Sunday, May 28, 2006

Confessions amidst the quarters

I’ve got a secret. A secret so dark, a secret so vile that upon unearthing this covert little gem, my image (as it were) may well be altered from this point forward. Actually, it’s not really that big a secret if you’ve read the blog (or you know me), and if you know anything at all about Xbox Live…then it already goes without saying. So, forgive me for a moment while I stretch out and indulge my innermost nerd.

I am a gamer. Some might even say that I’m a hardcore gamer. It’s a stupid label in a world full of stupid labels, but I don’t know what else you’d call this particular addiction of mine. Since I first found my pre-pubescent self in my local arcade hopped up on bad pizza and Mountain Dew staring up at green invaders from another world in the late 1970s, I was hooked. Call it a craving or a compulsion (hell, call it Pac-Man fever), whatever…I was in. Since that heyday, I’ve owned EVERY damned home videogame console from the time my little brother Corey and I were graced with an Atari 2600 thanks to Santa Claus circa 1982.

Such are my urges that I even ashamedly once dropped $500 on a Panasonic 3DO, and bought BOTH
of the most colossal blunders of the 90's, the Phillips CD-I and Atari Jaguar. I’m sick…I know. Hell, I splurged and ponied up with the 400 clams when Sega surprise launched their ill-fated Saturn. But I dug the hell out of Virtua Fighter, Panzer Dragoon and Daytona USA and I still own (and love) that Saturn.

But, for the first time in my lifetime…I’m sitting out a big launch. I will not be queuing up for Sony’s next big thing, the Playstation 3, in November, nor do I want my wife to surprise me with the system at Christmas. Take this lightly if you will, but I was there at launch for the original Playstation, the PS2 and the Playstation Portable (PSP). I’ll instead wait out this poor decision by the boys from Tokyo and refuse to buckle…at least until Metal Gear Solid 4 hits me where I can’t resist.

Why? Well, due to my current proximity to Los Angeles and the planet’s largest gaming show, The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), this reaction has been delayed a bit (hey! We also just had a kid!) as I only today
finally had a chance to watch the press conferences of the BIG 3 (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) that I’d heard so much about after my Ukrainian connection hooked me up with a DVD of the show.

Quarter-munching Christ, could Sony have possibly screwed the pooch any worse than they did at E3?! The Japanese giant has essentially gift wrapped the next generation and hand delivered the North American and European markets to Microsoft while at the same time not only opening the door for Nintendo in Japan, but giving them the keys to the fucking dojo.

To clarify, Sony showed NOTHING to impress on the upcoming PS3, and instead actually spent 20 full minutes showcasing Gran Turismo 4 running in high definition. Gran Turismo 4?!?! Uhm, yeah…I’ve been playing GT4 on my PS2 for a year and a half, thanks. Add to that uninspired and unimpressive demo after demo, and the lamest possible support of the PSP in the form of PS1 Ridge Racer, and the press and gamers of the world rightly greeted it all with a collective yawn.

November launch with half-assed next gen content, eh? No thanks. My Xbox 360 trounces any and everything they showed and I’ve had it for six months!

It’s almost as though Sony threw together their whole damn presentation on the plane ride across the Pacific. What was supposed to be a showcase for their continued dominance of the gaming world instead turned into a farce of EPIC proportions and has left them the butt of the joke throughout the gaming world.

Top it all off with an announced price of $600 (!?) for a fucking videogame system and one can only be left to wonder how the arrogance of the biggest kid on the block could not come back to bite them in the ass.

Honestly, none of this surprises me. In a previous life when I was running a number of Colorado stores for one of the country’s largest game retailers, I had the pleasure of attending a similar conference held only for our managers in the ninth circle of humidified hell known as Orlando. The thousand or so of us in attendance had gathered there to be wined and dined by the Big 3 and, damn did Microsoft (and Nintendo to a lesser degree) ever step up to win us over.

While Nintendo gave each of us free copies of their latest Metroid title (Prime), 50 bucks off a Gamecube system and a free Wavebird (wireless controller), the boys from Redmond came up HUGE. Microsoft not only gave EVERY manager in attendance a free year of Xbox Live, and five Xbox titles, but also an Xbox system! Mind you, at the time this was still a $250 piece of hardware.

What did Sony, the market leader and supposed dominant force in the game world give us as a show of thanks for shilling their wares for years and putting them in the top spot? Not a damn thing. Unless one counts smug tolerance of our presence at the feet of such intellectual and economic electronics giants as a gift. No? Me neither. So, I for one am not surprised in the least by the company’s arrogance shown at this E3 debacle.

I don’t believe I’ll be alone amongst the
hardcore adopters in my decision to pass on their black boxed blunder. Not to mention the Wal-Mart crowd, the Joe Six Packs of the Bible Belt which will likely (and rightly) be terrified by the sticker shock. Considering that one could buy both a 360 and Nintendo’s new Wii system for the price of one PS3…best of luck, Sony. You’re gonna need it. You lost me. And that’s something I never thought I’d say about one of your consoles.

Ah well, anybody want to buy a Phillips CD-I?

i've got a callus on my finger and my shoulder's hurting too.


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