Fired Duke Nukem Forever PR rep gives his side

The fired third party public relations rep for Duke Nukem Forever has written an extensive response to the incident that got him dismissed by 2K Games. Jim Redner, the head of The Redner Group, gives his side of the story in a guest column on the Wired web site. Redner's PR firm handled some of the public relation duties for the recently released first person shooter for developer Gearbox Software and publisher 2K Games. After the game's release Redner posted up a message on his Twitter page last week that threatened to pull future review copies from media outlets based on some particularly hard reviews of the game. While he later apologized via Twitter, 2K Games decided to fire the PR firm, saying, "We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way."

In his guest column Redner states that the Twitter post that caused his firing came about because of a particular review of Duke Nukem Forever from an unnamed outlet that was pointed out to him by 2K Games. He states, "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." He added, "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. The review goes so far as to disparage the people who poured thousands of irreplaceable hours of their life, spent absent from families and loved ones, into the creation of this game."

He admits to having "overreacted" in his response to the review on Twitter saying, "It was an act of passion on my part that lacked objectivity. 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."

Redner then goes over his own history in PR and marketing, saying that The Redner Group is just a one-man operation for the most part. He also goes over his selection process for which media outlets get games for review from his clients. He states, "For Duke Nukem Forever, I received even more requests that normal. That means I turned 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 percent of what eventually went out."

He also points out that media outlets are not under any obligation to get a free review copy of the game from a publisher, saying "You are entitled to publish your review in any way you see fit, just as publishers have the same right to pick and choose who receives the game to review. Please remember, there are other ways to get a copy of the game for review. You can always buy it."

Finally he praises the many media outlets and journalists he has worked with over the years, saying, "There are always going to be a few people out there who are not fair and who work outside the lines of ethical behavior. To the countless number of honest and fair working journalists I respect your opinions. They are never wrong."

Image via 2K Games

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30 Comments

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How is the fact that this game was programmed by people working long hours away from their families relevant at all? Is calling any game crappy beyond the realm of acceptability because such labor practices are standard in the industry?

Gearbox ended up finishing the game where 3D left off. And if you ask me.. it looks pretty damn close to Borderlands.

Duke Nukem was going to get bad press either way, it took far too long to make and built up so much hype over the years that it certainly didn't deliver. They could move forward by creating a new Duke Nukem game.

Tony. said,
Duke Nukem was going to get bad press either way, it took far too long to make and built up so much hype over the years that it certainly didn't deliver. They could move forward by creating a new Duke Nukem game.

They might make a new one. This one was really just a gift to everyone for putting up with everything. They have made plenty of money though to warrant another.

Tony. said,
Duke Nukem was going to get bad press either way, it took far too long to make and built up so much hype over the years that it certainly didn't deliver. They could move forward by creating a new Duke Nukem game.
Indeed, it could not "win" no matter what. Epic fail!

Gotenks98 said,
You would think Yahtzee got a hold to this game and did a review the way this guy acted or something.

ZP isn't really a review though, it's entertainment in the guise of one.

Too bad that no one can even comprehend that this game was meant to be released so long ago, and that the only reason it was finally released was because gearbox bought the rights and polished up what was already made, and made it playable for those on pc and consoles.
But yes, just keep acting like it was made only 2 years ago and judge it as so. Because that is fair.
If you go into this game with the correct mindset, you will actually enjoy it. Stop thinking that just because it was released this year, that it is going to be up to par with games of this year.

shakey said,
Too bad that no one can even comprehend that this game was meant to be released so long ago, and that the only reason it was finally released was because gearbox bought the rights and polished up what was already made, and made it playable for those on pc and consoles.
But yes, just keep acting like it was made only 2 years ago and judge it as so. Because that is fair.
If you go into this game with the correct mindset, you will actually enjoy it. Stop thinking that just because it was released this year, that it is going to be up to par with games of this year.

I don't think that makes sence. It was a game released this year. Not comparing it with games that come out now would be a disservice to the reader. $50 is still $50, if you spend it on Uncharted or Duke Nukem.

If they were charging $10 for the game I would be more inclined to agree with you. Either charge the game what it is worth (+5 year old game) or be prepared to be judged against modern standards. You can't have it both ways. If you could then Pong would still be a bestseller.

Kainenable said,

I don't think that makes sence. It was a game released this year. Not comparing it with games that come out now would be a disservice to the reader. $50 is still $50, if you spend it on Uncharted or Duke Nukem.

If they were charging $10 for the game I would be more inclined to agree with you. Either charge the game what it is worth (+5 year old game) or be prepared to be judged against modern standards. You can't have it both ways. If you could then Pong would still be a bestseller.

