Kotaku received an anonymous tip yesterday about long time GameSpot reviewer Jeff Gerstmann being fired because of a low score he gave to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. The more interesting and disturbing part is that GameSpot was apparently under pressure from Eidos Interactive, the publisher of the game.
GameSpot has been littered with Kane & Lynch ads recently and Eidos threatened to pull the plug, meaning a loss of revenue for CNET-owned GameSpot. Despite the Kotaku tipster specifying that it wasn’t necessarily the low score of 6 out of 10 but the ‘tone’ of the review that got the man fired, the day when advertisers will be able to get reviewers fired and set the tone of reviews by waving a stack of cash at your face is a sad day indeed.
Surprisingly, there are no Kane & Lynch ads on GameSpot at the time of writing, instead the site is displaying ads for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. Did Eidos pull the advertising anyway or is GameSpot trying to save face ? (Update below)
Shacknews has also confidently confirmed from their end that Gerstmann has indeed been fired from his position (update below). And former GameSpot editor and current MP3.com – also CNET-owned – employee Tim Tracy has posted what seems to be a farewell notice on his GameSpot blog. It’s unknown if it’s related to the Gerstmann axing.
My gut tells me this isn’t the last we’ve heard of this, so we’ll keep you updated when new information surfaces. But with this fiasco going on, makes you wonder how the industry will receive Kane & Lynch 2, which is already in production. Because when (and if) it releases, references to this incident will no doubt be made.
Update: Jeff Gerstmann has since confirmed himself that he has indeed been let go. He’s “not really able to comment on the specifics” but is “looking forward to getting back out there and figuring out what’s next.” In the meanwhile huge forum topics have grown in the GameSpot forums, especially this one with over 4800 posts. The official Eidos forums got a similar treatment but after shutting it down for a while, the admins are now locking any thread discussing this topic at first sight, calling it a rumor and saying “there will be no further discussion.”
Penny Arcade writes that they’re being told the advertisements that Eidos was displaying on GameSpot were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and that they’ve now pulled hundreds of thousands worth of future advertising from the site.