Gears 2 Launch Parties Scrubbed as Gesture to Brandon Crisp Family

Canadian game journalist Steve Tilley reports that game retailer Future Shop cancelled midnight launch parties in Toronto and Vancouver out of respect for Brandon Crisp and his family.

The 15-year-old gamer was found dead late Wednesday afternoon. He had been missing since October 13th after running away from home following a family dispute over his video game play. Tilley writes:

Future Shop just got in touch to say they’re cancelling the festivities surrounding tonight’s midnight launch of Gears Of War 2 in Toronto and Vancouver, out of respect for the friends and family of teen gamer Brandon Crisp. Future Shop stores will still be opening at midnight to sell the game… there just won’t be any of the planned hoopla…


I guess a public spectacle around the release of a popular multiplayer video game so soon after the Brandon Crisp tragedy didn’t sit well with Future Shop, who said the decision was made by the company and their "vendor partner", ie. Microsoft…

Meanwhile, Toronto’s CityNews has a quote from Future Shop:

Future Shop and our vendor partner have decided to cancel promotional activities prior to the midnight release of Gears of War 2 in Toronto and Vancouver out of respect for the family and friends of Brandon Crisp. 

GP: What do you think, GP readers? Did Future Shop make the right call?

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  1. Amen4u says:

    That works for  me Nightwng, I think that it is a terrifc idea. I really don’t think parents understand the first thing about some games and gaming units. I myself haven’t played a game since nintendo. 

    But I have to say one thing, since coming here I have sure learned alot about game politics.


  2. Amen4u says:

    May I maka a comment, Angelika Crisp works for one of the largest newspaper chains in Canada. Toro Star. When one paper runs with a story, all others follow as they want the readership. Yes Brandon’s death linked to video gaming was a run for its money, but I worked in the newspaper business for over 20 years, She had a head start on getting national coverage and keeping it going.

  3. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Not anymore. I got yelled at on the Forums for it. Not doing it anymore.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  4. jiminycricket says:

     Brandon died as a result of complications due to chest injuries consistent with falling out of a tree.  The Ontario Provincial Police will piece together his last hours, moments.  

    Brandon ran away from home because he had an arguement with his parents.  He’d been playing the game for 3 years – started when he was 12 years old.  The game was rated M for mature = you have to be 17 to purchase the product with the accompaniment of a parent.

    The parents paid for it as well as his accounts.  So in effect, they were encouraging him to play a game that was meant for a 17 year old.  He was a minor when he started playing the game and a minor when he left home.  The father was on a fishing trip that weekend while his son stayed home playing his game.  So where is the father/son bonding? Why didn’t he spend time with his kid and get to know him? Where is parental responsibility when it comes to purchasing a game with mature content for an underage kid?

    His father helped him pack,  told him to bring a coat, showed him the door and said: "don’t go getting yourself killed".  He basically helped him leave, knowing the basic vicinity of where he was going because the kid asked for directions.  Apparently, the kid left before for two days and the parents didn’t know where he was.  Why didn’t they ask him where he was going after he asked for directions to Shanty Bay only about 3 to 5 miles where they found his body?  They could have asked for clarification from Brandon of any specific location, place or friends home where he intended to stay. Why didn’t the father go out and look for him once it became dark?  The parents are responsible for his protection and safety because he was still underage – not Xbox.

    Yes, I think the gaming aspect was a red herring for poor parenting and father son bonding because the xbox angle proved useless in finding Brandon.

    I think the parents need to take more responsibility for this minor leaving home and dying, not place all the blame on Brandon and his ‘addiction’.  If they are so sure it was an addiciton, why didn’t they seek help from a professional when they noticed it was affecting his eating and school habits?  Irresponsible parenting is really the culprit…

  5. bogans says:

    Of course the police were inept, they convinced themselves that they would find him using his Xbox rather than a search party.

  6. elal says:

    Well, we’re damned if we do and damned if we dont. Parents and politicians dont necessarily differentiate between the multiple videogame companies in existence, or between games for that matter. Non-gaming adults may not see a difference between Half-Life 2 and Halo 3, even if it’s laughably obvious to us. In a real life example, five people I know have already confused Fable 2 with WoW while I was playing it.

    If one is percieved as bad, then all of us are screwed and the subject of children makes people get irrational and controlling.

