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Author Topic: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review  (Read 12979 times)

app103

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Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« on: December 01, 2007, 03:45:27 AM »
Quote
We've heard an unsettling rumor today from an anonymous tipster that longtime game reviewer Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot has been let go. That wouldn't necessarily be newsworthy, but the conditions under which he was allegedly dismissed were. According to the source, Gerstmann was fired "on the spot" due to advertiser pressure for his review of Eidos' Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. A visit to Gamespot shows that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game has taken over the site very prominently, with backgrounds and multiple banner ads all pitching Kane & Lynch. Allegedly, publisher Eidos "took issue with the review and threatened to pull its ad campaign."

Gamespot Editor Fired Over Kane & Lynch Review?

Alleged Gamespot Employee Spills Guts On Valleywag

CNet Comments On Gamespot Controversy

The Review

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f0dder

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2007, 07:10:51 AM »
fscktards.

What is this, soviet russia?!

- carpe noctem

tinjaw

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2007, 07:59:17 AM »
The sad sad thing is that even if every one of the remaining writers at GameSpot all got up and walked away nothing at site would change. They would just get shitty writers to take over and the site would continue to sell ads and write reviews giving scores based on the amount of money spent. And the public would go along with it all and keep reading..

I think the best thing that could happen is that they do quit en mass and make a big stink about it. I am sure other gaming sites will snatch them up quick and give them good jobs, but relocating and all that stuff that goes with it would suck.

I don't think I have read a review in years for the purpose of determining if a game is worth while. I don't think much of game reviews overall (even though I used to do some for The Wargamer). I'd much rather play a demo or play it on a friends computer that already owns the game, with part of the reason I'm interested is that if a friend has it, it is more likely I will like the game to begin with.

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2007, 08:02:57 AM »
Very poor taste. There are better ways to handle the situation. Getting a reviewer fired is, well... It speaks for itself.

And no... It's not Soviet Russia... It's Soviet Gamewhore Industry. ;)
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s2h

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2007, 10:16:05 AM »
Just what I need to hear, biased reviews because of advertising.  Horrible journalism.

CWuestefeld

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2007, 10:35:14 AM »
Keep in mind that CNet may not be legally able to discuss the matter of Gerstmann's dismissal. I have no reason to believe that it may be the case, but maybe he's a boozehound, or has had problems with sexual harassment accusations, or something. Who knows?

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter why a publication writes reviews the way that it does. All that matters is how consonant they are with your own opinions. If their reviews tend to be similar to your own experiences, then it's a good bet to try other products that they review well, and the converse.

Does it really matter whether the reason for a review is the writer's heartfelt opinion or because the marketing department is able to line up advertisers who really tend to have good products? Or maybe they've got a llittle genie that lives in a box and tells them what to write. Who cares? If the reviews work for you, then use them. And on the other hand, even if the reviews are heartfelt, if the reviewers' personal tastes clash with yours, those reviews will be useless.

So ignore the rumors and innuendo. Find a reviewer whose work you agree with, and stick with it. Period.

Dirhael

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2007, 11:34:48 AM »
Well, I did the only thing I really can do to say what I think of CNet's behavior in this case; Cancelled my paid membership.

I have no intensions of supporting a company that acts this way. It doesn't matter if you agree with his reviews or not, it is unacceptable to let advertisers dictate how or what you should write. In this case, sticking to his guns cost him his job, but at least he can walk away with his head raised. Kicking out one of the persons largely responsible for building up Gamespot, in this way, will most likely cost them a whole lot more that what they would have lost by Eidos dropping their advertising agreement, as integrity and trust is one of the most valuable assets you have in this industry.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2007, 02:46:23 PM »
I am surprised that anyone is surprised at this.

p3lb0x

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2007, 04:59:56 PM »
A person lots people agree with can be found http://www.escapistm...ials/zeropunctuation here

edit: hes honest too!
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Renegade

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2007, 07:20:03 PM »
@CWuestefeld

I'm not so sure that really works all that well. I should be able to have a certain degree of good faith that a publisher and its editors are being honest and genuine.

