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Blacklisted faster than a speeding email

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There’s a lot of noise on Twitter over what has been going on with the PR over 2K Games’ release of Duke Nukem Forever.

I’ve played the game and it isn’t as bad as some of the reviews make it out to be, but apparently, the PR firm attached to promoting and sending copies of the game to reviewers has drummed up controversy over a tweet they had made as reported by several outlets such as MTV and Ars Technica. Thanks to the speed of information, scandals can go from zero to public in less than a mouse click.

In what now appears to be a burst of emotional outrage over the panning that DNF is receiving, the Redner Group implied that they would be “reviewing who gets games next time”. You can see the full tweet in the pic above, captured by Ars Technica since it was deleted from the Redner Group’s Twitter feed.

Shortly afterwards, 2K Games severed ties to the Redner Group in a public tweet of their own. It started to look as if the PR group had taken things into their own hands and that 2K’s damage control via blacklisting was the result. That is until Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell tweeted that they had also been blacklisted by 2K, presumably over comments made in a previous podcast according to one of the moderators for their forums.

As messy as this is, it isn’t the first time PR in the gamespace has fun afoul in implying the need to control who and what reviewers should report back to their audiences. When Dark Energy’s Hydrophobia had come out last year and was the recipient of negativity flowing in tweets and reviews, their PR went on the warpath.

It’s one thing to promote your product, but quite another to begin cherry picking and blacklisting the journalists you want talking about your game. The whole idea of having someone independently review material is to give an honest assessment of its strengths and weaknesses based on their experience – without interference from who would have a vested interest in the game itself, like a developer…or someone paid to promote it.

I’d like to think that reviewers, on the whole, don’t go in expecting to rip apart a game based on hearsay. The good ones will always, for good or ill, tell it straight and give solid reasons why something is or isn’t worth anyone’s time. And it’s not all of PR that should be ashamed for the actions of only a few, though it might seem that way.

In the end, it’s keeping an unspoken level of trust in the system that keeps it working and when either side start picking favorites, the only ones to really lose out in the end are the gamers.