Did GameSpot Commit Brand Suicide with Jeff Gerstmann Firing?

If the highly detailed rumors surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s firing are true, then the people who run GameSpot have, by their own hand, utterly trashed a great media brand.

The Spot has long been regarded as the most professional of all the game-oriented news and review sites. It’s a personal favorite of mine, so this news makes me especially sad. When GamePolitics occasionally links to a review for a particular game, it has always been to GameSpot.

I don’t know Jeff Gerstmann, although I met him once or twice at various E3 shows. But any working journalist can summon righteous indignation over what appears to have happened here. Fired because an advertiser didn’t like your review of their crappy product?

Disgraceful, if true.

Impossible to defend.

There’s no official confirmation, of course, and that may never come. Corporate apparatchiks – like those at CNET who apparently pulled the trigger on Gerstmann – will invariably hunker down in times like these, preferring to ride out the storm behind vague press releases which pretend they are protecting their victim’s privacy. And Gerstmann may have obligated himself to keep quiet in return for some type of severance package. But the mounting unofficial evidence is so detailed that it rings true.

If there’s any legitimate damage control to be done here, CNET should do it, and quickly. Frankly, I don’t expect any.

And GamePolitics readers shouldn’t expect to see any more links to GameSpot.

UPDATE: Check out this compilation of Gerstmann news by GameSpot reader Subrosian. Penny Arcade has a great cartoon (we’re showing one panel at left) and commentary on the scandal.

This Valleywag post, citing an anonymous commenter with the screen name “gamespot” is probably the most daming information on the Gerstmann affair:

…I’m sure management wants to spin this as the G-Man being unprofessional to take away from the egg on their face… This management team has shown what they’re willing to do. Jeff had ten years in and was fucking locked out of his office and told to leave the building…

There has been an increasing amount of pressure to allow the advertising teams to have more of a say in the editorial process…

When companies make games as downright contemptible as Kane and Lynch, they deserve to be called on it… everyone at GS now thinks that if they give a low score to a high-profile game, they’ll be shitcanned…

Joystiq has tracked down more commentary from past and present GameSpot staffers.

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  1. 0

    […] Last week the Editor-in-Chief of GameSpot (probably the biggest game reviewing fish on the Internet – DISCLOSURE: I worked for parent-company CNet about 8 years ago, but never for GameSpot.com), Jeff Gerstmann was abruptly fired. This had the bad timing to coincide with Gerstmann penning a brutal review of a bad game called “Kane & Lynch: Dead Men” and rumors that Eidos, the game’s distributor, was threatening to pull a giant ad campaign as a result. (Here’s more for the curious.) […]

  2. 0
    Muhammad Ali says:

    “Lump me in with the “innocent until proven guilty” crowd.

    I’m also going to repeat myself from the last Gerstmann news item: someone noticed that Jeff’s XBox Live gamerscore had only one progress achievement listed. Until I hear something about THAT, I’m going to believe that C|net did the right thing. “

    All editors play games using gamespot’s account and NOT their own. They commented on it during an onthespot show a few months back. they were basically talking about the fact that even though they have achievements they don’t show up with their gamertag (personal).

  3. 0
    solarisdeschain says:

    Gamespot had gone downhill ever since Greg Kasavin left anyway. I couldn’t stand Gerstmann or his reviews, but this is pathetic if it is true.

  4. 0
    Nick ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d prefer a bad game review to a super hyped one with all of the bad things left out. I don’t want to be lied to. And GameSpot just told us, by firing Jeff, that they are lying to us, and are willing to get rid of those who are not as corrupt.

    As a game design company, I’d rather hear my game got a 8/10 than a perfect score with nothing wrong what-so-ever. Sure, getting an awesome review is cool, but knowing what to improve next time is much more important. Thank you Jeff for being honest.

  5. 0
    MightyOak says:

    Okay, I’ve not read this entire page of comments (so my apologies if this point has been made), but I’ve worked extensively with all of the major gaming magazines and sites, and with their respective parent companies, and advertising and editorial are not just hand-in-hand, but in full coitus mode at all times. Simply put, these magazines don’t sell well because people expect this kind of content for free. So any possible revenue sources are made ABSOLUTE priorities, and if that means tailoring the reviews, so be it. No one should look to any free commercial site for objective reviews — it’s a business model that cannot be sustained.

    I do read reviews — my job requires it, as does my raging gaming habit — but I only use them for basic information on the game and not on whether some ‘name’ liked it or not.

  6. 0
    Bryan says:

    Gamespot is dead to me now. I’ve grown to love all the editors that work there but this is too much for me to ignore. What CNET has done has made me so angry to the point that I’ll be avoiding any CNET owned sites, to include Gamespot. I can’t promise I’ll never go to Gamespot since they still have a library of good reviews but I’ll always think twice before clicking on my Gamespot bookmark.

  7. 0
    Todd ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Since when has GameSpot been relevent? They aren’t any more relevant than IGN. If you guys put any stock in their reviews, then you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.

  8. 0
    Lobon says:

    This is BS. Pure and simple. If they had a valid reason to fire him they would have given it.

    They didnt like his review, they needed a scapegoat to appease the company who bought advertising from them so they canned him.

    Now they are dealing with the consequences of their actions. Good. I take anything they say any more as strictly an advertisement for the game company.

    There are plenty of reputible sites for game reviews out there.

  9. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ll go with tone. I saw the video of the review and he seemed to be making a fair number of pot shots at the artists rather than the art. It was also fairly uncompelling as a review goes. The written one is much better as a review but the video one, the one they actaully pulled, went beyond the game. At one point he called the writers lazy. There are other ways that can be done. As such:

    The review by Gerstmann was an ugly, ugly, review. The writing repeated the same adjectives rather than finding new, new ones. This is just lazy, lazy writing.


    The review by Gerstmann fell far from short of being a review on the game. His constant repitition of simple adjectives did more to distract the viewer than inform him. There are ways to write a compelling review about an uncompelling game but this wasn’t one of them.

    In the first I’m commenting on him as a person. The second it’s about the review. The difference is, in some form, tone. Which is exactly the reason they said they fired him.

  10. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    You notice that nobody is denying it directly, which is something Gerstmann would be allowed to do if he really wasn’t fired for these reasons. Also, what do you think he was fired for? Did the downsizing fairy just visit his department and he was the only one there to take the hit?


    It is called a normal scoring system, where 6 is bad, 7 is average, 8 is above average, 9 is excellent, and 10 is perfect.

  11. 0

    Did GameSpot Commit Brand Suicide with Jeff Gerstmann Firing?…

    […]I don?t know Jeff Gerstmann, although I met him once or twice at various E3 shows. But any working journalist can summon righteous indignation over what appears to have happened here. Fired because an advertiser didn?t like your review of their cr…

  12. 0
    NamelessGerbil says:

    Seems someone’s busy at gamespot to slowly “clean” user reviews and user votes of kane & lynch…


    those are in time order from yesterday. And current situation is http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/kanelynchdeadmen/players.html?tag=readerreviews;alluser

    slow damage control that’s trying to be kept under the mat?

  13. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I read everything on the Virtual Fools site and it was all based in the same rumor. Repeating a rumor or reacting to a rumor isn’t evidence that the rumor is true. If it were then we were invaded by Martians in 1938. There was no basis in fact for the invasion. It was a hoax. It was rumor. But people reacted seriously. So I put to you ” Do you seriously believe that all of these people, all of these radio listeners, would be getting upset over nothing? That they would just react off baseless fiction?”

    The answer to that question, by the way, is yes. And if you want we can discuss any number of baseless theories (9/11 inside job if you want something fairly recent) where it’s all cojecture that people want to believe to be true.

    “there very well may be a clause” isn’t the same as there actually being a clause. You can’t use his silence on the issue as evidence that it exists. It’s circular reasoning. It’s more speculation and isn’t confirmed. And again, he was fired so the need for him to sign a contract to get fired seems a bit far fetched to say the least.

    And why would he take such a clause in the first place? How much money do you think they would have to pay him to sell out his integrity? Which is what he would have to do to take such hush money. How could someone with the integrity to not change his review of a game be bought into silence about something far more personal?

