GameSpot Fails To Disclose And Identify Affiliate Links
(Last Updated On: September 30, 2016)

Ever since #GamerGate happened it spawned a completely different landscape for keeping journalists and media organizations honest. The hashtag has individuals working hard to identify and notify standards organizations and federal institutions whenever media outlets breach regulation and commit unlawful acts. Well, recently a concerned reader notified us about GameSpot’s lack of disclosure regarding Amazon affiliate links.

The site is part of Amazon’s advertiser affiliate program. Their Amazon tag is: tag=gamespot-vg-20

They use the affiliate links on the game pages for the titles they cover, from Rare Replay to Just Cause 2. There are examples that you can see below.

If you check the link text for the Amazon click-through it definitely has the Gamespot affiliate tag, which is obvious if you check the code element for the Amazon button.

If you attempt to search the site for the Gamespot tag you won’t be brought to any instant articles with the tag because the way the widget is setup it’s tucked into JavaScript and doesn’t appear in the actual page source, so attempting to find the tag is a little difficult and requires manually combing through each page link to see where the affiliate tag appears.

According to a post from back in 2013, however, Gamespot has been using the Amazon affiliate tags for several years.

The affiliate links are used on the game page hubs but not in actual articles such as previews, promotional videos or reviews.

This may not seem like such a bad thing since the affiliate links aren’t explicitly on the pages containing the reviews, but they don’t even go through the basic courtesy of following Amazon’s advertiser affiliate terms of service requisite for disclosing that they’re part of the program.

According to the Amazon affiliate program operating agreement page

“You must, however, clearly state the following on your site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display of Content: “[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (].”

There is no ethics or advertising policy on GameSpot’s website. This is odd given that after GameSpot was at the center of the Gerstmann firing — which involved reviewer Jeff Gerstmann ging a game a mediocre review score while the publisher was advertising the game on the Gamespot website and he was fired for the review score [via Forbes] — it would seem like they would want to avoid any kind of controversy involving advertising and affiliate programs.

They do have a privacy policy linked to their parent company, CBS Interactive, along with a third-party advertising policy page. Neither the CBS privacy policy nor the CBS advertising page contain any mention of being part of Amazon’s affiliate program.

I attempted to reach out to GameSpot about the lack of disclosure regarding being part of the Amazon affiliate program but at the time of publishing this article they have not responded.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • DDD-kun

    Wake up, take care of chores, do a few levels on the dungeon crawler, make lunch, check news, run Luke Cage, do some email applications, fire off FTC complaints about Gamespot.

    Today is a good day.

  • non-article, go report on something useful

    • Reporting on websites breaking federal regulation is useful. 😉

  • C G Saturation

    Gamespot has a long record of being completely full of shit.

  • anopolis

    Gamespot being sneaky?!?! The Holy Hell ballz you say!!! I wont believe it, I can’t..were I to believe that, everything good and right in the world would be turned on its head,…next thing you’ll tell me CNN is I biased news group! or perchance, MSN is full of liberal asshats that define what it means to be intolerant, that social justice advocates aren’t usually the kindest folk to those that disagree with them!! that there aren’t more than two genders…I can’t go mind is blown, and i spilled my drink…shit…that stuff was costly.

  • WolfBlitzed

    Just. Add. Disclosures. That’s all anyone has ever really asked. Be honest about connections and who’s paying for what.

    Why is this so difficult to understand? If you’re so afraid to add one than maybe you shouldn’t be running the story in the first place. If you’re too stupid to add one, maybe you shouldn’t be doing anything like this at all.

  • Alistair

    I haven’t bought any more from Amazon since they own twitch, that legislation murder extreme violence games.

    And out right outlaw echhi games. So no love lost there.

    Gamespot going the wrong way is rather sad.

  • FlamingoJet

    I can see we didn’t make a big enough example out of Gawke for the other outlets to clean up their acts.

    Time to take ’em down boys.

  • Grey

    A gaming media outlet doing something highly questionable, unethical, or boarder line illegal? Ah, it must be any day of the week.