The DNF “brain fart”: Redner defends review selection

Tuesday, 21st June 2011 04:56 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Jim Redner, the man at the centre of the Duke Nukem Forever blacklisting ruckus, has described his Twitter explosion as a “brain fart” but suggested selectively witholding review copies from media outlets is standard practice.

Redner’s PR agency, The Redner Group, was dropped by 2K after Redner said some DNF reviews had gone “too far” and future game code would be restricted to certain outlets as a result.

“It was a brain fart of epic proportions that registered on the social media Richter scale,” Redner wrote on Wired.

“I overreacted when I read the review and I vented on Twitter. It was an act of passion on my part that lacked objectivity. … Ultimately, I committed a cardinal sin in marketing.”

Redner described the review that triggered his outburst as “a scathing diatribe” and “downright mean spirited”, suggesting the writer hadn’t followed “standards of fairness and professionalism”.

“It’s as if the reviewer had a grudge and finally found an outlet to unleash his hostile brand of negativity,” he said.

“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.”

Redner denied utilising a blacklisting system in his PR work, correctly observing that he had not used the word at any time.

“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. … For any campaign, I have 200 to 400 copies available for media purposes. I normally receive more than double that in media requests.

“For Duke Nukem Forever, I received even more requests that normal. That means I turned down hundreds of requests.”

Redner said the game’s delay into June upended a plan to send only a few review copies out, to outlets which would appreciate the game. While he makes no bones about his aim to “generate the highest possible cumulative scores for the game at launch”, he likened the selection process to not sending a baseball game to a shooter fan for review.

However, in the end, hundreds of copies were sent out.

“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,” Redner said of the aftermath.

“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. … 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.”

The fuss began when Redner tweeted a threat to refuse review copy to an unnamed outlet after a “venom”-filled review of Duke Nukem Forever.

2K dissolved its relationship with the The Redner Group after the sandal came to light, but a blacklisting claim by Eurogamer threw doubt on the publisher’s innocence.



  1. frostquake

    Today…Below industry standard game..this type of game could have been DLC.

    5 Years ago…Mediocre Game at Best.

    10 Years ago… Would have rocked your world!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Suikoden Fan

    fucking love DNF, great game

    #2 4 years ago
  3. GamezIdiot

    The man has a point. DNF might not be the best game ever, but neither is it going to give you AIDS. Some of the reviews seem to be written like you’d think it would. Someone really needs to blacklist the likes of DEstructoid or at the very least give them a really good kick in the shins.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Schtee

    Is it not more that they’re recommending that you don’t buy it…which is their job?

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Freek

    When is a review negative but not too negative??? That’s an entirely meaningless statement. There is no measurement possible, it’s all somebodies opinion.

    It’s totally fair that this is thier job: to select people to review your game, to ban people who you think might not give you a good score. That’s what PR does.
    But to somehow try to justify that with weird statements like a review is “too negative” is just nonsense.

    It’s PRs job to manipulate the press, there’s nothing more to it then that. It is standard pratice but don’t sugar coat it.

    But above all else: DNF is a game of exceptionally low quality. Take2 knows that, Gearbox knows that and who ever worked on the game knows that.
    Some people may still be able to find some enjoyment in it but it isn’t good so negative reviews are to be expected.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. IL DUCE

    @5 Reviewers have no right to disparage the people that made the game since that is not objective whatsoever, I have not read the review that he claims did this but I also have not looked for it, out of curiousity does anyone know which one he is referring to?, but anyway, its just not right to criticize anything out of the game, the reason of a review is to critique the game not the people that made it, or previous conceptions of the game before you even pick up the controller to play it…some reviews are not taken seriously when written and made more to give a shock value rather then objectively review the game…and once again in case you forgot all Take Two did was publish it and reap the benefits in sales (with practically no development costs) whether the reviews suck or not…and if you think DNF is so bad go play something like Rogue Warrior or Shellshock 2 and you’ll be begging for some DNF…

    #6 4 years ago
  7. DSB

    People are entitled to write whatever they want, on whatever basis they want, but they aren’t entitled to be taken seriously if they’re just piss poor reviewers.

    I don’t think DNF is the best example of reviewers being flat wrong, and arguably there’s just as much room to slam it, as there is to be nostalgic about it. I find it a lot more troubling when an average open world game like Red Dead Redemption, is heralded as one of the best games in history.

    I think the general level of writing and reviewing out there is pretty dismal. But at the same time I think we ultimately have the reviewers we deserve. Look at the ammount of gamers with hurt assholes whining that 99% of all games today should never have been made, simply because they don’t fit their preference. Creating their own weird narratives on publishers and games based on rumors or hearsay.

    Essentially the press just gives them what they want, with headlines like “Obama wants videogames destroyed, praises the dominance of print media”.

    Personally I’ll always check on Metacritic if I’m interested in a game. It’s not accurate, but it’s close, and I don’t have to read a lousy, self-indulgent 3 page review.

    #7 4 years ago

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