Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
05 June 2006
PS3 may fail not over technology but bad PR
Watching the Coyote fall off a cliff for the umpteenth time can be funny. Watching Sony get sideswiped by another PR gaffe isn't.

Today we have The Inquirer saying the PlayStation 3 and Cell have critically flawed design and SCEE president and CEO David Reeves saying Sony wants "to try and double digital entertainment in the next five to six years" but whether they "have 40, 50, or 60 percent market share is not that important."

In the past weeks we've seen them struggle to explain the high price of the PlayStation 3, argue that they didn't copy the Wii controller, explain that the features removed from the cheaper PlayStation 3 don't cripple it quite as much as previously thought, and that they don't have plans to ban the sale of used games. (Sorry, I'm not digging up links for all those right now. You can find them.)

Is it any real surprise that SCEA publicity chief Molly Smith resigned last week?

The lesson of the "64-bit because it's two 32-bit processors" lie that plagued the Atari Jaguar is that some lies are so simple and compelling that they're impossible to kill. (Of course, this isn't limited to videogames of course. Most people still think Jack Abramoff gave money to Democrats. He didn't.) When such stories come up, I think it best to apply overwhelming force , through the press, and stamp it out immediately. If you're lucky, you'll kill it. You can't rely on the press to fix it for you on their own.

My fuzzy recollection of the 1999-to-2000 period is that Sony dominated the press, burying the Dreamcast and hobbling the Xbox and GameCube before they were even born. Today, a not insignificant segment of the population want Sony to fall apart completely, so it's tempting to ascribe the recent public gaffes to a mass realization that Sony's a big sham, that the Emperor has no clothes. There is certainly some thread of truth there.

I think more importantly we have all changed and Sony's playing catch-up. Six years ago most of us probably got our information and opinion from the big videogame media sites. Magazines were more important for breaking news stories. And as a result, I think people were a little too caught up in the Emotion Engine hype.

Now I almost never see news stories through GameSpot or IGN. Rather, I see them linked to by a blog, and along with that link comes some nugget of commentary. Actually, not just one blog, but dozens of blogs. The result of this filter is that I'm less likely to get the company line first and more likely to hear news with an instant shot of opinion.

Whereas there might have been one or two highly publicized reports on Sony's pricing back in 2000, you now have hundreds of bloggers talking about it simultaneously. Earlier this year, the same thing happened to Microsoft with its Xbox 360 shortages. What did they do? They shut up and fixed the problem, for the most part.

Similarly, Sony needs to get out of the headlines for a month or so. When a bad story comes up, respond with overwhelming force to stamp it out immediately, but otherwise shut up. Stop trying to justify the price. Stop trying to explain the controller. Just put your launch together, and let people decide when they see the games on shelves.

Labels: , , ,

--Matt Matthews at 15:06
Comment [ 13 ]

Comments on this post:

Why do you have to throw a moonbat remark about Jack Abramoff in the middle of a game related rant? I wish you BDS victims had a bit more self control. And of course I didn't bother reading the rest because I didn't feel like looking at any more of your ravings.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 June, 2006 09:22  

To anon: Touchy. When you're ready to talk facts, let us know. Ad hominem doesn't cut it.

By Blogger jvm, at 06 June, 2006 11:17  

For the record, that Inquirer article is shite. Guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.


By Blogger Michael, at 06 June, 2006 12:29  

Right, which is why Sony need to get out in front of it as soon as possible before it becomes another 32-bit Jaguar.

By Blogger jvm, at 06 June, 2006 12:38  

I *think* Matt's trying to say that the "32 bit Jag" was the lie. The Jag most certainly was 64 bits. The problem was that the only 64 bit processor was the video processor, and most coders understood the 68k sitting near it so much better the Jag essentially hosted a lot of 32 bit ports that didn't take advantage of the poorly trumpeted (and designed) advancements. "The Jag's essentially a 32 bit system," became the "The Jag IS a 32 bit system" lie because the explanation [of 64 bitige] was so much more difficult to understand that the lie it would replace.

I thought I read Carmack say something to that effect, but the closest I can find quickly is this post, where he at least says the vid proc is 64 bit. He also says "If the jaguar had dumped the 68k..." and made a number of other hardware changes they would have done better.

Personally the Jag is, to me, one of the most fascinating pieces of console hardware out there. I think I recall a devver saying that you could have designed a game to be run by the video processor instead of the 68k and RISCs, just to prove it was 64 bit. Following Matt's lead today, I won't look up the links before posting. ;^)

Abramoff RUL3Z!!!1!

By Blogger rufbo, at 06 June, 2006 13:43  

Ha, I think what I was trying to say is that I don't know jack about the Jag. Here's a better page for telling me what was what where. So the 68k is 16, not 32 bit. That makes even more sense. A 64 bit system doing 16 bit (read, "Genesis") ports because the extra procs are too hard to dev for. Nice stuff.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 06 June, 2006 13:49  

I think it's charming that everyone's still arguing about how many "bits" those systems have in 2006.

By Blogger JohnH, at 06 June, 2006 15:53  

JohnH said: "I think it's charming that everyone's still arguing about how many "bits" those systems have in 2006."

Yeah. Everyone should know by now that the Jaguar is 64-bit. Duh.

By Blogger jvm, at 06 June, 2006 16:02

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12 June, 2006 10:39  

Anon: Thanks for the link. The veracity of the Inq's claim wasn't the point of the post. The point is that Sony can't seem to stay out of the news, and every time they are the news they end up having to put out another PR fire.

By Blogger jvm, at 12 June, 2006 10:49  

"Watching the Coyote fall off a cliff for the umpteenth time can be funny. Watching Sony get sideswiped by another PR gaffe isn't."

Yes it is! While it's not particularly nice to see such a big company repeatedly muck up, it's either laugh or despair at the moment. And since Nintendo and Microsoft are puttering along quite healthily this generation so far, I don't think the world will collapse if Sony doesn't do well.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 July, 2006 06:07  

Sony´s execs are to arrogant to know when to shut up feks. When a high ranking sales exec in europe was asked why the quality of the movies wasn´t very good he replied "Blu-Ray looks bad right now because people are watching it on their CRT"... That is just plain stupid and an insult to enthusiast.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 July, 2006 19:39  

"...since Nintendo and Microsoft are puttering along quite healthily this generation so far, I don't think the world will collapse if Sony doesn't do well."

The world won't, but Sony will feel a world of hurt. They are risking tons with the PS3, much more than Microsoft's entry and certainly much more than Ninty's Wii. If the PS3 fails, Blu-Ray is very likely to fail. And if Blu-Ray fails, Sony is in deep doodoo.

Not that I like Sony much anyway.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12 July, 2006 11:25  

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