GameSpot Details Gerstmann Situation; Claims Termination 'Unrelated' to Advertiser Pressure

By Chris Faylor, Dec 05, 2007 3:25pm PST GameSpot has issued a lengthy response to the week-long scandal regarding the termination of editorial director Jeff Gerstmann, claiming that the editor was let go "purely for internal reasons" that were "unrelated to any publisher or advertiser." Meanwhile, Gerstmann spoke with MTV's Stephen Totilo about the nature of advertising relationships, though not about his termination itself.

Gerstmann was relieved of his position at GameSpot last Wednesday. Rumors immediately began swirling that he was fired in part because of his negative review of IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (PC, PS3, X360).

At the time, publisher Eidos was heavily advertising the title on GameSpot. It was speculated that Eidos had pressured GameSpot parent company CNET into axing Gerstmann, a theory apparently backed by the removal of Gerstmann's harsh video review and an edit of his text.

Though GameSpot admits Eidos was upset by Gerstmann's negative review, the site states that its displeasure was "absolutely not" the cause of Gerstmann's termination, the removal of his video review, or the editing of his review text, citing GameSpot policy to "never let any [expressed publisher disappointment] result in a review score to be altered or a video review to be pulled." As before, GameSpot continues to decline to comment on the particular reasons for Gerstmann's termination.

"Realistic or not, I think readers should demand [a church and state separation between editorial and sales] from a publication," Gerstmann told MTV in response to recent events. "Some people probably think that's a little old-fashioned or hopelessly idealistic, given the changing nature of advertising these days, but there you go." His comments seem to suggest a belief that the editorial and ad separation may not always be at the level it should be, but that readers should call for it regardless.

According to GameSpot, the changes made to Gerstmann's review text were a result of a staff consensus that "the review's negativity did not match its 'fair' 6.0 rating," and to add clarifications about the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 multiplayer modes.

As for the removal of the video review, GameSpot points to what it calls "inferior" audio and limited video footage. The original, unedited video review has now been reposted on the site "in the spirit of full disclosure."

Meanwhile, the disappearance of the heavy Kane & Lynch advertising presence shortly after the rumors started was "purely coincidental" as "site-wide ad campaigns automatically change at midnight" and the campaign ended on November 29, 2007.

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