This kind of thing just makes me shake my head. There's this... well, I'll just let Chris Kohler of Game|Life explain it:
Numerous sources are reporting tonight that Jeff Gerstmann, a longtime editor at game enthusiast publication GameSpot, was let go from the site yesterday -- over, of all things, his review of the game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.
Sources say that when Eidos, the publisher of the game, saw Gerstmann's 6.0 review score, they threatened to pull all of their advertising from the site. GameSpot is currently bedecked in interactive banners from Kane & Lynch.
I've been reading about this issue both among the private circle of game journalists that hang out at our secret clubhouse and on the Internet at large and I have to say that I'm glad most people are behind Jeff on this one. In fact, what really makes me happy is that a lot of gamers know who Jeff is in the first place. All too often I hear my friends and general online folks talk about "the GameSpot review" or "the AMN review" of a certain game, as if the reviews are coming from the faceless corporation itself. I hardly ever hear the name behind the review mentioned (unless it's for a game that the rabid gamers feel should have been scored higher, but that's another soapbox for another day). I know Jeff will land on his feet in the end, but it's still a shame this had to happen.
I do find myself wondering how much flack GameSpot, its parent company CNET, and Eidos will take from the court of public opinion, however. Advertisers should never have a say in editorial/review content. Most of the marketing departments with which I've done business know and respect the line in the sand, as it were. In fact, after I gave one game a particularly good review I actually received a follow-up e-mail from the PR firm handling the game asking if I had really truly liked it considering that most other reviews had been harsh. Honest reviews keep everybody happy in the long run. Pulling advertising over a review score may recoup a little money and throw some weight around right now, but will end up costing so much more later on down the line.