If you’ve spent any time on the gaming internet today, as we all usually do every day, you probably know by now that THQ Nordic stepped in a big, steaming pile of Bad Internet. It’s sort of hard to say how deliberate it was, but regardless, this is about as bad as bad looks can possibly get. We’re in the official damage control phase at this point, but it goes without saying that regardless of what internal communications breakdowns took place, the actions and subsequent statement of apology don’t exactly match. Let’s take a look at what might go down as the worst marketing move in modern gaming history.
A couple hours ago, out of the blue, the official THQ Nordic Twitter account announced it was doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on, well, 8chan. If you don’t know what 8chan is, just know that it’s a result of “free speech” movements on the internet, is blacklisted by Google, and that clicking on anything there is the last thing you want to do to your browsing history. Needless to say, the “ratio” phenomenon took hold of the situation in no time at all:
As you can see with the immediate reply, whoever is/was behind the wheel at the THQ Nordic Twitter account knows exactly what that godforsaken website is. There’s not even an attempt at feigned ignorance here; just a cutesy irony grab that treats horrible online shit like a gag you can dance around instead of actual, documented moral and legal concerns. Again, Google blacklist. That’s not easy to get. Of course, after roughly an hour of quiet presumably everywhere but the actual AMA (which I did not take a look at for reasons which should be beyond obvious), a statement emerged from THQ Nordic marketing director Phillip Brock. Check it out:
Based on the signature at the end of the tweet thread, it’s clear that Brock and the person who pursued and ran the AMA aren’t the same person. (Editor’s Note: Judging by other screenshots people have taken of the AMA itself, there were multiple people from THQ Nordic involved, and some of those replies supported bigotry, racism, sexism, etc.) It’s hard to say exactly what happened, but it’s easy to assume Brock was presented with something like “hey, want to do an AMA on this nerdy website?” which isn’t a problem at all depending on how it’s presented. But here we are, and now it’s time for some extreme backpedaling. But the damage has already been done, especially with this little gem in THQ Nordic’s Twitter “likes,” aka the best place for people on that platform to quietly make fools of themselves:
Whoops! Now we have a severe messaging disconnect between, “oops sorry, we didn’t know what we were doing,” and “wow get a load of these Sensitive Simons out here doing outrage culture!” All extremely public, all out there forever whether or not some of this stuff eventually gets deleted. As of the time of this writing, both the apology and the original tweets promoting and justifying the AMA are still live, sending a pretty confusing message. It’s hard to say where we go from here, but if the answer isn’t “more statements,” I’ll be pretty shocked, personally.
As fun as it can be to hop into a dogpile for this sort of egregious marketing mishap, it’s important to note that this is happening in the middle of THQ Nordic going out and acquiring all kinds of IP and developers. Now, the people outside of the marketing team who had nothing to do with this nonsense have it all hanging over their heads. THQ Nordic’s public-facing representation stepped on a giant, blinking landmine that literally shouted, “hey, yo, you shouldn’t step on me,” opted to double down, and now has to deal with an explosion that shattered the whole company’s reputation in less than an hour. Meanwhile the folks who made Darksiders III for example have to sit and quietly watch this storm and hope it somehow blows over.
ah, So u persecute Jared Fogle just because he has different beliefs? Do Tell. (girls get mad at me) Sorry. Im sorry. Im trying to remove it
— wint (@dril) November 1, 2015