Daily Reaction: The History of Console Trolling – Should Sony and Microsoft Continue?

With both Sony and Microsoft trash talking each other more and more as the next generation draws closer, the reaction to their antics has been mixed. Is it funny? Is it childish? Is it necessary? Daily Reaction’s Seb and Dan discuss.

Seb: Before I get into this subject, it’s probably best to give everyone a quick rundown of some of the little fights, jokey comments and open insults flung around by Sony and Microsoft so far:

Sony kicked things off by running PS4 ads like “we didn’t just build a box” and “play beyond the box” for Xbox related Google searches just before the Xbox One’s official reveal, and then followed it up with Tweets like “As it’s a slow news day…” as the reveal took place.

Things really kicked into gear at E3, after Sony announced that the PS4 wouldn’t have any new used game/DRM restrictions, repeating that it wouldn’t need connection, and then promptly released an ultra-trolly video of Shuhei Yoshida ‘sharing’ a used game by handing it to someone. That video went on to get an epic 13,969,047 views, making it the PlayStation channel’s second most popular video of all time.

The next really big troll from Sony was of course during gamescom, where Andrew House used the final moments of the gamescom press conference to announce the PS4’s release date and say:

While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining policies and a model that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.

And that’s on top of constant jokey tweets from Shuhei Yoshida, with the most recent example being a joke about how the PS4’s 32 launch regions tops Microsoft’s 13.

Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn’t been as aggressive, but they’ve thrown a few punches. Notably, they claimed they were “going to kill Sony” at E3 and released an infographic stating that there are “100 awards for [Xbox One] exclusive games at E3 vs. 42 for PS4”.

This is nothing new, in the past Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg tweeted stuff like “Just in from research team (NPD): Halo 3 has outsold Resistance 1 + 2, Uncharted 1+2, Killzone 2 and God of War III COMBINED….wow”, while Kaz Hirai said stuff like “with the Xbox… I can’t come up with one word to fit. You need a word that describes something that lacks longevity”, and Jack Tretton said that the 3DS was “a babysitting tool”. However, as there is a war on, the amount of insults is more than ever.

Now, Microsoft has come out and accused “certain people” of trying to make the Xbox One’s U-turns sound like “a bad thing”, when reacting to feedback was actually “a strength”.

Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer said:

The thing I love about the space we’re in is you’re always going to get feedback… people are going to tell you in comment threads how they feel about decisions. The two-way conversation we have with our customers is a strength. Certain people have tried to turn that into something that’s a bad thing about what we’re trying to do, and I just disagree.

So, getting back to Daily Reaction, should major corporations troll each other? Of course.

Look, not only does it make things more interesting, it humanizes the individuals at the company, often showing them as humorous people. It’s also an important way for a platform holder to criticize another, exposing flaws in a public manner that may force the company to change – for example, Sony’s jabs surely contributed to the Xbox One’s reversal, which was indeed a positive outcome. Or, if the accused company doesn’t change, they may suffer a loss in sales – for example, if Sony had told more people that the 360 charged for online while the PS3’s was free, then it may have had a noticeable impact on sales. Equally, if the insults are unfounded, it can blow up in their face, just as Jack Tretton’s comments about the 3DS were ridiculed by many of the millions of older Ninty players.

It’s like with these Daily Reactions and PSLS’ Editor’s Letters – we criticize the industry, often in a funny way, to help bring about change. If we do it wrong, we’re at risk of having egg all over our faces, but that’s just the risk of publicly criticizing another outlet.

It’s worth it.

Dan: Yeah, realistically the issue is that it is really the press and the fans that warp these comments away from their intended meaning. Most of these comments are criticisms of one company’s stance on how to go about expanding the industry, and those views rarely ever match. That means that one company will feel like they have the upper hand, because they believe they are obviously doing the right thing – after all, why else would they invest millions if they didn’t think that?

The real problem stems from the press and the gamers, in general, that use incorrect terms for these quotes, that state Sony ‘attacked’ or ‘fired’ at the competition, or vice-versa. The reality of the situation is that they are open criticisms and ‘pokes’, but some publications and fans feel like platform holders are in the middle of some dance battle just waiting to get ‘served.’

Looking at the history between major platform holders, we can see countless instances of one console taking on their competition on some form or another – that is just business.

Genesis Nintendont

The best way to blatantly express your advantage over your competition is by simply stating what you are bringing to the table that your competition isn’t. This is why we are seeing comments like the one from Andrew House at gamescom, where it simply used the perception of someone’s weakness as Sony’s own strength. This is a simple construct that, while not exactly the ‘high-ground,’ is a method to cut down the competition, while pushing oneself.

Anyone who thinks that Sony is the only one really following this ideology would be mistaken. Everyone’s favorite family friendly platform holder Nintendo has also had a few moments where they brandished their claws. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto was asked by Gizmondo about Sony and Microsoft’s motion controls and “said that Nintendo’s policy is to actually do development and figure out how the hardware is going to be used with software before making an announcement.”

Just because Microsoft has mostly been on the receiving end lately, doesn’t mean that they haven’t had their own sordid history with PR stunts or underhanded comments. Microsoft’s own Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, at one point took to his blog to breakdown the PS3’s specs, before it had launched, in comparison to the Xbox 360:

When you break down the numbers, Xbox 360 has provably more performance than PS3. Keep in mind that Sony has a track record of over promising and under delivering on technical performance.

Unsurprisingly, most of the points used in the article repeatedly took jabs at Sony’s upcoming platform and stated that the existing Xbox 360 was by far the dominant system.

The pokes from Microsoft during the launch of the PS3 were actually some of my more memorable moments in gaming history, as their execution was downright hilarious. During the PS3 launch event in Paris, Microsoft draped a bunch of boats in tarps and floated them by the line of fans waiting to pick up their PS3. Also, at another event, an Xbox Kiosk was set up with cases of beer surrounding it to portray the price difference between the two systems.

Oh, and there’s this:

PS2 Bad Narrowband Xbox UK

So, instead of continuously showing off all of the moments that these companies have been taking jabs at each other, I will just answer the question.

Should major corporations troll each other? Yes, and no. I think there needs to be a balance between being a gracious winner and a sore loser, but when things are neck and neck, feel free to show off.

Where do you stand on the matter? What was your favorite troll of all time? Let us know in the comments below, show off by emailing DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net and troll us at Seb and Dan.