As I recently covered on my blog, the eleven year veteran of Gamespot (the US version of the site) has recently been ‘terminated’ (their phraseology not mine) for apparently still undisclosed reasons which are at best purely internal. At worst, the reasons could stem from a rather insipid accusation levelled at Cnet – namely that they fired Gerstmann for giving a poor review when Eidos had bought a huge amount of ad space on www.Gamespot.com.
At first, things looked incredibly suspicious – the background to this story being that Gerstmann was fired (apparently because of his criticism of Kane & Lynch), his video review removed (without a reason given at the time), his review text altered (again without reason at the time) but the score he gave the game unchanged. If you haven’t checked, he gave it a 6.0 out of 10, which is ‘fair’.
I originally wrote the following:
“Eidos published a game called Kane and Lynch – a third person actioner that’s surprisingly under par in a number of ways
Said company paid quite a wodge to Gamespot.com (Cnet) to have loads of advertising plastered all over the site prior to the launch
Product gets launched to awaiting gamers served by marketing
Gurstmann (along with most everybody else) gave the game a ‘FAIR’ 6/10 given that it is flawed
Someone at Eidos leaned on Cnet/Gamespot to ensure Gerstmann does not repeat this same ‘mistake’ of effectively undermining the interests of the company in favour of the truth”
I still maintain, the above is an entirely possible situation, but it’s also one that is purely speculative, and will probably remain so until Jeff Gerstmann (who for the record seems like a great guy) is allowed to give his side of the story. I’ve no knowledge of US legislation so I’ll not even begin to estimate when that might be.
The story however takes an interesting twist all of its’ own accord, as Gamespot.com (which is seemingly a little more like a sinister corporation now), has released some information. This includes the following:
Q: Why was Jeff fired?
A: Legally, the exact reasons behind his dismissal cannot be revealed. However, they stemmed from issues unrelated to any publisher or advertiser; his departure was due purely for internal reasons.
Q: Why was the Kane & Lynch review text altered?
A: Jeff’s supervisors and select members of the edit team felt the review’s negativity did not match its “fair” 6.0 rating. The copy was adjusted several days after its publication so that it better meshed with its score, which remained unchanged. The achievements and demerits it received were also left unaltered. Additionally, clarifications were made concerning the game’s multiplayer mode and to include differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.
Q: When will the PC version of Kane & Lynch be reviewed?
A: We haven’t decided when that will happen.
Now, one of the things that really bothers me is this – how on earth can you really correlate some words to a score? I never did read the original review text and the video review (which is again available) is rather harsh, but then let’s tell it how it is. Kane & Lynch is a sub-par game, if that’s the case, I want to hear about it. Suggesting though that the ‘words don’t match the number’ seems a little odd. I thought the review that’s up there now is a bit ‘by-the-numbers’ to be honest.
Secondly, I’m suspicious about the whole ‘we haven’t decided when to review the PC version’. I’m not surprised that they are going to be cautious (and cagey) about it, but really, if it comes out with an overtly better score, especially if it is anywhere near the 8.0 area, we’ll know something is up.
Finally, no matter what anyone says, it’s very clear that advertising and marketing is linked – this is proven. I work in marketing and I always say ‘sales sells the product, but marketing sells the dream’. The fact is, it would be unsurprising for Eidos to be unhappy with the review they received, but only because of how much they paid (even late advertising of that sort is expensive) to have the game plastered on the site.
On a general note about the game, I have seen a few reviews for it now, none of which really recommend it. Perhaps, instead of Eidos complaining, regardless of what really happened to Gerstmann, they should have made a better game. I’m sure Gamespot wished they did – I’d imagine there would be far less controversy.
Look out for my second article on this subject in the coming few days – I’ll be covering artistic integrity in the industry and how important free speech (and the nature of modern games) is to games.