Internet DRAMA: Of Gamespot, hidden chequebooks and the users who hate it.
November 30, 2007

Obligitory summary: some guy got fired from Gamespot today and, although no reason has been given as of yet, we're all going to assume this: he wrote a Kane and Lynch review, scoring it 6/10 and Eidios, the game's publishers who paid 'spot a lot of money to run K&L ads, threw a fit. The fallout is the guy in the center has no job and other members of staff from the site seem to be walking. Whether it;s as seedy as it seems or not, Gamespot is still well and truely boned.

It's an interesting situation, but rather than harp on about the mess CNet have seemingly dropped themselves in, I'm a lot more concerned with the public who view this sacking as a moral victory because he gave their game of choice a sum total of 1.2 points short of a perfect review score.

Personally, I've never used 'spot as a review site because I'm not a fan of their reviews (and I question to worth of any site willing to slap a 10/10 on Chrono Cross) but I respect anyone willing to voice his true opinion on something as Jeff seemed happy to do (first name basis as his surname is impossible to spell). There are people out there pleased that they guy is on the unemployment line, and he's on that line because he did his job.

Public opinion goes from:

"He deserved it! I've hated the guy ever since that Zelda review"


"Jeff is a hero! He was fired because he refused to take bribes from publishers to up game scores!"

Blind hatred to martyrdom. And for all our well-thought words, these are the majority voices. This is our audience. As a reviewer, as an editor and as a gamer, this worries me more than I can put into words

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - November 30, 2007 (09:55 AM)
I don't see why this is so surprising. It's like when you see movie posters that say:

"4 STARTS OUT OF 4" -- John Doe LA Times

Even the worst movies seem to get awesome phrase reviews claiming it to be awesome.

The same thing happens in any other form of entertainment. Companies pay money so their less than stellar products get at least some kind of praise -- as undeserved and unfair as it may be.

The only thing that's different about this case is that Jeff Gerstmann wasn't so glowing about the game, and he got fired because of it.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - November 30, 2007 (10:34 AM)
I'm shocked that GameSpot reviews even have an audience.
siara79 siara79 - November 30, 2007 (11:17 AM)
I just found out about this a little while ago - MartinG brought it to my attention earlier and I've been trying to find out information on it ever since.

I don't know what to think. I never really cared one way or the other about GameSpot's reviews; hell, the only GF reviews I read are ones by people I know because the opinions vary so much. I check out, usually, EGM/1up, Game Informer, here, and.. mm.. maybe one or two other places.

My point is, if the guy got sacked for voicing an honest opinion, then yeah. Eidos & GS need to be slapped back to reality. But until anyone really knows the truth (which, now that the rumor has escaped, may never happen).. I can't say either way.

Other than it's amazing what gets people so worked up these days.

dragoon_of_infinity dragoon_of_infinity - November 30, 2007 (12:53 PM)
The greatest folly here is that Kane and Lynch might have been more than decent if Eidos had put that money they were throwing at Gamespot into development instead. But I guess it's easier to encourage people to lie.

Of course, there's nothing surprising about it. It's not abnormal, but it is immoral, and that's where my beef rests. Just because it happens all the time in other mediums doesn't mean it's unremarkable. Nor does it mean we shouldn't be irritated that it's happening.

But I digress. Either way, the event itself is a load of crap, and the fallout is potentially worse.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - November 30, 2007 (02:02 PM)
DoI, I don't think you can argue that Eidos would have been wiser to spend their advertising funds on further developing the game.

That's the whole point of advertising, to make people interested in a product. You just have to hope the product is as good as the ads say it is. That's where doing your own homework comes into play, but I think we all know that.

I don't know how much money Eidos spent advertising K&L, but I know that it probably wasn't significant enough, if used in development, to make the game much better. Even so, putting more money into a project doesn't potentially make it better, either.

Time and talent are also two important factors, and it seems that Eidos deemed it far easier and more effective to pimp the game out on Gamespot than delay it all for the sake of ironing out whatever Jeff Gerstmann found wrong with the game.