    The editor who quit did so because the firing was done without his approval. From what I can tell, the editor was above Gerstmann and did not want him fired. He quit because of that, which is actually not all that uncommon. Of course you can “very well may be” your way into another contract that keeps him from confirming the rumor as well but at some point you have to stretch this past the breaking point.

  14. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Again, the problem lies in the belief that gamespot wanted to change the tone of the review to appease Eidos. While I’ve not seen the un-edited article, and the only thing that was changed was the multiplayer portion according to unrefuted claims by Gamespot, the piece still seems highly critical of the game and is still very negative on the game. Not much of an appeasement.

    As for the EIC confusion, I misread something about a previous EIC who had left for a better gig. Of course he was used as a source, depite being out of the loop for a time, as the events so I wasn’t alone in my confusion.

    I have yet to see anyone fired for questionable reasons, especially in journalism, where the wronged party isn’t speaking out about it as much as humanly possible. There is nothing to be lost here by saying “they fired me because I gave a bad review” if it is the truth. If it isn’t the truth, well, then there is a reason to remain quiet. That being that Gamespot would have to reveal the real reason. If he keeps quiet then Gamespot has to keep quiet. It’s the rules of the game.

    I never said he wasn’t fired. I did say that there is a difference between casting a critical eye and jumping into a conclusion and then acting on that conclusion because you want it to be real. There is alot unknown about this and for people to be taking action on something that is just a rumor, such as saying “And GamePolitics readers shouldn’t expect to see any more links to GameSpot” before it is even closed to being confirmed is just silly to say the least. Especially coming after enough “may have” and ‘if” and other words of the waffle. If someone had used as many “ifs” and “mays” to claim truth in the connection between games and violence, what would have been the reaction?

    This is all based on a rumor. A rumor that Gerstmann hasn’t confirmed and that everyone else has gone out of their way to deny. Nobody has quit in protest and confirmed these rumors, as you would expect in any journalistic endeavor. Nobody. They are doing what you would expect when the rumor of this nature isn’t true and they don’t know what is going on. They are keeping quiet about the details while supporting a friend.

    There are no unusual cirmcumstances here. If they are going to fire an editor for “tone” they are going to do it after an editorial. There is no way around it. They might wait to make it easier on them to find a replacement or after a busy period, as is the claim, but none of these are unusual. Coincidental, certainly. But correlation is not causation. One can find a correlation between the size of a shoe worn by a gradeschool kid and their math ability after all.

    You want to connect the dots because you find comfort in having those dots connected. But nothing here supports the connection other than coincidence. And if that is all you need then you might want to change your views on game violence which have exactly the same connectability, or more.

    @ Dark Sovereign

    I’ve not seen any confirmed source for #4. Alot of conjecture but nothing confirmed. In fact, Iv’e seen Eidos deny that they were using the advertising dollar as a weapon. #5 is off too on the last part because the review is right where it always was. The problem is that this cunning plan took 2 weeks to accomplish, rather than right when it happened, and the review had already faded into the past. For people trying to supress a bad review they are certainly doing a fine job of pointing out the problem.

    This is key to it as well. Public executions are a poor way to send a message quietly. You “give him a chance to step down” while spreading the rumor in the office that he was fired and let the watercooler do the rest. Something this public just strikes a tone of the last straw as you pointed out. They finished the review season and decided that he no longer fit in with the corporate image they wanted to project. So they let him go. Firing a critic that likes to be negative is likely to happen after a bad review on chance alone. That this is some grand conspiracy requires more than timing.

    It’s likely that he will get picked up by some game review company somewhere. It’s likely that Eidos will be advertising with that company since it’s going to have the readers they want. Those that believe that he got fired because Eidos would have pulled the advertising money will just ignore this because it doesn’t fit what they have already decided is true.

  15. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @White-Haired Journalist

    I can’t blame Eidos for pulling advertisement, but they should be getting blamed for putting out a sub-par game. This isn’t an “Assassin’s Creed” issue where a good game is getting panned by major reviewers because they couldn’t take the time to explore the game. This game is panned almost universally.

  16. 0

    As I see the facts laid here, QJ, Gaming Today and the user as to which Dennis linked, I don’t really think GameSpot did the right thing for Jeff. You can’t blame Eidos either way for pulling out their ads on their site. They pay for their advertisement and they get a “Kane and Lynch is an ugly, ugly game” as Jeff’s opening statement. Put the blame on GameSpot if all of these are true. Not only did they not protect their journalist for his opinions, they also yielded to their advertisers’ immediate action. Credibility is down to 50% if all of these are true.

  17. 0
    Chalts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Icehawk

    Grow up, man. Whether you agree with his reviews or not isn’t the issue. I thought it was stupid that he complained that Twilight Princess had no voice acting, but I can’t support firing him like that. He gets paid to tell people what he thinks of games and should not be fired for doing so. Outside personal blogs, Gamespot has been utterly silent on their EDITOR IN CHIEF being sacked. Think about that. That is not normal behavior for effectively the guy in charge of editorial content. People in lower positions have had news items detailing their departures, yet Gerstmann is thrown out without a word.

    Unless it comes out that Gerstmann actually did something major and worth firing him for, like stealing from the company, a death threat against someone, etc, then he should have the support of anyone who wants to *know* they can trust the site’s reviews.

  18. 0
    pen gun ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I personlly liked kane and lynch. I found that jeff said stupid shit like the story sucked. It did not suck it was based on several good movies. than he says you don’t like any of the charicters, NO SHIT SHERLOCK edios said that about 50 times and if I remeber you loved this game at e3 jeff you cocksucker.

    I hate him but he should not have been fired.

  19. 0
    Icehawk ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have been a paying member of Gamespot since 2003. During that time I have become all to familar with Gerstmann. Back when they had the Gamespot Live spots he was tolerate since he did not review games. I think he just read a script which is safe.

    Being a player of RPGs I have come to loath him and his reviews. His reviews reflected a bias almost equal to jack. Still the idea that they fired him because of his reviews is questionable as it is much more likely they would just put him a different section prior to something that defiant. There had to be more to it and probably something to do with money or his ego.

    In fact I have come to pick games that he reviews badly since those are likely the ones I will enjoy is almost amusing. The only exception to date has been ES4: Oblivion. Basically he has become my anti-reviewer. Odd though that there is little to nothing about this firing on the actual site which is a good trick since gamers love to spread rumors. I do not see Gamespot folding up over this however

  20. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    From what I’m seeing it was a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ll just run through what I know.
    1. There isn’t any rebuttal from CNet as of now.
    2. Jeff’s “tone” did tow the line, judging from the other posters and from what I saw.
    3. Jeff panned Kane & Lynch.
    4. Eidos threatened withdrawel of future advertisement money.
    5. The Kane & Lynch review was edited, the video review taken off, and the review hidden within the site.
    6. Jeff was locked out of his office when he was fired.
    7. Many high profile sites are calling foul.
    8. The other editors express shock, while ex-editors express support for Jeff.

    All of this strikes me as “we didn’t like his tone, but it wasn’t bad enough to get him fired until he panned Kane & Lynch”.

    In addition, though it is a bit late, I want to say a few things in response to the other posters.

    I prefer GameInformer, and their reviews are free and online on their site, gameinformer.com. I have yet to disagree with one of their reviews.


    Development takes skill, teaching takes patience, and reviewing takes balls. Not everyone can do any one of the three, and none of the three could do any of the other jobs. A single reviewer takes more shit than any single developer does, and a lapse in their reviewer’s integrity can cost them their career and the trust of those who subscribe to them. Any idiot can post a “review”, but that doesn’t mean it is a good review nor does it mean anyone will listen to it. A good reviewer must put aside their own morals, beliefs, and biases. They must also ignore those who would influence their descisions, including readers, advertisers, the others on the staff, and the hype for the game. They have to write in a way that can be understood and appreciated, and are obligated to play all of the games features to their fullest extent to the best of their abilities. If a developer’s game gets panned, it is usually the developer’s fault, not the reviewer.

  21. 0
    GrlGmr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ shithead

    Your name sure fits. Are you some kind of paid Eidos/Cnet damage control flunky or something?

