Gerstmann Fallout – The Happy Kind
Firstly, Gerstmann is now a rockstar games journalist, a category I never imagined could exist. It will be exciting to see where he goes, and any site that does sign him will see their profile increased. He himself could benefit greatly from the debacle, which is a good thing.
The affair has people thinking about the role of advertising in games coverage, and that is another incredibly good thing. For all the cynics who say that advertisers pay the bills and That’s How It Is, the truth is that advertisers won’t pay shit unless the site has readers, and so the eyeballs are the site’s true rulers. If all you have is ads, since your reviews are basically big ads too, why would anyone bother reading?
So Gamespot can deny all they want that advertiser pressure was behind his dismissal – their reputation is tarnished, and their traffic and thus revenue will go down. (Yes, I know the short term result is more traffic, but that will pass.) It may not only be gamespot, the other big sites could see blast damage too. Let’s think about where this affair was first covered: Kotaku and Penny Arcade. I don’t have much good to say about Kotaku’s public service, but Penny Arcade is a shining example here. Not only do they publish an excellent comic, they are probably the best game reviewers out there – and that’s not their job at all. But then they periodically fire this beam of righteousness on deserving targets. Let’s not forget their advertising policy is a beacon unto others (they won’t accept ads from games they don’t like, so the ads are a form of endorsement). It’s probably the self-interested idealist talking here, but seeing as a lot of the things being discussed right now dovetail with things we have been talking about here, I can’t help but hope that the independent sites will benefit here. I guess we’ll see.
While we’re at it, there’s an interview with Gerstmann here, although he’s still not saying much.