It certainly sucks to be you right now, Sony. All that PSN hacking nonsense can’t have been very good for business; you’re being sued and investigated for it by multiple parties, you’ve shut off the ability for many indie developers to get their revenue and cost yourself and other companies tons of money in the process. On top of that, you’ve also made it a lot harder for people to trust you in the future, and you’ve caused a load of implications about security and personal information that’s quite frankly a tiny bit over my head.
The worst part of all of this for me is that I don’t feel sorry for you.
When PSN went down, it provided endless entertainment for me and my friends, who were huddled over Lee’s iPad reading out tweets. Whoever tweeted Major Nelson asking why the PSN was down, you won the game and we salute you. Granted, I didn’t know at the time that it was going to last as long as it has done, but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. After all, it was more or less Sony’s fault that it happened. When you tout your console as being unhackable, you’re setting a challenge to a community who’ll then go out of their way to prove you wrong. When you then threaten to sue them and demand the names and information of everyone who visited the site giving out the information that allowed people to hack their consoles, and try to get Twitter to reveal the identity of everyone who tweeted the PS3’s private key, you just prove how out of touch you are and set yourself up for a downfall. Declaring that no one would hack your console, and then trying to sue whoever did? Are you really surprised that some people would set out to retaliate and show you up in response? Why didn’t you even update your security measures that you were told were outdated, or do a better job of encrypting personal data on the serves, instead of leaving a good deal of it in plain .txt files? It simply baffles me.
When you came out with the original Playstation, back in the bygone age when games being in three-dimensions was unprecedented, you were the plucky newcomer up against the increasingly arrogant Nintendo; they may have bettered Sega time and again, but you made them look outdated with their reliance on expensive cartridges on a less powerful console. Then comes E3 2006, after you’d provided two of the most memorable and successful consoles in gaming history, and you manage to make yourselves the most arrogant company around. You also managed to look completely ridiculous and out of touch by unveiling an incredibly expensive console, telling us we’d want to get second jobs just so we could afford to buy one, then created that year’s most popular memes by looking like colossal idiots and shouting about massive damage, giant enemy crabs and Riiiiiiiiiiiidge Racer! Sure, Nintendo and Microsoft have had their terrible conferences too, but that was a pivotal moment for you; you had the change to still prove you were the company the others should be gunning for, but instead you managed to shoot yourself in the foot.
There’s not specifically anything wrong with the PS3, or for that matter the PSP, it’s just Sony’s arrogance before and after their launch that just keeps turning me off. Their arrogance just pisses me off; especially when they run their mouth off about Microsoft and Nintendo every chance they get then copy everything they do but worse.
“Wow, Nintendo sure are ridiculous with those motion controls! No one’s going to want to use them, they’re stupid.”
“Hey, we’ve got this thing called SIXAXIS… Basically it’s like motion controls, but you tilt the controller uncomfortably in a way that mostly breaks the immersion, and we took out rumble in order to accommodate it because rumble is last generation and does nothing to help the gaming experience.”
“So yeah, uh, SIXAXIS is barely used and mostly poorly implemented, but we’re bringing back rumble you guys! Meanwhile, achievements are pointless and they’ll never catch on.”
“Look! We have trophies! They’re like achievements, but without anything that people like about them, and they’re mostly as enticing and addicting to the player as shit-covered skittles! On the other hand, Nintendo aren’t going to achieve anything with appealing to the casual market, and motion control has man-tits and erectile dysfunction.
“Guess what we’ve made that’s totally unique! It’s this thing called ‘Move’, and it’s nothing like the Wiimote because this has a glowing ball that changes colour! We’re also going to make a bunch of casual games specifically for it and vaguely try and appeal to the casual market. However, digital distribution is a smelly pirate hooker who should go back to its home on Whore Island.
“Introducing the PSPGo! It’s like a PSP, but everything is digitally distributed; the games cost more than physical copies at retail and Minis are expensive and sent out to die. Also, we’ll promise free digital copies for games you already have on UMDs then cancel that for no reason! It’s literally irredeemable and we’re sending it out to die! In the meantime, the mobile market is a loser; I had sex with its mother last week, and she said it was adopted.”
“Hey, so we’ve got these things called Xperia Play, and… where’s everyone going?”
Then there’s the matter of their marketing and advertising; before recently, most of it was horribly misguided, moronic and in some cases even offensive. Sony’s failed marketing is for the most part just as famous as their use of Kevin Butler; that advert with the creepy baby toy, the “White is better” PSP advert, the PSP advert with the squirrels, the list goes on. Sony botch marketing campaigns like Kotick ruins franchises. At this point, I know people are going to mention Kevin Butler; the VP of Whatever-Is-Relevant-For-The-Advert in the “It Only Does Everything” campaign. He may be awesome, but you have to keep in mind that Kevin Butler is a character played by an actor, and that he’s actually the creation of a company called Deutsch/LA; in a rare intelligent move by Sony, they hired someone else to sell their consoles for them, and it worked. Not that I have any faith in that lasting any longer; he’ll be run into the ground sooner rather than later, and they then bungled anything positive they achieved with Butler by introducing Marcus Rivers; a character so annoying and offensive that he’s more likely to caused PSPs to be destroyed rather than sold. It’s easier to justify why the bit in Resident Evil 5 with the natives wearing tribal skirts and carrying spears wasn’t racist than it is to justify Marcus Rivers.
After all that, it’s probably not that hard to see why I’m not only unsurprised at the PSN débâcle but unsympathetic about it too. It just seems to me that the hacking came about because of their attitude towards their security and the hackers, and their inability to realise the potential consequences of their actions. Their attitude set themselves up to be taken down, and as a result, they’ve screwed over millions of consumers and many of their partners in the industry. After all, think of all the money those partners have lost through the network being down, or all those sales indie developers have lost and won’t be able to recuperate Sony appear to be doing very little to help anyone else out or compensate developers for their loss; instead they’re only serving themselves by providing temporary free access to PSN Plus and providing free games that are basically used as extended adverts for upcoming or recent sequels. In other words, Sony’s only real action is to try to make themselves more money to make up for their own losses, not anyone else. That’s simply disgusting, and actually kind of reprehensible behaviour, and it just eliminates any positive feeling I had towards the company.
I was a big fan of the latter-day PSOne, and the PS2 gave me some of my favourite moments in gaming, but since the PS3, Sony have become a company I’ve found myself increasingly unable to defend. From everything I’ve mentioned in this article to the stuff I haven’t, like the rabid Sony fanboys who’ll leap to the company’s defence over everything to the point that they give death threats to writers who give Sony exclusives anything below a perfect score (and in some cases even when they do) and attack anyone who doesn’t totally love the console. I’m already prepared for negative backlash from people intent on portraying me as someone who hates Sony because I’m a self-professed Nintendo fanboy, or claiming that I’ve been paid off by some other company to write this, even though recognise that as a potential possibility is ludicrous. I’d have better luck capturing a Unicorn and persuading him to be my friend. I have my own reasons to dislike Sony, and I’m not telling people to stop supporting them or giving solutions for Sony’s problems; I’m just trying to explain why I feel like I can’t support a company that shows itself to be increasingly out of touch and arrogant with little apparent respect for either its customers or partners. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…
Sony couldn’t sell me a PS3 if it came with the girl of my dreams and a winning lottery ticket, then gave me a crown and made me King.