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View Full Version : Duke Nukem PR firm publicly threaten to 'blacklist' journalists who gave poor reviews



Cooper
15-06-2011, 04:49 PM
It's know that game PR companies use a variety of dodgy tactics, but the existence of 'blacklisting' now glaringly public:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/06/duke-nukems-pr-threatens-to-punish-sites-that-run-negative-reviews.ars

The twitterer apologised after the fact.

Nevertheless, is the games industry the only place where critics are treated like this? Do film and music journalists not get invited to preview screenings or sent preview tapes if they've written bad things about directors or bands?

Malawi Frontier Guard
15-06-2011, 05:08 PM
That company sure sounds professional!

deano2099
15-06-2011, 05:17 PM
What's interesting about that is that they said they don't mind the low scores, but don't like the venom-filled reviews. Which I can understand from a personal perspective, but it's basically saying "don't write entertaining reviews" - because being strongly critical to the point of venom is how you make a review of a bad game read well.

Kablooie
15-06-2011, 05:30 PM
Well, the guy just sounds angry himself.

Who knows if that's their policy . . . but scuttlebutt says it's the policy of more than a few.

BobsLawnService
15-06-2011, 07:06 PM
"Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different,"

That seems kind of reasonable to me. He seems to be frustrated and saying that if you post a professional review with reasoned negative critique about the game then you are fine. If you post an unprofessional review that is all about vicious, ad hominem attacks then you can review our games on your own dime.


... but it's basically saying "don't write entertaining reviews" - because being strongly critical to the point of venom is how you make a review of a bad game read well.

I disagree. It's the lazy way to write an interesting negative review but for some reason it seems to be the only way most journalists know how to do it.

SirKicksalot
15-06-2011, 07:40 PM
2K Games does not endorse or condone the comments made by @TheRednerGroup (http://twitter.com/TheRednerGroup) and confirm they no longer represent our products.

Ouch (https://twitter.com/#%21/2KGames/status/81056724546633729)

Where Is My Halftime Pie?
15-06-2011, 07:55 PM
That's an awfully bitchy response. It makes me think of when some fugly girl goes on the X Factor to be told that she hasn't got an ounce of talent, and then her parents come in and rage at Simon Cowell as though she deserves some form of praise because she tried her best.

vinraith
15-06-2011, 07:55 PM
Smart move by 2K to dump them, Redner seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding about who has who by the nads once information like that becomes public. At that point, review sites are all but obligated to fire off negative reviews to maintain any kind of public credibility.

Donjo
15-06-2011, 07:56 PM
If you release something, anything, to the public, you have to be prepared for people saying whatever the hell they want about it. This guy getting angry just makes the whole Duke Debacle more depressing...

Edit: and a strangely emotive way of unmasking the trade "secret" of blacklisting and segregation...

deano2099
16-06-2011, 12:51 AM
"Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different,"

That seems kind of reasonable to me. He seems to be frustrated and saying that if you post a professional review with reasoned negative critique about the game then you are fine. If you post an unprofessional review that is all about vicious, ad hominem attacks then you can review our games on your own dime.

It's the lazy way to write an interesting negative review but for some reason it seems to be the only way most journalists know how to do it.

You're entirely correct in what you say. The problem is you're misrepresenting the statement as something it isn't. No-one mentioned ad hominem attacks until you did. If this story was Duke Nukem PR firm publicly threaten to 'blacklist' journalists who make ad hoiminem attacks then I doubt we'd be having this argument.

There's a million miles between unprofessional or ad hominem, and "venom filled". As long as the venom is directed at the game, I don't see the problem.

Rii
16-06-2011, 01:45 AM
No press outlet has a right to receive early and/or free review copies of games. The behaviour of publishers in this respect may be reprehensible, but that press outlets cave to it is infinitely worse in that they are thereby misrepresenting themselves to and misleading their readership. As Martin Luther King used to say, a man can't ride your back unless it is bent.

Harlander
16-06-2011, 07:01 AM
They're using ad hominem in their reviews?

The syllogism would be "These people are imbeciles, therefore this game is terrible". Kind of along the lines of "Why should I listen to you? You're Hitler!"

What seems much more likely is the form "This game is terrible, therefore the people who made it are imbeciles" - that's not ad hominem, it's just an insult.

BobsLawnService
16-06-2011, 07:32 AM
Ad hominem probably wasn't the best word to use.

Dirtyboy
16-06-2011, 09:01 AM
Hollywood does the same thing with movies. Any movie that they know will be poorly rated gets the "not screened for reviewers" treatment.

Drake Sigar
16-06-2011, 09:04 AM
Wow, I’ve never seen a public threat before, usually these developers are smarter than that. As the article mentions, Blacklisting is hardly uncommon, with every low score potentially convincing a developer to take their business elsewhere. That’s probably why we’re stuck with the 80% = average and 90% = good mentality.

Still... the way some reviewers are going on, you’d think this game was the anti-Christ.

"It's not obvious they knew just how monumentally moronic the game they created is."

"That's when you realize that 2K is trying to pull a fast one."

