"I felt like it was just time for me to go," Navarro told Joystiq in an exclusive interview. " Certainly [the decision to leave] had a lot to do with the whole Jeff [Gerstmann] situation. ... I wouldn't have left if this situation hadn't gone down the way it did. ... Sometimes you just realize a place isn't for you anymore, you know?"
Navarro has been a mainstay on the site since early 2003, writing hundreds of reviews and appearing regularly on video podcast The Hotspot. His last day at the site will be Jan. 24.
Navarro refused to discuss his take on CNET's public explanation of the circumstances surrounding Gerstmann's firing, out of respect for those still working at the site. "You probably saw the blog post I put up when things went down, not to mention the heap of other blog posts the edit team and other members of the staff put up," he said. "I think the sentiment was pretty clear." In a Nov. 30 blog post, Navarro compared his situation in the wake of the firing to a game of SimCity where "someone hit the disaster button for me."
Though he's leaving, Navarro said he still respects those Gamespot staffers that are trying to make the best of the situation. "There are a lot of people over there still trying to work hard and get through this, keep the name and the reputation of the site alive," he said." Obviously that's not an easy thing right now, but they're still working their asses off trying to keep the dream alive. ... Part of the reason I felt like I had to go now was that I wasn't necessarily keeping up the same level of passion anymore, and that it wasn't fair to those guys to stick around there if I wasn't on board all the way."
Navarro's departure comes in the wake of a similar decision to move on by longtime Gamespot freelancer Frank Provo. When asked if other staffers might follow their lead, Navarro said he "wouldn't be shocked ... but I can't say I out and out expect it."
In announcing the news to the press, Gamespot Editor-in-Chief Ricardo Torres said Navarro was "a good guy [and] a hard worker. We're gonna miss him."
As for his future plans, Navarro said he's "just going ride it out a bit" for the time being while he considers positions in journalism and game development. "It was a tough decision to let go of something [I've] been so thoroughly attached to for this many years," he said. "It's a crying shame that things went down the way they did, but like I said, I think my time had just come, the time to let it go."