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Duke Nukem: Forever review fallout reveals thin skin of critics

Disclaimer

We did not ask for or receive a review copy of Duke Nukem: Forever. The person who did our review lives in Australia and had the game way before it released in North America.

So Duke Nukem: Forever isn’t a good game. At least that’s what a battalion of reviewers seem to think. The game is hovering around 50 on Metacritic. We can all agree that’s not a good score to average.

All those negative reviews eventually got to the PR company tasked with handling the game. Jim Redner, the PR guy, was apparently frustrated and upset over some of the reviews and decided to tweet the following.

#AlwaysBetOnDuke 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.”

What followed was a shitstorm of responses from gamers and critics and the game’s publisher – 2K Games – distancing itself from the game’s PR company. Redner was essentially released from his connection to the game he defended. Redner also sent a long email apology to reviewers he worked with for the game. There seems to be a perception that he was somehow unprofessional or out of line.

More: Response to PR tweet | Our video review

Our question is why? What was so wrong about what Redner did? He didn’t call out specific critics or complain about the scores. He didn’t go on a rampage of tweets or launch an email campaign. He didn’t really say anything inappropriate or directly attack anybody. He didn’t even officially blackball anybody.

All he did was publicly say that the tone of some of the reviews was making him reconsider how he chooses to send review copies out. So what? Let him stop sending copies to people. We can still review the damn game. We can still say it sucks. We can even still post the review.  Reviewers and critics seem to expect the right to tear out the hearts of developers without getting any push back from the developers.

How is that realistic? Those same reviewers often get defensive when readers call the review shit. Those same readers get defensive when people call their comment shit. So why can’t a PR company or developer send one harmless tweet, in a moment of frustration, without being fired or attacked?

We’re not saying that reviewers shouldn’t be honest or that they shouldn’t tell us if they don’t like a game. They obviously should. Many gamers rely on reviews to decide if a game is worth buying.

But we can be honest here and say that many reviewers go out of their way to be over-the-top negative or positive.
Here is an example I’m taking from an actual review I found on Metracritic. Wouldn’t this upset you if it was your game?

“Shame on Gearbox for wanting their name on this stinking pile of crap!”

Reviewers can’t have it both ways. We can’t expect the gaming companies to have thick skins and take our abuse if we’re not willing to do the same. It unrealistic to expect gaming companies to see this many negative reviews without somehow responding. And so what if a company stops sending us review copies? Wouldn’t that hurt them more than us?

Again, we’re not excusing or defending the quality of the game and we’re not saying critics should have been nicer. Duke Nukem: Forever is not a very good game. But it’s not the reason cancer exists. I think we can find a middle ground and still be reputable. Lord knows PR people who defend their game shouldn’t then have to apologize.

You can hate on this post now. I won’t take it personal.

By the way, here is his entire emailed apology.

Hello,

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

The Redner Group, LLC.

 

http://gamersheep.com/2011/06/duke-nukem-forever-review-fallout-reveals-thin-skin-of-critics/

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I agree with the article.. I think what he did was understandable..( from an emotional point of view. not from a buisness standpoint) and then he was fired by the ones he defended. That's not really fair.



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I agree.

Reviews like the one on meta mentioned in the OP is why certain segments of gaming journalism is terrible...all mutual respect seems to have been lost by these dudebro reviewers.



All hail the KING, Andrespetmonkey

I agree, game reviews are becoming whiney brats. And I also agree with the PR guy, I think there are some reviewers who are being unjustly harsh about the game.



I think there's more to it than most people are addressing. Gearbox, Randy Pitchford specifically, has put a lot of effort into hyping Duke. He (Randy) went so far as to say that "We know the game’s great. Any journalist that decides…to lowball it is gonna be held accountable by the readers." There's such an air of confidence there, that I think many reviewers felt the need to let him (them) know just how bad the game actually is, and that they're not ok with utter crap being released at a full price. It was arrogant of them to release such a bad game (not even good by Duke standards) and expect people to pay for it just because Duke was on the box. That doesn't make it ok, but I feel that's where a lot of the "venom" is coming from.

As far as The Redner Group is concerned, we all know that publishers blacklist writers. It happens. 2K is known for being...shall we say, "especially selective" with their review copies as it is. The statement was only an issue because he made it clear to everyone that he was blacklisting instead of doing it in private like everyone else does.

Nobody's right here, but I feel like the journalistic community was justified (if only a little bit) in their response to the tweets.



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The only drama here is that is said the truth in public. This sort of thing happens all the time, you just don't hear about it.



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As long as the incentives are to increase the number of hits onto sites then you probably won't see any fair or unbiased reviews.



Being a PR guy means eating razorblades and asking for a second helping. Their job is be the "people person" for the company. They have to have a shit-eating grin at all times, no matter how bad things get. Because he failed to be the bond between the company and the public, he was fired.

The sucky thing for him is that with the extent that situation spread through the media, he may never land a PR job again, especially in this crappy job market.



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Dukenukem have a score similar to games that are broken with game killing glitches like mindjack , actually some reviewers are giving mindjack higher score



As with so many issues with faux-pas' out there, it's not what he said but how he said it. If he had merely stated that some reviewers' were being overly cruel, he could perhaps have won sympathy, but openly stating that they would consider blackballing options went too far



Monster Hunter: pissing me off since 2010.

I haven't played Duke Nukem Forever but I think "Blacklisting" (meaning not giving reviewers pre-release copies of a games) is entirely justified if you don't believe that these reviewers are being fair with their criticism ... It's a fair strategy to use because it can introduce consequences on reviewers for unprofessional behaviour; and its use is limited because it also has negative impacts on the publisher.