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Just a geek at heart

June 23, 2011

(Picture credits to Sega and the BBC)

I saw this article on the BBC website today about how Sonic the Hedgehog has turned 20.

Which for starters makes me feel a little old, because I played it when it first came out.

I remember the Christmas I got my Game Gear, preloaded with Sonic.

It was exciting.  Once it’d been explained why I got that and not the GameBoy I’d asked for.

They’d picked the Game Gear because it was technologically superior; backlit screen, stereo sound, full colour.  They thought this would be great as I’d be able to play it in the dark, on long car journeys (which there were a lot of when I was a kid).

While I just wanted to play the game that everyone else was talking about at school.  I wanted a GameBoy because I wanted to play Mario Bros.

At the heart of this there’s an interesting debate for the tech/console world, and just how far branding can go in terms of importance.

In the world of consoles it’s not the platform brand that is important.  It’s what goes on it.

PS3 should by rights be the bigger console.  It is far and away the better machine.  Better graphics, better processing, more storage on disc (gone are the days of RPGs spanning multiple discs – thanks FFVIII).  It has more potential for gaming that is still pretty much untapped.

So how have Microsoft sold more than a million more consoles? Apparently the answer to this question is simple: Halo.

I went down the PlayStation route because of a game. Despite the fact it’s now cross-platform I’m still a PS advocate.

In a pure, hardcore gaming shootout, the games dictate which wins.

Which is interesting in itself.  There’s a complete loyalty or fandom, and I’m still not quite sure how that works.  Or how it ties into the main console brand.

So I’m really interested to see how PlayStation recovers from the PR nightmare that was the PSN going down for weeks.  Will this really damage its brand? Or will it bounce back because, at the end of the day, it’s the only / best way for some people to access the brands that they are really loyal to?

I wonder whether the relationship between the two types of brands – the consoles and the games – is as symbiotic as I think it is. And if this will change as more and more games hedge their bets and go cross-platform…


8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2011 12:25 pm

    No no no!!

    PS3 is not clearly better. It has a better processor (but one that is really hard to program), but the graphics chip is weaker than the one in 360.
    Also the higher storage capacity is barely needed, and means very slow access and loading times.

    I had a Gameboy and a Gamegear (traded one for the other) and thought both were amazing. Had GG had better battery life it may have stood a chance, but even Sonic (which looked incredible at the time) couldn’t take on Tetris and a decent battery life.

  2. July 14, 2011 1:16 pm

    Am I being too partisan?!

    Admittedly I understand less from a pure tech viewpoint, but my liking for massive RPGs means that the storage space on disc helps…

    Also, I take your graphics chip, but isn’t the PS3 better at surfaces like water etc.?

    And, I raise you a blu-ray player. Maybe that undermines my point about pure gaming, but it does make it the better home entertainment system (and incidentally won blu-ray the war?)

    I had the extra rechargeable power pack – bulky but meant it would last the 8 hours to my grandparents house. Those were the days 🙂

    • July 14, 2011 2:17 pm

      Well, maybe a touch!

      But even the biggest game on 360 is only two discs, and the slow read time of blu ray means you have to install most games (because it can’t read fast enough to play normally).

      Using blu ray also means the cost went up, which meant sony lost hundreds of dollars on each unit.

      Blu ray is useful, but in the age of downloads it is only a minor selling point, and given the extra cost it adds over the 360, you are still paying for it.

      No. Blu ray won the battle, downloads won the war.

      • July 14, 2011 2:19 pm

        PS3 is good with a number of things, but most 360 versions look better. The 360 graphic chip is excellent at scaling and antialiasing, which helps things look smoother and better.

        Only a tiny number of developers can make PS3 look better than 360. A case of good chips, but lack of focus on the development process.

        Damn, I’m such a geek. !

      • July 14, 2011 9:40 pm

        Okay, 100% gamer then maybe (bar a few franchises) the 360 would win on graphics – because the PS3 versions are ports not written specifically for the PS3 platform.

        This brings me back to the original point though – its the games that inspire the loyalty. What made you an xbox advocate?

        And a bit of geekery is always good 🙂

      • July 15, 2011 12:11 pm

        There are some good ports – Criterion always use the strengths of each machine well.

        Well I’m mainly a Nintendo fan, not really an advocate more than a critical analyst geek… but I got the 360 based on the games. For a long time PS3 had very few decent exclusives. Stuff like Crackdown, Forza, Gears of War, and Halo 3 helped.

        I was a huge Ps1 advocate at the time, a Gamecube fan, and then a big Wii fan. 360 sort of snuck in there by having some amazing games.

        If you haven’t played Bayonetta yet, you must.

  3. July 15, 2011 12:27 pm

    Gears of War / Halo / the larger community for Call of Duty is why I’m now a 2 console household – but PS3 was the console of choice back in the day when it was the only way to access Final Fantasy / Star Ocean (FFXiii being a good example of the port from PS3 to Xbox being a bit substandard).

    Nintendo has been really interesting – even from a less techy / more brand led viewpoint. Goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to challenger brand strategy, but brilliant way to grow the market.

    I’ll check out Bayonetta 🙂 thanks for the recommendation. Heavy Rain was the last really stunning thing I’ve seen on PS.

  4. July 15, 2011 2:31 pm

    Get it on 360, the PS3 port isn’t as good (jerky).
    On 360 it’s brilliant. A little weird but amazing to play.

    Nintendo take cheap new things and use them in an interesting way, its a fascinating approach really.

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