Controversy Squared?

Were there shenanigans going on at Sega last week?

Now you may or may not recall that Sega invited a bunch of game writers to its San Francisco offices to play Full Auto 2 for the PlayStation 3 and Virtua Fighter 5 for the arcades (which will, in time, be translated to PlayStation 3). The highlight of the event was, of course, a Virtua Fighter tournament in which 16 game writers got to fight it out for what Sega called a special prize.

Going in, we all thought we knew what the "special" prize was -- the Virtua Fighter arcade machine itself. Sega had given one of them out before, notably for Virtua Fighter 4 ... the machine which now rests in Ziff Davis' San Francisco offices.

No prize was announced before the start of the competition, which was odd. But there were already rumblings amid the writers, most of whom are friendly with one another.

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I didn't think much of it at the time. But maybe the writers were right: Sega was waiting to see who'd win the contest. If a major print publication won, to the victor go the spoils. If a freelancer or small Web site won, well, there would be a consolation "special" prize.

Needless to say, it was interesting when a minor player did win the contest, and Sega announced the prize. It was not a Virtua Fighter arcade console. It was not a Virtua Fighter arcade console at all.

Frankly, it seems almost reductio ad absurdum to even think about -- or waste space talking about. But there are people who attended the event who swear the prize was going to be one thing until a dark horse won and took it all.

This may bear further investigation. Stay tuned...