|Type of site||Video game journalism|
|Registration||Optional (free and paid)|
|Launched||May 1, 1996|
|Alexa rank||1,000 (March 2014[update])|
GameSpot is a video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on certain 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.
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. The forums are partially shared with those on GameFAQs, another website owned by CNET.
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 for several years. Other gaming websites such as IGN, 1UP.com, GamesRadar, and GameSpy have been its biggest rivals. The domain gamespot.com attracted at least 60 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.
GameSpot's main page has links to the latest news, reviews, previews, and portals for Nintendo (Wii U and Nintendo 3DS), Xbox (Xbox 360 and Xbox One), PlayStation (PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4), and PC games. It also includes a search engine for users to track down games of interest. In September 2009, GameSpot started reviewing and cataloging iPhone, Android, and other mobile games. GameSpot has also covered the following platforms in past years: Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Xbox, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and N-Gage, among others.
- 1 History
- 2 Reviews and rating system
- 3 Shows and podcasts
- 4 Community features
- 5 Gerstmann dismissal
- 6 Paid subscriptions
- 7 GameCenter
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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.
A new layout change was adopted on October 2013, this time causing controversy among the site's user base due to a generally perceived decrease in readability and usability, paired with a widely reported plethora of bugs and browser incompatibilities, leading an increasing number of users to abandon the site as their source for game reviews and information. This situation is still unresolved as of February 2014, as the remaining users continue to post daily about their dissatisfaction with the new layout and its problems.
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 (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. It had recently added a larger video player and community forums to the site.
- Greg Kasavin – executive editor and site director of GameSpot, who left in 2007 to become a game developer. He became a producer at EA and 2K Games but he is currently working for Supergiant Games as writer and creative director for Bastion.
- Jeff Gerstmann – editorial director of the site, dismissed from GameSpot on November 28, 2007 for undisclosed reasons, after which he started Giant Bomb. Following the announcement of the purchase of Giant Bomb by CBS Interactive on March 15, 2012, Jeff was allowed to reveal that he was dismissed by management as a result of publishers threatening to pull advertising revenue due to less-than-glowing review scores being awarded by GameSpot's editorial team.
Reviews and rating system
In January 2001, GameSpot introduced video reviews for games, which are released for all major games. Other games that the editors believe deserve special mention (for example, the very worst games) are reviewed by video as well. Video reviews mostly re-emphasize the written review text with clips of gameplay embedded.
GameSpot has a detailed guide that explains its reviewing policies, as well as answering frequently asked questions about its reviews.
When GameSpot Complete was introduced in late 2001, older reviews were restricted to Complete members; however, those reviews became available to everyone again three months later.
All games were judged on five different categories: Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, Value, and Reviewer's Tilt. Each category is assigned an integer score from one to ten, and these five integers are combined using a weighted average to arrive at an overall score. Should a game score at least 9.0, it is designated as "superb," and given "Editor's Choice" recognition. Although many games achieve this status each year, only eight in GameSpot's history have ever received a perfect ten.
On June 25, 2007, GameSpot began assigning scores by increments of 0.5 instead of 0.1. It also ended its practice of giving sub-scores for gameplay, graphics, sound, value, and tilt. Instead, user reviews now possess a medal system that permits the reviewer to highlight given characteristics of the game such as its artistic design, original soundtrack, or difficulty. GameSpot believes that this will create a more detailed rating system than the previous one. The only change in terms is the new term "Prime" for games that receive a 10.0 score, replacing "Perfect." Then Jeff Gerstmann blogged about the change, answering questions regarding it.
While games are rated mostly with regard to how they compare to the other games available on their specific platforms, games released simultaneously for multiple platforms are also compared between systems, which often results in differing scores being given to the same game depending on the system, usually due to the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each platform.
Game of the Year
Every year, GameSpot holds the Game of the Year awards, which recognize achievements in the gaming industry. Past years have honoured both positive and negative (in the form of "Dubious Honors", containing categories such as "Most Disappointing Game", "Worst Game Everyone Played", "Best Game No One Played" and "Most Despicable Product Placement"), although as of the 2012 awards, all awards go to positive achievements. GameSpot also allows users on the site to vote for the winners of the "Readers' Choice" or "People's Choice" awards. From 1998-2001, GameSpot selected one PC game and one console game for the top title, but from that point forward, they would select one single game from all mediums.
