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Rumorang: Gerstmann-gate edition

Kyle Orland

We're sure you'll agree our reporting on the continuing controversy surrounding Gamespot's firing of Jeff Gerstmann has been quite extensive. Still, there are a few angles that have come up that we still feel a little questionable reporting on as fact, or even credible rumor. Still, they are getting play elsewhere around the web, so we'll let you have a little peek behind the curtain and in to the sausage-making world of the news process. Here's what we know and why we're a bit skeptical:

  • Some sites are reporting that Gamespot staffer Tim Tracy has also been fired and/or left the company, possibly for reasons related to Gerstmann's dismissal. The sole source for this rumor seems to be a cryptic post on Tracy's Gamespot blog where he appears behind a stack of shoeboxes with the footer, "It's been real." This could mean that he's no longer with the company ... but it could also means he just has a shoe fetish. We're working to get an official comment on the situation from Tracy or Gamespot and will let you know what we hear, but for the time being we don't want to speculate on what, if anything, this could mean.
  • Some commenters around the web are suggesting that the firing was due to the influence of some recent hires at CNET, specifically Executive Vice President Stephen Colvin and Director of Games & Entertainment Josh Larson. These commenters will point to Colvin's previous involvement with bastions of journalistic integrity like Maxim, Blender, and Stuff magazine (read: sarcasm!) and Larson's heavy career focus on marketing to gamers. This circumstantial evidence doesn't do much for us, and while we've heard some rumblings of their involvement from somewhat credible sources, nothing has been better than second hand information. We'll keep digging, but right now it's too early to implicate anyone specific (or in general, for that matter).
  • Finally, some commenters are claiming that Gerstmann wasn't fired because his Kane & Lynch review was negative in tone, but because he did not actually play the game sufficiently before reviewing it. The supposed evidence, as often happens with such allegations, is Jeff's Xbox Live Gamercard, which only has six achievements and 90 Gamerscore points for the game (some overstate this claim to say he only got one achievement. Fact check your rumors, people!) Reviewers often start reviews playing early code that might not have achievements unlocked. Gerstmann could have been playing on Microsoft's private PartnerNet system when reviewing the game, or simply been on a separate system/Gamertag when doing some of the playing. Furthermore, the content of both the text and video reviews seems to clearly indicate deep involvement with the game. We're waiting to hear back from Gerstmann on this issue directly, but until we do, it'll take more than a Gamercard to convince us Jeff was anything less than a professional in this matter.

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