In a random act of generosity, a user on the Nintendo Switch subreddit offered to give away a free game. Then another offered. Then another. Eventually, the mods decided they needed to temporarily ban giveaways, lest these gestures completely overtake the subreddit.
It started innocuously enough, with a giveaway for the strategy game Wargroove two days ago. The next day, another giveaway followed, for one year of Switch’s online service. Then another, for a digital game of the winner’s choice. From there, it was a landslide of posts offering free games.
Jeff, also known as FlapSnapple on Reddit, has been a mod for the Nintendo Switch subreddit since its inception. He said that this initial wave of generosity didn’t ring any alarm bells for him. “We’ve seen giveaways come and rise to astronomical popularity before, but usually, they come in small waves of one to three posts and then things calm down,” he told Kotaku over Reddit DMs.
On Monday, the Switch subreddit took off in a flurry of giveaway posts, with each user upping the ante. People offered two, three, four or five games. Another offered $500 worth of games. At its peak, someone on the subreddit was giving away a Switch itself, though that post has since been deleted. Soon, Jeff said that the subreddit became totally unusable because of how many people were offering to give away games, peripherals, or consoles. It also wasn’t clear how many of them were actually real and how many were jokes. Ultimately, the subreddit mods decided to temporarily ban giveaways yesterday evening.
“While we appreciate the generosity of our community, it has very rapidly spiraled out of control via copycats, troll posts, and more to the point where it is impacting the actual usability of the subreddit,” the mods wrote in a joint statement. “This is admittedly a drastic action and is a decision that was not made lightly.”
“We realized we were at a tipping point when we were receiving fake parody giveaways at a rate that was faster than we could remove them,” Jeff said. “There were some legitimate giveaways that we ended up having to turn away just so we could maintain some level of usability for people who were just trying to find some news about the Nintendo Direct scheduled for the 13th.”
While subreddits are a place to socialize and make jokes, they also offer players a chance to read breaking news and discuss it. With a Nintendo Direct rumored and then later confirmed to be coming Wednesday, the giveaways were overtaking actual discussion of important Nintendo news.
Jeff said that the mods became concerned about possible scams when people started trying to one-up one another. “What were once reasonable prize packages were now becoming absurd and clearly just attention grabs in an attempt to get some karma, Reddit Gold, and their 15 minutes of fame,” he said.
Although Jeff said that the mods aren’t going to ban giveaways forever, they need to convene and discuss how giveaways will be handled in the future. “We’re simply putting them on a brief hiatus while we re-evaluate our policies and look into requiring additional information where it makes sense,” he said.
Yesterday, as giveaway madness calmed down on the Nintendo Switch subreddit, users of the subreddit for the Playstation 4 also began to see giveaways in their sub. Some of these giveaways mention being inspired by the Switch subreddit, and some one-upmanship is beginning to rear its head.
Jeff has some practical advice for that subreddit’s mods: Make sure to check that these messages just haven’t been copy pasted from other subreddits, and check how old the account is. He suggested routing those posters to Random Acts Of Gaming, a subreddit specifically for gaming giveaways, if things get out of hand. Let’s hope Playstation 4 users have slightly more chill than their Nintendo Switch brethren.