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GameSpot sets record straight on Gerstmann firing

Thu 06 Dec 2007 1:15am GMT / 8:15pm EST / 5:15pm PST

Following the controversy over the firing of long-time editor Jeff Gerstmann, GameSpot's management has answered questions regarding the circumstances surrounding his exit

Following the controversy over the firing of long-time editor Jeff Gerstmann, GameSpot's management has answered questions regarding the circumstances surrounding his exit.

As reported earlier, Gerstmann was terminated just as his video review of Eidos' Kane & Lynch game was taken down. At the same time, the text of his review of the game was altered, and the Kane & Lynch ad campaign featured prominently on the site - only to be removed shortly thereafter.

These circumstances led to rumours that Gerstmann was terminated due to pressure from Eidos over his unfavourable review.

GameSpot cited legal restrictions and corporate HR policy as reasons for not initially commenting upon Gerstmann's departure. However, the site has now published a lengthy response from its management.

The site has indicated that it cannot provide the exact reasons behind Gerstmann's dismissal due to legalities, but said that he was terminated following an internal review process by the managerial team to which he reported. GameSpot said the issues were "unrelated to any publisher or advertiser."

As to why the video review was removed, GameSpot said that they had quality concerns specifically due to a faulty microphone, not to mention a limited amount of footage.

In the spirit of "full disclosure," the video has since been reposted and is viewable on the site in its original form.

According to GameSpot, the Kane & Lynch review text was altered because "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.

Finally, GameSpot said that the timing of the ad campaign, which was purchased weeks in advance based upon the game's release date, was "extremely unfortunate but was purely coincidental..." The end of the promotion had been predetermined well in advance and had nothing to do with the Gerstmann controversy heating up.

The site admitted that Eidos representatives "expressed their displeasure to their appropriate contacts, but not to editorial directly."

"It was not the first time a publisher has voiced disappointment with a game review, and it won't be the last," GameSpot said in their statement.

"However, it is strict GameSpot policy never to let any such feelings result in a review score to be altered or a video review to be pulled."

GameSpot categorically denied that Gerstmann's firing, the alteration of the Kane & Lynch review text, or the removal of the video review had anything to do with Eidos' disappointment.

"This article is one of the first steps toward restoring users' faith in GameSpot, and an internal review of the incident and controversy is under way. However, at no point in its history has GameSpot ever deviated from its review guidelines, which are publicly listed on the site.

"Great pains are taken to keep sales and editorial separated to prevent any impression of impropriety."

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