Editorial - Can't We All Just Get Along?
In this weekend's editorial piece we take a look back at the fallout of the Sony E3 briefing and the reactions from fanboys and brand-lovers alike. Sony's stock has dropped nearly 20% since the official unveiling of the PS3, its title lineup, and especially, its familiar-looking controller.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo this year has been particularly vitriol-fueled. I'm not sure if perhaps the newly implemented lockdown on booth babes has created an atmosphere of heightened aggression or not, but whatever the cause, there sure seems to be more saber-rattling than I can recall from previous E3 gatherings. Strangely, the target of our impotent armchair wrath this year is none other than the prior Queen of the Prom, Sony. To say that the PlayStation 3 has ruffled feathers is to exercise ones skill at understatement. Fanboys of all shapes, aromas, and flavors have been frothing in excess over their illusions of impending victory by proxy. Is this surprising? Not in the least. Is this the correct way to react? Again I say, not at all. However, why this is the incorrect reaction to Sony's announcements goes far beyond simple tact and courtesy.
Here's roughly how I see things: Last year, Sony went about making many promises, mostly in the form of an empty box and several reels of pre-rendered cut scenes. All of their fans went wild, took off their clothes, and reveled in a disturbing display of anticipatory lust. All of their opponents went wild too, but in this case, it was "territorial-monkey"-wild, complete with howls of derisive projectile spittle. Fast forward to this year's convention: Sony delivers a bundle that doesn't look at all like previous claims, "creatively liberates" some of the better ideas that the competition has going, and tags the whole package with a 600-dollar price tag. Sony fans muster a half-hearted cheer, similar to the kind you hear on Christmas day when kids open presents from grandparents only to discover socks, and enemies of the PlayStation Empire collapse in a hallucinatory fit, incapable of processing the raw feedback their cerebellums are putting out in an effort to say, "I told you so" in as arrogant a way as possible. That's more or less how this whole situation sits at this moment, mmmyep. Tomfoolery abounds.
What makes me laugh though is hearing all the prophecies of doom from those bold enough to envision a world without the PlayStation brand name. Each and every one of them, from the stalwart Nintendo neophyte to the majestic Microsoft magnate, and even those smarmy PC users – they all chant the same refrain: "DEATH TO SONY!"
Why do I laugh at this? Well, there couldn't possibly be anything worse for gaming than the eradication of a gaming platform, and I laugh because this seems to be such a common sense point that very few fanboys actually get. Listen closely, kids,"IF YOUR SYSTEM WINS, EVERYONE LOSES."
It's like the first rule of genetics; spread your code apart. It's the same with games, we want more games, we want more systems to play them on, we want more variety, and above all else, we want more happy gamers. Think about it – if there are fewer games and fewer different ways to play them, then there will be less people making games, and less of a chance that truly amazing titles will get made. So why would any of us really want even one game system to fail? Realistically, we should all be spending as much energy cheering on the Phantom as we do mocking the PS3. There's a really dirty word to describe the ideal vision of a die-hard fanboy: monopoly. The concept of the One Ring didn't work out so well for Sauron, nerds, so why do you all seem so keen to place your game system of choice in the same role?
Personally, I think the beating Sony is going to take in this round of the "console wars" is exactly what the company needs. It will force them out of complacency, and perhaps the PS4 will deliver in ways we can't even begin to imagine. Look at Nintendo – did they not do exactly the same thing when the PS1 came out? They sat on their brand name, and Sony spanked them. Now they've re-imagined their way back into the spotlight, and we all get the Wii to noodle with. What if Nintendo had lost that battle to such an extent that they had ceased to exist, though? We'd all be out one oddly named console with a nifty little controller. I don't like thinking about that, the idea of creative potential lost like that. Yet the poisonous ravings of countless forum trolls would foster exactly that situation. "I hope Sony fails so badly the company folds." Hey, I hate the idea of rootkits as much as the next guy, but let's keep things in perspective. If Sony were to go under, that's one less competitor to keep Nintendo and Microsoft honest. Face it; all three companies need each other, in a twisted sort of symbiosis.
I think, in the end, it all comes down to this: the more you crave the complete collapse of a gaming company, the more you're really craving the collapse of diversity and quality.
As gamers, I believe it's our responsibility to grow up just enough to accept that even though we may have our home-team faves, we still need to at least respect the other side just for the fact that they exist and make things interesting. What would hockey be if there was only one team? Baseball? Basketball? I don't know about you, but I'd just as soon not watch a bunch of grown men playing with themselves. Take that analogy over to our side of the fence, and you're faced with the idea of a bunch of geeks playing with themselves. Even creepier. I guess my point is this: Love your Xbox 360, your Nintendo Wii, your Alienware PC, whatever pushes your buttons or vice versa; system pride is fine. Don't wish death upon a rival company just because you feel it bolsters your fanboy credibility, though.
Always remember; even if you think some other company sucks, at least it gives your team a target.