"But now they're all middle-aged software engineers and everything comes across as a desperate attempt to relieve their youth."

westyfield
16-06-2011, 11:47 AM
Wow, I’ve never seen a public threat before, usually these developers are smarter than that.

To clarify, it was the PR firm, Redner Group, that made the threat. 2K have since ended their association with them, though how much of it was 2K's words from Redner's mouth is unclear.

Joseph
16-06-2011, 12:02 PM
I've had a few different thoughts as to why people are quite clearly going over the top with the negative reviews (I'm aware it's not a brilliant game), one of them is that people feel somewhat more grown up and matured if they bash this relic from the past and it gives them a chance to feel like they're in a new age of video games.

TillEulenspiegel
16-06-2011, 12:40 PM
It is, <a href=http://www.incgamers.com/Reviews/1193/duke-nukem-forever-review>by all accounts</a>, a terrible game. Terrible games should expect to get colorfully terrible reviews.

Best one I remember was of Extreme Paintbrawl, in Computer Games Strategy Plus. This is not unique to DNF. This is not new. This is not "unprofessional", unless you really expect bland, robotic neutrality in a review.

deano2099
16-06-2011, 12:40 PM
Another one is that it's been in development for twelve years. Expectations were understandably higher, but then we got past that to "it's probably going to be rubbish anyway".

It's always a what if, but it seemed to me the prevailing mood from the press in the run-up to release was that it was going to be a pleasant surprise. Not brilliant, but not a disaster. I think it being so bad took people by surprise, and that is why it's getting a kicking.

SirKicksalot
16-06-2011, 12:42 PM
Eurogamer's review had some factual errors. It "proved" the game lacks any new ideas by saying there are no new weapons or enemies and criticised the platforming because Duke has an "invisible body", when it actually has full body awareness...

Joseph
16-06-2011, 12:50 PM
Eurogamer's review had some factual errors. It "proved" the game lacks any new ideas by saying there are no new weapons or enemies and criticised the platforming because Duke has an "invisible body", when it actually has full body awareness...

That reminds me, a review in a news paper I read had the complaint that the game was full of non-playable characters. Make of that what you will.

Unaco
16-06-2011, 12:52 PM
I've had a few different thoughts as to why people are quite clearly going over the top with the negative reviews (I'm aware it's not a brilliant game), one of them is that people feel somewhat more grown up and matured if they bash this relic from the past and it gives them a chance to feel like they're in a new age of video games.

Or, it could be because it's a puerile, immature, infantile mess of a game, and reviewers are just being honest. Or, it could be that because the game tries to be larger than life, over the top and that, the reviews have to attempt to match that largesse. Or, it could just be that the reviewers haven't gone OTT with their negativity and the game actually deserves to be torn to shreds.

SirKicksalot
16-06-2011, 01:01 PM
I don't get it why 2K sent Xbox 360 review copies. That version is a disaster. 30 seconds loading times after each death?!

Or maybe it's all just a PR stunt. Gearbox was developing Duke Begins in 2009, maybe now they'll resume work on it. They also cut a lot of content from DNF, including the playable female sidekick.

Joseph
16-06-2011, 01:28 PM
Or, it could be because it's a puerile, immature, infantile mess of a game, and reviewers are just being honest. Or, it could be that because the game tries to be larger than life, over the top and that, the reviews have to attempt to match that largesse. Or, it could just be that the reviewers haven't gone OTT with their negativity and the game actually deserves to be torn to shreds.

I just felt that the reviews themselves were equally silly and immature in their negativity about the game. Sure the game had a bit of a legacy to live up to but people already had the general opinion that it wasn't going to be any good all these reviews just seem a little pointless in how much stock they put in themselves.

deano2099
16-06-2011, 01:45 PM
people already had the general opinion that it wasn't going to be any good

Well there's another reason then. I think people had the general opinion that it was going to be passable. That it turned out to be a very flawed game almost then necessitated a certain harshness in reviews, to make that clear. To make it obvious that it wasn't just bad, but it was worse than was expected.

BobsLawnService
16-06-2011, 02:08 PM
It is, <a href=http://www.incgamers.com/Reviews/1193/duke-nukem-forever-review>by all accounts</a>, a terrible game. Terrible games should expect to get colorfully terrible reviews.

Best one I remember was of Extreme Paintbrawl, in Computer Games Strategy Plus. This is not unique to DNF. This is not new. This is not "unprofessional", unless you really expect bland, robotic neutrality in a review.

Oddly enough just about everyone I've spoken to who has actually been playing the game on PC has been saying it is a fun but flawed game - hardly the train wreck most professional reviewers have been painting it as.

deano2099
16-06-2011, 02:43 PM
You have to work really bloody hard these days to screw up an FPS to the point where it ceases to be fun.

Ask those people to name a worse FPS that they've played in the last 5 years, and then I think you get a better idea of where it fits. The days of games literally being released as unplayable messes is mostly over now.

Berlin
18-06-2011, 07:55 PM
Jesus, I've done a review of this thing, gave 4/10 and now I'm browsing through 240 angry comments of pimpled teenagers who think that Duke's THE KING and I'm biased. Need beer.