Free Jeff Gerstmann!

November 30, 2007 -
The online gaming community is buzzing today over reports that longtime GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann was fired for tagging Eidos' crime game Kane & Lynch with a mediocre review. From Gerstmann's write-up:
While [Kane & Lynch] sounds interesting at first, and has a few bright points, it's weighed down by bad storytelling, a real lack of character development, and a host of gameplay-related issues. The end result is a game that squanders much of its potential and just doesn't come together as well as it probably should have.

Joystiq reports that the GameSpot Forums are bubbling over with posts on the topic, with one thread attracting more than four thousand entries.

GP: If this story is as it now seems - a journalist fired over advertiser pressure - then it won't be taken lightly. Game companies simply can't be allowed to push writers around.

UPDATE: Perhaps there is more to the story. Over at Wired, Susan Arendt has this from an anonymous "insider":
The [Kane & Lynch] ads went up and the Eidos brouhaha was settled over two weeks ago. Jeff got fired yesterday. Furthermore, I'd heard a few people tell that he'd already been skating on thin ice for "unprofessional reviews and review practices." I don't know much about that, though, so I can't say one way or the other.

My gut tells me that he got canned for larger reasons. Maybe the Eidos debacle was part of it -- I don't know. But I sincerely doubt that Eidos made Gamespot fire him. CNET doesn't kowtow to its advertisers, and I've more than once seen the higher-ups turn away big advertising dollars for the sake of the company's integrity. I think the whole thing is likely a combination of factors, the biggest being poor timing

UPDATE 2: Joystiq is reporting that Cnet, which owns GameSpot, has issued a statement on the matter:
GameSpot takes its editorial integrity extremely seriously. For over a decade, Gamespot and the many members of its editorial team 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.

[As to Gerstmann,] it is CNET Networks' policy not to comment on the status of its employees, current of former.

UPDATE 3: My buddy Duke Ferris over at GameRevolution writes that pressure from Eidos did indeed prove Gerstmann's undoing:
As some of you may have heard, Gamespot has terminated their long-time reviewer Jeff Gerstmann, ostensibly over his Kane & Lynch review, and Eidos subsequently pulling their advertising dollars.

It's impossible for a company as large as C-Net (Gamespot's corporate overlords) to keep such a thing completely quiet, and I have sources that confirm that this is in fact true.


I would not be surprised if he was fired for writing a review that criticized a mediocre game. This industry has devolved into a commercialistic joke. Reviewers are bound by the advertising dollar, and many consumers are dumb enough to have their qualatative standards set by the industry and its review "critics."

Many consumers are also guillible enough to buy franchised sequels until their eyes explode; hell, a good plot writer can't be found for the love of God these days. I doubt this industry could survive long if games were judged solely by the quality of the content and depth of their plot. I'm glad that Jeff places a small amount of intrest in the quality of a plot. One reasons games can't get any damn respect is because the plots/setting/context do not approach moderate quality literature and film.

A shame this happened to Jeff. But buisness is buisness, and gamers are more than happy to keep visiting Gamespot and fueling the low standards the industry sets.

How times have changed.

I remember way back when, Acclaim threatened to pull advertising from EGM because EGM gave Total Recall deservedly poor reviews, and EGM basically told them, "Go ahead, we're not changing the reviews".

this is just dumb! BRING JEFF BACK!! What's going to happen to the hotspot??

Jeff has the right to freedom of speech as all of us do and just because the sites advertised by the people who make it just fire him! he gave a review which is fair and tells people what he thinks of it! others may like it and their are many MANY low rated games but their reviewers did not fire them!!! im in get Jeff Back!!!!

I can't possibly imagine why Gamespot thought they could get away with this. Did they honestly expect that word wouldn't leak out? Their entire credibility was on the line here. It's amplified by the fact that PA just talked this week in newsposts about how important a reviewer's credibility is to the reading public. It's not like this is some long-forgotten idea!

I'm still waiting for IGN to fire all of their reviewers. Or at least revamp the scale so that it's 1-10 rather than 7-10.

Really, that is not, in any way, an action you should be allowed to get away with.

I wonder if he will find work at another commercial review site/mag. I'm sure 1UP, IGN, etc want so-called "team players" (IE folk who bow to $$ from publishers).

This is just a sign of the times as the stakes in game publishing get bigger.

I've been following this, and if it turns out to be true I am bloody furious. This is corporate manipulation in its purest form, they are basically saying 'We can write any old shit we like, because we control the reviews.'

