In my life outside of games writing I am the epitome of an optimist. Always seeing the good instead of the bad. Believing that there are companies out there that have my best interests at heart. Inside of games writing, well… let’s just say that I believe that everyone is out there to get us, and by us I mean consumers.
And that’s why when I read Steven Daly’s report on Gameranx about Sony’s twitter response to PlayStation fans “#PS4nodrm” campaign I initially thought it was sincere. But then… then I began to read between the lines. And I thought to myself, “wait a minute, why is it all first party team members sending out this outpouring of love? Why is everyone emphasizing this passion and love.”
This is why I love PlayStation fans- the passion bucket overflows #playstation
— John Koller (@jpkoller) May 27, 2013
Humbled by the outpouring of passionate PlayStation fans and their willingness to talk to us directly. Please know that we hear you. <3 — Nick Accordino (@Nikoro) May 27, 2013
And then it dawned on me: oh right, marketing. That’s why.
Creating an emotional attachment to a brand or product is far and wide the best way to gain and, most importantly, keep followers (no matter what you do to them). By sending out these “we hear you tweets,” it gives the brand an appearance of having a real connection to the people (which is the whole point for companies to be on twitter, you know). It makes followers feel as though they’re really making a difference.
By having these four top-level guys thank the “fans” for the years of
money “passion” that they’ve invested, it makes that relationship seem like a real thing. But just like any relationship and the eventual break up that follows, it’s much smoother to let the other person down easy. In this case, we are all that other person. And while I know that it’s really cool to hate Microsoft right now, when you think about it logically, they simply played the part of the fluffer to get us all warmed up for E3.
To all the fans, with a special mention to GAFfers, I *love* your passion. It convinces me that the path I chose 31 years ago was right. — Shahid Kamal Ahmad (@shahidkamal) May 27, 2013
I love passionate #PlayStation Fans!!
— Scott Rohde (@RohdeScott) May 27, 2013
My thought process on the subject stems from two things: First is understanding that the video game industry is a business first and foremost (a fact that many gamers have trouble comprehending). Video games aren’t created out of the goodness of people’s hearts (surprising, I know); they’re created for revenue. The same reason why Sony, every gamer’s recent “protectors of gaming,” was the only company out of the big three to implement an Online Pass system to its first party games in the current console generation. A fact that almost no one brings up when arguing what side of the DRM fence Sony is perched on.
Second, was Electronic Arts’ elimination of its own Online Pass system. When the publisher announced that it was getting rid the system, they didn’t only eliminate it for “Xbox platforms,” they did it for all titles that are to be released from here on out. With that said, do you really think that a company like EA isn’t trying to grab all of the revenue — from every platform — that its next gen games like Madden, FIFA and Battlefield will be available on? Yeah, exactly.
It should also be noted that following the PlayStation 4 reveal in February, Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios explained to various outlets that Sony would not block used games on their next console. Key word there is: Sony. There wasn’t a concrete “yes” or “no” on whether or not the platform will allow third party publishers to block used games, if they so please to. By handling it this way, it puts the consumers at odds with the publishers, and allows to Sony keep the “protectors of gaming” status that they’ve had since the PS4 reveal.
But hey, if you’re on the #PS4nodrm bandwagon, then by all means, keep fighting the good fight. No one wants to see a victory for “the people” more than I do. At the same time, before those E3 press conferences begin, just make sure that you set yourself up with the appropriate expectations and looking at the entire situation for what it really is.
Unfortunately, PlayStation exclusives or even Xbox exclusives for that matter, alone won’t help either company “win” the next console war. Both platforms need support from their third party publishers. And if you’re EA, Activision, or Ubisoft, you are absolutely loving the Xbox One right about now. When you look at it from that angle, and take into account the possibility of losing some of that third party support if they don’t fall in line with Microsoft, Sony has little choice than to roll with the punches.
Luckily for Sony, most of those punches have already been thrown Microsoft’s way.