I'm calling it a "Twitter Debacle" simply because the headline doesn't allow space to properly describe what went down. To sum it up, Jim Redner, head of The Redner Group, made a bad move on Twitter. His company represents a host of 2K Games releases. The most recent of which was Duke Nukem Forever. Redner Tweeted that some reviews were too venomous and that he'd be reconsidering which outlets deserve review copies of games next time around.
Redner and his group were then dismissed from working with 2K Games as the publisher cited that they do not agree with his opinions.
Now Redner has taken time to defend his actions by writing a guest column for WIRED. While he recognizes that the outburst on Twitter, an obviously public forum, was a rookie mistake, he does state that there was nothing wrong with the core of his message. The Redner Group acknowledges that they dish out review copies based on how media outlets handle their games. And, at its core, his argument is sound. In fact, all of this is great:
"When a writer publishes a review with an undesirable score, so long as the review is fair and the critique is backed up by facts, I respect their opinion. Reviews are subjective. They are one person's opinion and opinions are never wrong," Redner said of the aftermath.
…It is my opinion that when someone exceeds their journalistic integrity and publishes a scathing, derogatory, uncalled-for review, I have the right to question it. … If you ask for a copy of the game for review, you have an ethical duty to provide a fair review of the game.
…You do not have to like the game. You do not have to publish a glowing review. However, you must be fair and accurate. You owe it to your audience, yourself and the video game community."
It's when Render owns up to score manipulation that his argument stumbles. He claims that reviewers have an obligation to their audiences to provide fair, accurate scores. But then he drops this one on us:
"It is my job to generate consumer awareness and excitement through positive media attention in order to drive sales. I had handpicked certain key editors that I felt would enjoy the game for what it is. I based my selections on previous coverage and personal conversations. It is a selection process. The idea was to generate the highest possible cumulative scores for the game at launch."
While I understand that it's a PR rep's job to work towards creating a positive vibe for their product, Redner has worked himself into a bad position with these two contradicting statements. On one hand, he claims that reviewers should hold a certain integrity, on the other hand Redner owns up to, essentially, manipulating review scores on day one. If Redner thinks that reviewers should behave in more honest ways (I'm not entirely convinced that these venomous reviews were dishonest), then Redner has to hold himself and his company to the same set of standards.
Crying foul on ethics in game journalism while working towards further ethically dismantle the industry makes no sense to me.