As a kid, I didn’t care much for console wars. In my family we eventually got both a PlayStation and an N64, so we just enjoyed whatever games came out. In the early 2000s I wanted both a GameCube and a PS2, but at that time we had limited funds, so in the end I stuck with Nintendo consoles. I was rewarded by the best era of gaming I ever had. Quality game after quality game released — Luigi’s Mansion, Metroid Prime, Pikmin, and many others created this sense of trust between myself and Nintendo.
Eventually, though, Nintendo lost that trust in the late 2000s, as I’ve explained before. Nintendo dropped the ball on franchises I liked, and both Nintendo and Sony failed to recapture my interest in the years that followed. Not only did the Wii U seem unnecessary, but the number of compelling games on it were slim (Pikmin 3 and Super Mario Maker). I skipped the DS because I despised Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (that sounds silly, but it’s true). I also initially passed on 3DS because all it had at the beginning were N64 ports that I liked, but had already played.
This would have been the ideal time for Sony to try and win me back, but the Greatness Awaits campaign didn’t really work for me. I essentially took it as, “Games are for hardcore dudes! It’s time to get online with your bros and shoot stuff up!” Which is a terrible stereotype, but that’s what PlayStation was advertising itself as. And that’s not my thing. And again, the games I found compelling on the system were slim (essentially Horizon Zero Dawn and Final Fantasy XV). Even worse, I knew I would almost never use a PS4 because my time in front of a TV is limited.
Now that I’m back with a console that actually makes sense and fits my lifestyle, as well as with games I can get excited about, my new relationships with these companies are in an odd place. I’m both more open-minded and forgiving to their game ideas and more distrustful of their business practices.
For example, I want to give games that I skipped a second chance, as well as try out games I never even knew existed. Soon I’ll be starting a new series called Retro Catch Up, where I’ll be revisiting old Wii, DS, and 3DS games (as well as the Dreamcast and the PS2). Furthermore, even though I feel like it’s too late for the PS4 for me, I’m open to hear Sony’s pitch for the PS5 when that comes out. I also have passing thoughts about getting a Vita, too, before I remember it’s dead.
At the same time, as an adult I’m more aware of how business affects everything, and that puts how I see these companies in a different light. I like these companies as game and hardware makers, but I’m not a fan of their business decisions. Over at Sony they certainly have many pro-consumer policies and programs, but I’m afraid they’re getting arrogant with cross-platform play. They may forget what they’ve learned during this console generation and go back to square one.
Nintendo has even less consumer friendliness, particularly with its Switch Online program. I want to play Super Smash Bros. and Overcooked 2 online, and I want to revisit the NES games to study their level design. So if the service was made for anyone, it was made for me. And yet I still feel like Nintendo’s swindling me. The way they kept quiet about the service up until a week before launch felt so underhanded. And I know that Nintendo is just going to string along their fans with the classic games, only adding SNES games once a year is up so you’ll renew your subscription. And despite a year of criticism, Nintendo is still moving forward with their app being the official support for voice chat.
But on the other hand, we’re getting Luigi’s Mansion 3, Animal Crossing, and Fire Emblem in 2019. And Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is showcasing the most I’ve ever seen Nintendo listen to their fanbase. It leaves me in a state where I like Nintendo, but can’t ever really trust them again. Now I just buy the games I like, and call them out on bad policies. I can’t put expectations on them or else I’ll go crazy. I’ve never realized how hard not having expectations can be until this year.
What do you think? Nintendo certainly has a lot to learn from Sony. I wish Sony hadn’t killed the Vita so I could play Horizon Zero Dawn on the go. These companies certainly do a lot of things right, but how do you deal with the decisions that rub you the wrong way?
EDIT: So it appears Sony is in the process of actually dipping their toe into the cross-play waters with Fortnite. If this pulls through, Nintendo will be losing one of the edges they had. But Sony did already win the war in terms of consumer friendliness anyway.