Up For Debate – Gaming’s most outrageous PR spins and disasters


Gaming is an interest which is never short on both hilarity and disaster. The push/pull between a rabid fanbase, over-eager executives, and cynical players mean we’re constantly on a ship steering through rocky waters. Publishers want higher margins, gamers want better games, and when these two ideals clash we get our PR disasters. Back in the old days we didn’t really get them at all but, with gaming proliferating into the huge entertainment goliath it is today, failures are both costly and embarrassing. They will say anything they can to paper over the cracks.

I tell you what though, the last couple of years have been rich pickings. Truly, we are in the golden age of outlandish PR claims. Half the time it’s not even their fault. They’re often being asked to make something bad sound fantastic, and that’s not an easy task. PR can’t often say the truth. They can’t say they think loot boxes suck and they detract from the gameplay experience. They can’t tell you their game is probably overpriced right now, or that it’s not content complete. But they can tell you about how absolutely awesome everything is right now.

So it’s time to celebrate both the most hilarious cock-ups and the most outrageous positive spins. The PR who can take a disaster and weave it into a success truly are gold dust. 

I’ll get the ball rolling with a few of my favourites. I just about managed to resist an entire page of EA quotes.

“We don’t call them loot boxes. We call them ‘surprise mechanics’”. – Kerry Hopkins, EA.

Glorious stuff. Meme-worthy.

“Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360.” Don Mattrick, Microsoft.

Mattrick there, bullish about the always-online functionality of the Xbox One when it was originally announced. The climb down took just 72 hours.

“Borderlands 3 won’t have microtransactions.” – Randy Pitchford, Gearbox. 

“The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.” – EA Community Team, EA.

Star Wars Battlefront 2’s launch cause a bigger mess than Jabba’s underwear. Framing paid customers having to spend hundreds of hours unlocking key characters as “pride and accomplishment” truly was the icing on the cake.

“It’s probably too cheap… If you can have an amazing experience, we believe price is not a problem.

“We want consumers to think to themselves ‘I will work more hours to buy one.’ We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else.”  – Ken Kutaragi, Sony.

Nothing beats being bullish optimistic, cocksure, smug, or condescending to your fan base than telling them they should get another job to pay for your overpriced console. 

There’s a few to get it going then, but what have been some of your favourites over the years? Anything in particular which has had you head-palming? Let us know your thoughts below!