Did CNET's Gamespot Fire Reviewer For Angering Advertisers?

So much for even the illusion of editorial independence in video game reviews. One of Gamespot’s editors and top reviewers was apparently fired this week after writing an unenthusiastic review for the game “Kane & Lynch,” which was being advertised heavily all over the Gamespot site, according to our sister site Kotaku.

According to [our] 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.”

“Gamespot Editor Fired Over Kane & Lynch Review?” [Kotaku]

“Game Journalist May Have Been Fired Over Negative Review” [Slashdot]
“The New Games Journalism” [Penny-Arcade]


Edit Your Comment

  1. hubris says:

    What a bunch of pansies. For gaming sites for the masses, Gamespot is pretty much at the top of the list. No way Eidos is going to pull all ads from the site. Gamespot should have manned up and told them to stop making crap games if they don’t like the reviews.

    Or be pansies and cave in, like they did.

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    News such as this kind of makes reviews from GameSpot meaningless from this point forwards unless they take serious measures to explain the situation. Every good review has to be considered suspect now. Why would the editorial stafff risk panning a crappy games (and by all accounts Kane & Lynch is pretty crappy) when their job is at stake?

    I’d like to see Gamespot be removed from the game review database gamerankings.com but both Gamespot and gamerankings.com are owned by parent company CNET. Oh well . . .

  3. yagisencho says:

    Now watch as half of the site’s current users stop visiting (myself included). Eyeballs = money, so you can’t have em, CNET.

  4. MercuryPDX says:

    He gave it a 6 out of 10… hardly a pan. I’ve seen much worse.

  5. glass says:

    I’ve worked in the video game industry for years and believe me, this is par for the course.

  6. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Typically the video game review world works on a 1-10 scale that overinflates its scores by only using about 7-10. Therefore a 6/10 is really more like a 1 or a 2 on an unweighted scale.

  7. domestic_goddess says:

    When watching the review it didn’t seem like he was crucifying the game. From what it really sounded like was the game had flawed game play mechanics and poor writing, which isn’t something that someone who points it out should be fired for.

    I also don’t know too many people that actually take Gamespot very seriously, it’s already made a bad name for itself, this is just the nail in the coffin.

  8. fluiddruid says:

    There’s only one major site with an opinion on games that matters to me: Penny Arcade. It’s pretty sad that you have to go to a comic strip to get actual honesty.

  9. MercuryPDX says:

    Trust me…. Gamespot uses the full range.

    If the game truly sucked they would not hesitate to give it a mark below 5.

  10. MercuryPDX says:

    Better link:

  11. headon says:

    To Gerstmann,
    How dare you try honesty in your reviews. We will not tolerate this, truthfulness has no place on an add supported website. Yer outta here.

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    Meh… that one’s just PS2 specific. This one is cross platform, ranked low to high. You need to get through 25 pages (50 reviews each) just to break in to the 5’s.

  13. mycroft2000 says:

    Personally, I’ve been waiting for their review of Tabula Rasa for weeks now, and it’s nowhere to be seen. Seems curious, for such a relatively eagerly awaited MMOG.

  14. vaxman says:


    This is the PR contact for Gamespot. Write Leslie and say what you think about this article.

  15. vaxman says:


    apparently, www links are supported, but not mailto: So for those that don’t know about mailto:, use the address from this post.

  16. Buran says:

    The comments over there disgust me. Thankfully at least some of the people there realized how dangerous this particular slippery slope is.

    We NEED an objective press. “It’s just games,” you say? So what? When one sort of journalist can get booted out for angering people with money, where else is this happening that we DON’T know about?

  17. Chase says:

    The same could be said with cable news and The Daily Show.

  18. lostalaska says:

    Hmm I wonder what EGM editor Dan Hsu would have to say. Just checked his blog, but he hasn’t updated it in a few weeks. When I used to get EGM it seemed like a couple times a year he would have a large editorial rant about the issue of integrity in game rankings and the pressure game publishers/companies put on reviewers when it comes to the ratings they are going to get and the related ad revenue that would be “lost”.

  19. @Franklin Comes Alive!: Thats not true and take that from a Video Game Reviewer.

  20. G-Dog says:

    Anybody that still took Gamespot seriously after the “the Savage Lands” review debacle deserves the crappy journalism the site advertises to them. If you don’t remember or didn’t hear, an Ad Monkey at Gamespot gave The Savage Lands, an online only shooter, a low score. The developer took issue with his review, did a little research in their server logs, and discovered the Ad Monkey in question played the game for less than two hours. He most likely spent more time writing the game review than he did playing the game.

