Angry Robot

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.

One comment on "Gerstmann Fallout – The Happy Kind"

  1. Nadine says:

    It’s a hard thing.

    The film industry has no shortage of review sites and critics. Games are catching up, and fast, but those big names, those critics that are known the world over like Roger Ebert are lacking in the gaming journalism world. We refer to Penny Arcade so much because sometimes it literally feels like there are no superstar personalities that we can turn to for gaming critiques but them.

    I feel this is changing, slowly, but changing. Gamers are coming together in pockets and in groups, forming strong bonds with certain sites that represent what kind of gamer they are. The Escapist, Penny Arcade, Gamespot, IGN, 1UP. Sure, many serve the same audience, but niches develop around each filled with like-minded and hearted individuals. These sites in turn give back by producing icons for their core fanbases to attach themselves to. For example, The Escapist’s site has gained tremendous traffic and attention recently due to their acquistion of Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation Reviews. He’s a superstar personality who says the same thing as many review sites, but in such a unique and powerful way as to draw in numbers indie sites can only dream about.

    Things are changing, but one thing remains constant in this human condition we all partake in. We need leaders, we need faces and names to relate to as avatars of our deepest ideals and thoughts. They speak directly to our minds and translate our experiences into distilled expression. In most cases, this reveals humour, but since the whole concept of gaming is based on fun it’s not hard to see that humour is the best reflection of the gamer experience.

    That being said there is one other reason to explain why Yahtzee is loved so much and Penny Arcade is the godfather of gaming sites. It’s actually very simple.

    We agree with them.

Comments are closed.