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DNF PR Firm Threatens To Punish Sites For Bad Reviews, then Says Sorry

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 43 comments

One of the PR firms handling Duke Nukem Forever for 2K Games openly threatened to blacklist any website giving DNF a bad review.

In all the years I've dealt with 3rd-party PR firms who are hired on to handle publishers, developers and their upcoming titles, I've discovered that there are two factions. One group includes those that you personally know to the point of trading pictures of pets and offspring, and will stick by your opinion without prejudice. The other group is so stiff and uptight that they seemingly think everything they touch turns to gold, including turds. Thus a negative review could invoke a short-term cutoff from the products they represent in the future – possibly for good. Negative news articles provoke the same outlandish results.

As we all know, the long-awaited, highly-anticipated Duke Nukem Forever isn't faring well with critics and gamers alike, and for good reason (which won't be outlined here). In fact, it's doing rather poorly even though 2K Games will likely earn all the money back it dumped into resurrecting and publishing the product.

However one of the companies currently promoting the game, The Redner Group, has publicly come out and threatened to cut off further products to websites posting bad reviews of the Duke Nukem 3D sequel. This isn't unheard of, but it's also the first time it's been done right out in the public. Talk about balls of steel!

"Too many went too far with their reviews...we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom," the company tweeted. "Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different," another tweet read. While we haven't dealt with The Redner Group in regards to Duke Nukem Forever (we used 2K Games' internal PR and another 3rd-party firm), it seems clear that the PR firm is frustrated over the flood of negativity after what many of us thought would be the arrival of pure golden gaming goodness.

After news began to spread of the threat, company boss man Jim Redner seemingly changed his tune. "I have to apologize to the community," he said in a tweet. "I acted out of pure emotion. I will be sending each of you a private apology. I [also] need to state for th record that 2K had nothing to do with this. I will be calling each of you tomorrow to apologize. Again, I want everyone to know that I was acting on my own. 2K had nothing to do with this. I am so very sorry for what I said."

But the damage had been done, and there was no going back. After threatening to blacklist, The Redner Group had been officially blacklisted by 2K Games itself. "2K Games does not endorse the comments made by Jim Redner and we can confirm that The Redner Group no longer represents our products," the publisher said in an official statement. "We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way."

As I've stressed for a while now, Duke Nukem may be able to thwart an alien invasion intent on conquering the earth, but the Duke Nukem 3D sequel didn't stand a chance against the hype built up around the game over the last 14 years. The negative reviews are expressing an expected disappointment, but they're also highlighting the game's tragic, fragmented developmental cycle. It's depressing to write anything negative about a game we really wanted to love. But it's probably equally depressing to read those words for the developers involved, the publisher flipping the bill, and the PR firms representing the final product.

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  • 10 Hide
    Burodsx , June 16, 2011 1:13 AM
    And this is why I wait for word of mouth before purchasing a game...
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , June 16, 2011 12:11 AM
    Oh well!! It's a dog eat dog world and that's just the way it is. They should tweet some of the comments posted here on Tom's! Hah!
  • 6 Hide
    NuclearShadow , June 16, 2011 12:44 AM
    It's not just PR firms that do this, publishers themselves tend to become quite childish when their over-hyped titles get bad reviews. Naturally its a advantage to both reviewers and gamers to get reviews before a game is released. This way the reviewer gets hits on their websites and ad revenue or magazine sales and the gamer can decide if they wish to purchase the game.

    Some publishers however have for years now threatened these reviewers
    to stop supplying them with future games if the game gets a less than favorable score. Of course no magazine or website will last if they comply to these demands as no one will trust them eventually.
    This also leaves gamers either to buy a game without a idea of quality
    or wait until the reviewers they trust get their hands on it and get a late review.
  • -2 Hide
    graill , June 16, 2011 12:44 AM
    Dog eat dog, i agree, but i will go further and state (my opinion) that they (gearbox) knew what was going to be said and the backlash was so great they then seperated themselves. bad title leads to bad choices at the suit level, this is what happens when you do not have a subject matter expert on hand to shut the suits up and make them think before they release a game or make boneheaded choices like the pr firm did.
  • -1 Hide
    mobrocket , June 16, 2011 1:05 AM
    the game is not horrible. for $30 it would be a good game

    once gearbox has it from day one, it will be a good game next time around...

    i think the PR guy was just a little pissed cus the reviews were too harsh... what did u expect from duke, i was tossed around from studio to studio and died many times before gearbox saved it
  • 10 Hide
    Burodsx , June 16, 2011 1:13 AM
    And this is why I wait for word of mouth before purchasing a game...
  • 7 Hide
    tgoods44 , June 16, 2011 1:17 AM
    I, for one, don't really trust reviewers to begin with. I usually like to wait a week or so and see where the user scores on metacritic go. You have to think, especially for big titles, the people working at these magazines have had access to these games in screenshot form or playable form from a very early age and with that, I believe, it becomes hard to create an unbiased review.

    One of the most recent examples I can think of where I was totally tricked was Shogun 2. For some reason this game got really high reviews even though its common knowledge that the multiplayer campaign still %100 broken. How do you give a game that good review score when it doesn't even work. It is a good game, but not that good. The videos are cool but has nobody noticed that lack of maps? I don't want to play the same continental Japan over and over. Or the shallowness of the units? I mean c'mon I feel totally tricked on that one.

