November 30th, 2007


CNet's integrity is kaput, it seems

Wednesday, Jeff Gerstmann was let go from GameSpot.

Yesterday, Penny Arcade ran a comic summarizing the situation.

Immediately after the comic went up, game industry web sites starting making phone calls and posting news stories related to the mess. I'm not going to quote them here. If you Google "GameSpot Jeff Gerstmann fired" you'll get more links than you could ever read in one lifetime.

Right now, the question on everyone's mind is, was he fired because he gave Kane & Lynch a negative review, or was that merely the straw that broke the camel's back (e.g. was he not fulfilling his job responsibilities?).

For the past two days, I've been communicating back and forth with numerous members of GameSpot's editorial staff. They've filled me in on a lot of background info. I'm not willing to spell that out or to name names, but this anonymous quote from one of them sums up what they've ALL said:

"[The Penny Arcade comic] obviously simplifies things, but the core of it seems accurate from where I am. The management didn't like how jeff was running reviews, something that seemed informed by the complaints they were receiving from publishers and advertisers.

Basically, he was defending our editorial integrity, and they cut his ass loose over it. It's the death of the dream, brother.

I'm honestly heartbroken. One of the reasons I love writing for GameSpot is the reputation and integrity that the site has built up over the years. Whether you agreed or disagreed with the content of the reviews or the scores, you knew the writers stood by them and you knew ad dollars and marketing pressure didn't play into it. The editorial staff of the site still very much believes in integrity and calling it as they see it. However, from this recent chain of events, it's obvious that the managers and executives higher up in the food chain at CNet value marketing relationships more than the public service they provide, and that they prioritize ad dollars over their employees.

... in this case, an employee that worked there 11 years and was identified by many as the face of the site.

I am so very sad. For myself, for my friends and colleagues at GameSpot, for my colleagues that work for other publications in the industry, and for the industry in general.