The problem that I see is that given limited resources, it's not really possible to "seek out" reviewers that you agree with. People should be able to take a reviewer's word pro hominen because it is just too time consuming otherwise.

In short, I see it as an issue of *trust*. I should be able to trust that a publication and its editors are trustworthy.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Lashiec

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2007, 02:03:15 PM »
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter why a publication writes reviews the way that it does. All that matters is how consonant they are with your own opinions. If their reviews tend to be similar to your own experiences, then it's a good bet to try other products that they review well, and the converse.

Does it really matter whether the reason for a review is the writer's heartfelt opinion or because the marketing department is able to line up advertisers who really tend to have good products? Or maybe they've got a llittle genie that lives in a box and tells them what to write. Who cares? If the reviews work for you, then use them. And on the other hand, even if the reviews are heartfelt, if the reviewers' personal tastes clash with yours, those reviews will be useless.

So, in that case, what would be the reason of existence for reviewing sites? To give you a pat in the back for choosing a game? To scream to you: "You poor being, we feel sorry that you employed your hard earned dollars in buying such a awful game"? Last time I checked, review sites existed for giving you some feedback over if products are really worth the money they demand from you, and wether they live to the expectations put behind them (not the marketing dollars, but the buzz created around the product) or not.

Besides, a good written article pinpointing a game weak and strong points really gives prestige to a reviewer and to a site. Cold, almost mechanical reviews written by a guy without talent for writing and without illusion for gaming are easy to catch, and people tries to stay away for them, as they don't transmit anything about the game. I don't care if the game is good or not, I want to know WHY it's good or not, and what are the personal feelings of the reviewer about the game. If my taste clash or not it's another story, but I discovered quite good games thanks to hard-working reviewers that said this or the other game was good, even if it wasn't exactly in line with my personal preferences.

Kane & Lynch could be a heavily publicised game on Eidos part, but there were not any buzz around it, gamers were not waiting for it to be released. The game looked good, and the premise was original, and, with proper handling, it could end up being a solid game, but IO Interactive borked this time and transformed the game into a trainwreck, this was evident from gameplay videos. It's no wonder that Eidos wanted to milk the cow even if they have no bucket to fill.

BTW, Opposable Thumbs coverage on the issue unearthed a interesting comment over the true nature of the firing of Mr. Gerstmann. Who knows, it may be true, I know more than enough about what's going in the scenes behind game reviewing sites, and it's not the first time it happens, you only need connections and to know about the skeletons in the closet to assure you're not fired.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2007, 12:28:56 PM by Lashiec »

wraith808

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2007, 04:26:41 PM »
Note: This may indeed be the reason that he was fired.  But this has not been verified by any facts.  In the beginning, news outlets were reporting it as rumour, but somewhere along the line, this has morphed into truth without any verifiable facts. 

Now people are boycotting GameSpot and cancelling memberships over an unsubstantiated rumour.  My how quickly we rush to judge based on nothing more than someone's word...

Ralf Maximus

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2007, 09:17:06 PM »
If indeed Gamespot wanted a guaranteed ass-kisser of a review, they would have given the job to somebody who takes orders well.  K&L would've been declared "best game evar!" and all would be smiles.

That's not what happened.  Instead, they got an honest (and professional, IMHO) readout on the game's flaws, as well as a few thumbs-up for game features that worked.  It was not a hate-fest; the game just scored low.

And very soon after, the reviewer got fired.

Cause/effect?  Or, as Lashiec's link suggests, perhaps this "bad review" was the final event in a long series of disputes with management.  Reportedly difficult to work with, he could have disobeyed suggestions to file a glowing review and when he didn't, down came the axe.  It wasn't the review per se that did it, just the perceived disobedience.

And if that's what happened, boy was that a mistake on management's part.  Even if the motives were pure, even if the guy was the Gamespot Strangler, they should have waited awhile before pulling the trigger.

Lashiec

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2008, 09:14:20 AM »
A lenghty article over the whole issue published yesterday by 1UP's Sam Kennedy.

