The issue of gamer trust is more important than ever for console manufacturers. Earlier this year, many gamers felt betrayed or slighted by Microsoft’s initial Xbox One policies for DRM, online connectivity, Kinect 2.0 requirements and indie publishing. Some of these policies might have been the result of honest miscommunication, but that didn’t matter. As a company, you have to know your customers and how they will receive certain messages, and Microsoft failed to do this before and during E3.
Sony and Nintendo, particularly the former, seem to have more gamer trust than Microsoft at the moment. A question remains, however: do any of the big three deserve our trust?
It depends. There isn’t a dominant gaming issue that determines whether a gamer should trust Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony. I’m going to cover some of the major issues in gaming that can affect gamer trust. For each issue, I will tell you which of the big three you should trust the most. Hold onto your butts.
When people talk about their Red Ring experiences with the Xbox 360, I feel bad for them and thank the heavens that I have been lucky enough not to experience any durability issues with my 360. Sure, Microsoft has replaced many Red Ring systems, but no one should have to go through the trouble of replacing a system. With two big eighth generation consoles coming this fall, gamers around the world should pray that no durability issues arise in the next year or so.
Decades ago, Atari and Nintendo set high durability standards for popular systems. Since Atari’s death, Nintendo is the only company that has consistently put out very durable products. For example, it seems people can’t kill the GameCube even when they’re trying to. And you know that dusty NES or SNES or yours will work (perhaps with heavy blowing). Sony’s durability track record is a little bit better than Microsoft’s, but the PS2 is a sore spot. I know a guy who has gone through at least three PS2s. This story is backed by sixth generation durability tests that put the PS2 in dead last.
Who should you trust? Nintendo.
Online Multiplayer Capability/Reliability
Before I get into this, don’t misunderstand who I am. With the exception of some rather unhealthy online playing time with Street Fighter IV, I am not one of those people who play online that much. Still, it pisses me off that Nintendo refuses to make online multiplayer an option. I’d love to play The Last Blade, a stalwart Neo Geo fighter released on the Wii Virtual Console, against a slew of opponents, but guess what? Most Virtual Console games don’t support online multiplayer. Even worse, Nintendo included online multiplayer for the Genesis port of Super Street Fighter II, which is inferior to the SNES version. You know, the SNES, a Nintendo system. What the hell?
Sony and Microsoft are ahead of Nintendo on this issue, only because they give a shit about online multiplayer. As for who’s better, I can only speak about my personal experience with the 360, which has been quite consistent. I logged a lot of hours into Street Fighter IV multiplayer, and I have no complaints about the experience — well, besides the immature assholes who message you dumb shit, but that’s not Microsoft’s fault. Fellow Fate of the Game editor Dalton Miller wrote a convincing argument about why Microsoft dominates online multiplayer capability/reliability, so I’m going to trust (ahem) his word with the following verdict:
Who should you trust? Microsoft.
It’s reasonable to assume that if you pay money for a product, you should be able to share and access that product. Like I mentioned in the introduction, Microsoft seemingly tried to pull one on gamers by suggesting that your Xbox One would not play used or borrowed games. Microsoft recently backtracked on this absurd suggestion but lost a ton of gamer trust on this issue that it won’t be getting back anytime soon. Some people are still worried that Microsoft will try to screw customers on product ownership.
Meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo played their cards right. Sony in particular laughed at Microsoft’s idiotic mistake. I would make this a tie between Sony and Nintendo, but there’s something we can’t forget: digital ownership. If you’re unlucky and your Nintendo system dies, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get all of your downloaded stuff back. On a Nintendo system, your downloads are linked to the console itself, not an account (as is the case with downloads for a Microsoft or Sony system). Because of this limitation, Nintendo loses a close battle with Sony.
Who should you trust? Sony.
Let’s not pretend there’s a debate: Nintendo is the clear winner. The Wii U can play any Wii game. Just put in the disk and it’s ready to go. Plus, you can transfer your Wii Virtual Console games to your Wii U. Sony and Microsoft simply don’t give as much of a shit about backward compatibility.
Who should you trust? Nintendo.
Nintendo is the clear loser on this issue in every respect. First, Nintendo takes its sweet time with new major releases, whereas Sony and Microsoft have gone out of their way to line up numerous games for the PS4 and Xbox One, respectively. The lack of major releases on the Wii U has led some doomsayers to say Nintendo is dead. Such a claim is definitely stupid, but no one can deny the Wii U desperately needs major games.
How about indie games? Nintendo loses again. Even though the Wii U has a one-year head start and supposedly allows self-publishing, its indie library is pathetic. Nintendo keeps saying it has a lot of indie developers lined up, but when are we going to see the fruit on this tree?
How about retro games? Nintendo loses a third time. It’s a shame, too. The Wii Virtual Console is awesome, but the Wii U Virtual Console has been a bust in comparison. The only Wii U VC game that isn’t already available on the Wii VC is Earthbound. Absolutely pathetic.
Who should you trust? Microsoft or Sony.
So which company should you trust the most overall? I can’t answer that question. I discussed the gaming issues that matter the most to me, and while it seems I kind of trust Nintendo more often than not, Nintendo still pisses me off a good deal, which has prevented me from buying a Wii U. Plus, you might care more about gaming issues that I haven’t even considered. Regardless, you should go issue by issue before outright saying that you trust a console manufacturer.
So which company do you trust?