  7. Zevorick says:

    If he managed to camp out for several days before dying due to hypothermia then one of two things happened…

    1) The kid was a badass of Navy Seal quality to be able to hide every single trace of his existance

    2) The Police were completely inept, and all search parties were lead by blind people…

    I’m inclined to believe that #2 is more likely…

    If he camped out for days, there HAD to have been a trace of him out there, and to not have found it is inexcusable considering the location of the body in relation to the area. People make a big mess when they camp. There is absolutely no way this kid could have camped out for days without leaving some sort of evidence that SHOULD have been seen. Bah…

  8. Kris says:

    Aw, people do this sort of thing all the time, guys.  Video games may be unrelated to the child’s death (directly anyway), but they want to say "Hey, we’ll cut out the celebration out of respect for the death of a child."

    It’s not like they cancelled the launch all together, just whatever party-type activities they had planned.

  9. SYSS Mouse says:

    There is something call politics involved, mind you. The politics of being a good ompany in respect of parents.

    On a side note, while the cause of death has not been revealed, police now believe that he mostly died from hypothermia. Crisp was an avid fan of outdoor survival shows, and may have camped out for several days afte running away from home, said the police.

    So, the xBox would be useless in the investigation.

  10. Hannah says:

    Fairly local?  Vancouver is roughly 5 hours from Toronto… by plane.  If it helps, Toronto/Barrie are near the Great Lakes in Eastern Canada, and Vancouver’s north of Seattle on the West Coast.  I would understand stores cancelling their festivities in the Toronto area, perhaps even for all of Ontario, but… this seems a bit odd.  Makes me wonder if this is just an excuse to save money and/or avoid a poorly-planned launch celebration that they knew would flop.

  11. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Yeah, except for the fact that this is nothing like the Columbine/NRA situation. Or do you get your information from Michael Moore?

  12. Shadow D. Darkman says:



    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  13. thefremen says:

     Future Shop probably made the right choice. I mean, these cats are from the future and know what the right thing to do is before they even do it!

  14. bogans says:

    This is an absolutely ridiculous overreaction. I see no merit whatsoever in closing these stores. It seems to be another example of this bizarre idea that the more the media runs with a story the more important it really is. Children go missing and die everyday, I don’t take time out of my day to mourn all of them, but then the media comes along and heavily reports one death out of countless and we’re all expected to be upset.

    Sorry, media. I don’t buy into that, and no matter how bad the rest of us are made to feel Brandon will still be dead.


  15. Anthrax says:

    I honestly don’t think that’s fair for everyone else. His death really didn’t have all that much to do with video games. From what I’ve heard his dad was a bastard and that’s what made him decide to run away. The whole video game thing was just something the reporters made up to make it seem more exiting. Sickos, all of them.

  16. Timbo says:

    I agree, except with one point.  I think that it can be targeted as an ‘admission of guilt’, by anti-gamer groups, but I doubt that will be spread too much.

    I think it was a smart PR move, even though it is promoting ignorance to do so.

  17. black manta says:

    I have to agree with the others in that it seems like a lot of oversensitve handwringing.  It’s the same kind of overreaction I saw when they postponed the third season finale of Buffy over Columbine and a lot of the delays and alterations of other projects in the wake of 9/11.  On one hand, yes, what happened was tragic and sad.  But on the other hand, a lot of these things had little or nothing to do with what actually happened.  You’d think after a few of these sorts of tragedies that maybe they’d get the hint that they’re overreacting, but they never seem to.  It’s almost as if the companies think we’re all sensitive little flowers and would get upset at the least little mention of a tragedy when it’s still fresh in our minds.  Granted, there are some overly sensitive folks out there, so I can sort of understand why companies would take the most extreme reaction, but it still ruins it for the rest of us and it shouldn’t.  "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one" and all that.

    I wasn’t planning ong getting Gears of War 2…at least not for the 360 (Am holding out for the PC version, since they released it eventually for that platform last year).  But if this happened with, say, Fallout 3 and I happened to live in Canada, I’d be extremely disappointed.

  18. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Hurrmmm…well, I certainly understand the stigma of throwing a party when a kid just died, and on that note it is a very respectable decision.

    However, this action may lead some people to believe that they cancelled this party out of guilt, and may cause people to cast blame on people who had nothing to do with Brandon’s death.



  19. Inimical says:

    I have to say I agree. It’s very tragic and I sincerely feel awful for Brandon and the rest of the Crisp family and their friends.

    However, I do not see any connection between a Gears of War 2 launch party and his death. None whatsoever. It’s video games, sure… but neither incidence has anything to do with the other one.

    So, why has it been blown up into a huge issue when so many kids go missing every day? The media. Gamepolitics included.