    I don’t care one way or the other about Gerstmann. He’s just a reviewer. I would hazard to guess that most of the people up in arms about this don’t care either, or actively disliked at least some of his reviews.

    What I am upset about (and I assume most people reacting to this are also upset about) is that they seemingly fired him for giving a mediocre game that Eidos had paid Gamespot (and thus Cnet) a lot of advertising money for a mediocre score. This shows that Gamespot can’t be trusted as a review source because their advertisers have too much influence over the review process.

    Gerstmann was one of the original staff members from when the site first started. He had 11 years with the company and was editor in chief. If they sacked him over this with no warning, then who wouldn’t they sack? So next time a highly advertised game comes along, the reviewers still working there might be intimidated in fear of their jobs into giving a bad or average game a good review it didn’t deserve.

    Personally, as someone who has been frequenting Gamespot since they went by videogames.com, I feel betrayed by this fiasco. In a way, they have committed brand suicide with their hardcore audience. Consumers have to trust their resources to be impartial, and Gamespot has lost that trust. I presume there will always be enough casuals who come in from other Cnet sites and never heard of Gerstmann or what happened or don’t care to keep the site afloat, though.

  22. 0
    shithead says:

    Seems to be noone gave a fuck about this dude until now. Everyone ragged his balls off on the Twilight Princess review. Now, he’s some kind o’ martyr. The whole goddamn thing has been bought and sold and all these whore’s are a big form of indirect advertising. Game may be shit, but the collective hissy fit with the user reviews has show that all these fuckers get what they deserve. T’ain’t no man behind a curtain, just a bunch o’ damn fools feigning outrage. God damn all a yew fucking twats and the whore ye rode in on. Fuck you. Fuck you. Eat a big ol’ polished ball of my shit. Fuckers.

  23. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Gray: To make it clear the disaster button comment is essentially saying Jeff was fired, but hsi boos didn’t fire him. That means someone at CNET pulled rank. Right now, GameSpot looks bad and it’s up to them, not speculators, to clear their name.

  24. 0
    A says:

    How ironic that the _first_ link after the words “And GamePolitics readers shouldn’t expect to see any more links to GameSpot.” is a link to page on the domain of, ahem, GameSpot.

  25. 0
    Dan says:

    I don’t understand what is so great about the GameSpot video reviews. I’m mean, they are fun to watch but they seem so short they really leave you wanting 1/2 the time. People talk about these videos as if they are major Hollywood productions. Dang! Their just lame video blogs like YouTube. They don’t cost ANYTHING to make. I don’t see why more game review sites don’t get with the program and blow GameSpot AWAY. What would impress me would be MULTIPLE video reveiws on a single game. In depth. Long. Sometimes even boring. That’s OK! More information is better than not enough information. We come to GameSpot to waste time having fun watching videos of what people have to think about games. SO MAKE MORE OF WHAT WE LIKE. GameSpot is nothing special that can’t be reproduced and drastically improved by another website.

  26. 0
    Terry says:

    I am a subscriber to Gamespot, have been for around 6 years. And am a fan of Jeff’s, and his reviews.

    Revews are the opinion of one person, mind you a person you’ve come to trust, and a person who plays more, and knows more about video games than any regular person could. So there is a responsibility, and respect that is earned.

    Jeff has earned my respect, even though I didn’t always agree with his reviews.

    Bottom line, without Jeff, or a real honest reason for his firing. I will be canceling my Gamespot membership, and accounts with any CNet owned website.

  27. 0
    gamespot says:

    Anyone can use the name gamespot on a forum, or comments on a blog. Can you trust them as a reliable source? Has anyone checked to see whether they’re actually from Gamespot, or they’re just out to stir the already turbid waters even further?

    How do we know they’re not from a rival publication out to use this situation to their own advantage?

  28. 0
    Dennis says:

    It’s great to see so many people fired-up about interference with editorial integrity. It’s a shame this same fervor doesn’t apply to other areas of journalism. Look at the world around us, most media outlets are controlled by major corporations in bed with the advertisers and governments.

  29. 0
    Francisco Romero says:

    I will never EVER again read GS. You can’t publish an honest opinion if you fear getting fired for telling the truth about a game. I have been reading them for the last 4 yrs and have been disgusted by the whole affair

  30. 0
    Dave ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If I may, from my reply to BobC:

    I could see if certain “action-centered” achievements weren’t in with the review copy, and I could also see it if there hadn’t been any at all. But to tell us that there was only that one achievement for progress when the game was reviewed defies any sort of logic. Frankly, we’re less like Nancy Drew than you are the masked man at the end of every Scooby Doo episode complaining about “meddling kids”.

    And with respect to the “multiple Gamertags” thing, why would Jeff, having played the game once and given it a thoroughly middling score and an ultimately poor review, have come back and played it again?

  31. 0
    Chalts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Mauler, THINK for a moment. Please use your brain. Eidos didn’t fire Gerstmann. CNET did. I doubt Eidos pressured them to, either. The review WAS altered, even if the score was left the same. The video review WAS taken down. And Gerstmann is fired.

    The story we’ve got so far claims that Gerstmann was fired as an internal decision by a CNET big wig due to his record of having an unprofessional tone. Gerstmann always talked down his games isntead of praised their good points. In this case, it cost CNET a lot of money, and so they fired him. So the story goes. They’re not going to change the review because then the proof would be in the pudding, wouldn’t it? They’re greedy, not stupid.

    If true, it’s a shameful display of valuing money over integrity.

    And yes, there are some people overreacting, and yes, we don’t know the whole story yet. We may never know, because people’s jobs could be at stake. And if the rumors are true, the Gerstmann’s firing was there to warn other editors to be nice, not to patch up things regarding Kane and Lynch.

    Your logical fallacy is assuming that one game is the only thing CNET has at stake.

  32. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Somehow I don’t believe that Penny Arcade has any inside dope or even need it to make a comic strip about it. The link uses this comic strip as a self-confirming source. It’s circular.

    The fact that the editor in chief stepped down and didn’t say that he did it because of pressure from Eidos or Gamestop and whatnot but because of someone hitting “a disaster button.” It’s clear that he didn’t want him fired but that doesn’t confirm the reasons behind it. If the EIC didn’t see anything wrong with the editorial and he was fired for “tone” then clearly there is a disconnect between the EIC and management. Again, stepping down for that reason, and utter silence about the rumor, gives a much more likely picture than this grand conspiracy theory.

    The EIC stepping down has absolutely no reason not to speak up about it. He wasn’t fired nor does he have a lawsuit. He has every reason to make it public which is what most journalists do when they step down under such circumstances. They make it public. Nothing of the sort is going down.

    Using rumors and comic strips of the rumor doesn’t make them anything more than rumors. Again, I can find much better sources parroting the game violence theories of Grossman but that doesn’t make them true.

    If they fired him to improve the review then why has the review remained essentially the same?

    Nobody is confirming the rumor. Everyone is reacting too it. There is a difference in the two. One makes it true and the other really means nothing.

  33. 0
    JC says:

    I’ve disliked Gamespot for years, and hated it more when Cnet acquired GameFAQs. I’ve always found that Gamespot attracted idiots due to its massive ads. That’s just what happens when something gets too big. Fan or not, this is pretty crappy news to hear, but it shouldn’t be so surprising. What amazes me is how many people seem to rely on “reviews” as a sole source in what to purchase. The most common thing comment is either someone saying “where else can I get my reviews?”; people hoping JG gets picked up by another employer; or people saying Gamespot just sucks.

    People shouldn’t take reviews as a unanimous decision. People should look at multiple reviews (even the ones that rate the game poor out of spite) and make an informed decision based on what is commonly referred to as “great” and “poor” within the game. Then, they should see if a reviewer has given a personal taste in the review to see if they may like the reviewer’s taste.
    What I also don’t get, is how some believe that reviews make a huge impact on sales. Reviews don’t always affect mass decisions, marketing does though. An informed customer may want to give a try to a highly rated sleeper, and may purchase it. However, local Joe or lil Timmy wouldn’t think twice about trying it or purchasing it if it isn’t marketed well.
    I guess the reason advertisers are pissed is because the advertisements go up and have no strong rating to back it up because of criticism that is perceived to be the death of sales.

