THQ Nordic CEO and co-founder, Lars Wingefors, has detailed his "sincerest apologies and regret for THQ Nordic’s interaction with the controversial website 8chan" last week.
THQ Nordic’s decision to host an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session on the 8chan website – a site banned from Google for grossly offensive material, including child pornography and hate speech – was almost universally condemned by the industry.
A subsequent statement prepared by PR and marketing director, Philipp Brock – who said he "personally agreed" to work with 8chan – acknowledged he had not done "due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site", but prior references to the site’s "nasty stuff" contradicted these claims. Additionally, the AMA thread itself was filled with extremist and offensive material, and when one poster asked Brock – posting as "THQN_Philipp" – to not "censor any games nor appeal to the SocJus crowd, you guys are doing fine as is", Brock replied with: "Thanks! we’ll try to stay that way."
"I personally agreed to this AMA without doing my proper due diligence to understand the history and the controversy of the site," said a statement from Brock later that same evening. "I do not condone child pornography, white supremacy, or racism in any shape or form. I am terribly sorry for the short-sightedness of my (!) decision, and promise to be far more vigorous in my assessment of these activities in the future. This was not about being edgy, this blew up and I very much regret to have done it in the first place."
When pressed to justify why he kept the AMA going after the criticisms began, Brock replied, "I was f–king overwhelmed with a plethora of different emotions to be honest. I am not a white supremacist, nor into child pornography, nor do I think this AMA was smart in hindsight and if I could, I would undo."
Now, a week after the event, Lars Wingefors, co-founder and group CEO of THQ Nordic AB, the parent company of THQ Nordic GmbH Vienna, has issued a formal statement (thanks, VG24/7). It stops short of clarifying what, if any, disciplinary actions the staff responsible for the PR blunder will face.
“This letter is to offer my sincerest apologies and regret for THQ Nordic GmbH Vienna’s interaction with the controversial website 8chan last Tuesday, February 26. I condemn all unethical content this website stands for. Even if no one within the THQ Nordic Group would ever endorse such content, I realize simply appearing there gave an implicit impression that we did.
“As co-Founder and group CEO of THQ Nordic AB, I take full responsibility for all of THQ Nordic GmbH‘s actions and communications. I have spent the past several days conducting an internal investigation into this matter. I assure you that every member of the organization has learned from this past week’s events. I take this matter very seriously and we will take appropriate action to make sure we have the right policies and systems in place to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
“As a Swedish based, fast growing group, we firmly support equality and diversity. We are also working actively to combat discrimination, harassment, and misconduct. We are already in the process of developing new work processes, based on the United Nations’ SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and using the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards, and we will accelerate this work going forward."