Duke Nukem PR People Publicly Threaten Those Who Give Bad Reviews

from the total-fail dept

You may have heard that Duke Nukem Forever finally came out after a decade plus of being vaporware. It’s no secret that the original team behind the game was somewhat obsessive-compulsive about not releasing a bad game — so much so that they never released any game, and kept restarting the project entirely. After 3D Realms finally went under, someone else took control and put together a game… but the initial reviews have been scathing, and suggest that the game should have stayed vaporware.

In response, in a moment of pure PR failure, the PR firm repping the game, the Redner Group, publicly threatened to stop giving preview games to those who gave Duke Nukem Forever a bad review.

“Too many went too far with their reviews… we r reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn’t based on today’s venom.”

That’s a huge no-no in the business, because it suggests the whole review business is a tit-for-tat setup, where you only get product if you give good reviews. Jim Redner, the guy behind the tweet removed the tweet, and admitted that he got caught up in the emotion:

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.

That’s all pretty unfortunate. Of course, this is the nature of the game, if you do this kind of thing. It’s also one of the reasons we’ve tended to stay away from ever dealing with PR people. We don’t do product reviews like that, and in part it’s because we didn’t want to have to deal with this kind of thing. Still, in the end, such a reaction tends to reflect even worse on the game because it calls into question any positive reviews.

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Comments on “Duke Nukem PR People Publicly Threaten Those Who Give Bad Reviews”

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Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:


Yeah, I wasn’t too impressed with it. The controls are laggy and jumpy at the same time. I should have bought it on PC (I may yet). However, I think it lives up to Duke3D quite nicely. Except, how do you hide a secret if it glows gold and has a “Press X” hovering over it?

Why was the Redner Group upset about the reviews? They were just the PR group, not the people who had been working on it for 15 years.

Tom Landry (profile) says:

I’m not sure Gearbox (the dev who took over the game) was responsible for the disaster known as DNF, they’re a pretty talented studio and this doesn’t look like their kind of work at all. I’m guessing 3DR, trying to get more cash from 2K, threw together what we see now so theyd have something concrete to offer up. To their credit, 2K told them to go fuck themselves.

George Broussard and Scott Miller, for all their self congratulatory bullshit, have finally been exposed as the money grubbing frauds they are. I’ll be surprised if they aren’t sued somewhere down the line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Duke Nukem fucking SUCKS! And Steam is no help either. 60% of the reason I bought the game was for multiplayer and the damn thing does NOT work! I have received NO help from either the game maker or steam. The game SUCKS! !!!!!!!!!!!!

Sue me fawkers, then maybe I can get you to fix your bugged crap!

Lord Binky says:

Stupid move is Stupid

I think in the first post he was clear that it wasn’t bad reviews that were the problem, it was reviews saying that the game made you feel dirty like an uncle that tells racist jokes. It was just vitriol filled reviews there to insult instead of actually be informative for whatever reasons are beyond me. The point of acquiring and releasing the game was a fan service to finally publish a Frankenstein project that had gone through too many years of development and different developers to be handled with any expectation of a modern AAA title. What funny about all the poor reviews are that they are akin to reviewing porn and writing how immoral and insulting to civilized humans and then criticizing the cinematography, plot, acting, and script of such a film. Where they got their expectations from is a mystery, the entire point of the game was to be over the top crude humor, and at no point was it expected or shown to be any different. I for one told my fianc? what all the fuss was about and she laughed as hard as I did at the absurdity and extreme crudeness of the games humor. The reviews so far have cemented my decision to purchase the game. I applaud a game if it can actually offend me instead of shake my head at ignorance, I don?t know if this one will but I will find out soon enough. I can only hope if I ever live into the triple digits I will still laugh at a penis joke, sophomoric humor or not.

A.R.M. (profile) says:

Ars Technica wrote about this yesterday, but what’s important here is there *is* a blacklist going on.

Even if the statement were made publicly doesn’t change the fact it’s still going on and most assuredly affecting reviews.

I won’t name names, but I’ve got it on good authority one review site has to “throw a bone” on a title, regardless if it sucks, because to do so otherwise means the review site has nothing to review.

