View Full Version : Game Review integrity

12-04-2007, 03:14 PM
Here is something that I found on another forum


Gamespot Editor Fired Over Kane & Lynch Review?

kane_lynch_gamespot.jpgWe've heard an unsettling rumor today from an anonymous tipster that longtime game reviewer Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot has been let go. That wouldn't necessarily be newsworthy, but the conditions under which he was allegedly dismissed were. According to the source, Gerstmann was fired "on the spot" due to advertiser pressure for his review of Eidos' Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. A visit to Gamespot shows that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game has taken over the site very prominently, with backgrounds and multiple banner ads all pitching Kane & Lynch. Allegedly, publisher Eidos "took issue with the review and threatened to pull its ad campaign."

Jeff's review was certainly less than glowing. He assigned the game a 6.0, otherwise known as "Fair" on the Gamespot scale. The game is currently enjoying a Metacritic score in the 65 to 69 range, which the site describes as "mixed or average reviews." According to our tipster, it wasn't necessarily the score that was reason for Gerstmann's rumored axing, but the "tone" of the review.

Gerstmann has been no stranger to controversial reviews, as his scores of 10 for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 and 8.8 for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had sensitive internet users up in arms. It's now possible that many bitter fanboys may have had their wishes for his firing granted.

As our tipster points out, if the rumor is true, it could point to a distressing precedent at Gamespot and parent company CNet. "As writers of what is supposed to be objective content, this is our worst nightmare coming to life," wrote the tipster.

Our efforts to confirm the story with Gamespot haven't proved successful. Our current requests with PR, Gerstmann and other CNet contacts have either gone unanswered or yielded a "no comment."

Update: We did get confirmation that Mr. Gerstmann is no longer with Gamespot. The circumstances in which he was terminated or left of his own accord, however, were not disclosed.

Gamespot's official response: (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6183603.html?action=convert&om_clk=latestnews&tag=latestnews;title;0)

The past week marked the end of an era at GameSpot. After over a decade in a variety of editorial roles, Jeff Gerstmann's tenure as editorial director has ended.

"Jeff was a central figure in the creation and evolution of GameSpot, having written hundreds of previews and reviews, and anchoring much of our multimedia content," said Ricardo Torres, editorial director of previews and events. "The award-winning editorial team he leaves behind wish him nothing but good luck in his future endeavors."

Due to legal constraints and the company policy of GameSpot parent CNET Networks, details of Gerstmann's departure cannot be disclosed publicly. However, contrary to widespread and unproven reports, his exit was not a result of pressure from an advertiser.

"Neither CNET Networks nor GameSpot has ever allowed its advertising business to affect its editorial content," said Greg Brannan, CNET Networks Entertainment's vice president of programming. "The accusations in the media that it has done so are unsubstantiated and untrue. Jeff's departure stemmed from internal reasons unrelated to any buyer of advertising on GameSpot."

"Though he will be missed by his colleagues, Jeff's leaving does not affect GameSpot's core mission of delivering the most timely news, video content, in-depth previews, and unbiased reviews in games journalism," said Ryan MacDonald, executive producer of GameSpot Live. "GameSpot is an institution, and its code of ethics and duty to its users remains unchanged."

This stinks of corporate BS to me, especially because of these:

Kotaku: Did We Give Kane & Lynch 5 Stars? (http://kotaku.com/gaming/eidos/did-we-give-kane--lynch-5-stars-329539.php)

Kotaku: Kane & Lynch Site Fibbing About Reviews, Scores (http://kotaku.com/gaming/kane-%26-lynch/kane--lynch-site-fibbing-about-reviews-scores-329529.php)

CNET Responds To GameSpot Payola Allegations (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/79468-CNET-Responds-To-GameSpot-Payola-Allegations)

The actual review (http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/kanelynchdeadmen/review.html) (The video review is gone, and user reviews are disabled on K&L)

Supposedly from a GS editor, anonymous:

What you might not be aware of is that GS is well known for appealing mostly to hardcore gamers. The mucky-mucks have been doing a lot of "brand research" over the last year or so and indicating that they want to reach out to more casual gamers. 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.

I know that it's all about the money, and hey, I like money. I like advertising because it pays my salary. Unfortunately after Kasavin left the church-and-state separation between the sales teams and the editorial team has cracked, and with Jeff's firing I think it's clear that the management now has no interest at all in integrity and are instead looking for an editorial team that will be nicer to the advertisors.

When companies make games as downright contemptible as Kane and Lynch, they deserve to be called on it. I guess you'll have to go to Onion or a smaller site for objective reviews now, because everyone at GS now thinks that if they give a low score to a high-profile game, they'll be[fired]. Everyone's **** scared and we're all hoping to get Josh Larson removed from his position because no one trusts him anymore. If that doesn't happen then look for every game to be Game of the Year material at GameSpot.

