2K Games' now-sacked US PR firm The Redner Group has written an essay-length justification for threatening to withhold future games from journalists who wrote "venom filled" reviews of Duke Nukem Forever.
The Redner Group, a one-man operation working out of "a bedroom-turned-office", called the infamous Twitter outburst "a brain fart of epic proportions".
That tweet said "too many went too far" with their reviews of Duke Nukem Forever, and that "we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom".
"I overreacted when I read the [unnamed] review and I vented on Twitter. It was an act of passion on my part that lacked objectivity," wrote Jim Redner, who is The Redner Group, on Wired. "In my opinion, someone had gone over the top to attack the game and those who spent their lives trying to make it. Ultimately, I committed a cardinal sin in marketing."
Jim Redner's actions were explained as acts of frustration borne from the Duke Nuke Forever campaign being a "labour of love"; a rash decision that proved costly. 2K Games swiftly detached itself from The Redner Group amid the allegations of media blacklisting.
"Publishers are under no obligation to send out copies of their game for review."Jim Redner, The Redner Group
Jim Redner, however, denies the implication of threatening to blacklist journalists. Not sending reviewers copies of games is a different thing, he argued.
"Publishers are under no obligation to send out copies of their game for review. They reserve the right to pick and choose who they want to send their game too, just like writers have the right to publish a review in any manner they choose. It's called selection. It's a choice," he wrote.
"Hopefully all PR professionals make their selections based on any and all data available. They should weigh past coverage, personal information gathered from conversations and past dealings.
"I personally have sent first-person shooter games to one editor knowing that he likes FPS games, but then not sent him a copy of a game based on our national pastime because I know he finds baseball boring. That's not blacklisting. It's a selection process."
Jim Redner said there are usually around 200 to 400 copies of a game available "for media purposes". Requests for the game are normally "double". And Duke Nukem Forever requests were even higher, which meant turning down "hundreds of requests".
"Originally, before we had to push the launch from May to June, I recommended only sending a few copies out for review. We knew the game would receive a wide array of scores, from low to high. I recommended sending no more than 10 per cent of what eventually went out," Jim Redner revealed.
"We knew the game would receive a wide array of scores."Jim Redner, The Redner Group
"I had hand-picked 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. "
Redner wrote that "reviews are subjective" and that one person's opinion is "never wrong". "So long as the review is fair and the critique is backed up by facts, I respect their opinion," he explained.
"It is my opinion that when someone exceeds their journalistic integrity and publishes a scathing, derogatory, uncalled-for review, I have the right to question it. Integrity isn't a badge that can be waved around to suit your situation. It is a lifestyle," Redner added.
"If you ask for a copy of the game for review, you have an ethical duty to provide a fair review of the game. You do not have to like the game. You do not have to publish a glowing review. However, you must be fair and accurate. You owe it to your audience, yourself and the video game community."
Why, asked Jim Redner, should he send a copy of the game to someone who "unfairly" writes "over-the-top stories"?
"Let's look at this in a different context. If I walked up to you today, and you hit me in the face as a form of greeting, do you think that I should I approach you again tomorrow? Would you?" Redner pressed.
"Hardworking people, including myself, spent thousands of hours away from family and friends working on Duke Nukem Forever. The game is what it is, but we poured our hearts into bringing the game back from video game purgatory. That single story hurt and I acted rashly, vented my frustration and I am paying for my actions, more so than you know.
"Shouldn't the journalist have to pay for his? Should I continue to support him?"
Closing, Jim Redner declared that PRs like he "should not supply games to journalists who are capable of such hatred".
"Life is too short to surround ourselves in such baseless hatred," Redner stated. "We should focus on the hundreds of other writers who are capable of being fair, even when writing a poor or low scoring review. Reviews are subjective but fairness should always be a constant."
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