June 15, 2011 at 1:34 PM ET
The public relations company in charge of promoting the latest installment in the controversial "Duke Nukem" franchise posted a tweet late Tuesday threatening to punish reviewers who have given the game a bad review.
The tweet was posted by The Redner Group — the company hired to promote "Duke Nukem Forever" — and read: "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."
The Redner Group must have been planning to blacklist a whole heckuva lot of game reviewers because the Xbox 360 version of "Duke Nukem Forever" currently holds a score of 48 out of 100 from reviewers on Metacritic. The PS3 and PC versions earn a score of 56 and 57 respectively.
Critics have called the game "a sloppy, cobbled together first-person shooter" and a "muddled, hypocritical exercise in irritation" not to mention "embarrassingly bad — the kind of game you point and laugh at."
Jim Redner, founder of the Redner Group, sent an apology for the threatening tweet after pulling it from the company's Twitter account.
I would like a quick moment of your time to humbly ask for your forgiveness. I made a major error in judgment. I acted out of pure emotion without any thought to what I was saying. It is with a sad heart that I come to you now asking that you forgive me.
Redner said that he was acting on his own behalf and said the game's publisher — 2K Games — had nothing to do with the tweet. In fact, he referred to 2K as his "former client." So although 2K has not commented on the debacle, we're going to guess they let the Redner Group go over this one.
Game reviewers often rely on PR companies to send them video games in advance of their launch so that they can review them in time for when they arrive in stores. As Ben Kuchera writes in a post for Ars Technica, these companies may secretly blacklist reviewers who don't give them the scores they hoped for, but it is nearly unheard of for a company to openly threaten reviewers for handing down a negative opinion about a game.
In his apology letter, Redner went on to explain that it was the tone of many of the "Duke Nukem Reviews" that pushed him over the edge.
Though I didn’t name names, I did say that I thought some reviews had gone too far in tone. Meaning, that the tone of some of the reviews was poor... But that it beside the point. We are all entitled to our opinions regardless of score, tone or meaning. My response was a juvenile act on my part. I know better and my emotion got the best of me. I have worked very hard on this project. I want it to succeed. I just got upset and acted out.
Certainly the "Duke Nukem" franchise has seen no shortage of controversy over its long, swagger-and-smirk-filled history. The leading man — cigar-chomping, muscle-bound Duke Nukem — and the games he's starred in have been called racist and misogynistic (among other things). And "Duke Nukem Forever" hit a number of delays, road bumps, starts and stops on its whopping 14-year journey to arriving in stores this week.
Of course, no matter how badly the Duke gets trashed by critics this time around, some have argued that he's bullet proof and his fans will buy the game in droves no matter what.
But a quick glance at the scores given by users (not reviewers) on Metacritic suggests that perhaps even the Duke's biggest fans are not amused by his most recent outing. They have given the Xbox version of the game a score of 3.8.
"I can't believe this is what became of my beloved Duke Nukem franchise," wrote one disappointed fan.
"A cut-throat recession hit community, to release slop like this is a crying shame," wrote another gamer.
And one gamer summed up the feelings of many: "I want my money back."
UPDATE: 2K Games has issued the following statement: "2K Games does not endorse the comments made by Jim Redner and we can confirm that The Redner Group no longer represents our products. We have always maintained a mutually-respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way."
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