    Brandon Crisp was the perfect victim in the eyes of the media. He was young, he was a good kid, he got good grades, and being a child, he was vulnerable. The media picked up an awful story and ran with it. That’s all. 

    That doesn’t diminish the tragic nature of this event, but it definitely explains why of all cases, this case was particularly involving.

    Kids who are in lower class homes, do poorly in school, and are abused sexually and physically by their families go missing every day in huge numbers but you never hear about it because they are not desirable people to hear about in the media. People will have less sympathy for them, and that’s that. Brandon Crisp came from a functional middle class family in suburban Ontario. Everyone wants to hear about that.

  20. jadedcritic says:

    Maybe I’m being a tad insensitive here, but I’m gonna say it. I don’t see what the issue is. Of course, his death is a tragedy, and condolences to the surviving family, but I’m starting to think we (the gaming community) are reacting to this as a bigger issue then it is.  (making a mountain of a molehill) Why his death is any more or less sad then that of any other innocent child I don’t quite understand. I was watching the news yesterday, apparently someone in my town got attacked and beaten quite literally to within 3 inches of his life. They suspect he has brain damage now, and the cops are having trouble with the investigation because he can’t answer questions. How he deserves any more or less compassion then Brandon, I don’t quite understand.

    My suggestion, put simply, is unless someone makes a formal accusation of the tie-in to gaming, it, put simply, the whole affair, is none of our business. (and substantiates it, of course) The family need time to grieve, and the canadian authorities need time to investigate appropriately. In the meantime, I have zero intention of postponing Gears2 for myself anyway.

    Sure, we get trolls that call us insensitive and the like. Read Liz Wooly’s comments in the last thread, she has no idea what she’s talking about. I suggest we give her Jack’s email.  Sure Jack would love to hear from her, in the meantime; I have no interest in what people like that have to say.

  21. saregos says:

    Perhaps the way to handle this would have been to donate some portion of the proceeds to some charity related to Brandon Crisp’s unique case.

    Perhaps one that handles runaways?

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  22. Hachi says:

    This was a bad move on Future Shop’s part. As it’s been stated before, its just short of an admission of guilt that games had anything to do with his death. The problem here is that correlation does not equal causation, yet much of the media treats it like it does.

    Here, Brandon played a violent video game and subsequently ran away and died. That doesn’t mean that one caused the other though. And I am going to sound cold hearted for saying this, but the reason Brandon Crisp is dead is because of bad parenting.

    When parents can scapegoat video games for their own failures, it’s two social negatives. First it demonizes a perfectly fair industry that is a huge economic contribution. Second, it vindicates other poor parents for bad parenting, which is a social negative in general.

    Brandon Crisp’s death only had to do with video games in the most ancillary fashion. The story could have just as easily been from parents taking away a teens internet connection, cell phone/telephone line or grounding them in general. As far as potential lawsuits go though, at least in the US this wouldn’t get very far, though. Which is a good thing.

  23. hellfire7885 says:

    I’m jsut wiating for one ot say "If they relaly did respect his death the game woudl be cancelled completely and the Xbox discontinued"

  24. nightwng2000 says:

    On the one hand, since it’s fairly local stores that are doing this, ok.  Yeah, blaming the game is ignorant, but still, it was big deal to the family, so, ok, be a little sensitive. 

    However, and I’m not being sarcastic or smartarse, how about instead of a party, have Parental Information classes?

    Parents can go and get educated on how to say "no!" to their child and "ok, that’s enough!  Diversify your time doing other things!" and "Ok, it’s bed time!  If you don’t go to bed, the computer/TV comes out of the room!".

    That plus teaching the uninformed, Parents and individuals, about the capabilities of various consoles, including Parental Controls, as well as informing them of the rating system.  Not from the perspective of "you shouldn’t let your child play games higher than their age group because we think it’s inappropriate" but rather "this is how you find out information on what the ratings mean and this is where you can find out more infomration on the products that you buy your child.  This way you can make more informed choices for yourself and your family".

    Works for me anyway.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  25. NovaBlack says:



    so now JT, and other critics that have been frequenting lately  can come on here naively saying..

    ” See. This proves games killed brandon crisp, why would they stop the launch nights if games were nothing to do with brandon’s death "

    Just more ammo for them to use in future *sigh*. I mean yeah i know it doesnt mean anything, its a sign of respect, but this can easily be used as evidence to persuade the average joe parent that doesnt know better, that games caused his death.

