When long-time GameSpot reviewer and editorial director Jeff Gerstmann was let go from the site last November—with sources pointing to his review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men as the catalyst for his termination—fingers were also pointed at executive Josh Larson, VP of games at parent company CNET. Larson, who replaced former Editor in Chief Greg Kasavin, was implicated by anonymous GameSpot employees to have had the “church-and-state” separation between the sales teams and the editorial team” “cracked” under his tenure. Whether the VP, Jeff’s supervisor at the time, was the key decision maker in letting Gerstmann go we can’t confirm, but we can confirm that Larson will be leaving the company next week.
Internal communication informing employees of the cut were forwarded to Kotaku last night, indicating that a “new management structure means that Josh Larson’s position as VP, Games is being eliminated and Josh will be leaving the company.” CNET announced last week that it would cut 10 percent of its work force, about 120 employees. We contacted GameSpot Editor in Chief Ricardo Torres to verify the news this morning.
Torres confirmed that Larson’s last day would be April 9, but declined to comment much further on the restructuring, citing the “internal” nature of the news.
It was clear that, at the time, Larson’s capabilities as editorial lead weren’t well regarded by some of the GameSpot staff. The anonymous “gamespot” commented at sister site Valleywag that Larson was “a suit […]who had no editorial experience and was only involved on the business side of things.” The anonymous commenter lamented that the presence of the sales team had become much more visible under Larson’s watch, with other contributors going on and off record with less than favourable comments of CNET management.
In the months that followed Gerstmann’s dismissal, GameSpot lost a sizable portion of its editorial staff, with reviewers Alex Navarro, Frank Provo, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker and Jason Ocampo leaving for other, sometimes unspecified opportunities. Torres told us that GameSpot continues to bring on new editorial talent and plans to continue its coverage “with the same breadth and depth we have in our previous 11 years.”