    What is truly amazing, is how this is looking to be a PR disaster on a huge scale for a site that attracts many people. This may shake up people to finally educate themselves a bit more than just looking at raw numbers, but that’s perhaps an implausible scenario.

  34. 0
    ronnoc ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Somebody better come up with the amount of money Eidos payed GameSpot/C-net. I don’t know how much adds cost, but I really doubt that it was enough for C-net to reach over Gamespot’s heads and fire someone who is doing a perfectly good job.
    The money part of all of this is a real sticking point for me. Video game adds tend to quote numbers at me that I don’t find impressive (such as an 80/100). If such an unremarkable number is supposed to compel me to purchase a game, I doubt that a low rating can be seen as such a large detriment.
    I saw a lot less Jericho adds after it got a 6.5. Although it didn’t have quite as extensive adds, GameSpot wasn’t making that money any more. Kevin VanOrd’s review was pretty similar to K&L’s, but he still has a job… Is the money Edios spent really that much more?

  35. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Yeah, Ace of Sevens is being slightly more specific than I was. Here, I’ll elaborate even more.

    The current employees and the terminated employees wouldn’t be able to say anything legally. The current employees it would be grounds for termination, and for Jeff it’d be grounds for a lawsuit.

    Here take a look at this link:


    it holds a round up of various Gamespot employee and former employee’s reactions. The former employees speak out in support of Jeff. The current employees express a general state of shock. With the except of one Tim Tracy, whose response suggests that he too will be leaving the company:http://www.gamespot.com/users/TimT/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25233420

    In short plenty of people are defending Jeff using their names. None are defending or attacking Cnet using their names.

    So despite what you claim Mauler, there’s more than just baseless rumors floating around. Cnet fired Jeff. The manner in which they did so has shaken the staff that is friends with him. That certainly lends creditability to the reports of the ground being questionable. Not to mention they did entirely remove his video review of the game. I’d call that a fundamentally altered review, wouldn’t you?

  36. 0
    Chalts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ KR

    That’s probably because people were spamming it with 1.0s to bring the User Score for the game down and show support for Gerstmann.

  37. 0
    VenomandCarnage ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    *sigh* if this is true, it’s really is a sad day for editors and reviewers. I mean, the guy was a harsh critic for sure, but outside company pressure should never, I repeat, NEVER get involved in the reviewing process or company dealings. This is just shameful at best.

  38. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Mauler: what do you call resigning in protest or the editor in chief’s letter abotu how someone pushed the disaster button and it wasn’t him? The current GameSpot employees are under an NDA on this. Note that former employees, who certainly have more inside info than you, have publicly spoken out in support of Jeff using their names and all. Would anything short of a Perry-Masonesque confession convince you?

  39. 0

    […] I may be a little late to the party with this one, but Gamespot recently fired a reviewer and the word on the “street” is that it was due to a negative review of one of their advertiser’s biggest games.  Gamepolitics has a good chunk of the story and the rest can be found,  if you’re really interested, by following the links in the Gamepolitics article.  It’s also worthwhile to check out the Penny Arcade post on the issue because the comic is funny. […]

  40. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As you can tell, most journalists don’t like to be pushed around. Either you have to believe that everyone at Gamestop is so unethical not to come to his defense by using their names. Nobody that has the inside information that can be identified is speaking up on the issue.

    Proof would have been someone coming out and publicly confirming it and that includes the victim. Proof would have been a fundamentally altered review or score. Proof would have been any number of things that would add some credibility to the story.

    It doesn’t matter how wide spread the rumor is. It doesn’t matter how many times the rumor is repeated as fact. If that were true then we would all have to accept the claim that the Marines use Doom as a training aide because of far more notable places that myth has turned up. I find it amazing that the same people who know this fundamental truth are so willing to turn a blind eye to it when it becomes inconvenient to what they want it to be true.

  41. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Not to mention the fact that if he indeed was fired for unproffesional work overall and not just kane and lynch he would probably say he was fired for only kane and lynch to increase his odds of finding work elsewell (or it could be revenge). So even he’s not the most reliable.

  42. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Mauler, it’s not simply a matter of unsourced rumors. It’s also a matter of where some of the rumors as surfacing (such as at Penny Arcade) and the general shock at the firing displayed by the Gamespot staffers and former staffers. Additionally another Gamespot staff by the name of Tim Tracy is apparently leaving over this debacle as well.

    The bottom line is that rumors aside, the actions of Cnet and Gamespot do match fairly well with Cnet pushing to bias the review in favor of generous advertisers.

    Sure there’s the matter of innocent until proven guilty, but this isn’t a court of law, it’s the court of public opinion. As such we don’t need proof beyond a reasonable doubt, we just need undisputed evidence that it’s likely to have occurred. Right now we’ve got that undisputed evidence, which really doesn’t bode well for Gamespot.


    The thing is, companies running ads complaining about the scores they get is presumably common. Reviewing websites responding to those complaints in this manner isn’t. While Eidos may have asked for a change to the review, or threatened not to advertise with Gamespot in the future, it’s still Cnet that decided to get rid of Jeff. Also Eidos is reportedly a bit freaked by the bad press, so I’m sure they’re getting plenty of hate. It’s just that Gamespot/Cnet is the worse offender in this case.

  43. 0
    Cattleprod ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It doesn’t matter what Eidos did or didn’t do, just what people think. And if the masses think Gamespot caved under pressure, there’s a good chance they’ll think Eidos is willing to give bribes for better scores.

  44. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Cattleprod: Eidos are publishers, so they can’t violate journalistic ethics. Eidos used scummy methods to achieve goals they were supposed to achieve, whereas GameSpot went against what they were supposed to stand for, assuming this is true.

    My large point here is that credibility is not the same as a criminal trial. We should be holding journalistists to high standards, not just ignoring any doubts we have abotu them if we can think of a reason to do so. That sort of attitude is why Bush is still president.

  45. 0
    Cattleprod ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    People keep talking about Gamespot losing credibility, but how about Eidos? Wont people assume that whenever one of their games gets a good score, it’s probably just a piece of shit and the reviewer was fearful for his job?

  46. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gamespot didn’t change the rating of the game nor did they change much of the review. Whatever change they made, and they claim it was about “tone” (which might be code for saying that he made it personal) still has it being a lousy game.

    Right now, Gamespot has the “tone” of the piece that they approve of. If you believe that Eidos was behind it, the score and tone they approve of as well. Does that review make you want to buy it? It’s still a 6. The review still says it’s a bad game not worth buying. There seems to be alot of effort going on here to change absolutely nothing.

    There also seems to be alot of the confirmational bias. People want, or predisposed to believe something, and when news comes out that could make a connection people run with the rumor and act on it as if it were news. If you believe that games cause violence then any violence are caused by games. If you believe that companies are trying to buy off every reviewer is then bought off or fired and nobody waits for a connection to be made. GP didn’t wait til there was some confirmation other than 3rd party anonymous reports before coming out and stating that gamespot links wouldn’t be used anymore. Again, all on a rumor that is still unsourced. There are plenty of highly detailed rumors about any number of subjects. Doesn’t make them true.

    Nobody who is a party to this has made the claim that he was fired for a negative review. While one wouldn’t expect it from Gamestop, one would certainly expect it from the person who got fired. If they fired him because he wouldn’t be quiet about a bad review how is he staying so silent when being asked to give a bad review about a former employer? “Legal Reasons” is all he has said. Reading into that a grand conspiracy theory is a bit much.

  47. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Also, while the subject is up on potential alternatives to Gamespot in light of their new management trying to make their reviews for sa… I mean more professional, I might as well toss up this one:


    They’re small, and don’t use a number scale to rate the games they review, but they might be to some of ya’lls liking.

  48. 0
    CyberSkull ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Of course a reviewer is going to have multiple gamertags. One set of tags is for use on the job, while the other is their personal one. If I was a reviewer I wouldn’t want any of the crap games I’d have to review on my profile.