    I understand the whole respect thing, and admire it, but i think there are better ways it could be done, that wouldnt provide ammo for the critics.


  26. Zevorick says:

    They’re trying their damndest to bend over backwards for a group of people (the media) who will crucify them no matter what they do. It’s easier, and makes more sense, to ignore what they say and think all together. Before anyone says antyhing about me being heartless, yes it is a media related thing. If this was "from the heart" then they most certainly would ahve postponed selling the game as well. Instead, they simply cut off the celebrations to "save face" which to me is worse than anything else they could have done considering the circumstances should in no way damn the store or the completely unrelated game.

  27. MaskedPixelante says:

    Yeah, they’re looking at a catch-22 here. Either have the party and take a lot of flak for celebrating the release of a violent game after this death, or cancel the festivities and basically admit guilt.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  28. Neeneko says:

    It might make good buisness sense in the short term, but in the long term I think it is a terrible move.

    Essentially they have jumped on the ‘yes, games made him do it’ bandwagon.  This is a bad idea.  If you intentially associate yourself with a tragidy, even if you are not connected to it, the public remembers.

    For comparision, when is the last time you saw a church cancle ANYTHING when one of it’s members decides to shoot someone, blow something up, or kill a gay person.  No, usually they just say ‘we don’t approve of violence against these sinners’ and then go on with their spegetti social like usual.  They do so because to do otherwise would be accepting some blame for the crime or acknolwedging that there IS an association between what thier community was saying and the actions of a member.  Churches have really good PR skills.

  29. Titantim says:

    This was either one of two things. 

    1.  They had their hearts in the right place, but at the same time it sounds like they’re taking some of the blame for this incident as a retailer.  Which seems a little odd.

    2.  Or it can be a heartless ploy to get more media attention on a lauch of a game.  The launch party would only include the hardcore of fans that would buy the game weather there was a launch party or not.  So it saves them on time and effort to throw a party, make them seem sensitive as a retailer and get the word out that a big game is coming out.

    Is it just me thinking the 2nd?  If so, then I should be a marketer.

  30. sheppy says:

    I thought he died of overexposure.  What sort of cooling does the corpse need still?  I’d gladly donate some bags of ice to the cause.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  31. Frommonday says:

    Yeah, but most reputable news outlets distinguish between tugging the heartstrings a bit to draw in a few more readers, and not waiting for the corpse to finish cooling before distorting the situation as much as possible to support a political or moral slant. Good sites like GP do the first, less reputable places do the second.

  32. Krono says:

    And while I’d love to think the media is above such blatant shows of emotional profiteering, we all know that certain sectors of the media are not.

    Actually my personaly belief is that none of the news media is above any kind of emotional profiteering. There’s a reason we don’t really see postive headlines, or stories about a number of things, and that headlines (even those on GP) are often misleading and designed more to get you to read the article than to accurately reflect the article.


  33. Zerodash says:

    Crappy decision.  Just wait for this to be called "Microsoft’s admission of guilt" going into the inevitable lawsuit over their killing of this kid. It’s only going to get uglier. 

    By the way, are there any Brandon Crisp charities/donations yet?

  34. Frommonday says:

    I think it’s a prudent move on their part.

    The worst publicity they can get from this is a bit of "Aw, they’re cancelling for the publicity." Hardly damning.

    However, how does "Gamers celebrate the release of an online-shooter mere days after Brandon is found!" sound? And while I’d love to think the media is above such blatant shows of emotional profiteering, we all know that certain sectors of the media are not. And had such a cry gone up by the less reputable outlets, there was nothing Microsoft and Future Shop could have said to mitigate the situation without somehow damning themselves further.

    Microsoft and Future Shop realized it could lead to a media catch-22 PR disaster, and averted it. I’ll take their word at face value about it being a gesture of respect (it is, as they could have just quietly cancelled the parties without a word) but I do see the shady hand of a spin doctor or two in this.

  35. darkenchanter says:

    I take it they weren’t in an mood to listen about why they shouldn’t buy the game for their kid?

  36. J.Alpha.Gamma says:

    I don’t think it’d matter much. Gears 2 has enough "hoopla" going for it as it is.

    I didn’t even know it came out today until the first kid dragged his dad to Wal-Mart in his bed clothes at 12:30 in the morning to buy it. The second kid’s mother was still in her nightgown and bathrobe. Neither parent looked at all happy.

  37. robotco says:

    uh…. what? i guess i can see where future shop is coming from, but i think this is a bit much. kind of draws more attention to video games than if they just went through with the thing, and this will just further reinforce the media’s perception that video games were the cause of crisp’s death.

