An April Fool’s Day prank has caused a slight PR mishap for YoYo Games today, with indie developers both on the official forums and on social networks like Twitter taking to criticize the company.
In a thread made out to have been placed in the wrong place so that it was viewable to the public, YoYo Games forum administrators and moderators made out as if the company and its famous program Game Maker was being sold to Valve, with many negative implications of this sale bringing brought down upon its users.
However, the April Fool’s prank thread was moved too early, with most forum members seeing it many hours before April Fool’s Day hit. Its elaborate creation — including time-stamped posts dating last month and three pages full of posts with fake member accounts with high post counts to cover the ruse — and wrongful timing meant that very few doubted its plausibility, taking to indie communities, Twitter, Facebook and other online sites to spread the news to other indie game developers and Game Maker users.
With the situation remaining unclear for a while after the thread was deleted (especially as new threads asking what was happening were being removed) and people even writing to Valve to complain about bad business practice, the prank has angered a lot of users both on and off of the forums — even perhaps deterring some from using their products at all.
At the end of the day it was just a poorly thought-out move and there’s no harm done; PR problems happen, but companies participating in April Fool’s Day need to keep one golden rule in mind as not to cause issues: a prank should always be fun and not upset your userbase.