Bah, IGN or GameSpy are much worse regarding ad placement, but that's no surprising considering the history of those sites, and who is owning them now ;D

mouser

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2008, 09:33:26 AM »
Thanks for the follow up Lashiec -- the long article is a MUST READ for people who always suspected that advertisers can buy their way into being featured on magazines and websites.

Here's a little snippet:

Quote
As a marketer, if you recognized you needed more traffic to your product, you could buy it. You could even buy a top placement for your title on the GameSpot homepage, pretty much assuring clicks to coverage on your title, regardless of whether there was organic interest or not. And we're not talking about just banner advertisements here -- we're talking about buying one of the top stories on the front of the site.

mouser

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2008, 09:34:30 AM »
And here's the money quote that explains why there was so much pressure put on the website to kill their negative review:

Quote
Eidos paid a substantial amount of money to have its ads point to the GameSpot review of Kane & Lynch. The Kane & Lynch review wasn't very favorable. Eidos freaked. GameSpot caved.

tamasd

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2008, 09:39:11 AM »
It's not what bothers me that someone fired someone over an honest review or article.

What bothers me is that for every writer who writes a honest review, there are many others who write whatever is supposed of them (from those who pay them).

Starting with political commentaries on leading newspapers, ending with game review sites.

So it's not that bad that they fired that one guy, it's bad that all the others who are "compliant" still write for them.

Deozaan

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2008, 11:57:35 AM »
DonationCoder.com is teh greatest site on the intarwebs!  :Thmbsup:

Now where's my  :two: ?


Deozaan

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2008, 12:02:14 PM »
So it's not that bad that they fired that one guy, it's bad that all the others who are "compliant" still write for them.

I'm not sure. I find it harsh to judge the other writers who are still employed by GameSpot. Sometimes it's easier to do things that are "morally gray" when you need a paycheck to feed your family and pay your bills.

I know you were talking about more than just GameSpot, but even still, sometimes people do things they don't want to so that they can do things they need to.


CWuestefeld

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2008, 12:17:05 PM »
The lynchpin of this latest article is this
Quote
with no real transparency into the Gerstmann firing we still don't really know what happened last November

Everyone is assuming that GameSpot's refusal to release specific information about Gerstmann's employment there and the terms of his leaving is because GameSpot has something to hide. I can virtually guarantee that this is not the case. It's almost certainly because labor laws prevent them from revealing any personal information.

It is entirely possible (although we have no reason to believe so) that Gerstmann was caught misappropriating company funds or something like that. We have no reason to believe that Gerstmann's not hiding something unless he publicly authorizes GameSpot to release all information related to his employment history. These laws are designed to protect the employee's privacy, but the sword cuts both ways. In this case they allow lingering doubt about Gerstmann.

At the end of the day, the real reasons that a review site publishes what it does aren't important. The only thing that matters is how well those reviews work to direct us to try things that we end up liking. If they steer you toward stuff that you enjoy, and don't let you miss much that you would have, then heed their reviews. If they point you to garbage while missing the gems, then remove them from your bookmarks.

Why do you care if the reviews are underwritten by advertisers at one end of the spectrum, or divinely inspired at the other? As long as they work, that's what counts. If they don't work, ignore the site and let it die.

Why do we fault businesses for working for money, but shrug it off when individual people do it? We criticize WalMart, but we don't give a second thought to the consumers who stopped going to Ike Godsey's General Store (http://www.the-waltons.com/ikesty.html), killing his friendly personal business just so that they could save a few cents.

Added later: Part of this controversy may be an assumption that there actually is and objectively correct review. That is certainly not correct; each of us has different preferences that make it so that a review that accurately recommends a product for some people will aggravate someone else. For example, there's a major gaming genre of First Person Shooters, and some reviewers lean heavily on this genre. The thing is, I can't play these games. They give me motion sickness. So any review that lauds an FPS I ignore, and any site that emphasizes the genre, I avoid. You, on the other hand, may love these games. If so, more power to you. Go ahead and read those sites. There's room enough in this world for all of it.