This is another game being played by developers, and it’s pretty sickening, especially when gamers are the first to object to the $60+ price tag of incomplete/buggy games.

I’m not sure why this gaming industry has gone this route, but all they’ve done is to ensure I’ll wait for Gamestop’s $9.99 price point before I buy a title anymore.

And that’s a shame, because I know there are great games out there. I’m just not willing to risk my money to find them.

Perhaps this be a wake-up call to the industry, any industry, playing this blacklist game.

What’s next: prevent gamers from playing if they tweet a bad review?

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:


I’m not sure why this gaming industry has gone this route, but all they’ve done is to ensure I’ll wait for Gamestop’s $9.99 price point before I buy a title anymore.

Its not just the gaming companies, and its nothing new. Movie studios do the same thing to critics. Music labels do the same to DJs and radio stations. Computer hardware companies, same.

It is a direct result of treating your customers as passive consumers who will buy what you sell them, instead of really connecting with them to see what they want and working with them to provide it.

Anonymous Coward says:

This sort of action has been going on a long time. You just don’t hear about it often. I used to be a died in the wool gamer. Read the gaming mags, the whole bit.

Only one day I figured out that the reviews weren’t much good for determining which games where worthy of spending money on and which games where the turkeys to avoid. Wasn’t much reason to spend money on reviews that were cheerleading for all the games with no games being rated as duds, unfinished, or just plain bad.

What came out over a long period of time was that when gamer reviews come out bad, they don’t get the next game ahead of the market to write the next review. It pretty well killed gamer review mags. They are worthless for determining if a game is worth the money. The reviews have to play ball to get the next game to review. I quit buying the review mags and the games too. There were just too many turkeys out there being billed as the next must have. Some were rushed to market, depending on internet connections to finish the game by upgrade.

In today’s world it is better to ignore the gamer review. Most are not worth the effort to read the words.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Confirmation of what everyone already knew

It’s nice to finally have the confirmation of what I already knew was happening with video game reviews. There have been far too many games over the last few years that completely sucked that got above average to great reviews from the vast majority of reviewers out there. You sit there and scratch your head like, but everyone said this game was good… but its horrible.

This particular game I haven’t played yet so I can’t speak as to how good or bad it is. But, because of this situation in the industry I took to never buying games at full price at launch anymore and waiting several months for them to go on sale before buying. This is regardless of reviews etc. It’s sad, but its what we as gamers have to do to protect ourselves from getting burned all of the time. Aside from that, I would recommend going off user reviews rather that editorial reviews of games, you’ll get a more accurate representation there I believe.

Lord Binky says:

Constructive Criticism

If the game sucks, that’s fine! The problem is that some reviewers wrote articles that were as bad as the game they were reviewing. I love B movies that I would never recommend as a good movie. It’s already understood the video game review thing is shady. All the goody bags and crap for people given early copies for review, which you only continue to recieve if you stay in favor with the company (Amount of honesty allowed in reviews varies from company to company). I understand and can make my decisions using reviews because I account for that, but I still see the whole thing like movie reviews where an oscar winning movie makes me want to claw my eyes out, and the craptastic movie the reviewers shun, is completely entertaining. It must have something to do with differences in people or something, I should get a grant for a study on this….

Anyways, there IS a difference between, Damn, this was dissapointing and sucked, here’s why : backtracking, crude offensive jokes (That the reviewer has no tolerance for),short playthrough, outdated graphics,and the game feels 15 yrs old. But hey, it run well, and what do you expect for an abandoned game that was picked out of bit bucket and polished a little. Don’t buy it expecting a great game, it is for seriously nostolgic fans that will overlook all of it’s flaws only.

That versus, This game makes you feel dirty, it is offensive that your a horrible person if you find it funny and must be a simple minded teenager at that, the gameplay is terrible and makes you insane like looking upon Cthulu himself, it should never have been released, insult,insult,insult. Don’t buy it they are monsters for making the game.

If you are being crappy, offensive, and insulting about the game being reviewed which is also offensive,crappy, and insulting, why should the reviewer expect to get treated any different when judged on his work?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Stupid move is Stupid

That’s all fine, but it doesn’t make the PR company’s actions correct.

