"If it's true," are three words you need to care about before reading further, but according to gossip site Kotaku, GameSpot's executive editor Jeff Gerstmann was given his marching orders at some point in the last 24-48 hours, with the scuttlebutt fingering his 6.0 score of Eidos's Kane & Lynch.
Kane & Lynch is an action game about a 'flawed' mercenary and a medicated psychopath on a 'violent and chaotic arc of redemption and revenge,' i.e. "shooter spree" for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The first I heard of this game was when BAFTA nominated it for the Game Of The Year Award on 23 October 2007. At the time this seemed odd to me because I'd never heard of the game: hardly surprising under the circumstances because it wasn't released at the time and has only just now (four weeks later) gone on sale to the general public. This sort of thing alerts you to the fact that somebody's marketing department is getting over-zealous.
Gerstmann's 6.0 carried a fair tag on GameSpot's scale, i.e. slightly above average, and reasonably well north of bad.
According to Shacknews in this posting, which cites "reports" (but to be fair, doesn't source them) Eidos reacted to the review by threatening to pull a substantial ad contract. Shacknews says it "can confidently confirm via its own sources that Gerstmann was indeed fired yesterday from his position at GameSpot." Note: that's a claim that the firing happened, not the reason for it.
Meanwhile, GameSpot's readership has reacted badly to the news and is voicing its discontent by using GameSpot's 'Player Reviews' function to rate the game at '1', the lowest score offered by GameSpot's system. GameSpot's forum must also make for particularly difficult reading for its owners, CNET, with one reader saying: "Eidos and GameSpot have proven our culture is too much based on the almighty dollar... a sad day for journalism", another reader stating: "I'll never visit GameSpot again"
This firing deserves critical examination, especially with ugly rumours circulating. It's even possible the anonymous rumour-mongers are just Gerstmann supporters sowing the seeds of discontent. In a he-said, she-said argument, you can never be too sceptical.
But if Eidos was directly or indirectly "manufacturing consent" via GameSpot's advertising department again, don't assume that's true, but if it somehow turns out to be true, keep your pitchforks handy.
Note: Part of this blog first appeared on our sister-site PC World
PS: Gaming comic Penny Arcade has a good take on this.