Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford has claimed it "doesn't matter" how critics judge Duke Nukem Forever, insisting that his team "know the game is great" and authors of "lowball" reviews would be "held accountable by the readers".
After over 14 years in development, the game is now just one week from release. And Pitchford, whose Gearbox studio snapped up the rights after original developer 3D Realms closed, believes the title's stature and history among gamers will ensure success.
"We already know that everyone's going to be talking about it," he told Eurogamer during a recent press tour in London. "Hell, everyone's already talking about it and it's not even out yet.
"First of all it is great, it's very, very entertaining, it's very fun. It's also Duke frickin' Nukem frickin' Forever. One could not be a gamer in this world without consuming that and having that experience.
"You're just missing out on an entire, ginormous aspect of video games history if you fail to participate. This game's gonna ship and we're all going to be there, so it doesn't matter what the score is."
Elaborating on why he was "not worried about" the critical reception, he said: "We also know that it's a very difficult problem for journalists, so there's going to be very few of them that decide to go perfect.
"It leaves it in this band there where you're going to see a lot of 8s and 9s, and the number in that range doesn't matter. Even if some people start to skew in some 7s in there, it's not going to matter to the actual results in that band of outcomes.
"We know the game's great. Any journalist that decides to try to go... to lowball it is gonna be held accountable by the readers."
2K Games' international PR director, Markus Wilding, supported Pitchford's view, adding: "The Metacritic score always matters, let's not deny that, but I think it matters less to Duke than most games out there, because there are so many people out there just waiting for this game."
A major UK games retailer, contacted by Eurogamer, confirmed that pre-orders for the title were extremely strong.
Referencing the title's unique gestation period, Pitchford acknowledged: "I would not want to be a journalist on this one, though. I would not want to be a critic. It's going to be tough."
And his own verdict on the quality of the final product? "I play everything," he said. "The last time I had a really solid experience like this was Half-Life 2."
Eurogamer's full, exclusive interview with Randy Pitchford on finishing Duke Nukem Forever will be published next week.