Winners and Losers: Week of 11/25/07

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Each week Game Freaks 365 compiles a list of the perceived winners and losers of the week based on news events. Since we don’t like useless (and highly controversial) gaming related Top 10 lists, we feel this fills that void for our readers. The winners and losers may be people, companies, systems, franchises – really anything. The lucky (and unlucky) ones this week are…

Winner: Sony

After coming off of a rough year and a half, dating back to E3 2006, Sony has mounted a comeback. The PlayStation 3 topped the Wii in Japan for the month of November and the system apparently saw an increase in sales of 192 percent in the United States after it dropped $100 in price. For the week including Black Friday, Sony says sales were up 245 percent. That should put November sales in the range of 300,000+ for PS3 in the U.S.

Early in the week Microsoft came out claiming that the Xbox 360 outsold PS3 2-to-1, but Sony responded quickly. “It’s [Sony’s] policy not to disclose our unit sales numbers until NPD numbers are officially released which will be December 13th. However, I can assure you that Microsoft’s estimates of our PS3 unit sales numbers are way off and they did not outsell PS3 2:1 during Black Friday week,” they said.

Loser: GameSpot

You can call it shady business or you can call it every day business, depending on whether you work for GameSpot or not. CNET apparently took a bad review by veteran reviewer Jeff Gerstmann as a threat to the company. Is a 6 out of 10 of a game that you are reportedly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising on worth firing a long-time editor?

Here are the facts: Gerstmann gave Kane and Lynch a 6 out of 10 (in the interest of full disclosure, I gave it a 7.2), Eidos was running an advertising campaign on GameSpot with full page banners, reports surfaced on GamePolitics, Kotaku and other sites that he was fired over his review, his video review of the game was taken down, the text version was edited and Gerstmann has since confirmed that he is no longer employed by GameSpot.

If the above is true, GameSpot has set a troublesome precedent for their reviewers and brought into question the credibility of their content. As a reviewer at GameSpot, CNET has set the precedent that giving games low scores that are being advertised on GameSpot can get you fired. Considering how many games get advertised on their network of sites, it will be hard to avoid some kind of conflict.

It is my opinion that editorial interests and business interests should be separated. If an advertiser threatens to pull their ads over a poor review score, GameSpot should have told Eidos to get lost. They would have protected their employee, their credibility and their readers from being exposed to tainted content. They now create an atmosphere in their office which is intolerant of diverse opinion, encouraging pandering at the expense of honesty.

Gerstmann was a controversial writer. Many people may celebrate that he no longer has the platform that he once did. Afterall, he gave scores as low as 8.8 for games like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and 9 for BioShock and Call of Duty 4, while giving scores as high as 9.1 for WarioWare: Smooth Moves and 10 for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. No one questions GameSpot’s right to replace a writer who they feel does not represent them (or for whatever other reason). It is the circumstances under which they fired Gerstmann that raises our eyebrows.

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