I’m way too old and disinterested to be getting into a “which console rocks hardest” battle, but I still read the videogame blogs and am bemused by the wackiness surrounding the Nintendo Wii.
Specifically, it has the power to turn people into hypocrites. First was this quote from one of Sony Australia’s managers saying that the Wii was “a bit pricey.” If you’re not laughing, it means that you haven’t been following the next gen console battles and aren’t aware that the Sony Playstation 3 is going to cost six hundred dollars in the US, and, according to the blog post, an even thousand of those funny Australian “dollars”. I heard something about the PS3’s price being reduced, where now in the US it will only cost you 500 bucks and a kidney.
Now, there’s this couple of quotes about the system. Somebody from San Rafael game developer Factor 5 called it the “GameCube 1.5” and criticized it for not distinguishing itself enough from the previous generation console. Factor 5, you may remember, is the company that built its reputation with Rogue Squadron VIII, also known as Shadows of the Empire 10.5.1, also known as What the Hell, Let’s Do the Death Star Trench Run and Hoth Battle One More Time Because God Knows You Lapped it Up Like Starving Dogs The First Dozen Times We Sold It To You.
It seems pretty clear to me that Nintendo is taking the same tack with the Wii that it did with the Nintendo DS. That is, release an incremental update to the hardware with a fundamental change in the way the games are played.
I was as big a nay-sayer as anybody else when the DS and Sony PSP were first released; the PSP clearly had better hardware (and it still does), a better screen, and was just a better machine overall. And I’ve seen how wrong I was about that. My PSP is now collecting dust, while I still pull out the DS at least once a month. Because Nintendo knows how to make games; there’s always at least one or two classic, must-have titles exclusive to the system. People remember how they played a game, not whether it had a higher resolution than its predecessor.
I’ve got a couple of friends who work for Sony, so I feel kind of bad for saying it, but: there’s no way in hell I’m getting a PS3 anytime soon. This isn’t like when I swore I’d never get an Xbox 360, either; that was just a case of my trying to talk myself out of buying it. My opinion of the PS3 started with my assumption that of course I’d have to buy one, then changed to lack of interest once I saw how capable the Xbox 360 is, then complete lack of interest once I found out how expensive the thing is going to be, and now active contempt.
The contempt comes from the arrogance Sony’s taken in releasing the thing, and their refusal to learn from past mistakes, like with the PSP. The PS3 just seems completely inessential. It’s just prettier versions of the exact same types of games that are already available on the 360 and the PS2. It’s got a DVD player in a format that no one needs yet, because there’s not enough content available for it. And charging that much for an inessential machine just strikes me as arrogant.
Combine that with all the other little criticisms: the batteries in the wireless controller can’t be replaced; the PS3 only works with its own remote and is incompatible with universal remotes because there’s no IR sensor; the online service sounds as if it’s going to be a big, decentralized mess similar to the one that failed on the PS2. I keep getting reminded of the Memory Stick and the UMD — the company’s shoving formats down our throats, trying to sell us what they want us to have, instead of what we actually want.
The whole videogame console business is seeming increasingly irrelevant to me, the less I become an employee and the more I become just a fan. The 360 does everything I want: it’s got a lot of fun games, it’s got an online system that’s so well-designed I still can’t believe it’s from Microsoft, and its DVD player is streamlined enough that I can finally get rid of my old standalone player. The Wii just looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. The PS3 has so little appeal to me that I figure I’m just not their target market. But with as much Sony crap as I’ve already bought and my tendency to spend all my discretionary income on overpriced gadgets, if I’m not the target market, then who the hell is?