GameSpot Responds (Again) to Gerstmann-gate; Confirms They Altered Review

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GameSpot’s damage control went into overdrive Wednesday as the company responded for a second time to the Jeff Gerstmann firing. GameSpot quietly let Gerstmann go after he gave Kane and Lynch a 6 out of 10, a game being advertised heavily on their site. They also edited his text review and took down his video review of the game. Instead of attacking the story head-on early, CNET was silent.

Despite sticking to early excuses that they could not legally respond to Gerstmann’s firing, apparently those laws only apply when the company is not under fire from the media. In GameSpot’s own words, “in accordance with California State Law, no public comment was initially made about his departure.” Why they are talking about it now if they legally can not do so is unclear.

According to GameSpot’s second damage control article, “numerous conspiracy theories sprang up” regarding Gerstmann’s firing and the Kane and Lynch review. Their explanation for his firing remains that “his departure was due purely for internal reasons.”

One thing that they did respond to was the Kane and Lynch review. GameSpot now admits that they edited Gerstmann’s review. “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.”

In regards to the video review being taken down, GameSpot claims that, “the video was taken down due to concerns of quality. Specifically, its audio was deemed inferior due to a faulty microphone. There were also concerns about the limited amount of footage, which was unrepresentative of the game in the review.” After three weeks of being down, they have since brought it back up in its original state.

It is unprecedented for a site such as GameSpot to respond not once, but twice to a controversy such as this. In my nearly five years of gaming journalism, this is the first time I have seen something like this unfold so transparently. I have heard rumors of magazines succumbing to pressure from their advertisers over review scores, but never a site as prominent and respected as GameSpot was.

Whether you believe GameSpot when they claim that they changed the review due to “negativity” or that they removed the video due to audio problems is up to you, the reader. Game Freaks 365 is not a corporation and we do not have advertisers. I can guarantee you that even if a publisher complained about a score on this site we would never alter the review to comply with their wishes. We write our news and reviews with consumers in mind, not corporations.