Our PlayStation, who art in my family room, hallowed be thy brand.
I am a PlayStation enthusiast. I own consoles, games, and even clothing. I write news and reviews about it. I am a fan of the brand and spend a great deal of my free time thinking about it or engaging with it in some way.
I tell you all of this because I am going to address a small but vocal minority who will read this and try to paint me as a fake, a betrayer, and a heretic to the Holy Church of PlayStation. And like all heretics, I need to be burned at the stake. The modern stake consists of the usual asinine comments to rare death threats on articles and reviews that don’t praise our god but dare to even mildly disagree with it, let alone fully criticize. Some of the comments aren’t even intelligible as a human language (yes, really) and/or mention how we are sucking this or inserting that somewhere with Microsoft.
The console wars have reached a religious fervor for some. This is not only stupid but harmful. It doesn’t help you push for a better PlayStation today and in the future. Blindly following a brand is a risky proposition that will not drive innovation and will not make a company make decisions to earn your business and appreciation.
I don’t have a full 95 theses to nail to the church doors, but here are a few heretical ideas.
Heresy the first, not all of Sony’s exclusives are gold. Sony has been on a roll with some great first-party titles, but do you remember Haze on the PS3? Too old? How about Bravo Team for PSVR? I realize you can point to many other great games, but there is some trash too. It’s OK to accept that we don’t have to praise everything, and personal preferences make a big difference too.
My second point is related. Sony’s exclusives don’t become worse on the PS4 when they move to PC. Death Stranding is the same core experience on both platforms. If they were to release Death Stranding: The Truest Ending with major changes to the story for free on PC and try to charge me for the DLC on PS4, I might understand the outrage. It’s also good when games come from the PC to the PS4. More games are good no matter which platform you call home.
You might think my previous point is proof enough for some, but Sony is capable of making mistakes with PlayStation. They will make them again. I know some revere their god as infallible, but we have a next-gen launch that could go poorly due to marketing decisions, pricing, and communication from executives. Sony did this with the PS3. Never underestimate a company’s ability to destroy goodwill.
Small day to day decisions impacts us too. These can be transgressions in the policy decisions. I don’t care about cross-play, but many people hate that the PlayStation ecosystem is locked down while others are open. That does seem to be changing slowly or was even silently removed entirely not long ago. Each of us can find fault in the holy scriptures of PlayStation FAQs and executive interviews.
If you find yourself feeling like you are about to be struck down by divine wrath for your insolence, relax. We should be intellectually honest enough to criticize a thing we love so much. Being blind to its shortcomings or trying to blind others doesn’t make it better. It just makes you look like a zealot.
We should be OK with discussing these problems. It doesn’t mean we cannot vehemently disagree (and we do), but we should be OK with people asking how PlayStation, its games, and its services could be and should be better. It’s not automatically committing the ultimate sin of entitlement for which there can be no forgiveness. Verily, those nonbelievers shall be cast into outer darkness with Xbox and its fanboys.
The team at PlayStation is looking at what we say. They aren’t always listening and acting the way we want, but they are looking. Corporations are focused on data and customer feedback, and Sony is no different. Within reason, it’s fiscally intelligent and beneficial for them to listen to our complaints and suggestions, because we are their customers. Assuming we’re not dealing with arrogant Sony, they need to listen to us at least a little to ensure we keep throwing money at them. It’s not a “good guy” thing to do. It’s good business, and competition for our dollars is fierce.
With that in mind, I’m never quite sure why so many of the Priests of PlayStation to try silence the unbelievers for suggesting things are anything but perfect. They try to shut down the conversation with words like “entitled” or that doesn’t happen or affect me or you should just deal with it or any number of ways to undermine legitimate concerns and discussions.
It’s a strange thing to see people so personally invested in a brand’s success, but it’s not exclusive to PlayStation. If you own stock in the company, I can see you trying to unite the user base with your sermons and decry the reprobates as you spread the doctrine of PlayStation. Otherwise, it’s a company that doesn’t care about you, and you need to be a discerning consumer who is looking for the best deal.
Finally, I will speak the words that will excommunicate me and damn my gaming soul – it’s OK to praise the competition. We seem mostly OK with cool Uncle Nintendo receiving accolades with its aloof I’m-not-really-competing-against-Sony-and-Microsoft attitude which always struck me to be a marketing bucket of crap, but Jim Ryan forbid we should say good things about Microsoft.
Microsoft is not my favorite company or console, but it’s doing some good things over there. It’s necessary after the way the last Xbox launch was handled. Game Pass is a cool idea. The commitment to backward compatibility and improving older games is a great idea. It has started to purchase developers to create more games, so it understands and is trying to remedy past weaknesses. Microsoft has been more open to the idea of cross-play. It’s taking steps to give customers what they want, and that’s a good thing. I don’t have to love Microsoft or even like them, but I can still say something it does is good or even better than PlayStation.
Saying good things about Microsoft doesn’t take anything away from PlayStation. I’m not cheating on a spouse or blaspheming my god. Despite writing for a PlayStation-focused site and being a PlayStation gamer first for many years, my true love is gaming, not the brand. PlayStation and more so the developers who support it have given me the games and experience that best fits what I want, and I hope that will continue. It’s up to me to carefully consider my options and how to spend my money.
I don’t think we need to silence dissent or shout down people who want things to be better. An ideological purge has never encouraged a company to improve, and your actions as one of its templar forces don’t help your interests in the long run. It’s not above reproach. We can recognize its faults and still be extremely happy with our console of choice.
If you love PlayStation, love it. I think it’s awesome too, but it’ll never be my religion. I will always remain a critical consumer focused on making the company and console better, not a brain-washed member of the Holy PlayStation Church.