Ask yourself this question Sony fans, did I make up my own mind…or was it made up for me?
When you look at how and why anyone chooses one particular side of an argument over the other, you’ll often notice it has very little to do with conscious thought. Most people identify with a specific religion or political party for no other reason than it being what their parents had chosen before them. In some ways, the same could be said for gaming. No matter if you’re an Xbox, PlayStation or even Nintendo die-hard, most would probably admit they are somewhat set in their ways (if they were to be honest with themselves). The roots of fanboy-ism originate from complacency more than anything else. We find something we like early on and just stick to it. No one likes change, even if it’s for the best.
Take the most recent debate regarding the next-gen One and PS4. Other than a few updated talking points regarding better processing this and advanced graphical pipelines that, the lines are still divided down the same threshold as they’ve always been (in what seems to be a never ending Civil War among our brethren). At one time, exclusives were a fairly hard hitting weapon that debaters could draw upon to needle their opponent. Now that practice is a thing of the past. Aside from first party titles like Mario, Halo and others, the times of boasting about the superiority of your console’s library (remember when GTA was only on PlayStation?) has gone by the way side. At a glance, both the blue and green walls at GameStop are respectively stocked with about the same content these days. And as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. This has led to executives at both companies facing the task of coming up with new ways to make their system stand out as a “must-have” over their competitor. But how to do that without cooperation from 3rd party game studios (who desire to expand their revenue base by reaching as many consumers as possible) is tricky.
The answer (at least in Sony’s case) lies in exclusive deals.
If they can’t control what console a game is released on, they can certainly attempt to make their system the favorite in gamer’s minds. Take the upcoming Destiny for example. Even though it’s slated for both Xbox and PlayStation 4, an exclusive white console bundle (and even more exclusives for the game itself) will be available only to those who choose the Sony brand. “…we want to look at PlayStation as the best place to play," says PlayStation VP Adam Boyes. "That's why we spent a lot of money going for 8GB of GDDR-5 RAM and high processing power; to ensure that it is perceived as the best place to play. Destiny is a critical part of that…That's a part of ensuring that people feel special when they play on PlayStation.”
And thus; this clearly highlights much of the uphill battle the Xbox One has faced during its first year since launch.
I can preach all day long about the importance of weighing each argument on the merits of fact (and not blindly following the populous crowd) I do admit it gets harder to make that argument as days go by. Why? Well how can I tell people not to be biased toward Sony when many in the game industry clearly are?! I’m not letting Microsoft off the hook, as they dug their own grave with several terrible decisions over the course of the last 12 months. However, there is no denying the game industry has a secret love affair with the PlayStation. They can’t admit it outright, but it’s there. Bungie claims to value Xbox and PlayStation fans equally. While that may be true regarding their feelings toward the FANS, let’s not pretend the same can be said for the consoles which those fans choose to support. If you were to do a side-by-side comparison of exclusive content across both platforms (for the exact same games) Sony consistently has better perks in the eyes of gamers. There’s no contest.
Naturally I could go on and on outlining how the differences between the PlayStation and Xbox are quite negligible in the hardware department (providing developers eventually crack the 1080p nut of the One) I’ll save that breath for another day and another debate. Even during the period when the 360 was consistently kicking the ass of the PS3, never did Microsoft get shown the same love. Regardless, I still think it’s important to cut through all the fog and make decisions for yourself. Personally, in spite of all the damming evidence that suggests the PlayStation just might be the definitive choice of any gamer, I still prefer the Xbox platform in some respects. It has better online/multiplayer functionality with Live, not to mention smoother integration with my other Microsoft products. Having said that, I can now see why breaking out of their fanboy comfort zone can be difficult for some. An entire industry is practicality shoving you in the Sony direction. Rather than allowing for an unbiased opinion making environment, it actually helps deepen the divide. Pre-exiting Sony fans simply become more entrenched in their rabid PlayStation love, while Xbox adopters become more and more resentful (as they feel they’re not being treated fairly in the hearts and minds of developers).
In many ways, I’m starting to see our beloved industry mirror John Carpenter’s film “They Live” starring Rowdy Roddy Piper. Once you put the sunglasses on…you start to wonder if your opinions were ever really yours to begin with.