The Sleazy World of Professional Reviews

Nov 30, 2007

There's currently a lot of buzz about the supposed firing of Jeff Gerstmann, a long-time editor at GameSpot (Penny Arcade! even has a comic about the incident). He was apparently fired based on a poor review he gave for "Kane & Lynch: Dead Men," a game for the xBox 360. Eidos, who publishes the game, currently has a large advertising partnership with GameSpot for the game. This move indicates to me that Eidos was attempting to buy a good review, which they didn't get. I have no trouble believing that they had a hand in getting Mr. Gerstmann fired.

It's really sad to see when professional reviewers are forced to say one thing or another, but it's not surprising. The almighty dollar seems to make most of the decisions these days. Years ago I subscribed to Computer Gaming World magazine, but I canceled my subscription after the quality took a nose dive. The "larger" gaming websites are starting to head in that direction as well, especially after shenanigans like these. I do most of my game review reading through Metacritic, checking out what reviewers as a whole have to say about various games. I also try to seek out independent reviews, from people like myself.

This kind of story is one reason that I decided to post my own reviews here on this website. Although I don't have as much readership or visibility as the big review websites, I try to provide an alternative to the paid endorsements that publishers try to shove down our throats. Hopefully you find my reviews to be useful and honest. If so, then I'm succeeding where the large sites are failing. And that's good enough for me.

1 Comment
kip
3:52 PM on Nov 30, 2007
I've found EGM and 1up to generally be my most trusted reviews in print and online (respectively), but I usually check out Metacritic too. Another thing (I think PA has mentioned this before) is that sometimes reviews don't read like the number that is assigned to it. Presumably because they have more freedom to say what they want in the review than in the score. Joystiq has recently started doing Nega-Reviews, where they take extremely well-reviewed games (at least 90-95% average on a site like Metacritic) and print only the negative comments from the reviews. Not that I would make a buying decision based on a nega-review, but it helps you see through hype to things that may make you say "that wasn't really that great of a game" in a year or two.
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