GameSpot's winners for Game of the Year have been so far (the console games from 1997 to 1999 were chosen by videogames.com) :
- 1996: Diablo (PC)
- 1997: Total Annihilation (PC)
- 1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64) and Grim Fandango (PC)
- 1999: Soulcalibur (Dreamcast) and EverQuest (PC)
- 2000: Chrono Cross (PlayStation) and The Sims (PC)
- 2001: Grand Theft Auto III (PlayStation 2) and Serious Sam: The First Encounter (PC)
- 2002: Metroid Prime (GameCube)
- 2003: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
- 2004: World of Warcraft (PC)
- 2005: Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
- 2006: Gears of War (Xbox 360)
- 2007: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
- 2008: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PlayStation 3)
- 2009: Demon's Souls (PlayStation 3)
- 2010: Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) 
- 2011: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) 
- 2012: Journey (PlayStation 3)
- 2013: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (Nintendo 3DS)
Worst Game of the Year/Flat-Out Worst Game
Each year, until its discontinuation in 2011, GameSpot handed out the Flat-Out Worst Game award (known as Worst Game of the Year before 2003). Like Game of the Year, GameSpot allows Readers' Choice awards for Flat-Out Worst Game.
- 1996: Catfight (PC)
- 1997: Conquest Earth (PC)
- 1998: Spawn: The Eternal (PlayStation) and Trespasser (PC)
- 1999: Superman (N64) and SkyDive! (PC)
- 2000: Spirit of Speed 1937 (Dreamcast) and Blaze & Blade (PC)
- 2001: Kabuki Warriors (Xbox) and Survivor (2001 video game) (PC)
- 2002: Jeremy McGrath Supercross World (GameCube), Gravity Games Bike: Street Vert Dirt (PS2, Xbox), Mortal Kombat Advance (Game Boy Advance) and Demonworld: Dark Armies (PC)
- 2003: Gods and Generals (PC)
- 2004: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (PC)
- 2005: Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green (Xbox, PC)
- 2006: Bomberman: Act Zero (Xbox 360)
- 2007: Hour of Victory (Xbox 360)
- 2008: M&Ms Kart Racing (Wii, DS)
- 2009: Stalin vs. Martians (PC)
- 2010: Fighters Uncaged (Xbox 360)
Note: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing was released in 2003.
GameSpot rarely gives a game a score of 10. Since the 1990s, GameSpot has awarded 10s to the following games:
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, November 21, 1998)
- SoulCalibur (DreamCast, August 5, 1999)
- Chrono Cross (PlayStation, November 18, 1999)
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PlayStation 2, October 28, 2001)
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PlayStation 3, June 12, 2008)
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii, May 23, 2010)
- Grand Theft Auto IV (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, April 29, 2008)
Shows and podcasts
- GameSpot Gameplay -Gamespot.com (US/international) Weekly podcast with a loose game show format, discussing news, trending topics and gaming history. Hosted by Senior Editor Kevin VanOrd, with a random assortment of other editors, usually featuring a guest from the games industry.
- On the Spot  - Gamespot.com (US/international) weekly live video show with alternating hosts. Was replaced in 2009 by Today On the Spot, a pre-recorded show that was shown three times a week. Returned to live On the Spot format in April 2011. Now on hiatus.
- Crosshairs  - GameSpot AU's weekly video show hosted by Dan Chiappini. Now on hiatus.
- The Hotspot  - Gamespot.com (US/international) Now defunct official podcast from the US offices. Hosts have included Rich Gallup, Jeff Gerstmann, Brendan Sinclair, Vinny Caravella and Tom Magrino. The last show aired on April 2012 as a farewell to the fans.
- The OzSpot  - GameSpot AU's weekly audio podcast hosted by Laura Parker.
- GameSpot News - GameSpot AU's Daily News Show hosted by Jess McDonell.
