The Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) is one of those rare trade shows where with a little bit of effort, the stars can align to produce something spectacular. With nearly every major company in the gaming industry vying for attention at the show, breaking through the clutter and noise of the West and South Halls is no small feat. It requires thoughtful planning, timely execution and well, a CEO who is willing to shave his head to fulfill a bet.
Skeptical of his decision to greenlight a development project back in September of 2009, CEO Frederik Wester of Paradox Interactive promised the Paradox community that if the upcoming title Victoria 2 were to turn a profit, the heavy metal fanatic would part ways with his beloved golden locks. In an interview with Gamasutra, Mr. Wester highlighted how the idea came into being during a meeting with the Paradox production team, headed by Director of Development Johan Andersson, in which the Paradox team chose Victoria 2 as its next project to move forward on:
When the poll tilted in favor of Victoria 2 “I was surprised,” Wester admitted, but “Johan wasn’t so surprised. He said, ‘No, that’s the game the team wants to do as well.'” So the CEO presented an ultimatum. He told his producer, “You can do this game, and I’ll shave my head if it ever sees profit. But if it doesn’t show profit, then I decide the next game.”
“What is that next game going to be?” Andersson asked. Wester cynically replied, “I don’t know. Barbie in Space.”
Still, the exec sees his unorthodox wager as a win-win: “Either I get to keep my hair, or I get a profitable game,” he pointed out. “And I don’t doubt that our team will deliver a great game.”
As E3 2010 approached, Mr. Wester delivered the following message:
“…game is exceeding all expectations at this point and retail pre-orders are going very strong. Decided to pay my hair debt now.”
With the brave CEO ready to make good on his promise, all that was needed was the proper setting to host “Fred’s Head Redemption” and the right person to handle the task. Our friends over at Nyko provided the perfect booth space to carry out the deed, with IGN’s Jessica Chobot answering the call of a bizarre PR request and serving as E3 2010’s most popular hairstylist. At 1pm on Thursday, June 17th, the Nyko booth was host to an impromptu barber shop, where crowds quickly gathered to watch Jessica relieve Mr. Wester of his prized mane.
Lesson learned: During hectic trade shows, sometimes it’s okay to “lose your hair.”