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2K Games Drops PR Firm Following  Duke Nukem Forever  Blackball Threats
2K Games Drops PR Firm Following Duke Nukem Forever Blackball Threats
June 15, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Publisher 2K Games has officially dropped The Redner Group PR firm from representing its products after founder Jim Redner publicly threatened to blackball journalists that wrote negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever.

"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," Redner posted last night in a since-deleted tweet. "Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different," he said in another deleted tweet.

Redner has since apologized both publicly and privately for his tweets, saying he "acted out of pure emotion" and clarifying that he was not speaking on the orders of 2K Games.

But despite the apologies, 2K Games has confirmed that Redner no longer represents the company's products, ending a years-long relationship; Redner had previously covered another Gearbox-developed, 2K-published game: Borderlands.

Duke Nukem Forever has received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics that chastised it for everything from crude, misogynistic humor to dated, linear gameplay and technical glitches.

Public relations companies often officially or unofficially deny access to interviews, early review products and even advertising for journalists that publish negative reviews, but such behind-the-scenes squabbles are rarely, if ever, aired publicly by the PR firm.

In a widely publicized 2007 flap, Sony Computer Entertainment threatened to halt its cooperation with gaming weblog Kotaku after the site published early, rumored details of what would turn out to be PlayStation Home. Sony later backed down after Kotaku publicized the issue.

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Alex MacKay
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DNF is really not a game you want to lose your job over.

Jonathan Gilmore
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These stories never reflect well on the games business. Kudos to 2K for prompt action.

Danny Cowan
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Actually I could see this sort of thing happening more easily with DNF than any other game. There's a LOT of denial going around from fans who refuse to believe that it could be a bad game, and I could see it becoming a bigger issue for people who have personal and financial investment in it.

The PR guy had probably been pumped with so much positive hype about the game since Gearbox's takeover (14 years in the making! the return of a popular franchise! a landmark release!) that he was unable to accept the sudden torrent of criticism. By no means should this result in blackballing, ever, in any situation, but I can understand the emotional outburst, at least.

In any case, 2K's immediate response was definitely a good move. PR bullying sucks.

Christopher Williams
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Easy problem easy solution. If you don't want weak review scores for your games then don't make crappy games. Plain and simple. As easy as pi.

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No one sets out to make crappy games. If you've worked on a game, even starting out on games like Spider-Man: Web of S***, you'll still take some pride in your work and believe that it's not that bad.

Unless of course you don't ;)

Jed Bradshaw
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This is actually ridiculous. The guy did nothing wrong. After all, many reviews WERE really venomous and the fact that he recognized them as such and did not want to do business with them anywhere is a sign of integrity. Yes, he should have talked to those people privately before sending out a tweet. That is a sign that he handled the situation wrongly. But tearing the guy down and making vile articles of your own (yes, ArsTechnica*, you) is not appropriate either.

*For more on this, please read this excellent article that was not written by me:

Neil Sorens
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Why would you send early review copies to people who take joy in trashing your product? Common sense and the movie biz say you wouldn't. But when your PR firm becomes the story, it's a problem.

Luis Guimaraes
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EDIT: $60 is too much.

Brandon Sheffield
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Luis, that has nothing to do with this story, please try to keep your comments on-topic.

Luis Guimaraes
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Reviews are tailored to product price and it's perceived value.

Have it been priced cheaper, and many people wouldn'd have say many things that led to this story. Is the connection line so blurried?

Glenn Storm
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Much respect, 2K.

Eric Cartman
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Wait, DNF was criticized for having misogynistic humor?

In other news, a local police department is taking flak for arresting a random drunken disorderly.

Evan Jones
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Criticized, and rightly so. Just because people *expect* a game to be misogynist doesn't mean that's okay.

Meelad Sadat
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Twitter app idea: Twit Mother - automatically evaluates how offensive, moronic, whiny or otherwise unproductive what you're trying to tweet is and decides to post it or not.

Coders, go nuts.

Jakub Janovsky
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That feature would be gold mine :)

Amy Austin
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No, people are stupid. They'd just say you're taking away their freedom of speech, then turn around and Tweet something they'll regret

Doug Poston
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Twitter: The fastest way to place one's foot in one's mouth for everyone to see. ;)

Evan Bell
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Must resist urge to make Rep. Anthony Weiner joke...

Jason Chen
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I bought the game, played it for 2 hours, and it feels like I was play the original Duke Nukem on my "486 Dx2" back in the old days, with better graphic... what happen?!?! if refund is available, I will refund it!

William Ravaine
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Well I guess that's what you get for acting on your ego's impulses... Out of all people, a PR company, whose role is to represent a third party, should know better than to act like that.

On the other hand, I would understand if this came from a developer that slaved away on this title for 10 years and got the unfair treatment from bitter reviewers/critics that have never ever developed a single game and have no idea of the hardships and challenges of doing so.

Giuseppe Navarria
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Let's be clear in something: Duke nukem forever has flaws but it's not a 2-3/10 game, if you're a duke fan there's no way in the world you wouldn't enjoy it, people talking this bad about the game didn't played it at all or just tried the demo.

If you play the game there's no way you'll dislike it if you played previous duke games. those reviewers are mostly ignorant people without real knowledge about games older than few years, I've read reviews saying stupid stuff like DNF trying to copy half-life 2 "interactivity" with the environment and npcs when DN3D already had all the elements that Forever has.

And who says DNF is "not fun" it's just unsable to catch the pop cultureprevious episodes references IMO. I mean, besides the obvious ones.

It's not a masterpiece but it's definitely not a game that deserver such low scores, that PR agency acted wrong but reviewers are being total assholes too

Marc-Andre Caron
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This game is cursed!

You'd think the almost unbelievable string of lack of judgement and shameful public displays would have stopped when the game was published.

But NO!

It's like a malevolent supernatural force takes over anyone who's making decisions about this product and melts the inside of their head.

I blame the aliens invaders.