  49. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Culled from the Gamespot blog of one BobC:

    Also love the wannabe Nancy Drews who are pointing at Jeff’s lack of K&L XBL achievements as “evidence” that he didn’t play the game. Publishers often send final console code on gold-master discs that will only play in special developer consoles. These consoles are not hooked up to the consumer version of Xbox Live which is why achievements are not logged. That’s why he doesn’t have as many achievement points from the game as you’d expect. But it’s great that so many of you are proud of yourselves for looking up this information and leaning on it as some kind of truth — it merely exposes how little you truly know about professional gaming editorial, and how woefully under-qualified you are for making disparaging remarks.

    Here’s the link:


    That subrosian guy linked to in the GP article lists him as one of the current or former Gamespot staffers. That answer any of your questions?

  50. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Dave, Kotaku explained this: reviewers generally play pre-release copies that don’t give gamerscore. Innocent until proven guilty makes no sense. This isn’t a criminal trial and right now, the preponderance of evidence is clearly against GameSpot. When someone is selling a product, it is their responsibility to show that the product is worth buying.

  51. 0
    JustChris says:

    We need to maintain some perspective here. Jeff isn’t having his right to free speech violated. He just isn’t getting paid for his opinion now. The reason he isn’t getting paid is because they didn’t like his opinion. Game reviews are slightly informative, but they’re mostly entertainment. The severity and frequency of issues, the depth of story, the ease of controls, it’s mostly subjective. Assigning a number to it is pretty lame to begin with, but such is the way reviews work. Reviews may present some facts, but the score itself is not a hard and fast rule to judge a game.

  52. 0
    LightWarrior ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What gets to me is why is Jeff on the hush hush about this?

    What on earth happened to have him be quiet about his termination?

    If I was in his shoes and got canned unjustly like that? I’d be making hell…

    Something else must be happening here or it’s just rumors at best dispite clues and such to being true. No way he’d sit there and button his lip unless he has a good reason too.

    GP: Good question. A couple of things could be at play. First, he may have been given severance money conditioned on not discussing his termination; also, the game journalism biz is a fairly small universe. Lashing out doesn’t look good to your next potential employer and, believe me, the entire biz is watching this case. Jeff looks like a martyr and victim here. That’s to his advantge.

  53. 0
    Dave ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Lump me in with the “innocent until proven guilty” crowd.

    I’m also going to repeat myself from the last Gerstmann news item: someone noticed that Jeff’s XBox Live gamerscore had only one progress achievement listed. Until I hear something about THAT, I’m going to believe that C|net did the right thing.

  54. 0
    Seanovan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t want to read reviews from a nice guy who’s always going to forgive all of a game’s flaws. I want a smartass jerk who’s going to keep me from spending $50 on a mediocre game. If some polite but splineless reviewer at Gamespot would have reviewed Kane & Lynch, I might have bought it, and I definately would have regreted it if I did. Thanks to Jeff, I’m going to wait and spend $20 to $30 on a mediocre game, which I have no problem with.

    I sure hope someone else hires Gerstmann soon. Whoever does will earn instant credibility for their reviews in my eyes. I will still watch Gamespot reviews until that happens, as they do make pretty well produced video reviews. It’s hard for me to blame Gamespot very much for this, since it’s hard to stay in exsistance if you make a habit of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad money.

  55. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    It’s unlike GP censored the PA comic. Rather there’s a censored version floating around on various sites where it would be censored, and it’s likely Dennis just cut the panel from that one rather than the original.

  56. 0
    Papa Midnight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Former Gamespot staffer Bob Colayco and Adam Buchen clarify that just because Gerstmann was fired doesn’t mean Gamespot staffers routinely get paid off for good reviews. Buchen also cancels his Gamespot account and urges others to do the same.

    I beg to differ. Just ask Kotaku.

  57. 0
    Mauler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Correlation is not causation. It’s entirely possible, fair and right as well, for them to have fired him for commenting on the artists rather than the art. A good deal of the video posted was not aimed at why the game didn’t work but how that reflected on the people who made the game. As a review it was, to use his words, ugly. I didn’t see the original text review but if they did it to appease the game makers then they would have changed the score of the game as well. They did not.

    As for nobody saying why he was fired, that is par for the course anymore. We live in such a litigious society that you just don’t say anything that could leave you open to be sued. It’s hard to get anything from a company other than “yes they worked here from X to Y” and maybe if they would hire them again. Maybe. Most times they just confirm the dates.

    If Gerstmann can be bought out to not speak out about being treated poorly by his former employer then why couldn’t he be bought out to not speak out about a bad game?

  58. 0
    Ben Ambroso ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    He probably nabbed the version floating around that was already censored. I’ve seen both versions on various sites. My guess is that he cut it from a strip posted elsewhere that was already censored.

  59. 0
    Dais says:

    So, wait. You’ll post a quote that contains the word “shitcanned”, but you’ll censor a comic that has the word “shit”?

    Is this a decision made in light of the vast demographic of children who only come to this site to look at the pictures?

  60. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Mort: As I said, that is a very different situation. Journalists are accountable to their readers. If Jeff were fired for something not directly related to his journalism (swiping projectors or something), that woudl eb one thing, but they wouldn’t need to alter or hide his work. When you fire someone who is accountable to the public rahter than just his or her employers for betraying the public trust, which pretty much anything involving his reviews would be, then you most certainly do make a public statement. As I said, look at any recent journalistic ethics cases. To me, this seems pretty clear. He was fired at least partially for his review. Otherwise, why mess with it? Since the review was his business with the public, ethics demand that the public be given an explanation. I am not making this up. This is how every other case like this I’ve ever seen has been dealt with. See any scandal involving an athlete being fired for cheating, an author being fired for plagiarism, a journalistic making stuff up, etc.

    To put it another way, it is the media’s job to demonstrate they are trustworthy, not the public’s job to assume they are trustworthy until proven otherwise. All the circumstancial evidence points to the rumor being true, some of it rather damning. If GameSpot wants to be trusted, they need transparency on how they prevent conflicts of interest. The ball is now in their court.

  61. 0
    Father Time ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Gamespot is notorious for giving certain games a lower score then they deserve, they gave mediocore reviews for zelda, resistance, a metroid prime game and ratchet and clank (and others I’m probably forgetting). A lot of people think they have a microsoft bias. Although kane and lynch is multiplatform, so I don’t know what to think of this.

  62. 0
    SH1SNO says:

    @Benji and @jds

    Here is an article from a few months back regarding Metacritic and other meta-review sites like RottonTomatoes: http://www.gamerevolution.com/features/mind_over_meta

    The article is primarily a criticism, but points out the weirdness that can happen when they try to compile reviews from a bunch of sites using completely different rating scales (graded, numbered, starred, etc.).

    I use Metacritic occasionally, but usually ignore the numbers they assign, and instead read the top few and bottom few reviews to get a better idea of what to expect.

  63. 0
    Puck Goodfellow says:

    I just checked the 1up.com site. This is their top news story. http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3164656 Now 1up is the web version of Ziff-Davis Publishings Video Game magazines. They publish EGM, I remember a year or two ago reading an editorial for EGM where Dan Hsu was complaining about advertisers thinking that their money would earn them a good review. He flat out stated that that was not going to happen in EGM. I can tell everyone for a fact that I routinely see reviews of 1.0 and 4.0 out of a 10.0 scale on this site.

  64. 0
    jds ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Metacritic may be owned by CNET, but they do not review games, they only compile reviews by other online review sites and average the scores.

  65. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    If they did have a clause int he contract as zerodash suggested, that the advertisers cannot discriminate for bad reviews, than gamespot could have sued eidos over this to protect their employees, but no, this clearly paints hwere their priorities lie, with the payroll, not their people or their journalistic integrity.

    If the contract is worded as such, then Eidos need not have leaned on Gamespot over current advertising contracts, but instead leaned on C|Net over future advertising contracts. Basically given C|Net the nudge they needed to fire someone they seem to have been partially inclined to let go anyway.

    The timing stinks, and there’s no way Gamespot or C|Net can BS their way out of this. If it truly has nothing to do with the review, then their timing is terrible.

  66. 0
    SH1SNO says:


    The funny thing about the whole “blatant advert” is that I was simply responding to earlier posts in the thread asking what people suggested for alternative review sources. I am in no way affiliated with GR and I don’t stand to make any sort of profit from pointing people their way.

