Gamer Throws Perfect Game, Collects Million From 2K Sports

Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Posted By Phil Chamberlain 04:05 PM

Back in January, 2K Sports announced that it would offer up a $1-million prize to the first gamer to throw a perfect game in MLB 2K10. 2K Sports, trying to bring attention to the game’s enhanced, realistic pitching simulation and help inject life into a fledgling brand, fully expected to make the cash payment all along. The odds of a user actually tossing a perfect game were much higher than, say, collecting both Boardwalk and Park Place in the McDonald’s Monopoly game.

And, as Darren Rovell reports, the time to pay up is here for 2K Sports' parent company, Take-Two Interactive. While Colorado Rockies dominant young hurler Ubaldo Jimenez has already logged a no-hitter (albeit one with six walks) in the majors, Wade McGilberry, a 24-year-old gamer from Alabama, was the first to go 27 up, 27 down this season. McGilberry, an “experienced gamer,” amazingly turned the trick within 24 hours of purchasing the game. It only took him six tries, in fact.


But something strange happened during the sixth game. McGilberry took the perfect game to seventh, to the eighth and closed out the ninth. It had taken him less than an hour and a half to do it, he said.

"I called my wife, who was a work, and said, 'Honey, I'm done. I don't need to play anymore," McGilberry said.

McGilberry nervously submitted his tape to the folks at 2K Sports. His wife Katy thought it came so easy that some college student who didn't have to work surely did it before her husband.

2K Sports kept the contest open for two months and couldn't believe what they saw when they reviewed the time code on McGilberry's perfect game. Was it really possible that a gamer threw a perfect game in the first 24 hours the game had come out?

Rovell continues the piece by asking whether or not the promotion was worth the payout in the end. It is an interesting question, of course, since it is difficult to directly quantify the correlation between the promotion and sales. The company will certainly garner even more media attention in the coming days, and, according to Rovell, has already seen in an increase in sales over last year’s game. But this is not as point blank as determining Jimenez's ERA or strikeout rate. There could be, and likely are, several factors leading to the spike that are completely unrelated to the contest, making it a possibility that Take-Two Interactive will be out a cool million bucks without much return; the company could not take out insurance on the reward, a common occurence in most sweepstakes. True, the payout amount was factored into the company’s marketing budget, but one also must consider the opportunity cost of where else that money could have been used for marketing efforts. I mean, the Evan Longoria spots are excellent (h/t to this guy), but were there other ways to allocate that money to promote the brand?

Regardless if this particular idea was ultimately a success or not, you have to give some credit to the marketing staff at Turn Two Interactive for trying. I mean, MLB 2K 10 is the same game that once employed the voice over work of sex addict and former (horrendous) ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips.

*Side tangent here. But Tauntr just got word that Phillips' former mistress, Brooke Hundley, was recently accepted into graduate school at prestigious Georgetown University. Witholding judgment, but still deemed worth sharing. Meanwhile, Phillips amazingly found a job at AOL FanHouse. I guess, America really is the land of second chances.

Back to McGilberry, though. Good for him. He made just six starts in the game and wound up with $1-million dollars. I mean, that is not exactly Barry Zito territory--Zito, on the comeback trail now, makes a few hundred thousand dollars per inning--but a pretty good conversion rate in dollars for the time invested. I just hope he doesn’t go pursuing these actual baseball stars for investment advice anytime soon.