Mom, make him stop! As hopefully the last 3,500 words on Gerstmanngate, Newsweek's N'Gai Croal ponders What It All Means. Look, if you want to spend a half hour revisiting The Godfather, Almost Famous, Wu-Tang Clan and George Bernard friggin Shaw in the post-Metacritic era all applied to some game reviewer getting fired, knock yourself out with Croal's meandering rumination on why GameSpot editorial director Jeff Gerstmann was fired shortly after publishing a negative review of an advertiser's game. For the rest of us, I've trimmed the references to Faust.
Gerstmann's termination is merely the symptom; the disease is the contempt in which you are held by any publisher who would attempt to intimidate you over your opinion and any business operation that refuses to support you in the face of such intimidation. This is considered an acceptable way to deal with the specialist press, in a way it would not be with the mainstream media.
The deal with the devil that the business side of enthusiast outlets struck long ago—taking advertising dollars from the very companies that they cover—has become increasingly Faustian in recent years. Metacritic or Game Rankings scores have rapidly become shorthand for product quality. As such, individual scores carry that much more weight—that goes double for heavily trafficked outfits like GameSpot — and publishers therefore fixate on any scores that might drag down that average.
There is still much to be revealed — it's rare that a single incident results in the firing of a beloved employee.