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April Fools’ Day 2023: the best and cringiest pranks

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As Chaim Gartenberg explained in 2021, there are only really four options for brands on April Fools’ Day:

  1. Don’t do an April Fools’ joke. Put the time and energy into doing something productive that will materially benefit the world (or, less idealistically, your business) instead. Or just don’t do anything. Abstaining entirely would still be a net positive over the drain of resources and mental energy.
  2. Do an April Fools’ “joke” but actually follow through on your stunt. This is arguably not a prank, since you’ve actually created a video game skin or a real product that people can buy — but it doesn’t really hurt anyone.
  3. Do an April Fools’ joke but be extremely clear from the start that this is a dumb joke and you have no intention of doing the thing that you are “humorously” pretending to do. Does this defeat the purpose of doing an April Fools’ joke because you’re not “fooling” anyone anymore? Absolutely. (Please see my first two points.)
  4. Lie to your customers, successfully tricking them into believing you are making some product, rebranding, or service you are not. By doing so, you will almost certainly annoy everyone once your deceit is made plain for the extremely small gain of pointless PR. The aphorism goes that there is no such thing as bad publicity; the seemingly endless line of companies willing to make fools out of themselves has proven this false time and time again.

So, after a quieter couple of April Fools’ years during the pandemic (with the notable exception of VW’s incredibly ill-conceived Voltswagen stunt), many corporate behemoths have decided to make another attempt at convincing us they’re really funny. How’s that working out so far?

Sega chose option two and killed Sonic the Hedgehog, and, after a fashion, so did Asus by unexpectedly revealing the ROG Ally handheld gaming PC as a real product.

Games like Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty: Warzone leaned into option three, while Tesla’s Cybertruck “crash test” landed somewhere in between. But on the plus side, at least we haven’t seen many of them trying out AI-generated jokes (yet).

If you see anything that particularly sticks out for good, bad, or just unusual reasons, send it to us.


    The Asus ROG Ally handheld gaming PC is real, not an April Fools’ joke

    Considering the date on the calendar and the lack of a price or other details, my first response to Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) surprise-announcing a handheld gaming machine was that this must be an April Fools’ Day prank.

    Still, this Asus ROG Ally launch video was just a little too good to simply shake off — the link to Best Buy and the use of real games like High on Life, Moving Out, and WRC Generations seemed unusual for a prank, and now we know why. After waiting a couple of days, Asus has confirmed it is a real device (well, as real as a product can be without a launch date, detailed specs, or price) and says gamers can sign up with Best Buy for details on when preorders will start.

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  • Love & Translation is basically that Duolingo reality dating show minus the owl

    The trailer for Love & Translation

    While it was clearly in development long before Duolingo’s very funny and compelling April Fools’ joke, Love & Translation is definitely going to get a lot of comparisons to the viral ad. That’s because they’re basically the same thing.

    In the new show, three men who only speak English look for love amongst 12 women who don’t speak any English at all, which is... a little cringier than the Duolingo gag. Also, there’s no green owl looming in the distance and trying to teach people to new languages so they can better communicate.

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  • One million sign up for Sonic’s murder.

    The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog has racked up 1M downloads since launching as a joke on April 1st, and is already breaking ratings records on Steam, according to a social media manager for the spiny mammal.

    Who’s the fool now, internet? But more importantly, who’s the killer!?

  • Asus announced its handheld gaming PC in the worst way possible

    A person holding Asus’ ROG Ally.
    Asus’ ROG Ally video made the device look pretty real. Turns out, it was!
    Image: Asus

    Asus’ ROG Ally, a Steam Deck-like handheld gaming PC, is actually real. But because of the messy and ill-informed communications about the device that, of course, involved April Fools’ Day, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that. Companies, take note: please don’t follow Asus’ lead next year.

    The confusion started with an announcement at midnight on April 1st “revealing” the handheld. The video felt somewhat tongue-in-cheek, especially during one moment when someone is locked out of their house and happily remembers they have the Ally in their jacket pocket. The tagline felt April Fools’-y — “you’ll never have to stop gaming again” — and the video concluded with somebody using the Ally on a roller coaster and a go-kart.

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  • The Asus ROG Ally handheld is real and aimed directly at the Steam Deck.

    After an odd April Fools’ Day tease, Asus confirmed the ROG Ally is coming out someday. Dave2D got hands-on time with a prototype and reports it will be a global release, but with no word on the battery or price.

