exactly Major League Baseball: why is 2K Sports putting that kind of money on the line?

The main reason is, again, for publicity’s sake: specifically, to promote the game’s physics engine and pitching mechanic, which 2K Sports claims is the most realistic yet. One million dollars is a magical, amygdala-hijacking figure, and if 2K Sports wanted to whip up a media frenzy: good job. Likewise, tacking on a prize is sure to entice baseball-oriented gamers who think they’ve got what it takes to a greater extent than the other million or so baseball-oriented gamers: when gaming becomes an honorable, money-making enterprise rather than an enjoyable time-waster, it becomes a noble undertaking to spend $59.99 and play a game inordinately, seeking perfection. For the money, of course.

But: even though they’re offering a million dollars, does 2K Sports think they have their “bases covered”? Fanhouse puts forth the facepalmingly dumb theory that “2K Sports’ $1 million is probably safe. Video game-playing stoners are way too lazy to go through the verification process.” Those video game stoners! What with their marijuana, and their Doritos-brand tortilla chips, and their indifference towards million dollar prizes.

But when Kotaku interviewed 2K Sports’ marketing director, he said he’d be “shocked” if someone didn’t win the million:

The million-dollar prize is believed to be the largest ever offered for this type of contest – a skill-based challenge, rather than a random drawing. 2K Sports isn’t putting up the money believing its game is so tough that no one can meet the challenge. It fully expects someone to pitch a perfect game — retiring all 27 batters without a single one reaching base by any means – and cash in during the contest period from March 2 (the game’s date of release) and May 2.

Essentially, the studio is devoting $1 million of its marketing budget to the claim that its pitching simulation is the most authentic and enjoyable.

I would be shocked if someone doesn’t get it,” Chris Snyder, 2K Sports’ director of marketing, told Kotaku. “It’s very doable. It’s been budgeted for. It’s in an escrow account, and we’re fully expecting to pay it.”

Granted, it’s not the kind of promotion that a smaller development studio could pull off. But unless someone wins the money on the first day, which would just be embarrassing, 2K10 has found a sweet spot with their million dollar challenge — if no one wins, it backs up their claim that they’ve come up with a realistic engine, and if someone does, they’ll have given hope to gamers by channeling their promotional money to one of their most devoted fans.

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