Parent Company CBS Corporation
Owner CBS Interactive
Editor-in-Chief Ben Howard
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on certain video games. The site was launched on May 1, 1996, created by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purchased by ZDNet, a brand which was later purchased by CNET Networks. CBS Interactive, which purchased CNET Networks in 2008, is the current owner of GameSpot. GameSpot is infamously known for the Jeff Gerstmann incident, in which he was fired for giving a game a low score in a review, proving that publishers and game journalism are too close to one another for ethical reporting.
- 1 Gerstmann Incident
- 2 Recent Conflicts of Interest
- 3 Disclosure Improvements
- 4 Other Various Complaints
- 5 Roll in GamerGate
- 6 If GameSpot Were 100% Honest With Us...
- 7 GameJournoPros Members
- 8 References
Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of the site, was fired on November 28, 2007. Immediately after his termination, rumors circulated proclaiming his dismissal was a result of external pressure from Eidos Interactive, the publisher of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, which had purchased a considerable amount of advertising space on GameSpot's website. Gerstmann had previously given Kane & Lynch a fair or undesirable rating along with critique. Both GameSpot and parent company CNET stated that his dismissal was unrelated to the review, but due to corporate and legal constraints cannot reveal the reason. A month after Gerstmann's termination, freelance reviewer Frank Provo left GameSpot after eight years stating that "I believe CNET management let Jeff go for all the wrong reasons. I believe CNET intends to soften the site's tone and push for higher scores to make advertisers happy."
GameSpot staffers Alex Navarro, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, and Vinny Caravella also left as a result of Gerstmann's termination. Davis co-founded Gerstmann's subsequent project, Giant Bomb, and was later joined by Shoemaker and Caravella. Navarro became the community manager at Harmonix and in 2010 joined up with Whiskey Media, a family of sites that includes Gerstmann's Giant Bomb site, to be part of their new site Screened.com, focusing on cinema and television. Navarro later returned to Giant Bomb, where he currently works as a Senior Editor.
On March 15, 2012, it was announced that CBS Interactive, the parent company of GameSpot following the former's purchase of CNET, had acquired the Giant Bomb and Comic Vine websites from Whiskey Media. As part of the deal, the non-disparagement agreement between Gerstmann and CNET was nullified, allowing him to finally speak publicly about his termination over four years prior. Later that evening on GameSpot's On the Spot web show, GameSpot VP John Davison appeared on camera with Gerstmann, marking Gerstmann's first appearance on the GameSpot web site since November 2007. In the segment, Gerstmann revealed that his firing was in fact related to the low review score he had given to Kane & Lynch, though his explanation cited other similar events that led up to the termination, including a 7.5 (good) rating given to Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction by Aaron Thomas, then an employee under Gerstmann.
Recent Conflicts of Interest
On August 14, 2014, GameSpot Writer Chris Watters hosted the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor reveal event. This event was also broadcast through GameSpots website and video player, which carried GameSpots logo. They also ran multiple ads for Warlords of Draenor during its release. GameSpot reviewer Brittany Vincent gave the game an 8 out of 10, with no disclosure for the reveal event, which was a conflict of interest for the entire site.
On November 3, 2014, GameSpot posted its review for Call of Duty: Advance Warfare giving the game an 8/10. They did not disclose the review event they would have had to attend in order to get an accurate test of the Multiplayer aspects of the game. Also of note, the site was wrapped in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare game ads during the time of the review.
On October 27, 2014, GameSpot writer Eddie Makuch wrote an article for Day For Nights's new game, The Black Glove, getting a PS4 version added to the supported platforms on launch. The founder of the game studio, Joe Fielder, is a former site director of GameSpot, leading to a potential conflict of interest, which was disclosed.
Other Various Complaints
- Using PC footage as Xbox One footage in a graphics comparison https://i.imgur.com/TtO9ZVE.png
Roll in GamerGate
GameSpot has remained relatively neutral of the revolt on their website, and while they discuss the various threats commonly linked to GamerGate, they do not link them to GamerGate outright. Outside the site, several editors such as Kevin VanOrd take a strong Anti-GamerGate stance.
- GameSpot - An important message to our users regarding online harassment: https://archive.today/lDhEz
Censorship/Open Discussion on GamerGate
- Pro-Censorship https://archive.today/Fx7qW
Sexism in Gaming
On February 20th, /r/KotakuInAction user TheAndredal posted the thread 'Working on an ethics policy for Gamespot, want advice', a Mod-verified claim that GameSpot was going to be working on a new Ethics Policy, and that TheAndredal could have input. Within 12 hours, after some good points were brought up, an update to the thread was posted that stated: "Ben Howard saw this and has now stopped talking to me all together. Saying i somehow lied. Which is wrong. It doesn't look like they're going to listen to us after all. He removed himself from the conversation that we had and i've not recieved any update from them on this. If you really want to help me, send them emails." Ben Howard subsequently made a post clarifying his position, stating "He is not working on an ethics policy for us, that is something we continue to work on internally. I did mention that we have and will declare when preview travel and accomodation is paid for - as in the case of Danny O'Dwyer's trip for WWE last. Most preview trips are budgeted and paid for by us ourselves. This thread has become a (mostly) useful feedback thread however, so i can assure you we do read and listen to these threads."
If GameSpot Were 100% Honest With Us...
What would happen if Gamespot, IGN, and Kotaku were 100% honest with us? - by Gaming Wildlife
- Alex Navarro - Giant Bomb, GameSpot
- Michael Rougeau - Freelance, Kotaku, GameSpot, TechRadar, more
- Bradley Shoemaker - Giant Bomb, GameSpot
- Daniel Starkey - Eurogamer, GameSpot, Joystiq, Kotaku
- Jason Venter - Honest Gamers Editor in Chief, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, Joystiq
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This page was last modified on 25 February 2015, at 22:23.</li>