Free Jeff Gerstmann!

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.

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