The fact is, people can and should write whatever they want about the game. If a pub doesn’t want to do a thorough analysis and instead wants to mock a bunch of superficial aspects, there’s no grand rule that says they can’t. Reviewers are free to “miss the point” either intentionally or unintentionally.

Basically, the game is out there and it has to stand by itself. Getting mad at people for criticizing it is pointless and makes it sound like they know it sucks. If they were confident that it was an amazing game, they would keep their mouths shut and let it succeed on its own merits.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:


Then they are terrible at PR. Why? Because they think they can somehow control the entire downstream flow of information. That’s idiotic and self-defeating. Their job is to generate buzz, get people excited about the game, and then send it out there to stand on its own two feet. Duke Nukem shouldn’t need any hand-holding.

And it’s rather ironic for them to get mad about vitriol and vulgarity when those are the distinguishing marks of the Duke Nukem franchise.

Lord Binky says:

Stupid move is Stupid

Oh, it is definitely a poor action for a PR company to say that publicly. Even that is not as bad as HOW they said it which makes you question the company as a whole, unless of course any attention is considered beneficial. The whole who gets early access thing is a touchy subject that’s highly questionable and has alot of emotion tied to it for alot of people. Although still stupid, they would have been better thinking on it for five more minutes and removing the emotion to say something more like “Bad reviews are fine, we want the honesty. Still, we are keeping in mind reviewers who are staying civil.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Constructive Criticism

It would serve to keep in mind that the reviewer, hopefully, has a responsibility to his/herself and the attendant readership first and foremost. People will be glad of an honest opinion from a writer they’ve come to like or trust to be square with them.

But this PR guy’s threat that reviewers would be shut out of that process in the future – based on their expressed opinions – was totally out of line. He could’ve taken issue with some of the nastier reviews and left the threat out entirely and there could’ve been a nice little flamewar for 5-10 minutes and his co. would still have a contract.

Jim_G says:

Stupid move is Stupid

That particular review is over at the arstechnica.com web site. You picked an excellent example of a review that probably was upsetting to the PR company. However, I don’t consider it to be “vitriol” at all.

Here is the relevant section:

“. . . You see, the women in the alien craft are being forcibly impregnated by the aliens, and during your journey, you hear a mixture of screams and sexual noises. After I accidentally blew up a few of these female victims in a firefight, Duke made a joke about abortion.

“This is what passes for humor in the game. It’s not racy, it’s not funny, and it makes you feel dirty. Every time I put the controller down, I felt the need to rub my hands on my jeans as if the game were making me physically dirty. It’s like watching your uncle tell racist jokes at Thanksgiving and praying someone has the guts to tell him to cut it out, but this time it’s interactive?and you’re the uncle.”

I consider this to be good writing. It gives specific examples of what happens in the game, and then the reviewer describes his personal reaction to that content.

The full review can be found at:


Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

DNF reviews

“In other words, the game can’t stand on its own.”

Isn’t that how all games are now? It’s extremely rare to find a squeal that can stand on it’s own. Even Final Fantasy is getting into the realm where if you don’t play the previous ones, the new ones kinda suck.

And yeah, sniperdoc is right. The reviewers probably never did play Duke3d and were probably expecting something just bloody and violent (Like GOW3) instead of raunchy, vulgar, and insulting. In that respect, Duke lived up to his name.

Anonymous Coward says:

Stupid move is Stupid

The problem with what you quoted is it’s factually incorrect. If you do nothing baby aliens burst forth from the women, and it is that part that Duke is joking about.

If good writing is “don’t fully understand what I’m writing about,” then yeah.

Also, what did the reviewer expect when playing this game? It was equally as crass for its time way back when.

Users are generally more favorable with the game, from what I’ve seen. It’s not a $50-$60 game, but it certainly isn’t deserving of the vitriol it is getting.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Stupid move is Stupid

From what I understand, you have two choices when faced with the pregnant women: kill them both, or wait for aliens to explode out of their stomachs. I believe Duke makes an abortion joke either way.

I think you are probably right about “what did the reviewer expect?” aspect – but I don’t think that small detail you are criticizing him over changes anything about the point he is trying to make. And, incidentally, the quoted article also includes an update the reviewer added after commenters there pointed out the same thing to him.

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