Game Reviews: Don’t Take It Personally

17 Jun

Cross-posted from the Weber Shandwick Seattle blog.

This week, game blogs and Twitter are buzzing about an incident that illustrates the tension that sometimes exists between PR professionals and reviewers. Earlier this week, the Redner Group, which had been promoting 2K Games’ new first-person shooter Duke Nukem Forever, was the target of backlash over a tweet that the agency posted saying:

“#AlwaysBetOnDuke 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 tweet was removed, but after  Ars Technica wrote about the tweet and subsequent apology, other high profile outlets picked up the story. Shortly thereafter, 2K Games announced that it “does not endorse the comments made by Jim Redner and we can confirm that The Redner Group no longer represents our products.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.”

In his apology, Jim Redner was honest and to the point, taking full responsibility for his actions:

“I have to apologize to the community. I acted out of pure emotion. I will be sending each of you a private apology.”

If you have any experience with game reviews, whether by professional publications or player feedback left on message forums, you will probably understand the emotions that drove Redner to make the statement he did. As advocates for our clients and their products, we (hopefully) bring passion and commitment to our work. It’s easy to get emotionally invested in the success of a campaign and become frustrated when some things don’t go as we had hoped.

Reviewers also bring passion and commitment to their work. Sometimes they passionately hate a game; and they are committed to telling their readers just how much they hate it, because it’s their responsibility to help those readers make decisions about which games to buy.

What can agencies learn from these events? I can think of a few key takeaways for any PR pros involved with engaging game reviewers:

  • Reviewers are entitled to their honest opinions, however much they may sting.
  • Judging from the blog posts and tweets by game reviewers slamming the PR industry, it’s clear that they aren’t feeling the love from us; to change this, we need to put extra effort into our working relationships with them so they see us as a valued resource instead of a necessary evil. (Or perhaps merely evil.)
  • If you get emotional when reviewers don’t deliver the results you’d hoped for, step away from Twitter.
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