Sony is insecure. They have a quality product with laudable features, but where they should be spending their promotional time and dollars advertising themselves and why they have a superior offering, they can’t seem to stop attacking and belittling their competition.
In the video that played during the opening of their E3 press conference, there was the rather iconic clip of Kevin Butler acting like a third-grader, making fun of Kinect’s lack of a controller by pointing his finger and going “Pew! Pew! Pew!” (Never mind the fact that, at the time, it had only been released in demo form as “Project Natal”, and there was no “shooting” demo or video to be seen.)
Once the video ends, Jack Tretton takes the stage, and in his opening comments, he makes a snide remark about not needing a poncho — an obvious reference to Microsoft’s media event that unveiled Kinect earlier that week. Now, we can go on and on about that event and how bizarre it was. That’s our job as the press. But Jack, it’s your press conference. You’re supposed to be setting the tone for Sony self-promotion, not a stand-up comedy routine where you just roast the competition.
Jack then does a typical run-down of the successes of the PlayStation 3 and its strengths in the market. While it’s not good to take pot-shots at the competition, it’s also not good to pretend they don’t exist. Tretton states that the PS3 is the only system with built-in WiFi. I’m willing to give him a pass on the Xbox 360, since their WiFi-enabled console was only recently released at Microsoft’s own press conference and wouldn’t even actually be in stores until later that week (although I don’t believe for one moment that he didn’t know about it the instant it was announced). However, the Wii says “hi”.
Later, he mentions the PlayStation Network. He makes a comment about not charging for online play that the “other guys” charge $50/year for. (Again, the Wii waves from the corner.) This, I concede, is a valid, factual comparison, rather than an outright snipe. I find it amusing, though, that he prefaces this comment with the words, “I don’t want to stir the pot.” Jack, this is the one time you’re not trying to “stir the pot”, so why excuse it? Or is it so notable when you aren’t bashing that you actually have to point it out?
And then, they bring out a special guest, Kevin Butler himself. First thing he does when he gets on stage? Responds to audience prompting to go “Pew! Pew! Pew!” He then starts a monologue by taking yet another pot shot at Microsoft’s Cirque du Soleil media event, and throws in a jab at Nintendo’s Wii as well. He then goes on to give a very impassioned speech about what it means to be a gamer, which includes elements of Microsoft and Nintendo, being all-inclusive and unifying. It was disappointing he had to taint it with the divisive comments that started it off, that made the “we are all gamers” part feel insincere.
Sony has some impressive technology. When they started talking about the Move, they showed a video clip of interviews with developers. Different developers from different game companies were talking about the technology, the data they could get from the Move, the things they could do with it — it was all very interesting and very promotional. Except, once again, Sony just couldn’t let it go. The commentary was intercut with clips of Butler and his adolescent slams against the Kinect and the Wii, with the “Pew! Pew! Pew!” clip and the bit where he flails his arms as if to say, “This is how you look when you play the Wii.” Not only was it childish, but it was distracting from the meat of the presentation.
It’s laughable that this same company is now saying they want to work with Nintendo to promote 3D in the industry, but they want Nintendo to stop “bashing” Sony. See, Nintendo’s 3DS presents a 3D experience without using glasses, and they keep talking up this “glasses-less experience”. Sony seems to think that touting this advantage is slamming them. The difference is, Nintendo isn’t putting out ads where a spokesperson is actively belittling the concept of wearing glasses, nor are they saying they are “the only console with 3D” and ignoring Sony’s existence.
It says more about Sony than it does about Microsoft or Nintendo. Is the PlayStation good, or is it just the least bad? I almost can’t tell from listening to Sony, and it doesn’t make me more wanting to buy a PlayStation. If anything, it makes me less trusting of Sony as a company.