BBC News

Duke Nukem PR firm dropped following online review row

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, BBC News

image captionThe game has been in development for over 13 years

US games publisher Take 2 has parted company with public relations firm The Redner Group, following Twitter comments concerning Duke Nukem Forever.

Redner's contract was terminated after it said journalists who gave the game a poor review would be blacklisted.

Take 2's subsidiary, 2K Games, said it did not share "or endorse" the views.

Duke Nukem Forever, which has been in development since 1998, was criticised for its embarrassing character, dated design and poor controls.

The row erupted when Redner Group's founder, Jim Redner, published an angry tweet as the negative reviews of Duke Nukem Forever started to come in.

"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," he tweeted.

The threat was quickly picked up by blog and gaming sites across the world, accusing Take 2 of strong arm tactics.

A day later, 2K Games sacked Redner Group and tweeted that it maintained "a mutually respectful relationship with the press and will continue to do so. We don't condone @TheRednerGroup's actions at all".

The most recent message on Redner's Twitter feed reads: "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."

Classic reworked

First announced in 1998, Duke Nukem Forever was cancelled in 2009 when its developer - 3D Realms - collapsed.

It was subsequently resurrected by US developer Gearbox Software which released the game on PC, PS3 and XBox 360.

It now holds the record for the longest time between game releases. That was formerly held by StarCraft, which had a 12-year hiatus.

The series had legions of fans who waited in expectation of the next release.

However, while expectations were high, the final product disappointed most reviewers.

US game website 1Up said the game was one "not even the most maladjusted 13-year-old could love", IGN described it as a "muddled, hypocritical exercise in irritation" although compensated for by "solid shooting mechanics", and Gamespot UK said "it turns a famous gaming icon into an embarrassment".

Rik Henderson, a former co-presenter of Gamesmaster and writer with Pocket Lint, said that he was surprised at such a public statement by Jim Redner, but not the sentiment expressed.

"This sort of thing happens behind the scene regularly from a number of different companies; I've encountered this on many an occasion, naming no names," he told BBC News.

"Considering the number of games that come out every year, not everything is an A list title.

image captionDuke has failed to win over critics the world over.

Mr Henderson said it was common practice for firms not to send out review code until a game was in the shops and journalists who broke such gentleman's agreements would find themselves down the list when it came to receiving future games.

However, he added that a game like Duke Nukem Forever had been so hyped up that this course of action was not a realistic option.

"That said, I'm still waiting for my review code," he quipped.

Take 2 refused to make any further comment on the ongoing row when contacted by the BBC.

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