Twitter PR has been the downfall of so many projects in the gaming industry. Of course the most recent PR disaster came from the developers behind Titan Souls, when the lead artist Andrew Gleeson decided to print out a tweet from TotalBiscuit claiming the game wasn’t for him, and pin it to his fridge with pride. This led to many consumers deciding not to purchase Titan Souls with the developers acting poorly to criticism. While this was just one-third of AcidNerve, the team behind Titan Souls, the other 2 members then took to Facebook to ask their friends to upvote positive reviews in order to counteract the bad PR Andrew had forced upon the team.
But Twitter isn’t the only form of social media getting developers into hot water. For a few years developers have been illegally using DMCA take down notices on YouTube videos in order to censor bad publicity. They obviously don’t realize that this only leads to the Streisand Effect, and games are now not only known bad gameplay but also bad PR. One of the first and most famous of these instances was when Total Biscuit reviewed Garry’s Incident, but happened as recently as last month to Jim Sterling with the game Skate Man Intense Rescue. As Jim Sterling points out, the Streisand Effect does not work in the developer’s favor in these cases, instead of the developers being known for their game, now the game belongs to the censored critic.
Then of course there are those who are in charge of the PR for the community, the community managers, which have done nothing but terrible things for their games in question. Obviously the most famous here is Dina, community manager from Mighty No.9 . Not only does she not like MegaMan, she did a good job of alienating the community. She locked threads and banned members from forums if they disagreed with her or the way the game was being developed. Only backers could see these forums, but leaks show that they were extremely unhappy with how the community was being handled. Then there was Annie Mitsoda of Dead State who called one critic a “dickbag” for wanting an apology after a buggy release. It is nice however to see that some companies are learning from these experiences.
Chris Priestly, formerly of Bioware, was forced to apologize last year after making a comment to actress Felicia Day that she could get free stuff if she went about topless. He later resigned from EA and now works as community manager for CD PROJEKT RED, who are currently developing The Witcher 3. During the controversy surrounding the Honey Badger Brigade booth at Calgary Expo, where one poster for sale had a GamerGate symbol, Chris Priestly firmly put his foot in things again by making this tweet comparing GamerGate to the KKK.
Eventually either hindsight or some higher ups at CD PROJEKT RED came into play and Chris apologized for his insensitive comments as well as deleted the original tweet. Finally, it’s good to see a development company working on their PR skills.
A lot of this stuff just seems common sense. Calling critics “dickbags” on Twitter, censoring discussion and criticism and likening a group of gamers to the KKK is never going to be seen as a good thing by the community at whole. I think it’s time that those who represent games and their projects realized that they are responsible for the representation of their works, and decide to act accordingly.
What do you think of the situation with Gaming’s PR?
Update: A few hours before this article went live Dina resigned from her post of community manager of Mighty No.9. I would also like to thank the Twitter user who brought my attention so the above screenshots.