Fail to the king, baby, and PR blacklisting ballyhoo

I’ve only ever played a single Duke Nukem title in my entire gaming life, and that was Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, and even then it wasn’t for terribly long as it was just a snippet of the game included on some free demo disc. Think it might’ve been shipped to me thanks to my die-hard subscription to PSM. Can’t remember. Might have to search through boxes later to see if I even still have it. I remember it opening in a strip club, having to fight off piggish cops (literally), and that the titular Duke never ran out of one-liners. He was like a manlier version of Gex that reveled in crude violence and raunchy topics. I was 14 or 15, and even then I didn’t think he was too c0ol. Gex and Bubsy and Blasto were more my style.

And so, while the fact that Duke Nukem Forever, a game long burdened with problems, was finally released this week, I couldn’t care less. It’s getting ripped apart left and right. What’s truly fascinating though is watching the industry unfold as bad reviews pepper the Internet and PR companies get cranky. Take Jim Redner of The Redner Group, a PR company that is trying to promote Duke Nukem Forever. Just the other day, in response to numerous bad reviews, he tweeted the following:

Ah, the distinct scent of blacklisting. It stinks, for sure. And usually, it’s a behind-the-scenes sort of thing in the gaming industry; websites surely get blacklisted all the time, but it’s done with a cold shoulder, a lack of email responses and no more review copies sent over. That sort of thing. Here, however, was a public threat, and Jim Redner quickly saw the error of his ways, delivering an apology:

“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. Again, 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.”

Shortly after, The Redner Group was dropped by 2K Games as a representative of their games. Good for them.

In all my many months here at Grinding Down, I’ve only ever been sent one review copy, and that was for Monster Tale. I really enjoyed the game, and I wrote a nice review for it, giving it good praise while still pointing out its flaws. If I had hated the game or thought it to be a pile of monster poo, I would’ve said so, and maybe I might have been blacklisted for such “venom.” Hard to say. The point is, you gotta stay objective and can’t let online bullying and threats of being locked out stop you from doing your job, which, as game journalists, is telling the public whether X game is truly worth $59.99. This is why I trust websites like GiantBomb or smaller gaming blogs over corporate headliners like and; I’d rather someone tell it to me straight than dance the line by upping a review from bad to mediocre because of fear and want of SWAG and cool perks.

3 responses to “Fail to the king, baby, and PR blacklisting ballyhoo

  1. Just curious on why you trust Giant Bomb more than someone else? They’re still accepting review copies as far as I can tell.

    • They’ve mentioned numerous times that they also buy a lot of games themselves to review, and their Quick Looks can be quite brutal. Both Brink and Duke Nukem Forever were openly claimed as terrible and horrible within minutes of recording gameplay footage; I guess I feel like they really don’t try to hold back.

  2. I have fond memories of Duke Nukem 3D from the days of my youth. Cheesy one-liners and pixelated boobies — what more do you need? However, as I grew older I lost any and all interest in the character and never bothered to play another one in the series.

    Now that the video game equivalent of Chinese Democracy has been released, I am a little curious but still won’t bother to check it out. Well, not until it’s in the $5-10 bargain bin.

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