The video game industry, like any other business, has seen some fierce competition between companies to win over the hearts and minds of gamers. From Nintendo and Sega trading punches throughout the 90s to Microsoft and Sony staging a PR battle since their next gen console reveals earlier this year.
But when does average competition become childish and unprofessional? We asked the VGU staff what they thought of some recent events and here is what they had to say.
Editor in Chief
Fierce competition can be found in many facets of our lives and even our recreational activities are rife with one-upsmanship, video games being no exception. While gamers themselves love to fight over which series, system, style of play, etc is the best, game companies need to win the loyalty of consumers by one-upping the competition.
This healthy competition can make products better but it can also lead to some image problems for the companies involved and the industry as a whole. Executives taking potshots at one another is not something that is only found in video games but it definitely doesn’t help an industry that is trying to come across as mature when Reggie uses the word “meh” to describe anything (let alone his competition).
I don’t personally have too much of a problem with companies taking a slight jab at one another but there is something off putting about too much commentary. I’m the kind of gamer who likes to experience all the major consoles, so hearing Sony rag on the Xbox makes me feel a bit weird. I understand hearing it from the fanboys but Sony should probably be more concerned with convincing me that the PlayStation 4 is the way to go and not that the Xbox One is not.
E3 threw down the gauntlet and Sony’s marketing team did a good job of spinning the bad press from the Xbox One reveal into a win for its purposes but the recent comments about Microsoft’s U-Turn seemed to be a bit too much. Besides, Microsoft listening to consumers is actually good PR for Microsoft so why would Sony want to highlight that? Some people may see Microsoft as “weak” but most will just think that Microsoft is genuinely listening to gamers.
Overall I think that some back and forth is necessary and OK but there is a fine line that is constantly being tiptoed. The line is difficult to describe or define so this will always be an issue but in general, I think companies should spend the vast majority of their time making their own products shine.
I have no problem with calling out companies with policies I disagree with or mistakes that I feel they are making with a product. We as the consumers should feel no remorse with venting our disapproval as long as it’s done in a respectable and appropriate way. When companies take cheap shots at each other, the professionalism expected from them disappears and a fanboy dream comes true. They no longer sound like a voice of reason and instead start sounding like the disgruntled Internet that people dislike so immensely.
There’s a fine line where these remarks can be accepted. For example, Sony made big waves at E3 when it threw down the gauntlet at its conference regarding its used game policy. Yes, Sony took a shot at Microsoft, but it was done at the same time it was making a huge announcement that would affect many gamers in the upcoming generation. On the flip side, the comment about changing policies that was directed at Microsoft should never have come out. Microsoft has been flip-flopping on its decisions since day one like a fish out of water; this doesn’t come as news to anyone. Sony said this without any real reason than to turn the knife in the wound and was done in a more blatant and childish way. And to remark on changing policies, which Microsoft is doing in an effort to please customers (and pre-order numbers), is also a negative because it reiterates to the consumers that Microsoft “listens to the feedback” which may come out in favor of that brand.
Reggie Fils-Aime, the Nintendo of America president, recently said that the launch games for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are “meh.” While I don’t disagree that Nintendo is making strides in releasing better content in the upcoming months than what it has been, it’s also telling when you have to reach across and dismiss upcoming games for a launch system that probably won’t come to the Wii U because it’s not on the same level as these next gen systems (or even the current ones). It’s not only a slap to Sony and Microsoft, but also a slap to the teams behind the third party games as they also fall under that line-up and are now considered “meh” by association. And when one of the biggest downfalls of your system is lack of third party support, the last thing you want to do is say something that can be misconstrued as an insult on third party games.
I like my companies to act professional. There’s a part of me that likes the down and dirty approach of these comments, but they shouldn’t feel political smear campaigns either. Perhaps it’s because this is the first real launch that I’ve been up-to-date on, but I don’t recall the mud slinging being this bad at the previous launch years. So instead of these low blows for cheap pops from the fans, they should focus on selling their product. Don’t tell me how bad the other system or games are, show me how good YOUR system and games are. Don’t tell me about how they’ve went about their changes leading up to launch, give me more details about the ones you’ve been quiet about. Be professional.
“All is fair in love and war” and there is no love lost in this on-going war. My personal opinion is that companies that take shots at one another are completely acceptable. There is no harm when it comes to criticizing the competition. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are known for the consistent jibes to one another and this isn’t anything new in the console war. Sony’s comments on Microsoft during both E3 and Gamescom were very clear tactics. The intention was clear and it was expressing the distaste that consumers were having with Microsoft’s policies. It made Sony look as the positive party who supported its consumer’s opinion. The crowd responded to this during the E3 Sony Conference with the uproar of happiness during the attack on Microsoft’s policies. The results are evident from the messages made as it had a very effective response from Microsoft; who initiated several U-turn policies which once formed the foundation of the Xbox One.
Comments made are always fair play by the different companies but it will always instigate a reaction within the gaming community. I personally take into the account the comments that are made and a lot of commotion is always created within the gaming community. Sony continues to dig into Microsoft including its statement of “we don’t change out policies.” Sony has been relentless to Microsoft and this will obviously please many gamers due to the company’s commitment towards them. Recently Reggie’s comment of ‘Meh’ to the PS4 and Xbox One lineups; I was very critical of due to the irony that Nintendo was very lackluster with the launch of the Wii U.
Nintendo’s authority has been whittled away in the so called console wars. It will be interesting to see whether the other two companies will respond to Nintendo or simply ignore them as they have done over the past few years. The focus is indeed on Sony and Microsoft including the constant little swipes that each party is delivering. The companies are doing this especially due to the preparation for the release of the next-generation consoles.
That’s what the VGU staff had to say but what do you think? Are the jabs just corporate competition or do they make the industry look bad? Sound off in the comments below.