    But the most important element is the custom-designed AMD Ryzen APU inside, which is a major strength of Valve’s Steam Deck that other portable PC gaming machines haven’t been able to match until now.

  • Pretty smart to expire April Fools’ links at midnight.

    I got got by a silly Aaron Rodgers-to-the-Jets April Fools’ joke by a local Wisconsin news website, but when I clicked the link there was just an explainer about why they expire their hoaxes at midnight. Clever!

  • April Fools’ 2023: Apex Legends.

    Combining last year’s Nessie-shooting pistol and the “Mozambique here!” joke that’s been present since Apex Legends launched, Respawn has made (what used to be) the game’s worst gun into an assortment of other weapons.

    Pinging a door or other weapon turns it into one of several random Mozambiques that have properties of other guns that have been removed from the game, as well as the Nessie variant.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Nothing Beer (5.1%).

    Fresh off of releasing the Ear 2 earbuds and ahead of its second phone, Nothing claims its latest product is not a joke. On the company’s website, it says they’ve made a beer that’s due to be released in summer 2023 and ask people to sign up for updates.

    Making beautiful tech is thirsty work. 

    So we created Beer (5.1%). A crisp, unfiltered rice lager. Brewed independently at Freetime Beer Co in Wales, UK.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Tinder is now fish-free.

    If this were true, then a lot of bros would need to fill in some blanks on their dating profiles immediately.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Twitter HQ moving to Miami.

    Sure, maybe Elon Musk could take over FTX’s vacant office space in Miami, but the edit history on the mayor’s tweet exposes this one as a joke.

    Another funny joke from Mayor Francis Suarez is the MiamiCoin cryptocurrency — when we checked in last year, it had lost 88 percent of its value and traded for $0.0044. Now things have gotten so bad that the OkCoin exchange has suspended trading there altogether.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Obsidian adds AI.

    Obsidian is following in the footsteps of other productivity tools like Notion and Google Docs by adding an “AI assistant.” It’s called “Gemmy, the Obsidian Unhelper,” and the developers promise it’ll be 100 percent unhelpful.

    It is an actual, installable plugin, that asked me if this quickpost was the best I could do, and if I’d considered using comic sans.


  • April Fools’ 2023: Duolingo’s Love Language.

    We’re dyed-in-the-wool April Fools’ Day haters around here, but hold on one second — Duolingo and Peacock might be on to something.

    This show Love Language doesn’t exist, but its fake trailer is more interesting (and less cringe-inducing) than reality dating shows that actually are arriving on streaming services lately.

    Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.

  • April Fools’ 2023: The Razer Razer.

    A bit obvious, and I’m surprised if they hadn’t done this one already.

    The only gaming mouse with both Chroma RGB and 360 fps (follicles per second), etc.

    From Razer’s FAQ:

    The performance buff of the Razer Razer will gradually fade as your hair regrows. However, if you’d like to immediately perform worse, we recommend temporarily switching to non-Razer products.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Overwatch 2.

    Blizzard’s team-based shooter has gone all googly-eyes for its characters on April 1st in past years, which is back, along with other changes, including new voice lines to accompany ultimate abilities.

    There’s also a new super serious arcade mode that tries out the most unbalanced version of each hero. How would you like a Ramattra who can stay in Nemesis form forever, a Reinhardt who can fly, or Symmetra turrets that do damage before they even land and deploy?

  • April Fools’ 2023: Among Us.

    Hey, remember 2020’s most-downloaded game Among Us? Whether you’re still playing or if you’ve taken a break, this could be a reason to get the group together again.

    For the weekend, developers Innersloth have brought a new version of Horse Mode, available in either Classic or Horse Wrangling flavors.

  • April Fools’ 2023: Cybertruck.

    Like the Cybertruck’s windshield wiper, this “crash test” doesn’t quite reach the end.

  • The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is a new, real, and free game you can play right now

    Oh, Mario went missing once? Big deal — Sonic’s just been murdered!

    In a very sudden, very confusing surprise, Sega has shadow dropped a new Sonic the Hedgehog game for PC and Mac. The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, as baffling as that sounds, is a free murder mystery game on Steam you can download and play right now. The point-and-click adventure puts you amid the Sonic cast on a murder mystery party aboard the Mirage Express to celebrate Amy Rose’s birthday, but — gasp — the game turns out to be real as Sonic is found keeled over, dead on the floor.

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