Judging by the popularity of Cheez Whiz, Britney Spears and the ilk, there are plenty of people in this world who are perfectly happy with artificial, processed products. If that's what they want, why not let them have it?
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 12:56:31 PM by CWuestefeld »

Deozaan

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Re: Gamespot Editor Fired for Writing an Honest Review
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2008, 01:16:17 PM »
The lynchpin of this latest article is this
Quote
with no real transparency into the Gerstmann firing we still don't really know what happened last November

We have no reason to believe that Gerstmann's not hiding something unless he publicly authorizes GameSpot to release all information related to his employment history.

I disagree. You are probably right about laws and policy preventing Gamestop from explaining exactly why Gerstmann was fired, but if Gerstmann were fired for inappropriate behavior, why would his co-workers voluntarily leave in the wake of that action? We do have reason to believe that Gamespot (or CNet) is at fault while Gerstmann was just doing his job. Do we have irrefutable proof? No. But we do have reason to believe it.

At the end of the day, the real reasons that a review site publishes what it does aren't important. The only thing that matters is how well those reviews work to direct us to try things that we end up liking. If they steer you toward stuff that you enjoy, and don't let you miss much that you would have, then heed their reviews. If they point you to garbage while missing the gems, then remove them from your bookmarks.

Why do you care if the reviews are underwritten by advertisers at one end of the spectrum, or divinely inspired at the other? As long as they work, that's what counts. If they don't work, ignore the site and let it die.

Again, I disagree. The fact is that a very large number of people (perhaps a majority) are really clueless about games. So if a parent actually tries to do their job by parenting, and turns to game reviews to see what to get for their children, they need to be able to trust the reviews. With so many people in the media today touted as "experts" talking about games when to a gamer they are clearly talking about things they know nothing about, I think it's very important that we get as much accurate information as possible.

Just today an article in The Times says that "Xbox is crack for kids" and calls game consoles in general "Satan's Sudoku" as well as claiming (indirectly) that Teletubbies does more for the development of a child than any video game could.

On January 13th, some idiot watched a couple YouTube videos on a game called Mass Effect and suddenly decided to write a blog article claiming (among many other things) it was a virtual orgy allowing players to "hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of." But anyone who's actually played the game--which, to be clear, I haven't--says it takes up less than a minute (and shows only part of a breast) of an over 30 hour game and you have to follow very specific conditions to even fall in love with another character to have the sex scene.

And just recently (not sure on the date) Fox News decided that blogger was actually telling the truth and decided to run a story (link contains news video) with the same details, with an "expert" psychologist and (thankfully) someone who actually knew what he was talking about, Geoff Keighley. Unfortunately they let the "expert" do most of the talking and then only gave Keighley about 30 seconds to try to refute all the inaccuracies. Then they talked among themselves as if Keighley didn't just tell them they were wrong, saying how they'd never let a game like that into their houses because of all the sex and violence.

So yeah, CWuestefeld. It matters to me if a game review is written and scored based on money rather than merits of the game. When I see people in the media like this, I can't help but wonder if the majority of people are actually like that. When people don't know, they'll believe just about anything someone else tells them. Most of my family members would probably believe it, because they don't know better.

And here's a fun story to help my point: One time my sister was flipping through cartoon channels with her son, who was probably 5-6 years old at the time. One channel was showing SpongeBob Squarepants and in that particular part of the episode, he was in his underpants. She immediately decided it wasn't appropriate for her son and told him he couldn't watch it. That's her choice as a parent, and honestly I'm glad she's doing her job of actually monitoring and controlling and, you know, parenting, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. Later she was at a grocery store and she started talking with another woman who mentioned how much her grand daughter  liked watching SpongeBob. My sister told her she thought it was nasty and wouldn't let her son watch it. The woman then said she didn't know because she hadn't seen it, but wouldn't allow her grand daughter to watch it anymore.

The funny thing is later she saw SpongeBob again and decided it was really funny and she changed her mind and there is no problem with it playing in her house or around her kids. But I wonder how many people started "boycotting" SpongeBob because of a misinformed (though well-intended) comment through word of mouth?

EDIT: I started writing this before you added more to your post, so nothing here is a direct response to that, except this sentence I guess.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 01:19:01 PM by Deozaan »