Posted on March 15, 2012, Phil Hornshaw Jeff Gerstmann (Finally) Talks About GameSpot Firing
Five years after he was fired from his position as GameSpot’s editorial director allegedly for giving too bad a score to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, GiantBomb founder Jeff Gerstmann has finally explained what the hell happened all those years ago. Now that GiantBomb is being acquired by GameSpot parent CBS Entertainment, Gerstmann is talking about what happened — and why he’s very much okay with the merger.
As it turns out, Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot because of review scores — but not specifically for Kane & Lynch, or because of publisher pressure. More accurate is that low scores appearing on game sites routinely result in changes in the ads department (why would you want your game advertised on a site that reviewed it poorly), and that means a drop in ad revenue. It’s par for the course, obviously, and at most news organizations of any stripe, the ad sales department rarely interacts with the editorial department — and even more rarely is pressure exerted over content. At reputable outlets that care about ethics, it never happens.
At GameSpot in 2007, Gerstmann says, a new management team had just come in and was inexperienced in the ways of dealing with an editorial product. As bad reviews made ad dollars disappear, Gerstmann was blamed by a team that didn’t really know how to handle such things. And eventually, he was dismissed from the position, but it sounds like the process was much longer and more involved than many believed.
Check out the explanation in Gerstmann’s own words in the video below, starting at around the 9-minute mark. His most telling statement is his reiteration that there’s nothing wrong with GameSpot editorially — and he wouldn’t be sitting in the guest seat of GameSpot’s “On the Spot” show if there were.