    A re-review was issued by another Ad Monkey, and the game was given a better score. The developer must have bought a banner that week.

  21. G-Dog says:

    @Papa Midnight: You must not read IGN then. And remember when Atari was caught paying magazine publishers money for better review scores of Driv3r?

  22. jkaufman101 says:

    Isn’t this just typical of CNET. I have NEVER trusted their reviews because of the conflict of interest they appear to have. There is NO WAY that CNET is an impartial reviewer.

  23. ShadowFalls says:


    Totally agree. Whether it is a toaster, a video game, or a computer, objective reviews are found to be quite useful for people when deciding to purchase something.

    If you just read a review about a game and it said it was the best thing ever made and you went and spent your money on it to find it was complete and utter crap, you would be upset. You can’t just take back a video game. Sure you can rent games, but who actually likes Blockbuster?

  24. ZekeDMS says:

    Ugh. This kind of thing really gets to me, and I hope it’s not true, but somehow I wonder. I didn’t always agree with him or Gamespot at large, but they managed some credibility.

    Even just as a rumor, this makes my life as a games journalist harder by reinforcing the “Game reviewers just sell good scores” idea. =

  25. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    My thoughts exactly. I’ve read many reviews on Gamespot, and CNET in general, that lifted their leg high and proud on many games and products. This whole thing just reeks. I hope Gerstmann (the reviewer) rebounds quickly.

  26. InThrees says:

    Gamespot’s proposed new “Five Star” game ranking system:

    1 star: we don’t give out only one star.
    2 stars: we don’t give out only two stars.
    3 stars: They didn’t pay us any money, but they might some day.
    4 stars: They purchased advertising.
    5 stars: They drove a dumptruck full of money into our breakroom.

  27. iamme99 says:

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! If you want to write honest reviews, get a blog (but don’t hook up with payperpost.com [lol])

  28. pine22 says:


    someone hacked the gamefaqs poll of the day, lolz

  29. The HZA. says:

    @fluiddruid: For sure.

  30. dantsea says:

    CNET tossed editorial integrity out the window around 1998. No, seriously, around May of that year was when the Software Services division received a memo from then head Scott Arpajian saying “we’re tossing editorial service out the window.” It’s pure advertiser service there.

    The only site of theirs I’d trust to have anything approaching independence from advertisers are the original stories on NEWS.COM.

    P.S. Fuck you, Dan Miller.

  31. rockosolido says:

    “Top reviewers?” Seriously? Getsmann was probably one of CNet/Gamespot’s worst reviewers, showing bias for and against games depending on the companies behind them and often basing reviews entirely on an engine he personally didn’t care for, stretching his rant for two pages describing why he likes [insert title A]’s engine over [insert title B]’s.

    There’s been an intense hated for this schmuck on Gamespot’s forums for years, hack should have been fired long ago.

  32. muddgirl says:

    Is there ANYWHERE on the internet to get thorough, honest, unbiased reviews of video games? I don’t care if it takes a few weeks for the review to come out, but I’m sick of reading reviews with scores that are so clearly divorced from reality. Heck, I don’t even care about scores. I just want to know what other gamers thought of the game before I buy it.

  33. tcolberg says:

    Good reviews can be found at any of the following places:

    [www.escapistmagazine.com] (Yahtzee has hilarious, honest, weekly reviews.)

    http://www.penny-arcade.com (Yes, a comic website. They give true to their opinion verdicts in their blogs.)

    [curmudgeongamer.com] (I hear they’re good from friends.)

    [www.oxmonline.com] (Official Xbox Magazine. Oh wait, maybe not. =P)

  34. tcolberg says:

    Also, something I failed to mention. When I quickly need a rundown about a game (e.g. I’m perusing sales and need to know which one isn’t crap), I just go to [www.metacritic.com], search for the game, and read from one of the higher scored reviews, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. It gives me most of the spectrum of opinion out on a game in a minute or two.

  35. BStu says:

    Shame on Eidos for pressuring Gamespot, but more shame on CNET for caving. Are they going to be slapping a “PAID ADVERTISEMENT” warning over all their “reviews” now?

  36. GenXCub says:

    Here’s Penny-arcade’s comic about this incident:


  37. tekmiester says:

    Don’t let this one blow over… Gamesport needs to eat a lot of crow for this one.