Saturday, December 1, 2007

Death of Gaming Part 3: Gamespot Editor Gets Fired Over Bad Review

(Click on the image above for PennyArcade's comic)

By now you may or may not have heard of how Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of huge-flashy-corporate-gaming-for-teens website Gamespot, was fired last week. What you may not know is why: apparently publisher Eidos Interactive threatened to pull the plug on a massive advertising campaign after Gerstmann dished out a low 6/10 review score to the rather mediocre Kane & Lynch: Dead Men -published by, yep, Eidos Interactive.

More after the jump below.

CNET (parent company of Gamespot), immediately issued an official statement declaring:

"For over a decade, Gamespot and the many members of its editorial team have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis"

Eidos threatens to pull the plug
Eidos reportedly threatened to pull a massive advertising campaign for Kane & Lynch if the "tone" of Gerstmann's 6/10 review wasn't changed. Apparently Gerstmann did in fact alter his review but it obviously wasn't enough to appease the demi-gods over at Eidos or CNET.

When asked about the situation, Eidos declined comment, "Eidos is not able to comment on another company's policies and procedures," said a company representative.

Sarah Cain, a spokesperson for CNET, did say,“We do not terminate employees based on external pressure from advertisers,”

Aw, isn't that nice to hear?

Gamespot digs an even deeper hole?
Now there is news of how Eidos is deleting hundreds of user complaints from its forums, citing: “There will be no further discussion”, an Eidos forum administrator bluntly warned visitors, describing the complaints as “ugly spam”.

Alex Navarro, an Editor for Gamespot had this to say on the state of CNET:

"Remember SimCity? Remember what a joy it was to build up a fully functioning, living, breathing city, full of life and wonderment? Then, at some point down the road, after you've built up your city to the peak of its productiveness, you'd start mashing the disaster button and a wide variety of tornadoes, earthquakes, and fake Godzillas would come tromping through, laying fiery waste to every bit of what you'd worked so painstakingly to create? Yeah. It's a little bit like that. Except someone hit the disaster button for me."

What does this all mean?
Not much really. Unless you're seriously misguided or just an eternally annoying optimist, you were probably able to put two and two together just after you'd left university and realized that;

a) The world wasn't quite as rosy as you thought for the first 21 years of your life


b) Its all about advertising, marketing and PR, baby....its all about that.

What can you do?
If you happen to be a reader or subscriber to anything related to CNET at all, you can stop reading and cancel any subscriptions as a way to voice your displeasure at this whole debacle. Just know that there aren't that many other sites out there who don't practise something similar already. CNET / Gamespot just got sloppy on this one, but don't expect IGN, 1UP or any of the other big sites to play any fairer.

Highlights from Gerstmann's review of Kane & Lynch:

Story and characterization

“It's impossible to care about anything that's going on in the story, because every single character in the game is almost completely unlikeable. There's no one to root for here, not even in a cool anti-hero sort of way. You're just left with a bunch of really ugly characters that just become impossible to care about over time”

“The dialog's not particularly great, though the voice acting's not bad, but really the problem is that every third word out of every character's mouth is the F-word... it's great when properly used, but here it's just so done to death... it just becomes a real crutch and stands out as just kind of lazy.”

“But it's not the story and the premise that are going to drive you away from Kane & Lynch Dead Men, the gameplay itself also has more than its share of flaws”

Gameplay flaws

A system for taking cover from enemy fire behind objects is “a real pain that you just never use because it's kind of a hassle”

“The squad tactics... don't work very well because the AI on both sides of the game is really pretty flawed”

“The enemies get stuck on cars and run in circles and do all kinds of dumb stuff. So that's not much fun either”

The game's multiplayer mode is “a really neat idea, but unfortunately that idea plays out in the context of Kane & Lynch, so it has most of the same problems that the story mode has”


“Probably not worth purchasing”

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