Forget screenshots and trailers. Forget demos. Forget even the booth babes. The new way to roll out games is to court controversy. From Activision's Modern Warfare 2 and its leaked airport shooting scene, to Sony's God of War to Electronic Arts' Dante's Inferno, the new game marketing paradigm seems to focus on generating pre-release controversy about a game in order to get some free publicity.

You can't entirely blame the usual suspects for this. Rockstar Games first launched a whole new approach to marketing games, using both high profile marketing techniques usually associated with Hollywood or music labels, and of course controversy. Lots and lots and lots of controversy. Controversy is of course a cheap way of getting free publicity, but controversy doesn't really equal game sales.

Rockstar discovered the high cost of controversy with the Hot Coffee leak. Oblivion's own controversy got the game pulled from a number of retailers. But what we have now is carefully manufactured marketing controversies. For example the noise over Modern Warfare 2 is ridiculously overblown, but it's still better than EA's wholly manufactured controversies created by their marketing teams.

But does controversy really sell? Will Modern Warfare 2 pick up any more copies because of it or not?