After awarding a score of 7.5 to Ratchet & Clank Future, 8.0 to Uncharted and, most notoriously, 8.8 to Twilight Princess, GameSpot haven’t exactly been popular with the fanboys recently. I’ve rarely seen such bile spewed on forums over a review than for the Ratchet and Zelda scores in particular.
But however you may feel over a difference of opinion on a game that you happen to like, the news that Jeff Gerstmann (he of the Zelda review) may have been fired over an accurate review of Kane & Lynch should be considered a travesty. Especially so if it comes out, as has been implied, that it was because of complaints from sponsors who threatened to pull advertising. Not only have GameSpot lost one of their most popular and likable editors, but they will have also done irreparable damage to their reputation.
The site has a reputation for revisionism – notoriously the bump in their Shenmue score after complaints – but any past changes have been made because of genuine error or misjudgements from people who have played the game objectively themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t become a habit, but to kowtow to advertisers over a score that is in the same ballpark as everyone else (besides the fact that 6.0 isn’t a ‘bad’ score, as their own scale says) is just unacceptable. There are other advertisers and ones like Eidos should take note of the fact that this wasn’t an anomalous score and any backlash will hurt them as much as it does GameSpot.
I hope that we get some official comment from GameSpot soon, because I know many won’t be going back if this really happened as has been reported.