Today, Journalism Changed.
This isn’t something I would usually write up. For starters it isn’t actually about the games themselves, it’s about the journalistic face of the industry. Secondly, the outlets are involved are technically rivals. But this news is crazy, awesome, strange and odd.
Back in 2007, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men released on all the major platforms. Jeff Gerstmann, a Gamespot employee at the time, gave the game a rather negative review with a 6/10 rating. In the days after, Gerstmann was fired. Following that a handful of other Gamespot employees walked out on their positions. Now most people around the industry believed the firing was because of Eidos skinning the website with Dead Men ads and wanting the text of the review changed so Gamespot could keep their ad money. Neither side has really come clean on the issue, but we will come back to that later.
In the last few years, Gerstmann, along with some of the other ex-Gamespot writers, started Giantbomb. GB has been wildly praised by journalists and gamers alike for having some the most original content on web. They have grown to be one of the top games related sites in just a few years. Gamespots, after losing the faith of much of it’s readership and undergoing management changes, is now slowly back on the rise under the tutelage of brit industry legend John Davidson.
Now here is where todays announcement rolls in. Whiskey Media, who owned Giant Bomb, has been broken up. Not only are the Tested boys are off too work with Mythbusters (which is crazy enough as it is), Giant Bomb has been brought out by CBS – who own Gamespot. Crazy, right? Gerstmann and the Bombsquad have gone back to share offices with the company that fired him.
Now while Gerstmann might be laughing all the way to the bank, the industry and lost something in this move. Most independent video game reviews and opinion websites, like Hard Reset, don’t really get to the level of IGN or Gametrailers, or even Gamespot. Giantbomb manged to stay independent, retained journalistic integrity and change the way content is produced, especially in the video realm.
When it comes to the business side of gaming, I am always going to pessimistic. Larger companies are never going to be pro-consumer and all about the bottom line. On top of that GB were the one of the only sites hunting down stories and not regurgitating press releases and publisher spiel. As long as Giant Bomb stay Giant Bomb, all should be well, but we may also get a repeat of the 2007 incident. Gerstmann did state that they will still exist as an autonomous publication. However, we shall have to see what happens when the GB crew have the Gamespot team breathing back down their necks along with a bunch of CBS shareholders to appease.
Later today, Gerstmann and his new “boss” John Davidson will do a live, hopefully rather candid, live stream about the events of late 2007 and the Dead Men issue. We will hopefully have a few more details when that goes live.
Oh yeah, on top of that rumours of many staff being let go from 1UP – the second set of redundancies in less than a year. Today, video game journalism took a tumble – not necessarily for the better.