[Updated] The Day’s Big Story — Was GameSpot’s Top Reviewer Fired Because He Slammed ‘Kane & Lynch’?

UPDATED With Comments from CNET

Penny Arcade made a comic about the — rumor — last night that GameSpot was having trouble reconciling the site’s major ad deal with game publisher Eidos with the 6.0 review the site’s head reviewer gave Eidos’ advertised game, “Kane & Lynch.”

Kotaku had their own post up last night, connecting the dots while still saying the review causing the firing was a rumor.

Read Gerstmann’s written review of the game here. Watch his video review here.

Joystiq reported this morning that:

Jeff has confirmed his firing to us via e-mail, but says he’s “not really able to comment on the specifics of my termination.” He added that he’s “looking forward to getting back out there and figuring out what’s next.” We’re still digging.

Joystiq also got a no comment from GameSpot parent company CNET.

I’ve put in requests to Eidos and CNET myself, in hopes of finding out what Eidos’ deal with Gamespot and expectations for “Kane & Lynch” reviews really were. I’ll post anything I find out.

But, rest assured, any hint that a media outlet might reprimand a reviewer for a negative review of a game for which it is running ads is not sitting well with many gamers out there. Hopefully this story will be clarified so we can see what was really going on…

Update, 2:05PM: CNET director of public relations Leslie Dotson Van Every just dropped me a line.

I had asked: Separate from Gerstmann, there is the question of whether Eidos’ advertising deal with Gamespot/CNET would have involved any stipulations or expectations regarding the nature of Gamespot’s review of the Kane and Lynch game. Can you comment on whether there was Gamespot/CNET agreed to any restrictions on how Kane and Lynch would be reviewed on Gamespot?

She provided this company statement: “GameSpot takes its editorial integrity extremely seriously. For over a decade, GameSpot and the many members of its editorial team have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis.”

Update, 6:09 PMJoystiq’s Kyle Orland quotes a CNET spokeperson saying that Gerstmann was not fired at the behest of Eidos or any other advertiser. From his latest post:

While reiterating that CNET does not discuss personal employee matters with the press, [CNET spokesperson Sarah] Cain said directly that “we do not terminate employees based on external pressure from advertisers.” When asked specifically about whether any such pressure was even attempted on Eidos’ part, Cain had no comment.