Why should they charge only $10? If it came out back in 98-2002, it would still have cost $40-$50 bucks. Years upon years went into the making of it, so they have to make their money some how.
It was released as a treat for everyone. This was a game that would have never seen the light of day if not for GearBox doing what they did. To go into it thinking you are getting anything more than a 98 FPS is expecting too much. Nothing was ever promised that it didn't deliver. In fact, the promise was that it really wasn't ever going to come out, so we should be happy that this actually happened. Too bad gamers are all on some sort of high horse about how all games need to be, and just can't have fun anymore with a simple shooter. I'm happy something non military based was finally released, as the market is horribly over flooded with CoD and wannabe's alike.

shakey said,
Too bad that no one can even comprehend that this game was meant to be released so long ago, and that the only reason it was finally released was because gearbox bought the rights and polished up what was already made, and made it playable for those on pc and consoles.
But yes, just keep acting like it was made only 2 years ago and judge it as so. Because that is fair.
If you go into this game with the correct mindset, you will actually enjoy it. Stop thinking that just because it was released this year, that it is going to be up to par with games of this year.

Unless they accept my $10 with "the correct mindset" that my $10 is actually $60, if you have approach the game with "the correct mindset" before you can enjoy it, then that's a failure of the game.

DukeEsquire said,

Unless they accept my $10 with "the correct mindset" that my $10 is actually $60, if you have approach the game with "the correct mindset" before you can enjoy it, then that's a failure of the game.

So do you go into indie party developed games with the mindset that it is going to be some triple A title? I hope not, or else you wont have much enjoyment out of them. So yes, mindset for a game does matter. Game prices have not changed much over many years, so price is not a issue.

Every side scroller game should be up to par with Little Big Planet 2... Every shooter should be of Battlefield 3 quality... Every fighter should be like Marvel Vs Capcom 3? I hope not. I like variety in my games, from graphics to gameplay to control. It is what keeps games from not becoming stale. Lately though, gaming has become stale, with very few games being able to hold my attention for long. I buy new games constantly, yet only a few really keep me playing them. So far, Duke has brought many hours of enjoyment, far worth the money I spent IMHO.

shakey said,

Why should they charge only $10? If it came out back in 98-2002, it would still have cost $40-$50 bucks. Years upon years went into the making of it, so they have to make their money some how.
It was released as a treat for everyone. This was a game that would have never seen the light of day if not for GearBox doing what they did. To go into it thinking you are getting anything more than a 98 FPS is expecting too much. Nothing was ever promised that it didn't deliver. In fact, the promise was that it really wasn't ever going to come out, so we should be happy that this actually happened. Too bad gamers are all on some sort of high horse about how all games need to be, and just can't have fun anymore with a simple shooter. I'm happy something non military based was finally released, as the market is horribly over flooded with CoD and wannabe's alike.

Yes, IF it was released in 2002. Go ahead and look on steam. See what games released in 2002 are selling for. It's not $50. Not even half that. I am glad they released it, but it does not stack up in just about every way to a modern game. Comparing it to Mass effect/Uncharted/MW/Bioshock it is laughable.

shakey said,

So do you go into indie party developed games with the mindset that it is going to be some triple A title? I hope not, or else you wont have much enjoyment out of them. So yes, mindset for a game does matter. Game prices have not changed much over many years, so price is not a issue.

Every side scroller game should be up to par with Little Big Planet 2... Every shooter should be of Battlefield 3 quality... Every fighter should be like Marvel Vs Capcom 3? I hope not. I like variety in my games, from graphics to gameplay to control. It is what keeps games from not becoming stale. Lately though, gaming has become stale, with very few games being able to hold my attention for long. I buy new games constantly, yet only a few really keep me playing them. So far, Duke has brought many hours of enjoyment, far worth the money I spent IMHO.

If an indie game charges $60, I'm going evaluate it as a $60 game.

If I have to change my mindset in order to enjoy it, that is BS. If a game developer needs me to give him a break when evaluating the game, then they should be happy to give me a price break.

A game released in 2011 that retails for $60 should be evaluated as a 2011 game that retails for $60.

If Gearbox said, "Ok, this is a dated game, but we're only charging $40 for it." Then people would have been easier. But it is ridiculous to say, "This is a dated game, but we are still charging $60 for it." That is complete BS.

Most games from 2 years ago are not priced at $59.99. Gearbox and 2K should keep in mind that it is a game that should have been released 2 years ago and price it appropriately. When they do that, I might be able to enjoy it with the mind set that it should have been released 2 years ago.

Shadrack said,
Most games from 2 years ago are not priced at $59.99. Gearbox and 2K should keep in mind that it is a game that should have been released 2 years ago and price it appropriately. When they do that, I might be able to enjoy it with the mind set that it should have been released 2 years ago.

With all the dlc that the game is scheduled to get, you will get your monies worth.
But hey, if you don't like it, dont get it. then you have no reason to complain either. There are tons who do enjoy it, and can easily look past what others seem to hold it up to.

Shadrack said,
Most games from 2 years ago are not priced at $59.99. Gearbox and 2K should keep in mind that it is a game that should have been released 2 years ago and price it appropriately. When they do that, I might be able to enjoy it with the mind set that it should have been released 2 years ago.

