Gaming Fans on Reddit Left Hanging for Prize From Razer
(Bloomberg) -- Julia Harris doesn’t normally win a lot of contests. But when she saw a Reddit post in August announcing that the video game hardware company Razer Inc. was giving away accessories to fans of the game Mass Effect, she figured she’d try her luck.
Harris, a 28-year-old accountant who lives in Montana, wrote up a paragraph about her love for the science-fiction franchise published by Electronic Arts Inc. A few days later, a Reddit Inc. moderator informed her that she was one of 10 winners. She was elated to learn she’d be getting a new $100 video game controller from Razer. “It felt pretty special,” Harris said in an interview.
By the end of September, she still hadn’t received her device. The lead moderator of the Mass Effect Reddit group who had organized the giveaway “asked if I heard anything from Razer,” she said. In October, the moderator told Harris the group still hadn’t heard anything back from Razer either. “They were pretty sure they were getting ghosted,” Harris said. As of January, the prizes still hadn’t gone out.
Contests like this one are common in the video game world, where top companies employ community managers to regularly interact with players on forums such as Reddit. The companies see giveaways as an opportunity to drum up positive publicity and generate buzz for their products. If a contest winner likes their free hardware, they might tell a bunch of friends about it.
But usually, companies deliver on their promises. Razer, which has headquarters in Irvine, California and Singapore, is a well-known brand among gamers. It sells hardware, such as laptops, mice and headsets, as well as apparel, gaming chairs and more. It saw a nearly 50% surge in revenue in 2020 to $1.2 billion, boosted by pandemic-inspired gaming, helping the company post its first profit since 2014. Razer regularly holds giveaways and raffles with prizes that can range from headsets and controllers to gaming laptops.
Although this was a small giveaway, it left the Reddit moderators feeling like they had lost the trust of their community -- and the winners feeling burned. “If it was a super obscure company or something like that, I wouldn’t have been surprised,” said Harris. “Since they’re such a reputable company, I figured this one would have been on the up and up.”
Plans for the Razer giveaway started in June of last year, according to the Reddit moderator who helped coordinate it, who asked to be identified as Rai, a shortened version of her first name. A representative for a third-party firm reached out to the Mass Effect Reddit group moderators with the pitch, then connected Rai with a Razer marketing manager to coordinate logistics. When the contest ended, Rai sent over a list of the winners to Razer and waited to hear back.
On Aug. 25, the Razer manager wrote an email to Rai saying that “we’ll get the products out.” A month later, as the winners started asking Rai why they hadn’t received anything yet, she asked for an update but received no response. In October, she followed up again. “Please let us know if Razer is unable to send out the prizes so we can make an announcement apologizing to our users,” she wrote, adding that “it hurts our community and our mod team to be in the dark.”
Nearly five months later, Razer still hadn’t contacted Rai or responded to her emails. “We’ve done plenty of giveaways on the subreddit,” Rai said. “We’ve always had a level of friendliness, cooperation and professionalism from all the companies we’ve worked with. It is surprising to say the least that a huge company like Razer would do something like this.”
When reached for comment, a Razer spokesperson said the person in charge of the giveaway had left the company and that Razer was “just being made aware” of the situation with the missing gifts “right now with your email.”
Razer’s social team is working now to get the products to the winners, the spokesperson said.
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