Gamespot – The Fall Of
July 3, 2008 § 2 Comments
Up until about last September I checked Gamespot every single day. I checked the news, previews, reviews, video reviews and press releases. I downloaded and listened to their podcast “The Hotspot” every week, and I used to worship the Gamespot’s editors. Jeff Gerstmann, Alex Nevarro, Brad Shoemaker, Rich Gallup, these were the people that almost dictated my views on games and gaming as a whole.
After E3 2007 Rich Gallup announced he was leaving Gamespot. Like many others I was of course horrified. Rich wasn’t the funniest of the editors, but he always had a jovial quality about him that really made guests loosen up and become much easier to watch on camera. He’d laugh at everyone’s jokes, no matter how lame, and gave shows an almost…stupid…quality that they’ve lacked since.
None the less, despite minor criticisms Gamespot soldiered on with Jeff Gerstmann now taking presenting duties on both On the Spot and The Hotspot, retaining the feel of the Gamespot of old, albeit with a lack of odd eyebrow…
To be honest as soon as you read the first line of this article you knew what was coming, Gerstmanngate, as it was dubbed, changed everything. Here we must deviate from cold hard facts onto the long and twisty road of rumour when I say that the reason for Jeff Gerstmann’s departure came with the review of one “Kane and Lynch: Dead Mean.” Jeff didn’t like this game, and his rating clearly displayed this. His review however was both two-sided and fair, and gave ample reasons for his distaste, citing bad dialogue (read: over using fuck) and crummy controls, leading to an overall shitty game.
The story goes that Eidos had a major advertising deal going with Gamespot that came into effect a few days after the negative review went up. Such a negative score certainly did not bode well for sales of the game, and subsequently the link to the video review was removed from the Kane and Lynch page. The text review remained, but Jeff did not. He was fired from Gamespot after being a senior editor there for many years, writing countless reviews, and becoming an internet celebrity off its shoulders.
It was the beginning of the end for Gamespot. A string of departures followed at intervals of a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2008. Alex Nevarro was the first to go, followed shortly by Ryan Davies and Brad Shoemaker. Even Vinny Carvella, the replacement for Gallup left, leaving Ryan MacDonald at the head of a group of ragtag journalists, with no sense of the Gamespot family that once was, and never will be again.
In a few short years Gamespot has gone from a leading reviews website, which maintained a high level of humour with decidedly amateur looking shorts, to a slick corporate machine, dishing out review scores which seem to always mirror what every other journalist is saying about a game, and bland editors, that couldn’t be less of a part of the Gamespot family if they’d tried.
So where are they now? Rich Gallup ran Doofy Crap for a while but has “taken a break from the doofyness” recently to pursue other goals. Alex Nevarro is currently working at Harmonix, putting his amazing drum ‘skillz’ to use. As for the other four, well Gerstmann’s in the process of setting up his new website Giant Bomb Giant Bomb along with Brad Shoemaker, Vinny Carvella and Ryan Davies.
Whilst a part of me is still in mourning from the loss of such a great assortment of editors, the breakdown of Gamespot allowed me to move on to what I now regard as one of the best games related sites on the internet, the 1UP Network. Generally it’s just a much more mature site, with the likes of Shawn Elliot and Garnett Lee really taking gaming seriously as an art form, and discussing it in much more depth than in terms of just gameplay and graphics. Ultimately it’s something that had needed to happen for a while – Gamespot had become a bloated bureaucratic beast, and as result it became very difficult for editors to try new things and push journalistic boundaries, exactly what any self respecting games site should do.