Sunday, March 09, 2008

bomb's away

For those who don't know about video game review websites, there was a big controversy at the end of last year. Jeff Gerstmann, one of the most well-respected game reviewers in the industry and the video game equivalent of Roger Ebert, was fired from his long-time job as Senior Editor at GameSpot.com for giving a luke warm review to the game "Kayne & Lynch." The way it all seems to have shaken out is that Gerstmann gave a lousy review to a game whose publisher had just pumped tons of money into GameSpot in terms of advertising dollars. When the review hit the Tubes, K&L's publisher Eidos threatened to pull all of the money it had just handed over to GameSpot. For whatever reason, GameSpot decided it would be better to please Eidos rather than remain unbiased and pulled the bad review while also canning Gerstmann. Gerstmann left, took all of the site's integrity with him, and soon editors were quitting GameSpot left and right. What was once the internet's main source for reliable game reviews is now a wounded shell of itself trying to convince users that it will regain its respectability.

For Gerstmann, the gaming world seems to have been holding its breath in anticipation of what he would do next. Would he start his own site to rival GameSpot? Would he join the staff of existing GameSpot competitors like IGN, 1up, or Joystiq as some of the other editors who jumped ship did?

Well, the answer's arrived. GiantBomb.com, Gerstmann's new game review blog, is now up. I would venture a guess that GiantBomb will look significantly different 3 years from now. It wouldn't surprise me at all if it became the next GameSpot in the years to come. The gaming public at large, an internet savvy and very vocal global comminity, were SERIOUSLY pissed about his firing and SERIOUSLY pissed about the hubris of GameSpot that led to the closest thing the games industry has ever had to a payola scandal. There are a lot of grumpy gamers looking for a review site that they feel they can trust.

I wish Jeff well.

3 comments:

EmoRiot said...

I'm surprised that game review sites still hold the cards as gate keepers for what games are good or bad.

The gaming community is obviously very internet aware... so I would think that message boards with user reviews or something more akin to Rotten Tomatoes would work for them.

Bug said...

Interestingly, no. Yes, there's an endless string of blogs and forums full of game reviews. However, the general level of trust that those things have is pretty low. Most are uneven at best, and nearly illiterate at worst.

Because of that, the few sites that managed to have well-written, reliable reviews forged relationships with game developers and publishers long ago. As such, they became the places that publishers and developers went to first in order to share new trailers, interviews, and exclusives. With a combination of exclusive content and reliable reviews, sites like GameSpot and IGN quickly rose to the top of the heap.

Russ said...

Wow! I'm glad to hear he's got a site up. I must check it out.