In 1987, WWF superstars: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and The Iron Sheik were pulled over by police, on suspicion of drunk driving. The police discovered that Duggan, the driver, was under the influence of marijuana and Sheik was on coke. Both got busted for drugs possesion, with Duggan getting a conditional release and Sheik getting probation. The WWF suspended them for most of the year as not only did they bring bad publicity to the company but as two performers, who were in the middle of a heated rivalry on TV, sharing a car together, they had exposed their notoriously secretive business. And that is what former 2K Games PR: Jim Redner did by venting on Twitter about the negative reaction, amongst reviewers, to Duke Nukem Forever.
If you're not aware, Redner stated on Twitter that he would withdraw sending any future review code (games sent out for the purpose of review) to media outlets that had criticised the game. Right away 2K Games denies any connection the tweet and fire Redner as their US PR.
|Boo, hoo. It's not 1996 anymore!|
Redner spoke his side of the story in a guest column in Wired in which he mentions (but doesn't name the journalist in question) the review that caused him to post the now infamous tweet:
Because he doesn't mention the exact review, we'll have to take his word for it. Which is easily done, if you've read some of the reviews. Which sum the game up as an fair to middling first person shooter that's so overtly sexist, it's genuinely hard to tell if it's supposed to be a tongue 'n cheek parody of generic video game protagonists, and how all females in games are just either feeble damsels or shameless eye candy. Or if the whole game was developed by 14 year old boys who think swearing, gore and tits are the height of mature entertainment. And it must be frustrating to someone who represents 2K Games, who would like DNF to be judged on it's gameplay. Which is fair enough, I enjoyed the God Of War games, despite it's lead; Kratos being wholly unlikable. But then Sony didn't use Loaded magazine style soft core wank offs, like 2K and Redner fucking did!"Opinions are never wrong. Reviews, when backed by fact, are always correct regardless of the score. The reviewer’s story was downright mean spirited. It’s as if the reviewer had a grudge and finally found an outlet to unleash his hostile brand of negativity."
It's fair to say Redner won't be working in the games business again for this debacle. However, I'm glad it happened. Even if Redner had no intention of blacklisting the reviewer in question, it's shone a light on something hardly anyone likes to talk about. Even though most gamers suspect it and most games journalists talk about it to each other. And it's happened to me. Certainly I didn't get a brick sent through my window, with a note attached saying: "How dare you say Darksiders is average, you'll get nothing from us, you prick!" But after sending them a less than glowing review, I've not gotten a peep from them since. It's an odd relationship, reviewer and games PR. You don't want to come off like a Kokatu writer and just do a 800 word diatribe about how the character you play as is so annoying, it's ruined video games forever.The publisher is doing you a favour by sending you the game. But as a professional, you feel obligated to be unbiased and not write it like a Eurogamer review and just copy and paste the game description, on the back of the box, then trade the game in afterwards. Because you're also doing the publisher a favour, by publicising their game. And if it's no good, then that's not the reviewers fault.
Hopefully this will rattle enough cages and make the publishers and PR companies (and some of the games journalists) aspire to be more professional. I.e. don't react like everything's a personal attack and lash out like a spoilt child.