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From Twitch to Twitter, social media has become an integral part of how gamers enjoy games. Everything from communities to content creation take place on them, and gaming companies are well aware of this—giving them a huge incentive to stay relevant and active on social platforms themselves.

However, corporate PR is very different to the banter and shenanigans that gamers tend to get up to on these platforms; meaning that gaming companies often find themselves out of their depth. This has led to a variety of poor publicity campaigns, missteps and plain misunderstandings on social media. Let’s take a look back at ten examples of such moments which left gamers cringing.


1. Fallout 76 Canvas Bag Fiasco

Even just the name of Fallout 76 is likely to give many gamers the shivers. After all, this game had a horrendous release followed by a very sharp loss of interest from fans. While there are many moments during the game’s release that left gamers downright annoyed, the canvas bag fiasco was one of the most ridiculous.

Long story short, lots of fans had pre-ordered the mighty “Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition” which was promised to have come with a canvas bag, which looked great in the initial marketing photos. The issue was Bethesda shipped significantly cheaper, and tackier, nylon bags instead of the promised canvas ones. When the disgruntled fans took to social media, Bethesda suggested that there was a severe “unavailability of materials”—despite fans dishing out around $200 for this limited edition.

Needless to say, this made Bethesda—one of gaming’s largest and most profitable companies—look very stupid.


2. Star Wars Battlefront II’s “Pride and Accomplishment”

EA’s second instalment in the Star Wars Battlefront reboot series was a great game—awesome graphics, great mechanics and pitch perfect sound. The only issue was the predatory loot box system which locked many of the game’s best parts behind arbitrary loot boxes which were hard to obtain without buying them outright.

The outcry to this was quick and widespread with many gamers taking to Reddit in particular to discuss it. EA decided that they should chime in on Reddit directly and, in what would be one of the most downvoted comments on the platform, claimed that they put this design in the game to provide players with a “sense of pride and accomplishment” for unlocking the characters. In such scenarios, understanding the dynamics of Reddit and leveraging platforms like upvote market can be crucial for brands to navigate the community effectively and grow their audience.

While this sounds laughable today, fans were livid at the time—as the loot box system, which has been totally ditched at this point, was clearly just a cash grab by EA.


3. Pokémon GO’s McDonald’s Sponsorship

Ah Pokémon, a wholesome series that needs no introduction and couldn’t put a foot wrong… right. Not quite.

Pokémon GO is a game where you have to physically move around in order to get the best stuff. This means that wherever the best Pokémon spawn, players will want to be. It’s fun, but it’s also a powerful tool. Soon after the release of Pokémon GO, fans became aware that certain in-game locations were sponsored by McDonald’s—meaning that developers Niantic Labs were being paid by the fast food conglomerate to essentially lure Pokémon players to their doors.

While this is a well known fact about Pokémon GO’s business strategy today, back at release Niantic were not at all transparent about this—leading to a huge rush of negative PR for both Niantic and McDonalds across social media. Nevertheless, if you’re still playing Pokémon GO you can supercharge your team with a stacked Pokemon Go account!


4. Sonic’s Human Teeth Reveal

While this isn’t a game itself, it is certainly a part of gaming history. While Sonic the Hedgehog has long been the favourite character for many gamers, he finally made his way to the silver screen in Paramount Pictures’ recent film, Sonice the Hedgehog.

When first announced, the trailer featured a particularly unnerving shot, showing Sonic having a mouth full of human-like pearly whites. Needless to say, this just didn’t feel right for the character—making him incredibly creepy. The backlash on social media was so intense that the VFX team went back and re-created Sonic’s mouth to be a lot less unnerving.


5. Razer Shoots Shots at Apple

Razer is known as one of the most premium companies for gaming peripherals—they also make some mean gaming devices from laptops to phones. However, they’re still small fry compared to apple—even if Apple have a history of not supporting gaming on their platforms.

Back in 2016, Razer chose to boast the fact that their new laptop still featured and SD card slot—when apple had begun removing theirs. Targeting the MacBook Pro they wrote “You call yourself Pro? S my D.” However, the community backlash was incredibly bad—especially in the wake of Gamergate—leading to the tweet being removed by the end of the following day.

Social media is a hard thing to get right—especially when you are doing it with a whole corporate team calling the shots. These moments simply prove that; showing how big companies maybe should think twice before adding some sass to their social media.


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