    Perhaps you would prefer that I just add some sort of generic “well that sucks, screw the review industry” comment, but I prefer to actually propose a solution I feel is relevent. Before you dismiss the comment as “poorly executed” spam, try actually checking out the site in question.

  67. 0
    bob says:

    I signed up for Gamespot, made one post and found out, when I returned to that post, that I had been banned. No warning, no notice I had been banned, and, when I emailed looking for an explanation – the post had no cursing, no ad hominem attacks, nothing offered for sale – I got no response. Weirded me out. This doesn’t surprise I’m sorry to say.

  68. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s a tough call to make.

    On the one hand it sounds like the guy wasn’t the greatest of reviewers. So it’s within the realm of possibility that management finally had enough and decided to rid themselves of him over the Kane & Lynch review.

    On the other hand, it sounds like he hasn’t done anything that different from his fellow reviewers, and furthermore his review work on K&L has been pulled. Staffers and former staffers find the situation fishy, and notably they aren’t exactly putting forth a lot of effort to defend Gamespot. Additionally the main complaint from the company’s side seems to be Jeff’s “tone”, and unfortunately that can easily be taken to mean that they didn’t like that he was panning a game that they were currently selling a lot of advertising for. And so on, and so forth. So it’s sounding a lot like he indeed was fired due to advertiser complaints, or feared advertiser complaints.

    I’d like to give Gamespot the benefit of the doubt, but things are currently stacked against them, and no one is really doing a good job of defending them. Certainly we’ll never know the truth for sure, but right now it’s looking a lot like the truth is Gamespot management wants to avoid giving well advertised games poor reviews, and Jeff was the scapegoat to that effect. Unfortunately for them, they seem to have not realized the realities of trying to execute such a policy without destroying their credibility.

  69. 0
    WldCard ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    First off, if you’d say E.T. was a good game if there was money in it for you, you’ve got no business even thinking about anything remotely like a writing career. I’ve said it elsewhere, and I’ll say it again … I’ve busted my ass earning my reputation, and I’m not one to piss it away. Have I HAD publishers try to exert some pressure? Sure. Did I change my review? No. I’ve spent plenty of time working on news and the like alongside the p/reviews I’ve written. I’ve butted heads with all sorts of people on all sides of the industry. So don’t go tossing out buckshot attack condemning and mocking the people who work in this field and keep their integrity intact.

    And if you’re getting paid based on the metacritic score for a game, don’t take it out on the reviewers if a game scores low. Make a better game. A review is one person’s informed opinion at a given time. Sometimes readers will agree, sometimes they won’t. If you don’t agree, that’s perfectly fine … just don’t automatically assume at either a) someone’s been paid off or b) someone has an axe to grind.

  70. 0
    SH1SNO says:

    Check out http://www.gamerevolution.com if you are interested in reviews that tell it like it is. I have been faithfully reading their reviews for the past 10 years, and have generally agreed with reviews of any games I have played myself.

    If you liked Jeff Gerstmann’s “snarky” review style, GR should be a good fit. This is a site (rating on a A-F letter grade scale) that is not afraid to give D- and F reviews. It might be a bit of a shock if you are used to looking at the scores coming off of mainstream sites, but give them a try and see what you think.

    Also keep in mind that GR is a much smaller site, so reviews usually take a few days to break, but that also means that they are not tied up in enormous advertising campaigns that have the potential to compromise their journalistic integrity.

  71. 0
    Damning says:

    Damning. The word is damning.

    And we in the game DEVELOPMENT industry have a saying:

    Those who can, do.
    Those who can’t, teach.
    Those who can’t do either, review.

    And those who can’t review need to take a hard look at their lives. I think all the hubbub is over the gap between the *perceived* honesty of gamespot and the *reality* of game-advertised game-reviewing sites…now eliminated for the naive and foolish.

    We get paid as developers based on the metacritic score, so our money is directly tied to these doritos-stained words on an electronic page. Pardon my bitterness. Perhaps I should go into reviewing.

    I’d tell you E.T. was a good game if there was money in it for me —

  72. 0
    Mort ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Ace of Sevens

    Again, all here-say, rumors, speculation, and guesses. Give me something I can touch and examine. Until then I will ask for more, expect none, and not pass judgment.

    As far as the “issue a public statement” bit, that is not SOP. I work in the development field in a large IS dept with over 100 programmers. Recently we had a project manager leave, the same day we got an “effective immediately this person does not work here.” Legally they can’t tell us why he left, was fired, or anything else. Just as Mr. 8.8 can’t say why, nor can Gamespot legally. We will never get the full story on this so it will all be guesses, rumors, and speculation.

    Give me facts and stop spreading rumors that only lead to more flaming idiot fanbois creating more rumors causing it to spiral out of control.

    By the way, did you hear that Gamespot forces all their reviewers to sleep in tubes in a special room so they never have to leave and can review all day every day without being exposed to the outside?

  73. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To mort and other doubters: Jeff left under non-cordial circumstances. This much is clear. His Kane & Lynch review is being. This much is also clear. The responses from former employees of GameSpot Bob Colayco & Adam Buchen seem to indicate they find the rumor plausible, which doesn’t say much for the site. The editor in chief, Alex Navarro has more-or-less said on his blog that he didn’t fire Jeff, meaning rank was pulled. Former editor-in chief Greg Kasavin seems to be supporting Jeff. Add to this that it is standard practice to issue a public statement when firing a journalist for unethical practices (see Stephen Glass & Jayson Blair), yet CNET isn’t commenting. I cannot think of any explanation where CNET looks good. Proof isn’t coming and with what we have, the ball is in CNET’s court. I urge gaming sites to just resolve this by never meantioning Eidos or any of its products again and for readers to never go to the CNET network.

  74. 0
    Mort ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well here is how I have my thoughts planned out. I own K&L, on the Havana level now.

    If this is true, I will be calling Eidos and asking them for an RMA on it citing this as the reason. I will also be sadly giving up Gamefaqs as a place to find walkthroughs when I am stuck in a game. I never visited Gamespot as I found their reviews to fall into my “6-10 point review and nothing else review problem” and they panned Savage (great game in my opinion and many others).

    If this is false, I will continue on with my life, enjoy K&L, continue reading Gamefaqs, continue never visiting Gamespot, and thumb my nose at the internet in an “I told you so.” fashion.

    The largest problem is all of the damning evidence is from anonymous sources. And as we have seen on this site, it is very Very VERY easy to spoof people if you so desire (how many JT trolls have been banned?) The internet is in an uproar because “The Man” did something to Mr. 8.8 and it would not surprise me in the least if most if not all of these so called “sources” inside Gamespot are just internet trolls trying to cause problems for Gamespot and Eidos. Innocent until Proven guilty, which sadly may never happen. However as to Mr. 8.8, I said good riddance. As to everyone in the reviewing segment of the game industry, learn to review, learn to grow a pair. If you are honest and stick to your guns the fans will flow to you (and Mr. 8.8 has no idea how to review).

  75. 0
    polsci1503 says:

    @ jds

    Metacritic is owned by CNet… so take that into consideration as you endorse another site. Same company as what’s caused this fiasco.

    As a long-time very active GS member (5 years) I can say I’m disgusted with what happened with Jeff. The advertiser – editorial barrier has been breached there and the money grab for ad dollars is on. It’s obvious that upper GS management (the suits, not the editorial staff) had a problem with Jeff as he was known for being a tough reviewer. Yes, his tone was what I’ve seen one poster describe as “snarky” but personally I thought he was funny (most of the time). Some of these games deserve the potshots he takes at them.

    And Jeff wasn’t the only one on that staff with that tone… and I can understand why the ad guys would find that a problem, but that’s just tough. Don’t like it? Go shill for another company then. You can’t do what you just did. If you cruised around the members section of GS yesterday you’d notice how many members canceled their memberships, or just up and left the site. All those years that those guys built that site and community… in one day the ad guys laid it to waste. It’s hard to sell advertising when you don’t have readers left.

  76. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I agree, it will be hard to find confirmation immediately, but the reaction of other reviewers at Gamespot will become apparent over the coming weeks, if these posts stating that some reviewers are refusing to do any more reviews etc are indeed coming from Gamespot staff, then that of itself will be picked up by the press as it happens.