Basically, if Eidos are admitting that they manipulate the reviews of their products, then I certainly don't want them.

Dennis, please stop acting like... *attempts to think of WS term* bribe takeing media outlets are something new, your makeing yourself seem ignorant.

Stupid spam catcher keeps eating my posts.

I had read an article about this same sort of thing on IGDA in the June 2007 Culture Clash article. (I think the links are causing the post to be eaten)

Something similar happened with Lair as well. Lair was getting marginal reviews at best so Sony sent "Reviewer Guides" to game reviewers so that they could play the game properly.

I have always been wary of game reviews. They make money off the ads and yet review the same games that are paying their wages. There is always the possibility of a conflict of interest.

It is nice to know that there are game reviewers with integrity and I hope that Gerstmann gets another job (judging by his experience, it won't be a problem.)


Yes, we know the pressure exists, but when a company feels it has the right to behave in such a blatantly disgusting manner, then it is something new, they don't normally push their luck that far, so no, Dennis isn't acting like an unintelligible sentence as you suggest, he's acting like a reporter reporting on games and the politics involved in them.

I'm trying to imagine Roger Ebert getting fired for trashing a Paramount Stuidios film. In fact, I'm trying to imagine some film critic for the Podunk Times being fired for giving a bad review of a film for which the paper carries an advertisment. Just because the review is for an online source doesn't make this better; in fact, it's worse. It's worse because it undermines the notion of objective press on the Internet. If the world is moving away from traditional journalism (broadcast news, newspapers, magazines) and into the Internet, this is the time that journalistic integrity has to stand. Yes, reviewing is a subjective experience, but a reviewer should be allowed to honestly do his job. If there's a suspicion of pressure, the entire news source becomes discredited.

It seems to me that corporate interests are as dangerous to freedom of the press and freedom of information as any government legislation would be. But it's not like "indie media" is all that viable an alternative. Enough people start reading an indie media source, it gets big and then it gets acquired by a major news conglomerate. I don't know how, beyond companies and executives willing to sacrifice money for integrity, this can ever turn around. And maybe I'm just cynical, but I don't think there's that many people out there who have the fortitude to do so.

If this is true, it makes Johnny Wilson sad.


P.S. And yes, I mean CGW. Back when it was called CGW and Johnny ran the show.

We need a statement from Jeff confirming the details but if this is true then Eidos and Gamespot are dead men walking.

Gamespot can be, and has been retarded over the past year or so.

@the update

Interesting, this certainly seems to be polarising in opinions at the moment, there are those that are certain that this was caused by Eidos, and others who are not, at the moment I'm still undecided until I get more evidence either way.

As I said before, if this is true, I'm bloody furious, and I suspect Eidos will suffer from consumer pressure, but I'm willing to wait until I find out if it is true or not.


His wording heavily sugjust he is surprised stateing that it is not to be taken lightly, if you do your homework you will find this has been going on for years.

Well, he certainly has the credentials to land another game review gig. But I agree, this is pretty shameful behavior on Gamespot's part.

Two weeks doesn't seem like enough time to completely disassociate the firing with the "brouhaha". This just doesn't feel right to me.

I have my doubts that Eidos caused him to get fired. If they were upset about the review then yes it could have had something to do with it, but one would hope that GameSpot would have the stones to stand up and say

"It is a review site, we are honest in our reviews. Feel free to pull funding, when people hear about us standing up they will come to us asking to advertise here and our reader base will go up because they know we stand up to greedy producers."

I honestly was not a fan of his reviews, low quality and I think the only number on his board was an 8. (He gave a lot of games 8.8). The real problem lies in the review system. It is not a system of 1-10, it is a system of 6-10. Crap games get 6 or 7, wonderful games get 10. I'm sorry but nothing is perfect on release, there are always flaws. If you don't give anything below a 6, just change the system to 1-5.

I miss the old days of "grade" reviewed games or scales of 100.

If a game was an A+ it was as good as it gets, A was great go get it now, B, you know it was "Good enough to pick up and enjoy for a while." C was might want to avoid it, D was this is pretty bad, and F was don't touch this.

Of course if we had that system everything would be getting A+. So maybe we just need to fire every reviewer and get some people who are honest and tell it how it is. Perhaps have a school on "How to review things intelligently." You know, find people who have degrees, know how to think. Instead of idiots who just spew driven because they want to be popular.

