Nvidia ‘Focus Group’ Member Details Hidden Program

For the record, while there are certainly “Manchurian Fans” being hired to promote products in the games and/or gaming hardware world, Nvidia and AEG have both clearly denied that they have hired stealth marketers to create personas to promote Nvidia products. We have no reason not to believe them and have stated that elsewhere on the site, but am putting it up again just to outline it. (Naturally, we’d like to know who is hiring these stealth marketers, so feel free to pass on anything regarding this you feel germane.)

Nvidia’s Perez: “They act as our ‘voice'”

Mr. Perez writes, in response to our previous questions:

I would hardly say ‘unwilling’ – I responed on Wed and Thursday.

Nvidia’s Derek Perez Responds

Prompted by our questions about Nvidia’s marketing practices, Public Relations Director Derek Perez sent us this response:

Hey Joel.

Did Nvidia Hire Online Actors to Promote Their Products?

About a week ago, The Consumerist stumbled upon claims made by various gaming websites (specifically, Elite Bastards and [Update: a poster on the forums at] Beyond3D) that graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia, in cooperation with the Arbuthnot Entertainment Group (AEG), had seeded various gaming and PC hardware enthusiast sites with pro-Nvidia shills. That is to say, that AEG would hire employees to create ‘personas’ in various gaming communities, slowly building up the trust of other members by frequent posting unrelated to Nvidia, to later cash in that trust with message board postings talking up the positive qualities of Nvidia’s products.

Authors of StarForce Threaten Lawsuit Upon Criticism

Authors of StarForce Threaten Lawsuit Upon Criticism

Please excuse our breach of form this morning, but the Deals Round Up will have to wait, because we work up cranky and then the internet was full of stupid again. It seems that Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing discovered StarForce, the malignant copy-restriction curse suffered by many PC gamers, only to be threatened with a lawsuit after criticizing the product as “malware.”

Morning Deals Round Up

Not only are we off to a late start this morning, but, which many deals sites use to handle affiliate links, is down, making the pickings especially slim today.

The Best Time of Year to Buy Item X

The Best Time of Year to Buy Item X

God bless this no-nonsense column over at CNNMoney that explains with a minimum of cruft when exactly is the best time to buy everything—if everything is airline tickets, televisions, houses, cars, videogames, and toys. Here’s the bit about airline tickets that you can put in your pocket right now for it is as simple as the organism sure to infect you on your next flight:

For all the seeming complexity that goes into the price of airfare, the answer to when some of the cheapest tickets can be found is surprisingly simple: Wednesday.

Morning Deals Round Up

•’s Famous Valentine Day Sale is back, featuring 100 assorted condoms from brands including Durex, Trojan, Lifestyles, Okamoto, Viva, and Beyond Seven for just $20.

Agency Sells Ads Inside Game Without Creator’s Permission

Agency Sells Ads Inside Game Without Creator’s Permission

Ars Technica reports on a fascinating Subway ad campaign that took place inside the popular online game Counter-Strike. Apparently the ads for a $2.49 sandwich were injected into the game world with a special bit of ‘mod’ software distributed by an ad agency to certain operators of the server computers on which games of Counter-Strike are hosted. The ad agency paid the server operators to run the mod to give ad impressions in game.

Disaffected: The Game That Lets You Hate Yourself

Disaffected: The Game That Lets You Hate Yourself

It’s not often we get to link to videogames, but we’re happy to direct your attention to ‘Disaffected,’ a sort of inverse to the advergame—games that shill products as their primary or secondary purpose—where players experience what it’s like to be a Kinko’s-like employee.

Morning Deals Round Up

• Newegg has the Sennheiser PC 150 Headset, perfect for gaming or Skyping, for $30 after $10 off coupon code NYNG011006. Ships free, as well.

This Day in Xbox 360

• Tim Harford revisits the mystery of the Xbox 360 pricing and availability, uh, mystery. The question, if you recall, is why Microsoft isn’t charging more for the 360, since they seem to be worth more if you go by the prices paid on eBay. One of the theories in Harford’s latest column—and the one he advocates as the most likely—is that if Microsoft charged more than $400 at retail, even with the pent-up demand, no one would buy them in the first place.

Morning Deals Round-Up: Shoes, MP3 Players, Games

• The clothing clearouts are getting nicer. The code holiday2005, for instance, will get you 40%—and sometimes free shipping—at