Some misguided Twitter messages got The Redner Group canned from its public relations position within 2K Games last week. In short, boss Jim Redner lambasted critics of Duke Nukem Forever for giving the game bad reviews, threatening to “reevaluate” their selection process for reviews, which lead to rumors of blacklisting every outlet that gave “venomous” thoughts on the game (which apparently included Elder Geek, go figure). According to Redner, the response was so bad he was getting death threats against his family. In his guest column in Wired magazine (via IndustryGamers), Redner told his side of the story.
“I was working late and received an e-mail from my former client, 2K, asking if I had seen one particularly negative review of Duke Nukem. I would like to stress that the e-mail from 2K only pointed out the diatribe. The e-mail did not contain covert instructions on how to post something insidious on Twitter,” he began.
“It was a scathing diatribe masked as a review. Hate is a strong word, but I believe after reading his review it is fair to say that the reviewer hated the game,” he continued. “Opinions are never wrong. Reviews, when backed by fact, are always correct regardless of the score. The reviewer’s story was downright mean spirited. It’s as if the reviewer had a grudge and finally found an outlet to unleash his hostile brand of negativity.”
“First and foremost, I do not support the McCarthy era notion of blacklisting. I never used the word blacklist in my tweet. I said that there were some reviews that had gone too far and that I was going to re-evaluate our reviews process (it was just one review and it wasn’t even the lowest scored review),” he stated.
“Publishers are under no obligation to send out copies of their game for review. They reserve the right to pick and choose who they want to send their game too, just like writers have the right to publish a review in any manner they choose. It’s a choice. Hopefully all PR professionals make their selections based on any and all data available. They should weigh past coverage, personal information gathered from conversations and past dealings. That’s not blacklisting. It’s a selection process,” he explained.
“One question I get a lot is how do we in PR decide who gets a game for review. We cater to sites that are featured on Metacritic. For those sites not on Metacritic, I judge them by the following criteria: If you have provided my game with a consistent stream of coverage, I provide you with a copy of the game for review,” he said.
“I do it this way because I feel it is fair. I also try to add new contacts as well because new sites appear all the time and they tend to bring fresh perspectives. I have a kinship with new and upcoming sites because I know their struggles being as I am an upstart PR agency myself. They fight to compete against the bigger sites and I like to try to help them grow,” he added.
“It is not a publisher’s job to blindly send out product to everyone for review. Just because you are writer does not mean that you are entitled to a free copy of the game for review. You are entitled to publish your review in any way you see fit, just as publishers have the same right to pick and choose who receives the game to review. Please remember, there are other ways to get a copy of the game for review. You can always buy it,” he emphasized.
“Our job is to promote and protect the game. Why would I send out a product for review to someone who has previously shown that they unfairly write over-the-top stories? Let’s look at this in a different context. If I walked up to you today, and you hit me in the face as a form of greeting, do you think that I should I approach you again tomorrow? Would you?”
What do you think of the whole PR debacle with The Redner Group and Duke? Were the reviews of the game really “venomous”? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!