Drowning in a sea of net-wide vituperation and excoriation, Gamespot has finally issued a statement/FAQ on the recent firing of Jeff Gerstmann.

In brief, Gamespot says the firing was an internal matter unrelated to the Kane & Lynch review, and that Eidos had no hand in the termination. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, GS went on with admitting that the original review was edited to “bring it in line” with the score of 6/10 (which was not changed). And that the video review was pulled because of “poor sound quality”.

From reading various comments around the ‘net on that last one, I conclude that the sound was not impaired, but the overall quality of the video may not have been very good. In any case, Gamespot has since reposted the original.

Of course, this statement has in no way changed anyone’s mind as to the “real reason” for Gerstmann’s dismissal. It just seems to have inflamed the masses even more. As I wrote in my original post on the situation (The Gamespot Storm), the only thing most will accept now is what they already believe.

Considering what I’ve read up to this time, I am inclined to the opinion that the firing was a poorly-timed matter, and was not directly related to the original review.

On the other hand, as I mentioned in the earlier post, it could have been that last straw. I don’t have much doubt now that something was going on under the surface, and had been for awhile.

It also disturbs me that the review was “edited” after posting. It’s one thing to ask a reviewer to modify the piece. After all, a review is supposed to give a clear picture of a game. Few are so terrible as to have no redeeming features. And that modification should happen before publication.

Editing a published article, and that editing not done by the original author, casts doubt on the integrity of the entire review procedure. It also calls into doubt all the other reviews on the site.

Gamespot’s actions have been poorly-thought-out, reek of panic-stricken fire-control, and done nothing to reinstate themselves in gamers’ eyes. Nor is there anything they can do now to ameliorate the situation.

Eidos, while it may not have been “the power behind the scenes”, has engaged in its own scandalous action, posting fake “5-star” ratings on the Kane & Lynch website. Are they so concerned about the poor reviews generally that they have to descend into unethical and fraudulent behavior? That has just added more fuel to the conflagration, and done their credibility no good at all.

So where does that leave us? We have a major site that has given itself two black eyes and lost the faith of a lot of gamers. We have a major game company posting spurious high ratings on a product considered by the majority to be mediocre at best. And we have many gamers now become even more cynical and disillusioned by the state of game industry journalism.

Gamespot will ride out the storm. There may be other changes in management; that wouldn’t surprise me. Corporate always look for a scapegoat when they take a nasty hit.

In time, the firing of Jeff Gerstmann will be “old news”, and this particular inferno will die out. But it’s going to be awhile before anyone puts much trust in a Gamespot review.

I find the situation incredibly depressing, and am grateful there was nothing like this back in my days with CGW. And it’s terrifying to see how one mis-step can be blown up out of all proportion into a major incident in no time at all.

Regardless, nothing is likely to change because of this incident. Soon enough, it will be business as usual. That, perhaps, is the saddest thing of all.

Gamespot statement/FAQ