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Negative Duke Reviews Could Lead to PR Shitlist [Update]

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A third-party public relations firm tweeted last night that they would be "reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't" based on the bad reviews pouring in about Duke Nukem Forever.

"Too many went too far with their reviews... we r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom." Jim Redner, of The Redner Group, tweeted out.


Redner later backtracked in an email sent out to an undisclosed group of publications. In that longer email (see below) Redner asked for forgiveness and called the initial email an error in judgement.

2K games told Kotaku that they don't endorse the comments made by Redner and confirmed that "The Redner Group no longer represents our products."


"We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way," a spokesman said.

While it's unusual for a public relations company, publisher or developer to so publicly call out game critics for reviews, what isn't that unusual is the push back and internal black listing.

Kotaku made quite a splash years ago when we made public Sony's decision, delivered in an email, to blacklist us from all of their events, their games, their interviews in retaliation for publishing a reported-out rumor about the PS3 Home that turned out to be accurate. But the only thing unusual about that particular blackballing was that it was official and on the record.


We've since heard, and suspect we've been subjected to, plenty of unofficial, easily denied blackballings. It's an ugly, the ugliest part of this business. And while news reporting can sometimes spur it (I once had a executive of a company spend ten minutes shouting in my face and calling me names at a public venue because he was upset we reported on news, not rumors, but news that put his company in a bad light) it is game reviews that seem most contentious.

That's because with many companies, reviews can be directly connected to things like retailer orders and customer purchases. Sometimes they're used to determine whether a game should get a sequel or a developer or PR firm a bonus. So enough bad reviews can lead to money out of someone's pocket and that's when things get contentious.


No matter how passionate a team of developers are, no matter how mindful of their art form, their creation, at some point any big game is going to also have a person who sees the production of that game and its success as a matter purely of business, of counting beans and making money.

Should a game that does well get raked over the coals of sloppy criticism and rushed reviews? Absolutely not. But that doesn't mean that games should get a pass when a reviewer has played through the entirety of the title and found it lacking. That's the whole point of reviews, they are an expression of critical opinion.


Our job, as game critics, is not to help promote a game or make sure that it sells well. Our job, as critics, is to offer up opinion based on full knowledge of the entire game. That's pretty straight forward. If a critic plays an entire game and hates it, he or she should say so. If he or she loves it, write that. End of story.

I haven't had a chance to play beyond the initial levels of Duke Nukem Forever. But when I did play those levels I wrote up a preview saying that I suspect Duke will be entirely fan service, nothing meant to expand the game's reach or satisfy those new to the experience.


We'll be running our review next week (our policy is to wait a week after a game hits to review it). I'm not writing it, but my discussions with the reviewer lead me to believe that our reviewer won't make Redner happy either. But he's not our audience for this review, so we're OK with that.

Here's the full apology email:


I would like a quick moment of your time to humbly ask for your forgiveness. I made a major error in judgment. I acted out of pure emotion without any thought to what I was saying. It is with a sad heart that I come to you now asking that you forgive me. I posted a Tweet this evening saying that I was reviewing The Redner Group's policy for future reviews of video games based on today's Duke Nukem Forever scores. I must state for the record I was acting on my behalf. 2K and all other clients had nothing to do with my comment. I want to be very clear that this came through me and was in no way affiliated with any of my clients especially my former client 2K.

Though I didn't name names, I did say that I thought some reviews had gone too far in tone. Meaning, that the tone of some of the reviews was poor. I respect the scores, it had to deal with the tone. I was unable to properly convey that in 140 characters. But that it beside the point. We are all entitled to our opinions regardless of score, tone or meaning. My response was a juvenile act on my part. I know better and my emotion got the best of me. I have worked very hard on this project. I want it to succeed. I just got upset and acted out.

I believe we are all allowed to voice our opinions and that opinions by their very nature are correct. Many of you quickly pointed out my error in judgment. For that I thank you and apologize.

I truly respect what you do. You have helped me achieve a little bit of success in this industry. I depend upon you. Your coverage is of the utmost importance to me. You have helped me secure coverage for all of the projects that I have touched. I have tried to treat you all with respect, dignity and honesty. Tonight I threw that all away, and I am extremely sorry.

The video game industry is an industry that I love. I have tried to dedicate myself to this industry. Tonight I failed the industry.

With much respect, I hope that when we meet again you will be able greet me with a smile and without malice. I will gladly do the same.

I am truly sorry for what I did. I know better than that. If I have caused you any issues, now or in the past, I apologize.

Best of luck,

Jim Redner