Public relations agency The Redner Group has been until now responsible for promoting Duke Nukem Forever; recent comments on Twitter by Jim Redner (presumably its founder) have ended the company's relationship with publisher 2K Games. The tweet is now deleted, but a screenshot has captured the startling statement, which reads: "Too many went too far with their reviews. We are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom."
The game, if you've not yet seen, has been receiving quite a lot of negative reviews, with scores hovering around the middle section of the scale.
Following media and public reaction, later tweets read: "I have to apologize to the community. I acted out of pure emotion. I will be sending each of you a private apology. I need to state for the record that 2K had nothing to do with this. I will be calling each of you tomorrow to apologize. I want everyone to know that I was acting on my own. 2K had nothing to do with this. I am so very sorry for what I said."
An e-mail sent directly to Ars Technica on the matter read: "It is not my intention to bully anyone. I over reacted. I just voiced an opinion. I have poured my heart into this project and I just want it to succeed. It is my hope that you understand."
In what appears to be the final chapter in the fiasco, 2K Games' PR man Charlie Sinhaseni noted on his own Twitter account and later the official company account: "2K Games does not endorse the comments made by Jim Redner and we can confirm that The Redner Group no longer represents our products. We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way."
Evolve PR founder Tom Ohle sums up the matter best in an old blog post titled "Controlling the Media Nation", in which he says respect and understanding are needed in these sometimes touchy matters.
"I’ve been urged strongly to bitch at some journalist or another for a review I couldn’t really disagree with. In those situations, I’m the one who has to show integrity — I can argue to my client or boss (I’ve had both yell at me about reviews) about the facts, explaining how they’re being just a bit too blinded by their investment in the game to realize that some people do have opinions that differ from their own."
"For all of this to work, the respect has to flow both ways. Publishers and PR reps should never try to put unjust pressure on journalists. Meanwhile, journalists should strive to be fair in their coverage of games."
Update: Onion AV and Eurogamer writer John Teti claims this is more down to 2K than Redner. Teti was recently invited to a 2K event, but when word got back about his negative Mafia II review, they uninvited him. Teti tweeted: "The only mistake Jim Redner made was to disclose 2K operating practices publicly. Blacklisting writers for poor reviews is company policy. [He's] a good guy who got caught up in the 2K culture and made a bad mistake. But remember that: It's the culture, not one dude."