Giant Bomb to remain editorially independent

Thursday, 15 March 2012 23:41 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Giant Bomb’s acquisition by Gamespot parent company CBS Interactive will not result in its closure or a change in editorial direction, founder Jeff Gerstmann has said.

In a livestream, Gerstmann and GameSpot VP John Davison both assured users that the two sites are not going to be “merged” in any way.

“We’re not folding back into Gamespot, we’re not going to start posting our stuff there,” Gerstmann said.

“This is about Giant Bomb becoming a better Giant Bomb. Basically keep doing what we’re doing and then hitting [Gamespot] up to make sure we’re getting what we need to make it even bigger, even weirder.”

The pair said the deal had been in the works for a while, and that both went into the 2011 holidays expecting it to go ahead, but only got final confirmation yesterday.

The Review Scandal

Gerstmann said he’d had no opportunity to talk about his high profile 2007 firing from Gamespot due to non-disparagement clauses in his termination agreement, but that both parties appreciated the need to air the issue as part of the acquisition.

Gerstmann was Gamespot’s editorial director, primarily responsible for reviews, at a time when the site was going through several changes.

“We had a new management team in place around here who hadn’t really worked with an editorial team very closely,” Gerstmann said.

“Working in tandem with that we were working on rolling out a new scoring system and we went from this arcane math formula.”

Gamespot’s original review scoring system used a weighted formula which unfortunately resulted in a small range of scores appearing – and frequently being misinterpreted. The new system, used ever since, uses a one to ten range with half point incerements. The average review score on Gamespot dropped sharply as a result of a broader range of scores being awarded.

The Kane & Lynch: Dead Men review for which Gerstmann has become notorious was not the first major release under the new system, but it was the first to attract major publisher attention.

“The publisher threatened to pull advertising money,” Gerstmann confirmed. “That happens a lot in this industry.”

The pair said standard practice is to “stand by your man and eventually it blows over” but in this case, things went wrong.

Gerstmann said the new management team “wasn’t experienced in dealing with those kinds of issues”, and called him away for a serious chat.

“A lot of crazy things were said to me, threats as to what was going to happen to me as a result,” he said.

“Things were tense around the office.”

Nevertheless, business continued as usual until November when Gerstmann was suddenly fired.

“They felt they couldn’t trust me in the role,” he said.

“We did what an editorial team does. We were completely honest. There wasn’t anything shady happening inside of Gamespot editorial.

“This management team buckled when faced with seeing a lot of advertising dollars walk out the door. Just a few simple mistakes from people who didn’t have a clear picture of what we did for them.”

Davison and Gerstmann both mentioned putting the past behind them and looking forward to sharing office space.