It was the number heard across all enthusiast press sites, feeds, and liveblogs: 399.99. At that moment Sony undercut Microsoft’s 499.99 price tag on the Xbox One. Much like Sony had done with the original Playstation, performing the same $100 less trick against Sega’s Saturn thanks to its later press conference back in 1995, the numbers speak all they were now pointing at the Playstation 4. Twitter exploded at that moment, tons of people proudly announcing Sony as the winner of E3 press events, initial sales, and even some touting generation winner – something no one can even remotely determine at this point. The 20 percent reduction over Microsoft’s price was not alone. Just prior to that Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony, had announced that unlike the Xbox One the PS4 would not restrict single player experiences, used gaming, game sharing, or lack of online capabilities. It was a great day for gaming, wrapped up with a shock announcement and return to form for E3, but what I didn’t expect was that this announcement wouldn’t bond gamers, it would separate them.
Console War Fabrication
Just to be clear, there is no such thing as a “console war”. Wars suggest a winning and a losing side, often combined with reparations, and for the most part there is more than one winner in a console war. Even though Sega’s Genesis eventually lost to Nintendo’s SNES in terms of overall sales is almost irrelevant, both companies made a boat load of money. No, console wars is a marketing title dedicated to making consumers take sides in return for brand loyalty in the sole interest of the companies behind the products. That’s it guys, it’s just a bunch of wealthy men leading wealthy companies all in a dash for your money.
That’s fine, though, because we as gamers like that. Ford fans tout decals depicting Calvin pissing on the Chevy logo and as if trying to demonstrate how stupid these product loyal are, an identical decal of Calvin pissing on Ford logos is sold to the Chevy crowd. It’s because it just simply doesn’t matter, you like who you like and perception is the only judge. In gaming we use the term “fanboy” to suggest a negative connotation on a gamer who selects a specific company they love. These fanboys get on the Internet and spout misinformation, praise everything that benefits their cause, and lie about or avoid anything that doesn’t, and they’re proud of it. This apparent crime is anything but, it’s just the vocal minority spouting off about their beliefs, something almost every American does at some time in their life.
Not since 1992 had I seen actual fights over whether Sega or Nintendo were better, and frankly in gaming circles you will rarely see anyone being all that aggressive about their preference. I consistently hear that PC is best, Xbox is best, Playstation is best, even Wii is best, but I don’t think anything of it. Well as of Monday night I have seen the darkest side of the Internet step forth and get aggressive about the battle between Sony and Microsoft (with a select few defending Nintendo and PC, but knowing it’s all falling on deaf ears). Normally I try to be diplomatic in this situation, but I just can’t be after the behavior I’ve seen, so I say here and now: it’s just a fucking video game, stop being an irrational human being about it.
Situation from the Front Lines
Naturally after this announcement Sony is the easy winner. All the tweets rushing out about everyone purchasing the PS4, suggesting the Xbox One will see no pre-orders or have them all cancel, and that Sony knows what gamers want while Microsoft is all about screwing us over. That’s the popular vote, of course, and those comments are just fine and par for the course. Microsoft fans were quick to stand by their choice, proud of the Xbox One and the selection it offers, which also is fine and pleasant to see because Microsoft’s console is nothing to scoff at. Historically we have seen consoles last for 6-10 years and if you break this down $100 isn’t all that big of a deal, nor does the cheaper or more popular console define the winner. We went into this generation thinking that the PS3 would be the instant winner despite its $600 price tag and that proved to be a bold misconception. What I didn’t like were the resulting tweets I started reading afterward that were Microsoft fans telling everyone to fuck off, calling those that were undecided and went to the PS4 to be “traitors” or “the enemy”. As days have gone on I’ve seen chatters, forum posters, and article commentors stating that everyone is doom and gloom on Microsoft and that Sony will fuck us over in the end. All of these things are perhaps true, but is it really worth being such a resentful person?
I understand the sentiment, I really do. Consoles aren’t cheap, $400 is only a slightly lighter blow than $500 and both will require some time and planning to budget unless you want to frivolously dump it on a credit card you don’t intend to pay off. No one likes to be told that this huge purchase was tainted by making the wrong choice. Microsoft and Sony know this, they announced the price to give you six or so months to save up. Furthermore I have seen no decline in fiscal interest for the consoles, both the launch Xbox Ones and PS4s are sold out online and completely reserved at my local GameStops. No one is in trouble here, it’s just everyone caught up in the hype. Both consoles came out swinging and put up a good fight – Microsoft in the software realm and Sony in the hardware in my eyes (which makes sense when you compare each company’s background). There’s no reason not to want either, or both, but many of us will have to make a choice. It’s this choice where I feel people are out of line because they are scared to be the unpopular choice – way to be a five-year-old. Who gives a fuck if you want the Xbox One and your buddy wants a PS4? If you seriously want to be all bent out of shape about it, fine, but do it in the courtesy of your own home and silently instead of shitting on those that can have an intelligent conversation.
I was talking in a chat with someone about the games that the Xbox One had that were impressive from the press event and he told me I’m full of shit simply because I pre-ordered a PS4. What the fuck is that? So because I am forced to make a decision and I went with the PS4 we can’t discuss your coveted game system anymore? You sure didn’t give a shit that I initially purchased a PS3 and Wii instead of a 360 and you were more than happy to tell me how every game I was getting was utter dog shit, now I go to compliment your choice and even voice disregard for the fact I can’t play one of those games and I’m suddenly patronizing? It just goes to show, as with the audience responses from the press conferences that maybe the games industry is as immature as the stereotype suggests. When someone doesn’t agree with you or say something you like your only solution is to throw defensive nonsense.
This whole console war thing is gonna look pretty stupid in hindsight. Time will tell who the actual “victor” is and whether or not anyone should have given a shit at all. By next summer no one will care about the random fights being seen today and hopefully we can all go back to being civil. There are risks on both sides, but as I said before, it’s a fucking video game system so how important can this decision be? (and I’m about as hardcore a gamer as they come!) You have a life, potential friends, maybe a partner, possibly even kids and a job, do none of these things exist outside of what an E3 press conference reveals? Get over it, you’re going to have to face much harder decisions and outcomes than what fucking box plays your little bleep bloops. You finally did it Internet, you took the piss out of E3, thanks a bunch.
This editorial is the sole opinion of its author, Fred Rojas, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the B-Team or its other co-hosts. When the hate mail comes a calling, the author of this piece can be your target.