    I’m just aware that the reaction could make the whole idea of Gamespot reviewers worrying about their jobs a moot point, a scandal like this could lose them all their jobs if there is a backlash from the customers, so they could very well be caught in a severe conflict of interests.

  77. 0
    Benji says:

    I’d love to say that we can wait for concrete evidence to surface prior to condemning anyone, but as the article says, the Gamespot higher-ups may be circling the wagons until this blows over to keep any such evidence from getting out.
    The problem with this strategy is that, in the courtroom of public perception, the illusion of impropriety can be almost as damning as impropriety itself. We can’t PROVE that Gerstmann was fired due to pressure from advertisers, but it is a possibility and the available evidence makes it an entirely plausible possibility. Of course Gamespot will say it’s not possible, and of course we won’t take them at their word because they wouldn’t say it was possible even if it was what happened.
    It also means that apparently the other Gamespot staffers are living in fear. They also can’t prove that Gerstmann was fired for the wrong reasons, but the possibility is enough that maybe some people would alter their review to prevent the same fate. That, coupled with the general public backlash, means Gamestop’s lost almost all credibility in the eyes of many. If Gerstmann was fired for the wrong reasons – then they deserve to lose credibility. If he wasn’t – then Gamestop is still guilty of not managing things well at all and allowing the illusion of impropriety, which is harsh enough.

  78. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Problem is this, I know, for a stone cold fact, that I would rate a city-builder over a FPS, and that I would rate a game lower if I personally felt it had too much ‘gratuitous’ violence in it, and that rate for ‘gratuitous’ would be set by me and no-one else. Game reviews are biased, they aren’t supposed to represent everyone’s opinion of the game, just the reviewers.

    I’m fully aware of my bias when it comes to games, and that other people don’t hold the same opinion as me, I don’t consider them ‘wrong’, they simply have different tastes.

    That said, mistakes etc, are another matter, but it’s still not really fair to judge the guy on an opinion of his reviews.

  79. 0
    monte ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    The problem with fidning “concrete” infromation is that the only ones who could provide such infromation is gonna be an employee of gamespot, CNET, or Eidios… And if this is indeed true, then those insiders are very likely to get fired like Jeff for leaking out the truth; hence the need to remain unknown… unfortunatly this leads to the problem that anyone can pose as an “unknown”

    The only other source would probably be Jeff… though it’s uncertain how he would aproach talking about this if it were true. Afterall what he says could harm his chances at getting another job.

  80. 0
    PeterWDawson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    They really should of axed this guy earlier. I could certainly understand why he was canned if this controversy isn’t true. I mean, I’ve heard him repeatedly get the names of characters wrong in the games he reviews and sometimes sound extremely bored. His Kane and Lynch review was hardly hitting the nail on the head either, IMO, though he did point out a couple of actual flaws.

    But yeah, regardless how much I dislike the guy’s professional performance, if this controversy is true then that really sucks to say the least. I think we’d be able to tell better if it was true if it wasn’t Gerstmann who gave Kane and Lynch the disappointing review.

  81. 0
    chris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Zerodash raised an interesting point as to the nature of this problem, where the contract falls on this matter, because that can give gerstmann legal ammunition to fight back, and he’ll have the internet behind him if more evidence doesnt come to light.

    If they did have a clause int he contract as zerodash suggested, that the advertisers cannot discriminate for bad reviews, than gamespot could have sued eidos over this to protect their employees, but no, this clearly paints hwere their priorities lie, with the payroll, not their people or their journalistic integrity.

    makes me sick.

  82. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    This pretty much confirms GS is a PR machine for the industry not a competent reviewsite,hell IGN is as bad but they are more subtle in their PR ways.

    frankly I think the whole review side of the industry pad’s scores to sell products, PR is everywhere now, you can’t do anything with one of the hive mind overlords whining you are not pushing sales hard enough 0-o

  83. 0
    G-Dog says:

    Again, after it was proven by server logs that a Gamespot reviewer played Savage: The Battle for Newerth for less than two hours before writing his review, I stopped taking Gamespot seriously as a review outlet.

    Before, I thought the game was The Savage Lands, but the game was called Savage: The Battle for Newerth.

  84. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    My concern about all of this is that it’s all ‘An anonymous insider’, ‘someone who appears to be….’ etc….

    I’m glad that Dennis is still keeping an open mind about this, whilst I’m very concerned about it, I’m not quite ready to throw either Gamespot or Eidos to the wolves until something concrete happens. If what this ‘Gamespot’ character is saying is true, then it will become pretty evident over the coming weeks.

  85. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve always thought personally that Gerstmann was unprofessional in his reviews and came across as an arrogant smartass and long wondered why he hadn’t been fired before this. His in-your-face style didn’t seem to fit in with the generally more professional reviews over at Gamespot.

    If this indeed was the case for his firing and the K&L review was the straw that broke the camel’s back, then I say goodbye and good riddance. However, if the review was the ONLY reason for his firing (and I suspect that it wasn’t based on everything I’ve been reading), then it is indeed inexcusable.

    I have long liked Gamespot. It’s on my Favorites list and they’re also the site I go to for downloading new patches, demos and the like. But if these allegations are borne out beyond the shadow of a doubt, I’ll remove them, only going to them if I need to download files (and even then I just might cancel and subscribe to FilePlanet instead).

    Personally I’ve never thought of Gamestop’s reviews as necessarily “better” than any other sites, although they do seem more professional as I said earlier. What I tend to do is look at reviews from a variety of sources that include not only Gamestop, but IGN and Gamespy, magazines like PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World and even shows like X-Play. And I form my own decisions based on the consensus.

    Personally I’m curious about Kane & Lynch, and if other reviews are generally more positive I might want to check it out. But if the reviews are mostly mediocre and negative, then I’ll give it a pass.

  86. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    My problem with Kane and Lynch was that it almost felt like someone had sat down and thought..” Hmmm.. GTA…Manhunt…GTA.Manhunt. GTAManhunt…. Kane and Lynch!’.

    At least, that was the impression I got from what I had read about it and seen on Steam.

  87. 0
    finaleve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m one of those guys that doesn’t read the articles…

    unless its something I’d be interested in. There are a lot of games out there that I’d buy if I just followed the reviews, but the games themselves have to interest me. Kane and Lynch, I was going to buy solely for its multiplayer aspect. Fragile Alliance sounds like an amazing idea for a multiplayer game.

  88. 0
    Klokwurk ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, what a bunch of sleazebags. I never paid much attention to them in the past, but I certainly won’t listen to anything they say now.

  89. 0
    jds ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Pandralisk –


    I like it because it compiles reviews from most online sources and averages their score; based on a 100 point scale. I’ve made purchasing decisions based on the meta-score for a game and I’ve yet to be let down.

  90. 0
    chris ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m still reserving outcry untill more information is given, in truth there could be some other reason that hasnt been publiciesd for privacy reasons, maybe Gerstmann sexually harassed his boss?

    Highly unlikely, nearly impossible, but I’m not getting the pitchfork untill I get more info, otherwise we’re no better than thompson and his cronies. Innocent till proven guilty applies to both parties.

    That said, IF this is just over the review then 100% this is absolutely unforgivable, it highlights the pure hypocracy of the reviewing process if advertisers are allowed to control their own reviews, its complete and utter crap, its betraying the consumer, journalistic integrity and quite simply any degree of common decency. I’ll no llonger trust the opinions of anyone with a paycheck for them.

  91. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    “If the highly detailed rumors surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s firing are true, then the people who run GameSpot have, by their own hand, utterly trashed a great media brand.”

    GameSpot a great media brand? Are you serious? I don’t know Jeff Gerstmann, and I am not entirely familiar with his work but I don’t recall a time where I would consider GameSpot a great or even decent media brand. It does sound like GameSpot handled the termination very poorly. But I can’t exactly say I’m surprised. Regardless, this is a pretty bogus way to terminate an employee. If I was a writer, I wouldn’t want to work for them.