It's immoral, yes, but I think it all boils down to making up your mind on anything you see anywhere. Not everyone is trustworthy, even when it seems that there are no strings attached.
Suskie Suskie - November 30, 2007 (07:04 PM)
GLASS HALF FULL: Maybe now he'll get a new job writing for a site that doesn't suck.
dragoon_of_infinity dragoon_of_infinity - November 30, 2007 (10:01 PM)
Of course I can argue it. Granted, you are most likely correct. The ad money probably wouldn't have helped much. Guess what? I even knew that when I posted the message. However, the spirit of the thing is that Eidos found it a better use of time and resources to bully GameSpot into lying about their game than to actually produce a good game.

I mean, honestly, if you don't give enough of a rat's ass to produce something decent. Find a new career.

What I do refuse to believe is that a game developer who makes a mediocre title doesn't know it's a mediocre title before release. Maybe Eidos's executives don't know it, because perhaps the big business tycoons at the reigns don't actually play games, but the dev team sure as hell did.

So they released a game that they knew was mediocre, and chose retribution when someone pointed out it was mediocre. What a waste of everyone's time.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - November 30, 2007 (10:21 PM)
Look at it this way:

Maybe Eidos didn't think K&L was mediocre. Maybe they actually believed it was a great game, and maybe that's why they spent so much money advertising it on GS.

Then, for whatever reason, Gerstmann reviewed it and gave it the score that he did.

Eidos would definitely feel that it was treated unfairly.

Did that really happen? Who knows. I read somewhere earlier today that an "insider" wrote that Gerstmann got fired for a combination of using "unprofessional reviewing techniques" and that he had been "on thin ice for a while." So maybe this K&L debacle isn't all there is to the story.

Still, it can be a lot easier for a company such as Eidos to spend several thousand -- maybe even several hundred thousand -- dollars on advertising than it can be to spend several million by delaying a game.

And I think that development teams have released mediocre -- and even downright bad -- games before without qualms. Look at Titus back when they crapped out those horrible Nintendo 64 titles, or the bums who made Big Rigs on the PC. These guys need to make a living, and sometimes its far more lucrative to half ass stuff.

It's not unethical or immoral. It's just apathy. Get a new job? Ideally, yes. But realistically no. Bums are bums regardless of their profession.

Edit: I say it's immoral in the other post I have in this blog entry, and yet I say it's not immoral in this one. Just so everyone is clear on my reasoning, it's only immoral if Eidos knows the game sucks and use their power to get the guy fired. Otherwise, if they truly think the game was great, and he wasn't fired simply because of this one review, then it's not immoral. That's what I mean.
pup pup - November 30, 2007 (11:13 PM)
I have been wondering if IGN has been doing the same thing lately. For a few months leading up to Two Worlds, they had "Two Worlds Tuesday," when they raved about every glorious little aspect of the game. Nevermind that the game had released earlier abroad and was already known to be a steaming pile. At least IGN had the good sense to retract their praises and apologize when the game finally released.

Dementium: The Ward, provided a different scenario though. Just as with Two Worlds, IGN provided a barrage of weekly coverage for Dementium in the form of a developer's blog and a constant stream of previews. Not even the new Zelda received that level of attention. Dementium came out and the review was quite favorable, despite their complaints about the same game-breaking flaws that shot the scores down here at HonestGamers.

I am having serious doubts about the "journalistic" integrity of the major game sites out there.
honestgamer honestgamer - December 01, 2007 (12:36 AM)
IGN's reviews tend to be fairly spot-on in my experience, especially on the Nintendo channel, and you tend to rate games on Nintendo platforms lower than I would if reviewing them. Doesn't make you wrong and me right, or vice-versa. It's opinion. I don't think the Dementium situation is anything other than IGN's editors not feeling as bothered by the issues pointed out as you were.

As far as Gamecock (that game's publisher) goes, they've been throwing money around trying to get the word out on their games. One of their firms even approached us but decided not to advertise with us in the long run. That's probably all it was.

GameSpot doing this all of a sudden is big news not because it's par for the course, but because it isn't. Game publishers will take their ad money elsewhere if they know in advance that you plan a crap review of their product (why wouldn't they?), but there are enough game publishers out there that a site the size of IGN or GameSpot has a lot of leeway when deciding which games to advertise.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men looked in advance like it would be a really great game, and then it wasn't. That's the story there. As for Jeff, I'm pretty sure he was fired over more than just the K&L review. And if he wasn't? Well, GameSpot just lost all credibility.

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