- House of Horrors - GameSpot AU's weekly show featuring Horror Games hosted by Jess McDonell and Zorine Te.
- Top 5 Skyrim Mods of the Week - GameSpots weekly show featuring a compiled collection of fan made mods for the Elder Scrolls game Skyrim, hosted by Cam Robinson and Seb Ford.
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.
One distinct feature of the GameSpot community is the ability of GameSpot Total Access and Plus Access users to create their own user-created board, which can either be set to public or private. The board's creator can appoint their own moderators, and also can display HTML markup at the top of their board. Also, all users have the ability to create or join what is known as a "Union". A Union consists of a user-created board which is attached to an editorial front, as well as a homepage with news bulletins and members lists.
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.
On November 11, 2008, GameSpot updated its forum software. Some of the changes include a wider page and a sidebar.
On March 23, 2012, GameSpot and GameFAQs separated from each other making both sites completely independent.
Registered users have their own profiles which they can make visible to only themselves, friends, or everyone through their preferences. Profiles can be useful and convenient to the user themselves and to others. In a profile a blog can be started and updated. The blog is shared with the user's TV.com, MP3.com, and MovieTome profiles. Other users can report blog posts to the moderators.
Users can keep a games list within their GameSpot profile which allows them (and others) to track games in four different categories. Users can keep track of news and updates by adding games to the "Tracked Games" list. "Collection" is used for games which the user owns. The "Wish List" is for games users want to try out or intend to buy in the future. Any game can be added to a wish list whether it has already been released or it is pending for release in the future. Users can indicate which games they are currently playing by adding them to the "Now Playing" list.
Emblems are awarded to users by completing various tasks. Some emblems show a user's status (free subscription versus paid subscription). Other emblems denote contest winners, voting participants, staff/moderators, and console aficionados.
Once one has a GameSpot profile, one can edit it, but not delete it. Asking a moderator to delete one's profile gets mixed replies since there appears to be no official posted GameSpot policy regarding the matter. Aspects of one's profile, like one's blog, can be set to "private and viewable by friends only" or "hidden to everyone." However reader reviews are always "public" unless individually deleted by the user who posted them.
Unions act as online communities within GameSpot. Each union has a blog-style front page and a message board pertaining to a specific topic. Union members post messages and topics in the board and other members of the union can respond. Each union has a level and can receive emblems for growing, being active, or posting good news topics.
Union members can also be awarded ranks within a union, currently there are three: Leader, Officer, and Recruit. Leaders are similar to Administrators of the union, and have the power to modify anything about the union, including the name, avatar and banners, and moderate topics/messages. Officers have the ability to moderate topics and messages and any other abilities the leader wishes to grant to the Officers. Recruits are regular members with the ability to take part in topic and message posting.
Prominent unions include the "World Wrestling Everything union (WWEv)", "Social Cafe union", "The RPG Temple", "The Gamer's Planet", "Film Appreciation Union" (or FAU) and the influential "Gamespot User Fellowship Union" (or GUFU).
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.
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.
The main advantage of a paid subscription is that ads are removed that would otherwise appear with a free GameSpot account. It bears mentioning that some ads will still appear with a paid subscription if GameSpot sponsors a contest and that contest is then sponsored by an advertiser. For example, in 2008, Stride gum ads appeared throughout the website, even if the user was a paying subscriber.
The major difference between the old and new membership services is the lack of GameSpot Complete's 10 percent discount at EBGames.com. There was much discontent over this decision, and for a while, GameSpot claimed to have an unspecified replacement in the works. No further details were ever provided.
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.
GameCenter was a gaming service which allowed players to host their own customized servers, chat with their friends, and play an assortment of PC games online with players all around the world, all while tracking users' stats. As of March 6, 2006, the GameCenter subscription service has been discontinued and merged into the GameSpot Total Access service. As a result, GameSpot is discontinuing support of the GameCenter client, but will continue tournament events for Total Access members.
The most recent GameCenter has no relation to the original GameCenter, which CNET Networks ran from 1995 to 2001 as a competitor to GameSpot. Shortly after CNET Networks acquired ZDNet and GameSpot in 2000, the original GameCenter was disbanded.
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