As much as i disagree with thier reviews.. It is still only one mans opinon.

What kind of world are we living in where people are fired for giving thier opinons? (esspecilly when they are paid to do so.)


I doubt any of the other review sites want to be synomous with Mr.8.8.

What ever the real story is.

The uproar everyone is having is a good thing still. It's setting some kind of preseedent that we are not just ingorant conumsers. Aren't Reviews also some form and type of guide to help us get to know a game a little bit that we have not played yet?....I been known to buy games with bad reviews and still enjoy them myself...

I don't base my perchases off reviews...

But seeing as how everyone is in a uproar might scare the Corporate bullies that they can't do this.

and it is not like GS is the ONLY site takeing "bribes".


I've done lots of homework ;)

And 'everyone does it' is not an excuse.

exactly, it is not an excuse for not knowing that it is common practice

anyways lets drop it.

@ deuxhero

Stop with the condescension, or at least spell check if you're going to act like that. This is a big deal, involving a major gaming news source, a major gaming company and a well-known reviewer. Since you've obviously done your homework, since you're telling other people to do theirs, tell me of another time that a website fired a reporter for doing his job under what appears to be advertiser pressure. Give me an example of this happening like this. If you're suggesting that there's been a payola scam, and this is the first time someone went against it and got fired, that's one thing. But I don't think that's what you're getting at.

Game sites/magazines giving more than favorable reviews in exchange for something isn't exactly new. It's not too uncommon for them to give a title a better score than it deserves in order to get exclusive previews on upcoming games from the same publisher. To them, the sales/hits from the previews will more than compensate for the fact they decided to ignore some negative aspects of a single game in a review.

Hasn't this guy worked for Gamespot for a VERY long time? Like, since they were rather young and didn't have as much pull/power as they do now? It seems odd that all of a sudden, after several years, he's getting fired because of “unprofessional reviews and review practices.”

@deuxhero - I read the article a few times, and no where did I see something along the lines of:

"This shocking event, which must be a first or at the very least uncommon, is terrible."

You are correct to assume that most people know that game review sites face the issue of corrupted reviewers (sounds a lot more serious than it really is).

The article merely placed an event and face on an action.

Game firms pushing reviewers around with money? Gasp, it's, like, only 12 years old AT LEAST.

So GameSpot messed up bigtime in their handling. Hurray, just another step towards less money-boosted reviews.

@ KTP:

GameSpot turned money-happy. Jeff didn't. He got fired for not being in tone with the rest of GameSpot.

@ Jes

Let's at least wait until we get the facts before invading a foreign country because someone says they are an imminent threat.... err blaming the site and publisher for maybe getting a guy firing based on money. Sorry, easy to confuse the two and make a mistake that makes you look dumb in the future.

er fired. Now I want an edit button so I don't look dumb.

As much as I dislike his reviews, I do have to admit that if that's the reason he got fired, well who needs Gamespot? They've sucked for a while now anyways.

As I recall, EGM's review of Kane and Lynch wasn't exactly glowing either.

RE: Susan's "Gamespot insider."

The guy posts on a forum I hang out at (the linked Forumopolis). He's not actually an employee with Gamespot. He works at, and has heard various rumblings through the company grapevine. He shouldn't be considered an official source, and Susan's quoting of him strikes me as a reckless use of hearsay as an official source. The fact that PA linked the article and linked it by implying that "management has a different story" is hilarious, and reminds me of the old "telephone" game we played in grade school. Before you know it, this guy (who works in IT) will be the CEO of

This is utter hogshit. This should never happen. I hope Eidos and GameSpot feel good about themselves.

If CNET doesn’t reverse their lame ass decision, then they can kiss my buns of steel! I can guarantee that every review score from this site from now on will be a lot higher just because they won’t want to get fired. They shouldn’t have to do that.


The point is not whether we need GameSpot, it's whether reviewers should have the freedom to openly express their opinions, even on "professional review sites." I hardly visit GameSpot myself, but I am all fired up about this because it is an attack on journalism as an institution; it's a much larger issue.

Although, if you're suggesting an Internet-wide ban on Gamespot in order to shame them into fessing up and/or rectifying the situation, I will be the first to follow you.

also, of course Edios didn't "make" Gamespot fire Gerstmann, they simply voiced their "displeasure" to the website and "suggested" they take steps to appease the game-makers.

@ Hart

The can't reverse their decision. Jeff won't want to go back. There is nothing they can do but continue to say that it was for unrelated reasons.

