Type of site
Video game journalism
847 (December 2016)
May 1, 1996; 20 years ago (1996-05-01)
Pete Deemer, Vince Broady, Jon Epstein
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on video games. The site was launched on May 1, 1996, created by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein. It was purchased by ZDNet, a brand which was later purchased by CNET Networks. CBS Interactive, which purchased CNET Networks in 2008, is the current owner of GameSpot.
- International history
- Gerstmann dismissal
- GTA V controversy
- Notable staff
- Paid subscriptions
In addition to the information produced by GameSpot staff, the site also allows users to write their own reviews, blogs, and post on the site's forums.
In 2004, GameSpot won "Best Gaming Website" as chosen by the viewers in Spike TV's second Video Game Award Show, and has won Webby Awards several times. The domain gamespot.com attracted at least 60 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.
GameSpot was founded by Pete Deemer, Vince Broady and Jon Epstein in San Francisco, CA, out of an old travel agency building. Initially, GameSpot focused exclusively on PC games. Its sister site, VideoGameSpot.com, was launched in December 1996 to cover console games. In 1997, VideoGameSpot.com became VideoGames.com for a short period, and by 1998, the PC and console sections were united at GameSpot.com.
On October 3, 2005, GameSpot adopted a new design similar to that of TV.com, now considered a sister site to GameSpot.
A new layout change was adopted on October 2013.
GameSpot UK (United Kingdom) was started in October 1997 and operated until mid-2002, offering content that was oriented for the British market that often differed from that of the U.S. site. During this period, GameSpot UK won the 1999 PPAi (Periodical Publishers Association interactive) award for best website, and was short listed in 2001. Following the purchase of ZDNet by CNET, GameSpot UK was merged with the main US site. On April 24, 2006, GameSpot UK was relaunched.
In a similar fashion, GameSpot AU (Australia) existed on a local scale in the late 1990s with Australian-produced reviews. It ceased in 2003. When a local version of the main CNET portal, CNET.com.au was launched in 2003, Gamespot.com.au content was folded into CNET.com.au. The site was fully re-launched mid-2006, with a specialized forum, local reviews, special features, local pricings in A$, Australian release dates, and more local news.
GameSpot Japan in its current form launched in 2007. It provides Japanese video game industry news, previews, reviews, features, and videos as well as translated articles from the other GameSpot sites.
Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of the site, was fired on November 28, 2007. Immediately after his termination, rumors circulated proclaiming his dismissal was a result of external pressure from Eidos Interactive, the publisher of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, which had purchased a considerable amount of advertising space on GameSpot's website. Gerstmann had previously given Kane & Lynch a fair or undesirable rating along with critique. Both GameSpot and parent company CNET stated that his dismissal was unrelated to the review, but due to corporate and legal constraints cannot reveal the reason. A month after Gerstmann's termination, freelance reviewer Frank Provo left GameSpot after eight years stating that "I believe CNET management let Jeff go for all the wrong reasons. I believe CNET intends to soften the site's tone and push for higher scores to make advertisers happy."
GameSpot staffers Alex Navarro, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, and Vinny Caravella also left as a result of Gerstmann's termination. Davis co-founded Gerstmann's subsequent project, Giant Bomb, and was later joined by Shoemaker and Caravella. Navarro became the community manager at Harmonix and in 2010 joined up with Whiskey Media, a family of sites that includes Gerstmann's Giant Bomb site, to be part of their new site Screened.com, focusing on cinema and television. Navarro later returned to Giant Bomb, where he currently works as a Senior Editor.
On March 15, 2012, it was announced that CBS Interactive, the parent company of GameSpot operator CNET, had acquired the Giant Bomb and Comic Vine websites from Whiskey Media. As part of the deal, the non-disparagement agreement between Gerstmann and CNET was nullified, allowing him to finally speak publicly about his termination over four years prior. Later that evening on GameSpot's On the Spot web show, GameSpot VP John Davison appeared on camera with Gerstmann, marking Gerstmann's first appearance on the GameSpot web site since November 2007. In the segment, Gerstmann revealed that his firing was in fact related to the low review score he had given to Kane & Lynch, though his explanation cited other similar events that led up to the termination, including a 7.5 (good) rating given to Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction by Aaron Thomas, then an employee under Gerstmann.
GTA V controversy
In October 2013, GameSpot's Carolyn Petit was hit with 20,000 comments, many of them critical and violent, after Petit characterized Grand Theft Auto V as "politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic."
GameSpot's forums were originally run by ZDNet, and later by Lithium. GameSpot uses a semi-automated moderation system with numerous volunteer moderators. GameSpot moderators are picked by paid GameSpot staff from members of the GameSpot user community. Due to the size and massive quantity of boards and posts on GameSpot, there is a "report" feature where a normal user can report a violation post to an unpaid moderator volunteer. The ostensible purpose of the reporting feature is to deal more quickly with violations of the website's posting policy. GameSpot's ToS states that users must be aged 13 or older to post content and maintain an account. Proof of a user's age when he/she creates an account is not required. Proof of a moderator's age is also not required. All users must agree to GameSpot's ToS (terms of service) during registration. GameSpot's ToS (as they apply to the community forums) give moderators the power to use their own discretion when deciding if a posting violation has occurred.
In addition to the message board system, GameSpot has expanded its community through the addition of features such as user blogs (formerly known as "journals") and user video blogs. Users can track other users, thus allowing them to see updates for their favorite blogs. If both users track each other, they are listed on each other's friends list.
GameSpot formerly had a paid subscription service known as "GameSpot Complete". On February 21, 2006, the paid subscription model was changed. It now maintains two paid membership services: Total Access and Plus.
Total Access is essentially a replacement of GameSpot Complete, as it is the same price of US$5.95 per month or $39.95 per year and offers the same basic benefits. The second premium service, GameSpot Plus, is a cheaper, intermediate-level service.
On January 9, 2013, it was announced that the Paid Subscription model will no longer be accepting new subscribers, and current subscribers will not be able to renew after January 31, 2013.