  38. Nocturne says:

    I think the telling part in this article is "the decision was made by the company and their "vendor partner", ie. Microsoft…"

    Brandon was an Xbox gamer and MS put up $50000 to the reward for finding him (or raised it to $50000, I can’t remember which). I would imagine the decision would have come from that side.

  39. HarmlessBunny says:

    It actually strikes me as odd. Future Shop, nor Gears of War had any part of the ensuing drama that revolved around the Crisp case. For Future Shop it is a polite and admirable jesture in this fashion, but still strikes me as something odd about it…

    Now if it was Call of Duty 5, it might be more understandable.

  40. Zevorick says:

    Except Gears of War and the store itself had no involvement in the case… It’s like me postponing a hot dog eating contest because someone halfway across the country died after someone broke into his house and killed him.

    Now if it was a midnight release for another Call of Duty game…

    It will “play well” in the media if anyone cares to take notice of it (other than gamers, I doubt it will happen), but all in all the decision makes little sense.

  41. TehChef says:

    I think it was the right thing to do. Any little movement that show that gamers are connected to reality, and are actually capable of expressing emotions other than excitement or frustration will go a long way towards bettering public opinion of us. Besides, even those non-gamers that are still in some way connected to the past-time, i.e. parents, might take a step back and think when they hear that the parties for one of the biggest games this year are cancelled.

  42. sheppy says:

    Well this makes no sense at all.  It’s a celebration suddenly to sell a game at midnight?  Most of these "launch parties" are just a ton of underdeoderanted gamers in lines sipping free soda while the game trailers play on a TV somewhere.  Occassionally the carnival barker jumps up and does a countdown asking everyone if they’re excited for the game, people grab the title and either go home or hit a Steak ‘N Shake, and likely never see line companions again, in life or online.

    Doing this begs the ultimate question.  On the day John Travolta dies, will Future Shop cancel all launch parties for Rock Band/Guitar Hero games?  After all, Travolta was known for Saturday Night Fever… which is about music… so it kind of fits, right?

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  43. NateDogg says:

    I dont think they are really saying that it was the fault of the game that this kid died.  They are just showing respect by not celebrating too much right after he died. 

  44. SpiralGray says:

    "This story is a tragic case of a son running away from home after having an argument with his father and dying as a result. Nothing more, nothing less."

    Hear, hear. I said almost the exact same thing in a post to another entry on this story. I get sick and tired of a media that has no creativity what-so-ever. They get pointed in one direction and suddenly everything has to tie into that. What they fought over should have no bearing on this. It should be a message about how to discipline your children when they are not behaving appropriately, not a message that video games caused him to die.

  45. Bennett Beeny says:

    Amen!  I couldn’t agree more.  Personally, I can agree with them toning down any hoopla about their game in the area around where the kid died, but advertising the fact is only going to tie the kid’s death to videogames more.

  46. Flamespeak says:

    That is a horrible decision on Future Shop’s part.

    I can understand if they want to try and be sympathetic, but doing this only makes people think that there is a connection between video games and the death of a 15 year-old when it is really a run away dying from exposure because he and his father had an argument.

    Gears of War and Future Shop had nothing to do with the incident. I have to wonder, if the father and son had an argument about math being too difficult and he ran away as a result of that argument would schools suddenly stop demanding students take math classes? Would anti-math legislation take effect? Would it be cited as a way to remove math from the sight of ‘innocent minors’?

    This story is a tragic case of a son running away from home after having an argument with his father and dying as a result. Nothing more, nothing less.

  47. hellfire7885 says:

    *waits quietly for one of two to make a "if they had ANY respect for him or the family they’d cancel the game altogether" comment*

  48. Spartan says:

    It is a bad call in my book. Hell the kid was a gamer. A far better thing to have done would be to donate some of the profits of the sales event to family for a memorial or even establish a scholarship fund for him.

    I maybe would have made the launch activities a sort of tribute to him, provided that his death was conclusively shown to be related to his gaming. If not game on…


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  49. SimonBob says:

    The cynical response would be "they’re just doing it for publicity" but I’m willing to take it at face value — at least on the Toronto cancellation.  Not sure on the rationale for also canceling Vancouver.  (Would they cancel a party in San Francisco if someone went missing in upstate New York?)

    The Mammon Industry

  50. sheppy says:

    Just more evidence how this entire case was chasing a Red Herring.  "Der, kid played games."  What kid his age doesn’t?

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Comments are closed.