Considering how much money is spent on producing and advertising these games, coupled with the influence the reviewers have on purchasing decisions, I can see Eidos pressuring for his removal.

Considering also that most Eidos games have been poorly rated, this doesn't surprise me.

This is complete BS. If this turns out to be true I plan on canceling my GS subscription. Jeff was one of the best reviewers they had on the site. The quality of the content on GS has been declining in the past year or so. This firing of Gerstmann would be the icing on the cake for my decision to cancel.

@ Soup,

You're right, this is a larger issue about the integrity of video game journalism. If this rumor is true in any way, and right now there's at least smoke suggestive of a fire, then this is something that needs to outrage us.

In addition to my last post (I was a little rushed when I made my first one)

The job of any game critic is to be honest. If Kane & Lynch was as bad as Jeff said it was (I didn't play it), then he should NEVER have been terminated. This is an example of commercial and corporate greed. This will hurt, very badly, Gamespot's credibility and sadly the credibility of the reviewers in other game outlets.

What if

And this is a radical notion, I know, but bear with me

What if he got fired for being a terrible reviewer?

Because this dude was terrible at his job, and has been for years. Criticism isn't just about making lists of good and bad points, there's a craft to it - a craft of which Gerstmann had no understanding or in which he had no interest.

Look at his other reviews and try to tell me with a straight face that he isn't just a cocky nerd who thinks he's better than everyone. I don't necessarily disagree with all his scoring, but the way he constantly talks down both to the people who make the products he reviews and to his own audience is amazingly unprofessional and adds nothing to the discussion.

Maybe some backroom deal with the advertisers did lead to him getting the ax - I'm not saying that is out of the question. If so, that is the weakest of sauces. But what if he just got fired for being terrible? What if it's just an unlucky coincidence in terms of timing?

I would be more inclined to believe it was "bad timing" or a "coincidence" if they had left the video review of Kayne & Lynch on the site. But they didn't, they pulled it, while leaving his other reviews intact.

@ Drew Habits,

I'd buy it, but I don't think that the quality of his review was much better or worse than other reviewers on the site. And if he's been a bad reviewer for all of these years, and they've been meaning to fire him, then this was about the worst timing I could imagine. There's no proof of collusion, but it sure looks that way. And canned corporate PR drivel like they put out today isn't going to do in terms of a refutation of these rumors.

@ Mort:

Sorry, even if you Had an Edit button, you'd still look dumb.

As is plainly visible, Eidos poured a lot of dough into marketing for their latest title, especially to GameSpot. Then one of GameSpots reviewers gives Eidos' latest new title a bad rep.

That's not good for GameSpot as they're getting paid by Eidos to promote the product.

So Yes, it IS all about the mighty dollar.

Is it a deplorable tactic? Yes. Is it a new one? Heck no. GameSpy, IGN and a few other big ones have been exposed as doing the same on more than a few occasions.

Were the reviewer right about the game though? Probably. Can't say the same for a few other reviews from him.


Assumptions will make an idiot out of you. Eidos tossed a lot of money for advertising, as does every publisher, it is their job, market to make money. Microsoft has done it, Sony has done it, EA, and so on all have done it.

No one is happy getting a bad review and will often express that dissatisfaction instead of just lying there and taking it. So I am sure that Eidos expressed the same dissatisfaction when the latest Hitman game was panned. Was anyone fired then? No. Did they put a lot of money into the advertising? Yes.

Until you have all the facts you have no ground to make anything but assumptions. The absence of evidence does not mean the evidence of absence. Mr. 8.8 had been complained about for years, this latest dissatisfaction at his performance could have very well been the straw that broke the camels back. I would wager more on that than the "Money did it!" conspiracy.

As far as the game? Not the best, I like the gritty feel to it though. It is full of bugs to the point of unplayable for a week until it was discovered that AMD dual cores had an issue and a fix was found. I have found plenty of other bugs. This is a game in the 6.5-7 range on a 1-10 scale, not on the current 6-10 scale. It is amusing and challenging.

However the media should be all over this one instead of manhunt. You kill good cops in this game... LOTS of them, intentionally, repeatedly. Jack should have waited for this game to come out to start on his crusade. He might have had a decent excuse for the "You kill cops!" bit.

@ Mort

But this game was not developed by Rockstar nor was it published by Take Two. That is his criteria for attacking a game. Although he has taken a shine to Microsoft lately.
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