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Watch Dogs promotion triggers bomb squad response to major publication

A bomb squad was called to the Sydney offices of Ninemsn, a major Australian online publication, after the company received promotional material for Ubisoft's open-world title Watch Dogs in the guise of a beeping, black safe.

According to a Mumbrella story published today, the authorities were alerted yesterday afternoon after a small black safe was delivered to the offices. A "suspicious" letter instructing the recipient to "check your voicemail." accompanied the package. The safe began beeping when employees unsuccessfully tried to open it by entering an attached pin code. Staff on the floor were sent off for the day while bomb squad officers opened the safe in the basement to discover a copy Watch Dogs, the protagonist's iconic baseball cap, a beanie and an embargo reminder.

"This is definitely the other side of the line in terms of what it's safe for a PR company to send anonymously to a newsroom," Ninemsn editor Hal Crawford told Mumbrella. "The thing was black, heavy and slightly creepy. We did check with other newsrooms to see if they had received a similar package as we thought it was a PR stunt, but no-one else had. We weren't panicked at any point, but given there was no note explaining what it was, we had to take sensible precautions."

A NSW Police spokesperson told Polygon that police were called to the premises after they received a suspicious package and it was "found to be not suspicious." A Ubisoft Australia spokesperson told Polygon that the voicemails and packages were part of a themed promotion for Watch Dogs.

"Our team in Australia sent voicemail messages to some local media alerting them that they'd receive a special package related to the game," Ubisoft said in a statement issued to Polygon. "Unfortunately, the delivery to Ninemsn didn't go as planned, and we unreservedly apologise to Ninemsn's staff for the mistake and for any problems caused as a result. We will take additional precautions in the future to ensure this kind of situation doesn't happen again."

Watch Dogs launched May 27 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC, with a Wii U version to follow later this year. If you are curious for more about the game be sure to read our review, watch our comparison video of the PS4 and Xbox One versions and the first 30 minutes of gameplay.