If you believe (incorrectly) that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, you may be impressed that people are still talking about publisher THQ Nordic GmbH. Their ‘Ask Me Anything’ Q&A session on 8chan – an infamous image-board permanently delisted from Google for hosting suspected child porn – got people chattering. Unfortunately it’s the kind of chatter that has brought parent company THQ Nordic AB out of the woodwork to publicly apologise for the incident to “group employees, partners and consumers”, although it’s a predictably rote and half-hearted statement.
In THQ Nordic AB’s official statement, co-founder and CEO Lars Wingefors takes “full responsibility for all of THQ Nordic GmbH’s actions and communications”. There’s talk of an internal investigation that “every member of the organisation has learned from”, but no word of what – if anything – will be happening to Philipp Brock, marketing director and man responsible. Despite his claims that he (and nobody else at the publisher) had any idea about 8chan’s bad reputation, the event was announced along with talk of having someone on 8chan to “take care of the nasty stuff”. They did not, but at least it made “Shoutouts to Mark” a minor Twitter meme.
“As a Swedish based, fast growing group, we firmly support equality and diversity,” Wingefors said. “We are also working actively to combat discrimination, harassment, and misconduct. We are already in the process of developing new work processes, based on the United Nations’ SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and using the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards, and we will accelerate this work going forward.”
Wingefors at least tries to reiterate that they do not endorse any of the awfulness that 8chan is known for, admitting that hosting a PR event there “gave an implicit impression that we did”. The company claims that they’re changing things to avoid similar mistakes in the future, although all of this awfulness could have been solved with literally thirty seconds on Google once the public warnings started pouring in. That is, if we believe Brock’s claims that nobody at all knew of 8chan’s reputation and history, which I cannot see any reason to.
The apology feels more geared towards trying to assuage the fears of shareholders, studios and other associated entities. I know I feel bad for reformed Darksiders studio Gunfire Games, who launched a piece of arena mode DLC for Darksiders 3 on the same day as the Q&A. The release was understandably buried, and even a casual search for the game that day resulted in the PR firestorm the publisher had caused. But hey, no such thing as bad publicity, right?