Actually, plenty of games from 08 and 09 are still 59.99 new. King of Fighters 2(59.99), Hot Wheels Racing (39.99), and many others. Just go to Gamestop.com and do release date search. There are games almost out during the 360's launch still go for around new price.

shakey said,

With all the dlc that the game is scheduled to get, you will get your monies worth.
But hey, if you don't like it, dont get it. then you have no reason to complain either. There are tons who do enjoy it, and can easily look past what others seem to hold it up to.

The point of a review is to criticize the game. Seems silly if reviewers can only discuss games they liked...

shakey said,

Why should they charge only $10? If it came out back in 98-2002, it would still have cost $40-$50 bucks. Years upon years went into the making of it, so they have to make their money some how.
It was released as a treat for everyone. This was a game that would have never seen the light of day if not for GearBox doing what they did. To go into it thinking you are getting anything more than a 98 FPS is expecting too much. Nothing was ever promised that it didn't deliver. In fact, the promise was that it really wasn't ever going to come out, so we should be happy that this actually happened. Too bad gamers are all on some sort of high horse about how all games need to be, and just can't have fun anymore with a simple shooter. I'm happy something non military based was finally released, as the market is horribly over flooded with CoD and wannabe's alike.

+1!!!!!!

DukeEsquire said,

The point of a review is to criticize the game. Seems silly if reviewers can only discuss games they liked...

I'm all for criticizing a game, but a lot of the reviews were just spewing hate. Many called it unplayable, insulting, and more. Like they had never even heard of Duke 3D. I like reviews that show the bad, because you can prep for it. But for this game, a lot of the reviews were just over the top hating.
It's like they all had these high expectations for a 10 fingered/toed baby, and instead were left with a bag of coal. This is more like a 7 fingered/toed baby, who needs some glasses. It can still do everything it needs to, but ya, it doesn't look at good .
Some reviews said it was just disgusting.. Yet bulletstorm had you shooting a guys ass to make it blow fire, or CoD making you massacre innocents in an airport. Hell, There has been much more offensive and bad humor in other games plenty, but this game was just taking so much hate.

shakey said,
Too bad that no one can even comprehend that this game was meant to be released so long ago, and that the only reason it was finally released was because gearbox bought the rights and polished up what was already made, and made it playable for those on pc and consoles.
But yes, just keep acting like it was made only 2 years ago and judge it as so. Because that is fair.
If you go into this game with the correct mindset, you will actually enjoy it. Stop thinking that just because it was released this year, that it is going to be up to par with games of this year.

+1000 to you man, you really understand the idea behind the release of this game...

shakey said,

I'm all for criticizing a game, but a lot of the reviews were just spewing hate. Many called it unplayable, insulting, and more. Like they had never even heard of Duke 3D. I like reviews that show the bad, because you can prep for it. But for this game, a lot of the reviews were just over the top hating.
It's like they all had these high expectations for a 10 fingered/toed baby, and instead were left with a bag of coal. This is more like a 7 fingered/toed baby, who needs some glasses. It can still do everything it needs to, but ya, it doesn't look at good .
Some reviews said it was just disgusting.. Yet bulletstorm had you shooting a guys ass to make it blow fire, or CoD making you massacre innocents in an airport. Hell, There has been much more offensive and bad humor in other games plenty, but this game was just taking so much hate.

You are definitely exaggerating the bad reviews. Even the harshest critics on metacritic simply complain that the game is very dated. True? Absolutely. The game is dated. Maybe that was one of the things they developers tried to do. Good for them. Doesn't make it not true.

I didn't enjoy the game and I thought it was not only not fun, but also very dated. I played Duke 3D as well as the side-scrolling Duke 1 and 2 (which I bet many of the people on this forum don't even know about) and I thought this game stunk.

It's my opinion that it stunk. If you can voice that you liked the game, then I should be able to give an opposing view on an inherent subjective matter.

" ... The review goes so far as to disparage the people who poured thousands of irreplaceable hours of their life, spent absent from families and loved ones, into the creation of this game."

if these nincompoops poured thousands of irreplaceable hours and produces electronic feces. they ought to be ashamed of wasting the good money their employers paid them for quality work, they ought to apologize to gamers who paid for their so-called game, and they ought to feel ashamed for their absence from families and loved ones, when in fact they are wasting quality time in office without being productive.

The review goes so far as to disparage the people who poured thousands of irreplaceable hours of their life, spent absent from families and loved ones, into the creation of this game."

But if after all those hours, the game is still terrible, whos fault is that?

"Please remember, there are other ways to get a copy of the game for review. You can always buy it."

Obviously, he doesn't understand how the review game is played....

Tzvi Friedman said,
"Please remember, there are other ways to get a copy of the game for review. You can always buy it."

Obviously, he doesn't understand how the review game is played....

How is it played? "Give me a free game or I'll give a bad review"?

Majesticmerc said,

How is it played? "Give me a free game or I'll give a bad review"?

Pretty much. Like any industry, the gaming world is made up mainly of *******s, with the good guys almost always finishing last.

Majesticmerc said,

How is it played? "Give me a free game or I'll give a bad review"?

No, it's played by reviewers getting pre-release copies so they can have a full and thorough review up (preferably with video) at launch.