If you followed the news yesterday then you already know that long-time GameSpot reviewer Jeff Gerstmann has been fired from his position. If you’re playing catch up then the best place to start is right here.
Some updates have surfaced since yesterday, one of them being CNET spokesperson Sarah Cain saying they “do not terminate employees based on external pressure from advertisers.” But when asked if Eidos even attempted to pressure the company, Cain surprisingly had no comment.
Another, more interesting update is what an alleged GameSpot insider has posted on Valleywag.
Our last executive editor, Greg Kasavin, left to go to EA, and he was replaced by a suit, Josh Larson, who had no editorial experience and was only involved on the business side of things. Over the last year there has been an increasing amount of pressure to allow the advertising teams to have more of a say in the editorial process; we’ve started having to give our sales team heads-ups when a game is getting a low score, for instance, so that they can let the advertisers know that before a review goes up. Other publishers have started giving us notes involving when our reviews can go up; if a game’s getting a 9 or above, it can go up early; if not, it’ll have to wait until after the game is on the shelves.
I was in the meeting where Josh Larson was trying to explain this firing and the guy had absolutely no response to any of the criticisms we were sending his way. He kept dodging the question, saying that there were “multiple instances of tone” in the reviews that he hadn’t been happy about, but that wasn’t Jeff’s problem since we all vet every review. He also implied that “AAA” titles deserved more attention when they were being reviewed, which sounded to all of us that he was implying that they should get higher scores, especially since those titles are usually more highly advertised on our site.
A shape of things to come at camp GameSpot ? A shame if so but only time will tell.