Friday, November 30, 2007

Gamespot ED Fired Because of Bad Review?

A story is emerging that really angers me as someone who works peripherally in the reviewing business.

The editoral director of Gamespot, Jeff Gerstmann was fired, but the rumored reason is the part that gets my blood up. You see, as part of his job, he reviewed the game Kane and Lynch: Dead Men earlier this month and gave it low average scores. The company behind the game, Eidos Interactive had spent quite a bit of money promoting the game at Gamespot, and when the review wasn't positive, it is rumored that they applied considerable economic pressure to have Gerstmann ousted.

Now, I've spent a lot of time over at Gamespot, and this decision really rubs me the wrong way. If the decision was indeed made based on the demands of an advertiser, then all the reviews that follow are now suspect, because the rest of the staff is likely going to be looking over their shoulder every time they sit down to write down their opinion about a less than stellar game. And this apprehension will likely not just be confined to the Gamespot offices, because now that a company has successfully influenced a reviewing site to make a personnel decision based on a negative review, I am sure that when another high profile but substandard game is reviewed poorly, similar economic pressure may become the option of first choice by quite a few of the larger companies. I am sure that a company like Electronic Arts, Take Two or even Sony/Microsoft could indeed use their considerable financial resources to try to force the companies that review their games to alter their work or change personnel. Do I think they would do so? At this point, I can't be sure.

In any case, it is a troubling development for the integrity of video game reporting and reviewing in general, because movie studios and television networks also have some mighty deep pockets and advertising budgets that could be used to punish media outlets that write reviews they don't like, and they have used tactics like that in the past.


Semaj said...

Just watched his video review. Great post, MC

Nintendo, EA, Sega were threating to pull their ads from magazines way back in the 80s and 90, but usually the magazines just ignored them. This news here is very troubling.

I'm going to have to look into this more

MC said...

I have to thank Angela Gunn for informing me about it.

When a particular tactic seems to work, it will likely be used again. That's what makes me afraid.