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article imageGameSpot Fires Reviewer to Appease Advertisers

By Sarawanan Ravindran     Dec 1, 2007 in Business
GameSpot fired a longtime employee, Jeff Gerstmann, on the grounds that he did not positively review the game, Kane and Lynch, which was being advertised throughout GameSpot pages.
GameSpot, a website popular for gaming news and reviews, is under fire from it's fans and those wanting honest reviews because they fired Jeff Gerstman. Gerstman has been working with them for many years and he was let go because he wrote a negative review.
The review for which Jeff Gerstman got fired is of Kane and Lynch, a crime genre game for the XBOX 360, PS3 and PC. The title had been heavily promoted by it's publisher Eidos as the big holiday game coming from them, and they had invested money into GameSpot to advertise the game throughout the website.
In exchange for the advertising deal with GameSpot, Eidos must have believed that they would also receive a decent review of their game. However, Gerstman who was responsible for the review, gave it a meager 6/10 rating, which is low in comparison to most games. In addition to this poor rating of 6.0, Gerstman also gave a negative video review which was pulled from the GameSpot website soon after news of his job loss began circulating on the internet.
The incident reflects very poorly on GameSpot because when going to review websites, gamers expect honest reviews from major websites. The incident brings up the question of whether the review of other games were also based on behind-the-scene deals with advertisers for good reviews.
Outrage from the Gaming Community
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Gamers have spoken out clearly on the topic and this can be seen on forums (including the GameSpot forum) and gamers have expressed themselves in different ways on this topic. The incident brings back memories of the Digg revolt that took place on May 1st 2007.
An another example would be of how GameFAQ, sister site of GameSpot, was hacked into changing the response from the initial poll to responses that are linked to the incident.
Many gamers have decided to boycott both GameSpot and Eidos until both companies right their wrongs and admit to the mistakes they made. Although boycotts typically aren't effective, this one could be because of the nature of the audience that uses the site.
Outrage from the Gaming Press
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Destructoid, another popular gaming website that competes with GameSpot on a smaller scale, decided to mock GameSpot for their actions by changing the name of their website to Cashwh0re. The site acts as satire of the whole scenario, but shows the disgust of the Destructiod staff of the incident.
1UP, another popular gaming website, had their staff protest around the GameSpot building to show support of GameSpot reviewers that should be allowed to give fair reviews and not deal with termination of their jobs for being honest.
Response from GameSpot
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GameSpot and Jeff Gerstmann have not made any comments on the incident as of yet. The incident has been considered a rumour, however a lot of evidence has come from CNET employees which indicate this was the case.
CNET is the parent company of GameSpot, and the evidence coming from their employees has since been removed. Valleywag also reports that another person from GameSpot has given more details of what had happened.
However, substantial evidence does indicate that Gerstmann could have been fired due to numerous factors in addition to the Kane and Lynch review. Other sites say his reviews have been controversial.
Regardless of the small details, the gaming community remains up in arms and it appears that unless GameSpot corrects their mistakes, it's going to turn into a bigger problem.
Update: CNET has made a vague statement on the situation.
"GameSpot takes its editorial integrity extremely seriously. For over a decade, GameSpot and the many members of its editorial teal have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis"
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This article received an award from Digital Journal's Editorial Board for outstanding citizen journalism. Every Friday, Digital Journal profiles the top news stories from around the world.
For more details on this award and to find other top-rated articles, check out DigitalJournal.com's TopFinds report.
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