Injustice 2 publisher Warner Bros. Games has apologized for its tone-deaf Pride Month challenge for the mobile version of the fighting game, which asked players to beat up on a queer DC Comics character, Poison Ivy.
The Injustice 2 Mobile developer posted a Global Challenge, titled Love Conquers All, earlier this month and labeled the challenge as a Pride celebration in which players must collectively take down Poison Ivy. The idea is to bring people into the mobile version of Injustice 2 to work together to win special rewards — the more times you defeat Poison Ivy, the more prizes the collective group wins. For beating up Poison Ivy 500,000 times during Pride Month, players would have earned the largest reward.
Poison Ivy is a canonically bisexual character, who has most recently been romantically tied up with Harley Quinn, among other DC characters. For instance, DC Pride, an 80-page anthology coming from DC Comics, is a special issue celebrating queer characters — in particular, there’s a story about Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. (Ironic, too, that the Injustice 2 Mobile challenge asked players to team up with Harley Quinn to take down her lover — a bizarre way to pay homage to the queer relationship.)
“We recognize associating our latest Global Challenge with Pride was insensitive and inappropriate,” the developer said — sporting a rainbow flag Twitter profile photo — in a tweet Thursday. “Real life violence against the LGBTQIA+ community and women within that community in particular is all too common and we should actively engage in efforts to end LGBTQIA+ violence, not normalize it. We apologize to the greater community, but especially LGBTQIA+ members. We are committed to listening and doing better.”
Warner Bros. has since removed the tweet bragging that players had already defeated Poison Ivy 175,000 times. Messaging for the event remained in-game on Friday morning, advertising the Global Challenge and its rewards, as well as a notification for a free Pride celebration gift — a Champion Bundle with shards used to unlock new characters. (Batwoman, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, four characters that have been portrayed as LGBTQ, are on offer.) A Pride sale on in-game Injustice 2 Mobile items, too, has recently begun.
The ill-received Injustice 2 Mobile promotion comes as communities are discussing the place for corporate involvement in Pride Month. There is no shortage of rainbow-fied merchandise available from brands — the video game industry included. While some believe it is nice to see “symbolic support,” as Vox put it, for queer communities, others find the promotions superficial; many of these companies are often criticized for policies or initiatives that are actively harmful to the LGBTQ+ community.
The Injustice 2 Mobile Pride Global Challenge is the epitome of that belief: Slap a rainbow on it and you’re good to go — no critical thinking about how the promotion may impact the community it claims to support.
Polygon has reached out to Warner Bros. Games for more information on how this promotion came to be.