Monday, January 28, 2008

Is anyone going to pay the piper?

Now that the Gerstmann/GameSpot saga is over, or at least on the stale side, what have we learned as a gaming community? For those of you not familiar with the Gerstmann/Gamespot issue, here it is in a nutshell. Jeff Gerstmann was the Editorial Director of GameSpot, which meant he was the guy in charge of all the Editorials, or Reviews. Josh Larson, a market tracking guru at GameSpot got promoted to the head of the pack, meanwhile Steven Colvin, a guy who helped start Stuff Magazine, took over the Entertainment and Lifestyles group of GameSpot’s parent company CNET. With two marketing and advertising guys in charge, Gerstmann ended up loosing his job after he gave a bad review to one of GameSpot's major advertisers. Larson and Colvin call it coincidence, but two more longtime GameSpot reviewers left citing the Gerstmann issue and lack of transparency as their reasons. For more details, you can check anywhere on the web, but here is a great synopsis of the debacle by GameSpot rival 1UP.

The reason this is important is not only the corruption of paid-for-reviews, but also the enormous amount of money being spent to advertise a game, much less create one. Amadeo Plaza examines the incestuous relationship between advertisers and reviewers here, which might explain the amount of shiny games with great franchise names that are completely unplayable.

So at what point do game developers, designers and consumers find a way around this money machine? The price of board games, video games, or even a decent collection of any CCG precludes most of us from buying everything in order to give it a shot. The use of demos, micro-transaction free-play models, and subscription services are allowing some video games to be tested out by the consumer, but most video games and all other genres are still buyer-beware. Where does that leave the average consumer, much less the indie game studio?

1 comment:

Christine M said...

I hate all of these entities being so intwined that we can't even trust what are meant to be editorial reviews. At least there are reviewers willing to leave in order to expose the corruption.