The DNF “brain fart”: Redner defends review selection

Tuesday, 21 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.