NOVATO, CA: After a highly anticipated and long-awaited launch, 2K Games' video game Duke Nukem Forever received an influx of bad reviews and criticism. The Redner Group, a Santa Monica-based agency handling PR for the launch, reacted by publicly threatening game reviewers via social media, causing 2K Games to cut ties with the firm.
In an apparent attempt to dissuade future criticism from the press, the Redner Group used its official Twitter handle to warn game reviewers against posting bad reviews, stating: "Too many went too far with their reviews...we are reviewing who gets games next time and who doesn't based on today's venom," and "Bad scores are fine. Venom filled reviews...that's completely different.”
The comments have since been deleted, but the PR fallout is severe. The Redner Group's CEO Jim Redner later tweeted, “I have to apologize to the community. I acted out of pure emotion. I will be sending each of you a private apology.”
Charlie Sinhaseni, senior manager of PR at 2K Games confirmed that the company is no longer working with the Redner Group and does not endorse Redner's comments on Twitter.
“We have always maintained a mutually respectful working relationship with the press and do not condone his actions in any way,” Sinhaseni said.
Redner told PRWeek the tweet was motivated by a poorly channeled emotional response rather than logic, and that the agency regrets the manner in which it handled the situation. The agency realizes its defense of the game went too far with the original tweets. It also hopes its subsequent response will assure game reviewers that it values the work they do and acknowledges the difficult circumstances that can arise when making product reviews.
“I personally believe 2K was justified in their decision to end their relationship with the Redner Group,” he said, adding that the firm posted the tweet without knowledge or consent from the client.
While PR professionals may choose to withhold information from reviewers out of concern about negative press, the situation serves as an example of what can happen when this practice is made public, especially over powerful yet risk-laden social media channels. Simply deleting a social media message may not be enough to remove its effect.
“Social channels are wonderful means of expression,” Redner said. “There is risk and danger in using them incorrectly as we did, but if used properly, they are wonderful tools.”