9. EA | EA Spouse
When Erin Hoffman donned the name EA Spouse and wrote her blog about how her fiancé was being treated by Electronic Arts, she probably had no idea it would lead to EA seeing its darkest hour since its inception. Fed up with EA pushing her fiancé to work double shifts without any pay for months on end, her initially anonymous blog post exposed the games industry as a pretty bad place to work.
Suddenly the outside world stopped looking at the games industry as something akin to a rock star existence and likened it more to working in a Chinese sweatshop. It didn't cause gamers to lose any sleep over it, and the only minute they stopped playing Battlefield for it was when they took the time to read the post, but it certainly had an impact on EA's already sketchy reputation.
8. Activision | Firing Jason West and Vince Zampella
Activision, never one to withhold any controversial punches, showed a true lack of insight when they fired Infinity Ward's studio heads Jason West and Vince Zampella. The reason? "Breach of contract and insurbordination". Seriously, what is that, insubordination? Was Activision treating Infinity Ward as a squad in one of the Call of Duty games? Not to be outdone; West, Zampella and several other Infinity Ward employees filed a lawsuit claiming that Activision was withholding bonuses to keep them from leaving the company.
This time, gamers did stop playing Call of Duty in a worried protest over their beloved franchise. While holding the bonuses ransom is just plain wrong, Activision may have a case when they cried 'insurbordination'.
Infinity Ward has a history for going against the grain, of which the best proof is the existence of Modern Warfare. Activision was strongly against development of Modern Warfare and wanted another World War II shooter instead. Still, the entire ordeal enraged gamers worldwide and it seems utterly dumb firing the guys responsible for giving you such cash cows.
Don't bite the hand that feeds you, is our advice.
7. Rockstar | Hot Coffee
While most of the world couldn't care less, political and religious groups in the U.S. went bonkers over (poorly) animated videogame characters that portrayed sexual intercourse with all their clothes on. We can't for the life of us fathom what all the fuss was about when these complaints started over these harmless scenes in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The game shipped with a 'Mature' rating, officially making it unavailable for anyone under seventeen (or: no innocent virgins are harmed in the playing of this game) but even that does not fully show the absurdity of the complaints. It gets really crazy when you consider that the 'offending' content could only be accessed by hacking the game, and that it is entirely possible in the game to drag a cop out of his car and shoot him through the head.
Absurd or not, Rockstar's reputation took a big hit because of what would become known as the Hot Coffee scandal.
6. Square Enix | 3 week embargo on Final Fantasy XIV after launch
This one would make any marketer cringe. Disbelief turned into ridicule when we first read about Square Enix's three week review embargo for Final Fantasy XIV. Along with their review copy, game magazines received a letter 'requesting' a three week delay before publishing their review.
We're not completely up to date with Japanese culture, but from what we know, a Japanese 'request' is pretty much an order ("please fall on your sword now"). We're also not sure what they were thinking when they sent that letter. Any Final Fantasy game is a big deal and there is no way in hell that reviewers are going to wait for three weeks before informing their audience.
Furthermore, the request doesn't show Square had much faith at all in their own game, and rightfully so. Final Fantasy XIV was written off almost unanimously by critics the world over. While I trust our colleagues to have remained professional and have judged the game by its merits, we're sure both gamers and critics will look at Square with different eyes after this particular mishap.