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Rebuttal: Does Sony care more about gamers than Microsoft?

Gaming Culture Screenshot - sony vs microsoft

I go on N4G daily. It's habit at this point. The top article I noticed today was from GameSkinny, titled "And This is Why Sony Cares More About Gamers Than Microsoft." It's an opinion piece that actually does very little to point out why Sony cares more about gamers than their rival. There's no stats given to back up the claim, just one single piece of "proof" that is the entire basis of this opinion...

"Sony takes a loss on most of its games, just so so [sic] they can continue to support fresh, promising talent."

I'm not a fanboy of either company. I own both a PlayStation 4 and a Xbox One. To be honest, my Wii U gets the most playtime in my house. That said, I find many problems with an opinion article that bashes Microsoft's willingness to take risks with games and then base an entire thesis around it relating to how they care about gamers. 

I'll start with this paragraph and why it baffles me...

The way Sony conducts business, as opposed to the way Microsoft conducts business, are two very different things. That's why it's night and day to compare them. That's why PlayStation fans are quick to point to Sony's commitment to the consumer above all else, and why Microsoft fans had to suffer through four years of a completely broken piece of gaming equipment, with the manufacturer lying the entire time. MS claimed they didn't know what was wrong and they couldn't fix the "Red Ring of Death" issue, which nobody with a brain believes. They simply opted not to fix it because it inflated Xbox 360 sales numbers due to multiple repeat purchases.

Okay. I get it. I have a friend that had his Xbox 360 red ring, and instead of going through the hassle of mailing it in and getting it fixed, he went out and bought another. So even though it inflated Xbox 360 sales numbers, would he have purchased another Xbox 360 if it wasn't the superior gaming option for that console generation? Sony made tons of mistakes with the PlayStation 3 -- similar  to the mistakes that Microsoft has made with the Xbox One.

"The PS3 is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine. With the PS3, our intentions have been to create a machine with supercomputer calculation capabilities for home entertainment." - Ken Kutaragi. 

"We want consumers to think to themselves 'I will work more hours to buy one.' We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else." - Ken Kutaragi, regarding the price of the PlayStation 3. 

"It's probably too cheap... If you can have an amazing experience, we believe price is not a problem." Ken Kutaragi about the $499 to $599 price point.

This sounds an awful lot like Microsoft when they were going through E3 last year with the Xbox One. Also, these quotes negate the argument that Sony is all about the gamers. These quotes sound quite dick-ish, to be honest. The PlayStation 3 had its fair share of problems, and the PlayStation 4 had a little bricking problem at launch. Like all electronics, if it happens within warranty you'll be covered. If not, you'll have to buy a new one. Let's not forget that Microsoft extended the warranty of the Xbox 360 because of their red ring problem with earlier Xbox 360 consoles. 

But the core of this opinion article's argument was taking risks on games. Taking losses on six out of 10 games doesn't mean that they're taking risks -- it just means they're losing money. What if the games aren't good and that's why they aren't selling? To base your argument around most of Sony's games not making money doesn't mean they're for the gamers. They do take risks, but so did Microsoft. The difference is that most gamers didn't like those risks. 

alan wake

Then there's the Alan Wake comment, "I'm willing to bet Alan Wake would've fared better had it been a PlayStation exclusive, because PlayStation fans are the ones who appreciate that sort of effort." First, what effort? The effort it takes to make a video game? If that was the case, every exclusive for Sony would do well. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was the Super Smash-type game that Sony fans have been asking for, and we see how well that did. Also, why is it a risk that proves you care about gamers when Sony loses money, but a game like Alan Wake sells 145K units releasing going against Red Dead Redemption, and it's claimed that it would've done better on a Sony platform? When Alan Wake released, Sony didn't have its Journey yet.

Also, it's not like Alan Wake did terribly on Xbox 360. The game received award nominations and got pretty good review scores. According to Torrentfreak, it was the 2nd most pirated game in 2010, with 1,140,000 downloads on bittorrent. Don't you think that cut into sales a bit? It's not that Microsoft didn't care about gamers when they released Alan Wake, it's that gamers that owned Microsoft consoles didn't care about Alan Wake. The blame has to be put on the gamers that didn't buy it. You can't blame Microsoft for not taking risks when they're just looking at what their fan base wants. 

Lastly, I'd like to point out that the growing pains Microsoft are going through with the Xbox One are what Sony went through with the PlayStation 3. This is the third console from Microsoft, and they're making the same mistakes where they're at now as Sony did when they had the PS3. The difference is that Microsoft has reversed everything that gamers hated about the Xbox One -- enough of those changes making it in time for launch. No always-on DRM. No family sharing. No Kinect required. No check-ins. Yeah, they're a business trying to save face and sell units, but they're criticized for flip-flopping on their console when everyone demanded something different. If Sony did what Microsoft did, they'd be praised for listening to gamers. 

It's fine that the author thinks Sony cares more about gamers than Microsoft. But if you're going to make that argument, make it based around something more than 'Sony takes chances on games that they lose money on because they support talent, and Alan Wake would've done better as a Sony exclusive.' I don't think Microsoft wants to sell games from untalented developers.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. Or you can email him at LLiebl@GameZone.com.

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Lance Liebl Gamer, Disney enthusiast, opinionated sports fan, movie buff, and a father of two. You can follow Lance on Twitter @Lance_GZ.
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