    That being said I was playing a lot of Duke Nukem Forever with my buddy today and I will say the game seems and feels like it was related to DN3D. The game doesn't seem to have too many bugs and some of the bosses and units are cool looking and original. The actual game play is mediocre and doesn't deserve high ratings. A 50 on the 360 though? cmon thats just reviewers feeling sad about just another game that doesn't live up to the hype. Welcome to this corporate gaming world where all these suits care about is money. This should be nothing new when you compare it to some of the stuff being "shoved" out lately. Even more disappointing is some of these games that get high reviews and then you buy them when they are boring, repetitive, and still in beta phase.
  • 8 Hide
    FloKid , June 16, 2011 1:24 AM
    Somebody is trying to be Duke. But Duke doesn't try :) 
  • 1 Hide
    i dont care , June 16, 2011 1:28 AM
    i dont know sure duke 4 has flaws but over look the 3 flaws and you got a bad ass fun game
  • -7 Hide
    Trialsking , June 16, 2011 1:29 AM
    mobrocketthe game is not horrible. for $30 it would be a good[game/citation]

    Try $19.99, and maybe it might be worth the price.
  • 2 Hide
    4745454b , June 16, 2011 1:56 AM
    Why are people judging it as a 14yr game? Do people really think someone sat for 14yrs and programmed it? The game engine was changed many times, it went through way more studios and review groups then any game should have. Old school game play? Serious? Of course it does!

    Duke doesn't really interest me, so I had no desire to buy the game. I do hope Gearbox keeps it and makes another, one that can show what duke can do. Anyone who thinks this game must be the ultimate in gaming because it was worked on for 14yrs is an idiot.
  • 4 Hide
    alyon , June 16, 2011 1:59 AM
    This guy was actually right. I had watched many of the reviews. Some of them were pretty fair. Others sounded like they were written by a femi-nazi. Which is what I think he was referring to when he said they were "spitting venom." This game is easily just a 6/10 but some were dragging it down to 3/10 or 2/10. This is like a rotten tomatoes screwdriver-in-the-ass critic doing a movie review on Jackass.

    Seriously, DNF is a dumb fun game. Nothing complicated. Just dumb sit-back-and-laugh fun.
  • 2 Hide
    uuicked , June 16, 2011 2:34 AM
    DNF's PR firm needs to take tips from Crytek and EA on how to coat a pile of crap and call it candy yet still get "Great" reviews

    *cough, Crysis 2, cough*
  • -1 Hide
    gmarsack , June 16, 2011 2:51 AM
    the would have been good in 1999... not 2011
  • 3 Hide
    jalek , June 16, 2011 3:44 AM
    A PR firm that doesn't deal well with the public.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors Mr. Redner.
  • 0 Hide
    upgrade_1977 , June 16, 2011 4:15 AM
    Hey, it's freedom of the press, if they don't like the bad reviews then to bad. People are smart enough to make up there own minds. Good press is good but bad press is good to. Everyone's opinions matter. I think it's bad that he threatened to blacklist them. I personally think the reviews have merit, i've seen the video's and from what i've seen it looks like a second rate game. I'm not gonna buy it just cuz of the hype. But if my friends buy it and it seems good, then maybe i'll give it a try.
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , June 16, 2011 5:01 AM
    4745454bWhy are people judging it as a 14yr game? Do people really think someone sat for 14yrs and programmed it? The game engine was changed many times, it went through way more studios and review groups then any game should have. Old school game play? Serious? Of course it does! Duke doesn't really interest me, so I had no desire to buy the game. I do hope Gearbox keeps it and makes another, one that can show what duke can do. Anyone who thinks this game must be the ultimate in gaming because it was worked on for 14yrs is an idiot.


    14 years of ideas, and 14 years of "hay thats a good idea, lets put it in our game, time be damned"

    saddly everything didnt pan out im guessing.

    mobrocketthe game is not horrible. for $30 it would be a good gameonce gearbox has it from day one, it will be a good game next time around... i think the PR guy was just a little pissed cus the reviews were too harsh... what did u expect from duke, i was tossed around from studio to studio and died many times before gearbox saved it


    its not harsh reviews, its people "reviewing" it from a purely negitivly light. where they only talk about the flaws, only say bad things about it, and hate it just for the sake of hateing it. if this was a game of any other name, it would be looked at fairly goodly, but the hate is purely for the hate.

    and holy @#$@ the fem-nazis... i have heard enough of the "he is just blaa blaa women, blaa blaa" crap to make me a chauvinist just to #@$% them off.
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , June 16, 2011 5:11 AM
    I was severely disappointed in this game. It reminded me of 007 Nightfire in terms of the controls. I thought it was just horrible. I'm sorry, the game deserves negative comments. What a crappy way to waste $45.
  • 2 Hide
    Benihana , June 16, 2011 5:53 AM
    2K should just fling turds a la Duke at Redner and call it even.
  • 9 Hide
    palladin9479 , June 16, 2011 7:22 AM
    Many of the reviewers are just spitting nonsense. Seriously people were taking away points for his "rude comments" and the "uninspired gameplay". Seriously, this is Duke, all he does is show up, kill everything and make rude sexist comments. That is the entire point of Duke, not to be some artistic "inspired" game that makes everyone go "ohh, I just experienced a deep spiritual meaning". Its meant to be a joke on Political Correctness and have you laughing at everything.

    Having played through the game, I can say that while not perfect its just "Fun". You get finished and it was an entertaining experience. Most of those negative review's are being done by people going in with this expectation that it should be some epic golden game, or their going to throw it out the window.
  • -4 Hide
    azetec , June 16, 2011 7:36 AM
    Duke Nukem Forever is trash, so how do they even think to sell such crap and even expect to get great reviews afterwards ???
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