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Play Now, My Lord is a catchphrase originating from banner ads for the free browser-based MMORPG Evony. The game has become infamous on the web for the unscrupulous use of stock photos featuring busty women wearing sexy outfits in its ads, without them having anything to do with (or ever appearing in) the game itself.
Following a general outcry among gaming communities and accusations towards the Evony’s parent company, UMGE of spamming websites in order to advertise their product, various netizens and other online game companies parodied the banners, mainly as a mockery towards UMGE’s absurd behavior and actions.
Evony and its ads
According to Wikipedia
Evony (formerly known as Civony) is a browser-based multiplayer online game with graphic elements reminiscent of Civilization. The game is set in medieval times where a player is to establish a city, begin developing various technologies, and build supporting structures to generate armies and resources for the purpose of attacking other players and in-game opponents.
The following video shows bits of gameplay:
As one can guess from the front page, that game would draw attention not because of its gameplay or concept, but because of busty women from either drawings, CGI, or photographs, appearing here and there on the website. More importantly, ads for the game would gradually focus on sexy women in lingerie, as shown and summed up by several websites such as Coding Horror and Gawker.
Here is one of the first banners for the game (and closest to the game’s content so far):
And here is one of many other ads that later appeared on the web:
Lastly, here is one of their hottest ads used to advertise their game:
“Has Evony become a Porn Game?” has been one of many questions the online gaming communities asked themselves when confronted by the new banners popping around. As early as June 2009, several threads were made on gaming sites such as Tribalwar,RPG.net, Black Hat World, The SHIZZ.org, Democratic Underground, and even Reddit’s /r/gaming to address the growing sentiment of aversion and disappointment towards a shameless attempt at gathering players by focusing on gamers’ libido with cleavage and sexy pictures.
Controversy, spam and fraud
Bruce Everiss, describing himself as a “veteran game industry marketer,” wrote several articles on his website between July and August 2009 about the game and its campaign which he heavily criticized, as well as unfolding the company’s links to the Chinese gold farming industry and its real name, “UMGE”. Moreover, their spamming antics have been revealed by others as well, adding more strength to the arguments. Those pieces of information were reused for an article in British newspaper The Guardian on July 15, 2009.
According to the Wikipedia article about the game:
On 25 August 2009, Evony’s lawyers threatened to sue a critical blogger for defamation over a variety of allegations as to the game’s provenance and the practices of the companies behind it. The developers of Evony have denied the allegations from internet blogger Bruce Everiss, and have sent a cease and desist letter for defamation based on Australian law. Everiss responded by linking to a documentary which reportedly shows evidence of Evony’s fraudulent history. The case would have potentially created a legal precedent over defamation charges for worldwide defamation being ordered from a domestic court had Everiss been found liable. However, shortly before the case was due to begin in Sydney, Evony parted with their legal team and asked for an adjournment of the case. Two days into the most recent hearing in March 2010, Evony withdrew the libel claim against Everiss.
A YouTube account named EvonyFraud was also created to host videos pointing out the company’s fraudulent practices:
Aside from all the drama, other online games were quick in parodying the ad campaign on their own. One of the infamous ones was Plants vs. Zombies:
Others included a balloon tower defense game:
Or even World of Warcraft:
There was also an article on Dorkly in March 2011, concerning an ideal vision of the game:
Kingory is another game that closely resembles Evony. According to Encyclopedia Dramatica, it’s a blatant ripoff. Like Evony, it would be heavily criticized for its ad campaign, spamming antics, and malware. However, contrary to Evony, what was pointed at this time wasn’t sexy outfits but the blatant use of a trademarked character Chun-li on one of their sign-up screens:
Although not as notable as Evony itself, it spawned its own set of related parodies.
Gawker – Everything Wrong with the Internet in One Gaming Banner Ad Campaign (July 2009)
Democratic Underground – I Wonder What The Lady In The EVONY Banner Ads Here On DU Is Thinking About
Bruce Everiss – “Evony want to sue me for telling the truth”http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/08/25/evony-want-to-sue-me-for-telling-the-truth/
The Guardian – Has Evony become the most despised game on the web?
fn19 Encyclopedia Dramatica – Kingory
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