Should’ve Given it a 7.5, Buddy

Here’s a story that approximately 3.4% of you will care about.

Gamespot recently fired one of their best-known journalists, Jeff Gerstmann. What was his crime? Giving a video game a bad review.

When you look at it closely, a 6.0 out of 10 possible points is not horrendous. It’s not great, by any means, but it could’ve been worse. And, as of this post, the game has received an average rating of 70% across the industry. So what was the big deal?

The problem was that the game’s manufacturer, Eidos, had heavily advertised the game on Gamespot’s web-site. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising. Eidos was so upset about Gerstmann’s review, they informed Gamespot that they would never advertise on their site again. Gamespot’s response: fire the journalist who dared give the game a mediocre review.

There are two reasons why this is important. The first is that the video game industry is a growing economic behemoth that can’t be ignored much longer. According to this article, the gaming industry has outgrown the U.S. economy 4-to-1 from 2003 to 2006. Last year, the gaming industry added a whopping $8,600,000,000 to the U.S. GDP. Software sales in 1996 totaled 74,100,000 units. In 2006: 250,000,000.

In other words, the video game industry is actually becoming important to the economy, especially when considering that 80,000 U.S. citizens have a job in the video game industry.

The second reason this story is important is that it has the potential to radically change the landscape of video game journalism. Sure, they’re a bunch of black t-shirt-wearing geeks (I’m so glad I’m not wearing my black t-shirt today), but they need the freedom to operate just as any other journalist would.

The reason that many Americans lost confidence in news programs such as the CBS Evening News is because of untrustworthy reporting, such as Dan Rather’s George W. Bush debacle. When people get the feeling that something other than honest reporting is shaping a story, they tend to tune out the individual or company that is pushing an alternate agenda.

If gaming fans recognize Gamespot’s willingness to bow to the feet of their advertiser’s at the expense of their journalists’ integrity, gamers are going to look elsewhere to sites such as IGN or 1UP for what will perceptively be more honest reviews.

Here are two thoughts…

Gamespot: way to buckle under (minimal) pressure and turn yourself into gaming’s public enemy numero uno. Enjoy your downward spiral. Now everyone working in your office is going to be frightened to death to be perfectly honest.

Eidos: instead of threatening site’s with the removal of your advertising dollars, make better games.

Today’s geek rant is effectively over.


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