THQ Nordic, in what can only be described as one big bad decision, recently decided it would be a good idea to have an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on 8chan. Yes, the 8chan, the one best known for being the unregulated part of the internet whose content falls somewhere on the spectrum of unsavory to reprehensible and flat out horrible, all the way up to illegal. In the fall out of this poor decision, THQ has been in the headlines on several prominent news sites, all commenting and condemning the choice made by the company to host its AMA on something like 8chan. Such titles like, THQ Nordic delivered a masterclass in blowing up your brand and THQ Nordic apologizes for granting interview to the toilet of the internet, 8chan, were prominently featured during and after the debacle, perfectly encapsulating most feelings on the matter: THQ made a very bad decision.
But I am not here to further pile on the condemnation of THQ (others have done plenty), instead, I am here to provide a different point of view; one that many may disagree with or simply not like. At the end of all that has come to pass surrounding this decision, this mistake by THQ will quickly be forgotten and in the end matter very little—if at all—for the company.
It is one thing to condemn a company for what they have done, but it’s another to hold them accountable. Just like any other company, the best method consumers have is to boycott a company’s products until they change their practices. In the case of THQ, that is certainly an option, but being a publisher adds another level of complexity to simply not buying their games. Mainly, because they are not their games, they just happen to own the rights and are publishing them, but THQ Nordic is not the one actually creating them. That means that as a consumer if you intend to hold THQ Nordic accountable for their actions, you need to target the developer as well as THQ.
This, of course, speaks to a larger issue when regarding a company that is a publisher. In that, it both naturally insulates them from direct actions from consumers to hold them accountable and from continually being condemned for the action they took. Unlike developers, publishers are not something that we as gamers and consumers interact with directly, we don’t buy games because of or for a publisher, it’s something we are forced to do to purchase a game from a developer. This insulation creates a scenario where consumers rarely focus on the publisher (unless they have a hand in development) and become largely forgotten in the grand scheme of it all.
Blinded by Games
Because consumers don’t directly associate or interact with publishers the same way they do developers, it doesn’t take much for something to become forgotten. Come the release of Biomutant, will anyone remember that THQ made a terrible PR decision several months ago? No. Instead, everyone will have their eyes glued to the fancy new information about a game being developed by Experiment 101. Or if THQ happens to be mentioned, it won’t in the same light as this scandal, it will be about them publishing a new game.
Of course, this should come as little news to anyone. The news cycle comes and goes so quickly that it’s impossible to stay outraged forever, and when it’s with a company that is more removed from a consumer than others, it goes even faster. Take for example the outrage that followed Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and the flak EA faced in light of the content and predatory loot box situation that had fans and even some political figures up in arms. Yet here we are, months later, and it’s largely forgotten and we find ourselves discussing the downfalls and issues of Anthem and the potential of the next new Star Wars game instead.
This is simply the sad fact when it comes to poor decisions being made by companies, we as humans have a limit for the number of different issues we can actively care about and pay attention to, and for most issues, we simply just stop caring about them at some point and move on. The situation THQ finds itself in will be no different, months from now this will all be but only a dream. THQ will have gotten a week or two of time in the press, consumers will have said their peace or attempted to hold them accountable, an apology will be issued, and everything will have moved on the second a new game comes out.
Looking back, it will be something that only a few still hold onto and mention, but all the while the rest have moved on and it will be left forgotten as a distant memory.