    I stopped taking reviews seriously a long time ago. Best way to find out if a game is good or not is to rent it or borrow it. I usually prefer to play a game before I start putting it down. Saying a game is bad and basing my argument on an article written about it doesn’t seem like a good idea. “Oh yea it sucks because [insert media company] gave it a X out of 10 and they said it had really bad frame-rate issues yada yada yada.” If I ever hear that I immediately think “bullshit!”

  92. 0
    Pandralisk says:

    Gamespot has lost a ton of credability over the years. On the community side, their mods are infamous for suspending and banning posters for little, if any, valid reasons. On the rating side, their ratings have been at time contentious and absurd… it does not help that the rapid increase in advertising revenue with Cnet occured months before this event.

    I enjoyed GS to, but this entire incident has left me quite sour in the mouth. Anyone have suggestions for other good rating sites (can’t stand IGN)?

  93. 0
    eli says:

    Nah mate, your scale’s out of whack. I see where you’re going wrong though, you’re forgetting about all the numbers below six. There are at least five of them! Crazy, I know.

  94. 0
    eli says:

    What kind of wacky scoring system is that anonymous employee endorsing if 6 out of 10 means “downright contemptible”? Assumably a 9.5 is “just about playable”.

  95. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    The proof is there, you refuse to see it. I mean really, this has been pointed out before, there could very well be a clause in his contract keeping him from speaking out. In addition, there is what seems to be an editor quitting over this. Do you seriously belive that all of these people, all of these sites, would be getting upset over nothing? That they would just spout off baseless rumor? Go see Virtual Fools’s article. They had the best rundown.

  96. 0
    Dark Sovereign ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    It isn’t true that a review is pure opinion. Things like overused curse words, bad graphics, bad AI, and bad control aren’t based on opinions. If your bad guys are walking into walls, that’s bad AI. If you can’t tell where a wall ends and a floor begins, that’s bad graphics. If you can’t shoot the gun in the game to save your life, and you are usually a sniping badass, that’s bad control. If the word fuck is being used every fuckin’ sentence, that’s an overused curse, right there. (Note: all of these are exaggerations)

  97. 0
    GrlGmr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ pen gun

    In his opinion, the story sucked. That’s what a review is, someone’s opinion.

    Frankly, I’d be inclined to agree with him based on what I saw of the game at PAX. Like the multiplayer mode, good ideas with poor execution. I mean, come on… Even the GTA games don’t have fuck be every third word out of the characters’ mouths. They waaay overdid it.

    It is also possible for someone’s opinions about a game to change between preview and release, especially if bugs and flaws that were present in the preview versions weren’t fixed by release version.

  98. 0
    SounDemon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    It must suck to have no friends. How goes your search for ManBearPig?

    Also, the review controversy about TP was completely unnecessary, and was only a problem for the Nintendrones who hadn’t even PLAYED the damn game.

  99. 0
    Gray17 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Are you paying any attention to our rebuttals, or following any of the links to do your own research, or are you just trolling?

    The fact that the editor in chief stepped down and didn’t say that he did it because of pressure from Eidos or Gamestop and whatnot but because of someone hitting “a disaster button.” It’s clear that he didn’t want him fired but that doesn’t confirm the reasons behind it.

    The editor in chief didn’t step down, he was fired. The disaster button comment was from one of his shocked co-workers. You seem to be mixing the two.

    The EIC stepping down has absolutely no reason not to speak up about it. He wasn’t fired nor does he have a lawsuit. He has every reason to make it public which is what most journalists do when they step down under such circumstances. They make it public. Nothing of the sort is going down.

    See that’s the point,he didn’t “step down” he was fired. If he stepped down and left of his own will because of a disconnect, he could say so, and the company could say so. The times you get the “Can’t comment” response like we’re getting now is when someone was fired against their will. Therefore as by all reports he was fired, and all reactions match him being fired; he was fired. The reason he was fired is what is under question, not the fact that he was.

    The bottom line despite your claims otherwise, is that Jeff Gerstmann was fired, by Cnet under unusual circumstances. There’s decent circumstantial evidence that management being unhappy about negative reviews making advertisers unhappy was a factor. That’s enough to call for some hard questions and a critical eye towards Cnet.

    To say it was nothing and stick our heads in the sand like you say we should is to be fools.

  100. 0
    Happyclam says:

    Reviews are simply opinions, plain and simple. You either agree with them or you don’t. Different people have different tastes, but you can find someone who details what they liked or didn’t like about the game then judge for yourself. If you’re lucky, you might find someone who has at least similar tastes to you.

    Professional reviewers are paid to do something, which makes it suspect from the beginning. For one, they’re running on a deadline and don’t play the game as much as they should, which then taints the game from the beginning. For two, they’re under pressure to give games good reviews, a la advertising dollars, etc. A 6/10 score for Kane and Lynch is generous judging from what he said in his video review. From what I’ve heard friends say, it’s way too high, especially for the PC version.

  101. 0
    Walker T says:

    It’s possible to give this incident a thousand different words, but the very clear effect it’s had on the public speaks for itself what a mistake it probably was.

    I don’t know enough to form an opinion, but what I do know is that one member of my family has been very fond of GameSpot for quite some time, and seeing this had a terrible effect on them, empowered by a profound lack of understanding as to why.

  102. 0
    Jordan says:

    “And GamePolitics readers shouldn’t expect to see any more links to GameSpot.”

    I understand that you don’t want to support CNet, but come on, Dennis. The reviewers at Gamespot aren’t the ones at fault; they’re hard-working, passionate people that still deserve support, especially with what they’ll have to face in the coming weeks.

  103. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Mauler: what sort of proff are you looking for? I’d say the fact teh review was altered and hidden off the main list of reviews is all we need. Gerstmann is most likely under an NDA. Lots of peopel seems to be just taking the fact that their theoretically could be explanation if you stretch and giving GameSpot a pass. It’s up to them to provide an explanation here.

  104. 0
    Mister Gone says:


    That rules out the possibility that the man has more than one gamer tag.

    Honestly. I say it sucks if it’s true, but enough already. Everytime you mention Gerstmann, you’re mentioning Gamspot. How does the old saying go “Any publicity is good publicity.”

  105. 0
    RandomViewer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Other publishers have started giving us notes involving when our reviews can go up; if a game’s getting a 9 or above, it can go up early; if not, it’ll have to wait until after the game is on the shelves.”

    I hate to say it, but I noticed this too. It makes me wonder if “gamespot”‘s little blog entry at valleywag is the real deal or just a perceptive individual.

  106. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The proof, unfortunately, is in the pudding.

    Go to GameSpot, click “Xbox 360” and “Reviews”. Scroll down. Even though Kane & Lynch’s review was posted on Nov 13, it’s clearly missing from the review list.

    They were so stupid as to delete it from the Kane & Lynch page, but they’re certainly doing a bunch of little things to discourage you from finding it unless you’re actually looking for it.

  107. 0
    RelaxGuy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I always thought gerstmann was.. lets say, less entertaining… than other reviewers i’ve seen on the site. His “first hour of halo 3” segment being probably the lamest thing I’ve ever clicked on…

    but as for his firing’s possible link to.. i guess we’d call it payola or extortion… I have no opinion on that.

  108. 0
    zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    i would love to know what the wording of GameSpot’s advertising and employment contracts.

    The industry I work in doesn’t have as much emphasis on reviews. However, the few “review” outlets there are have VERY specific wording in their agreements should you choose to either submit your product for review and/or advertise with them. You sign a contract specically stating you understand that your advertising $$ has nothing to do with the review, and you cannot complain or back out of it even if you don’t like the score.

    I would be suprised if review sites/mags don’t have similar wording in their contracts.

  109. 0
    Rammsoldat says:

    well not that i ever give reviews for stuff much attention but why should anyone now give these guys any notice when its very clear that scores reflect just how much money a company is willing to give to the site, and if somone gives an honest review they can get canned.

    Id say they just commited brand suicide if i didnt know how fickle people are.

  110. 0
    Robert says:

    The fact that the entire team vets the reviews should put the lie to the claim that Gerstmann was fired for his tone. If his tone was inappropriate then the entire team was to blame. You don’t lock someone out of their office and then not tell anyone until the next day over a guy who was riding the line and about to be canned anyway. This is classic Management BS, and I for one am extremely happy that they are taking the flak that they are.

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