Last week brought reports that an external PR firm hired on by 2K Games to promote Duke Nukem Forever jumped on Twitter and threatened to blacklist websites that publish highly negative reviews. But as we pointed out, this practice isn't uncommon unless the reviews are seemingly stamped with IGN, Gamespot or another highly-commercialized site. What typically is uncommon are threats made by PR firms to reviewers and their associated websites made out in the open.
Jim Redner of The Redner Group, the individual responsible for the blacklist threat posted on Twitter, admitted that his post was an emotional outburst. Given the 14-year drama and the eventual low scores generated across the board, the overwhelming negativity was enough to get everyone involved somewhat emotional. It's understandable. But venting on an public "forum" like Twitter is no place to display those emotions.
"I was venting," he said in an interview. "I would like to believe that I would have handled it differently if I had been thinking. Normally, I would have contacted the writer directly to have a conversation about the review. I do not support the act of blacklisting. I do support choices."
He went on to reveal that he and his family received threats after his Twitter post went live an began to circulate through the press. "I received threats against me and my family," he admitted. "For the span of 48 hours, my blunder put me in the public eye in a limited way. During the course of that I time I received a ton of emails and twitter messages from people. Some were supportive and others were not. I was heckled. Some of it was quite clever and funny. Some of them were very mean. A few were scary."
He then went on to compare himself with Hollywood celebrities. "It got me thinking about celebrities and they type of hate they must receive on a daily basis," he added. "I cannot begin to imagine what Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Aniston go through on a daily basis. That must be awful. After reading what I received, I cannot imagine what people say about celebrities via Twitter."
The interview went on to cover the topic of blacklisting. Rather than using such a harsh term, he instead calls it a "choice" based on the writer's past coverage, personal preference, ease of working relationship and more.
"If I decide to send one writer the game because I believe that he or she will provide it with a better score and not send the game to another outlet because I believe that person incapable of being fair, that is a choice that I am making for the benefit of my client," he admitted. "Yes, I am excluding someone. Publishers are under no obligation to provide writers with copies of the game. Writers are under no obligation to review a game from a publisher. Publishers can provide copies of the game to any writer they want for any reason. Writers can write a review in any matter they see fit. It’s called choice."
He pointed out that he didn't provide any names in his tweet; he didn't even call for a boycott of a specific writer or outlet. What he did say was that "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. Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews that’s completely different."
"When I pick one writer over another, I usually am choosing someone I believe will provide my client with fair coverage or better," he said. "For gamers, I know this may sound sinister, but this is a business. Businesses operate to make money. It just so happens that many of us are fortunate enough to be in the video game industry that we love and have found a way to earn a living."