When Jeff Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot for giving a less than raving review (to put it lightly) of Eidos Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men (Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, PC), the gaming industry went abuzz. A lot of speculation came out that he was fired because his review basically antagonized a major advertiser of the site (who conveniently was Eidos, advertising the very game he butchered in the review).
Opinions were thrown left and right, and the effects have been far-reaching. Gerstmann's superior was fired, a domino effect happened with other reviewers of the site resigning, and Gerstmann - well, he was pretty much considered to be the gaming journalist's hero for not buckling down from the intense political pressure of those in the suits just to rate the game a good score.
However, that's only one example (and probably the most highlighted) of the things that game reviewers go through. And truth is, that's only one side of the coin. Today we found a very interesting article that allows us a peek at the other side of the fence when it comes to game reviews - particularly why publishers put pressure on game journalists, and more intriguingly, why they are entitled to do so.
Sore Thumbs Blog posted the article coming from a certain "Anonymous Guy from Big Publisher". According to the site, Anonymous Guy wrote to them to show the PR and marketing perspectives on the whole business of elbowing their way to get a good review.
But some of the points Anonymous Guy raised was how the developers "kill themselves" to finish a game, and how that game is treated rather unfairly by so-called reviewers who only play two hours out of a 30-hour game. Then there's also the issue on specialized coverage. Sometimes a reviewer who's actually an FPS gamer would be given a sim racing game to review, and so the appreciation and treatment of the review is not as holistic and objective as it could have been had the reviewer been given an FPS title.
The most interesting bit, however, is how Anonymous Guy observes that there is no "real" journalism in the gaming industry for a long time now. He says:
The industry has been crying out for real journalism for a long time now. What this means to me is not harsher reviews, but thoughtful analysis about games, real knowledge of game development, and a deep history of playing games. And ultimately, gauging who the game would be fun for, and scoring it accordingly. I think today it requires a specialty if you are a hardcore RTS players, look at only those kinds of games. If you are an editor-in-chief, find the right journalists and manage them properly. But no one expects this to happen any times soon there is no journalism school for videogames, and the Internet will breed more and more amateurs. So the battles will rage on!
And we do fully expect the battle to be fired up once more with this post. How about you guys? What do you think? Is there ever an excuse for PR and marketing folks to pressure game journalists into giving what they would deem "fair and reasonable" reviews (in other words, good scores for them)? Share your thoughts below.
If you want to check out the whole post (and we're sure you do) just follow the source link below.
- GameSpot editorial director fired for Kane & Lynch review?
- GameSpot-Gerstmann controversy updates: the domino effect
- Jeff Gerstmann's superior fired from CNET
- GameSpot talks Gerstmann, says Eidos did not cause termination