In what is easily the strangest thing to happen this year, game publisher THQ Nordic decided to host an AMA on the worst website on the internet.
Most people have heard of 4chan, the image posting board where almost anything goes. 4chan has been home to some of the seedier places on the internet, but when they were accused of hosting some downright illegal imagery, they cleaned up their act and forced certain unsavory elements to find a new home.
Those unsavory elements, the ones even 4chan felt were "a bit much," formed a site called 8chan. The Washington Post described it as “the more-lawless, more-libertarian, more ‘free’ follow-up to 4chan.” On 8chan, literally anything goes, including stuff that would get you arrested in all 50 states. Things like swatting, sexual imagery of children, and white supremacy are all discussed openly, albeit under the veil of anonymity.
"The Washington Post described it [8chan] as 'the more-lawless, more-libertarian, more 'free' follow-up to 4chan.' Boards have been created to discuss topics such as child rape." https://t.co/HBVCRiQgyX— Patrick Klepek (@patrickklepek) February 26, 2019
8chan is so awful that Google delisted them from their engine so that nobody could accidentally stumble across it. So imagine our surprise when THQ Nordic, publishers of such fine games as Pillars of Eternity, Darksiders III, and Sunset Overdrive, decided to host an impromptu AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on 8chan yesterday afternoon.
It’s hard to imagine any company willingly associating with a site known for the proliferation of child porn, but we are in the darkest timeline, after all.
Stranger still was THQ’s explanation for agreeing to the AMA in the first place. Philipp Brock, PR & Marketing Director THQ Nordic, wrote that "we have no idea why" they were doing the AMA, and that "the opportunity was there and we took it."
Naturally, that tweet no longer exists. But before THQ took it down, Twitter lambasted the move, with many game journalists baffled at THQ’s decision.
THQNordic, after drinking expired milk: the opportunity was here and we took it— austin walker (@austin_walker) February 26, 2019
Uh, so I just spoke to THQ Nordic’s PR and marketing director and this *is* legit https://t.co/pieqOhl30P— Calvin (@gamesbizuk) February 26, 2019
THQ Nordic has decided to up their game in buying dead brands by killing their own brand so they can buy it.— Imran Khan (@imranzomg) February 26, 2019
As for the AMA itself, it went pretty much as poorly as one would expect from the type of people that inhabit 8chan. Waypoint’s Patrick Klepek took some screenshots where 8chan users ask THQ to not "censor any games nor appeal to the SocJus crowd” while also posting pictures of young, well endowed anime-style women.
Afterward, Philipp returned to THQ’s twitter feed to apologize for the AMA, writing that he hadn’t done his “proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site.”
"I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site. I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. (...)— THQNordic (@THQNordic) February 26, 2019
This is a tweet that will go down in history as one that no PR person should ever have to write.
The real question is why THQ didn’t pull the plug 2 minutes into the AMA? It should have been abundantly clear what sort of people hang out on 8chan, and any PR director worth half their salt would have bailed out immediately.
But this is 2019. Literally anything can happen, and often does.