12-05-2007, 05:42 AM
Here is something that I found on another forum

Here's another article about the same thing: http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3164656

Personally I can't say I'm too surprised about it, the past few years I've gotten the impression that companies can purchase favorable reviews for their games from some sites and magazines. Mostly surprising that evidence of it gets out. :)

Overall I don't put much stock in most game reviews nowadays. They generally tend to put too much emphasis on graphics compared to other game elements, and heavily hyped games almost always receive higher scores whether they deserve it or not.

This whole affair doesn't exactly work to increase the credibility of game reviews in my eyes. It reinforces the notion that game reviews are more marketing than consumer info nowadays. :)

12-05-2007, 10:20 AM
Found the video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBD0cUeeEQc

How can anyone trust a site to be non-biased whose primary advertisers are the very people they are reviewing?

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...if a game's getting a 9 or above, [the review] can go up early; if not, it'll have to wait until after the game is on the shelves.What a surprise -- a natural conflict of interest.

As with stoffe, I can't remember at anytime where I read/watched a review and said "Hmm I'm going to buy that game" or "Oh I guess I won't get that game." Seriously the only reviews that carry any weight with me come from people like you on forums like this.

Jae Onasi
12-05-2007, 10:57 AM
I don't completely trust reviews of products by any magazine/journal that accepts advertising from the very companies they're reviewing, and gaming reviews are no different for me. The only magazine I've trusted reviews of has been Consumer Reports, because they don't accept any advertising revenue.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that reviews were influenced by 'funding' by the game producers.

Aash Li
12-05-2007, 11:59 AM
I only read reviews to get an idea of what a game is like before I decide to buy it. I dont pay attention to what they say about it whether they like it or think it sucks.

Ive never believed reviewers anyway. They always seem to give great reviews, you never see reviews stating that something sucks and you shouldnt buy it. The object of reviewing something is to give your honest opinion about it, not stroke the company's e-peen. >.<

12-05-2007, 12:36 PM
Metacritic (www.metacritic.com) is a great place to check reviews.

It has scores from many review sites, as well as links to reviews of more indepedent sources, so you can get a wide variety of opinon.

12-07-2007, 07:55 PM
I wouldn't have put too much thought into this whole episode, but then I saw this little gem (http://kotaku.com/gaming/kane-%26-lynch/kane--lynch-site-fibbing-about-reviews-scores-329529.php). They've since removed it now. (http://kotaku.com/gaming/eidos/kane--lynch-site-drops-five-star-reviews-329910.php)

Those GameSpot ads always pissed me off. Perhaps I'll look for a new site.

12-07-2007, 08:01 PM
I go to Gamespot quite regularly (used to there for games, now i'm only there for the graphics. long story.) The reaction has been a bit dramatised but it's pretty serious nonetheless i suppose. I was never even that interested in K&L anyway, but the whole thing is just dirty really.

Serpentine Cougar
12-08-2007, 12:51 AM
Reviews from sites like these are good general guides to the level of quality in a game, imo. While you're obviously not going to agree with everything they say, you can get some idea about whether you should give the game a try or not. I generally value word-of-mouth opinions on games more, but then I don't agree with everything people tell me about some games, either.

I prefer GameSpy (http://www.gamespy.com/) for its reviews, cleaner layout, and nice weekly newsletter, though GameSpot does have reviews for more games.

The whole 'Game Reviwer Integrity' issue doesn't get me very much; isn't it a given that you have to take everything you hear with a grain of salt?

12-10-2007, 01:59 PM
i personally believe that the whole thing is a load of crap. the "evidence" sounds compelling, but it sounds like one coincidence after another to me. that leads me to believe that people are once again more inclined to believe the conspiracy theories than the official word.

besides, its not like the results of the Kane and Lynch review were changed: the game was still given a 6/10 score. and if you do watch the original video review, you'll understand why they pulled it: the audio sucks which is a bit out of place from the higher production quality Gamespot normally has.

was the firing influenced by Eidos?? its possible, but i doubt the actual firing of Gerstmann had anything to do with it like most people are inclined to believe with their piles of "evidence". unless Gerstmann or Gamespot (or its owner, Cnet.com) reveals the actual reason for the firing, we're not going to figure it out based on a bunch of conspiracy theories.

that's just my two pennies on the issue.

12-10-2007, 03:07 PM
I used to read reviews al lthe time and buy magazines but now i just rely on word of mouth. Forums are the best way to find out about how good games are. The trick is not to read so much as to be completely swayed by someones personal opinion.