Skip to main content

Jim Redner explains Duke Nukem 'blacklisting'

Sacked 2K PR defends "blanket statement" which got him fired

James Redner, head and sole employee of the Redner Group PR agency, has publicly apologised for the tweet which ignited a storm of controversy over the practice of blacklisting and saw 2K disengage his services.

Last week The Redner Group was fired by 2K, for whom it performed PR in the US, after tweeting that the distribution of future review copies may be affected by the "venom" of certain negative reviews.

That comment was interpreted by many as condoning of the practice of 'blacklisting': refusing to send copies of games to media outlets which publish negative reviews.

Speaking in a guest column for Wired, Redner wrote at length on his regret about "venting", but defended his outburst by saying how frustrated he was to see "unfair" reviews of Duke Nukem Forever after both he and the development team had poured so much effort into making it a success.

In an emotionally charged editorial, Redner attempts to distance 2K from the scandal, stressing that he was never instructed to blacklist anyone by the publisher, although they did draw attention to one particularly aggressive dismissal of the game.

"I was working late and received an e-mail from my former client, 2K, asking if I had seen one particularly negative review of Duke Nukem," Redner writes. "I would like to stress that the e-mail from 2K only pointed out the diatribe. The e-mail did not contain covert instructions on how to post something insidious on Twitter.

"I read the review. It was a scathing diatribe masked as a review. Hate is a strong word, but I believe after reading his review it is fair to say that the reviewer hated the game. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion, but I would like to believe journalists adhere to some standards of fairness and professionalism, even when publishing a negative review."

It has not yet been publicly revealed which particular review Redner was addressing, but Redner insists that his response was an "overreaction". Redner also makes clear that he respects journalistic integrity, but maintains that reviewers have a duty to remain impartial.

"It is my job to generate consumer awareness and excitement through positive media attention in order to drive sales," clarifies Redner.

"I had handpicked certain key editors that I felt would enjoy the game for what it is. I based my selections on previous coverage and personal conversations. It is a selection process. The idea was to generate the highest possible cumulative scores for the game at launch. Consumer interest in a product tends to peak at launch. The game's short delay made my plan impractical. We did not implement the plan.

"At the end of a PR campaign, we prepare to send out final retail copies of a game for review. We put together a media list of writers who will receive it. The games go out and we begin following up to see if we can get a sense of what the writers feel about the game.

"When a writer publishes a review with an undesirable score, so long as the review is fair and the critique is backed up by facts, I respect their opinion. Reviews are subjective. They are one person's opinion and opinions are never wrong."

The issue of 2K's approach to PR management was muddied somewhat by the revelation that consumer site Eurogamer has been blacklisted by the company for undisclosed reasons, as disclosed via a later tweet. 2K has declined to comment any further on the matter.

Read this next

Related topics