Opinion: Console Fanboyism Is Petty – And Pathetic

Unimpressed by the reaction to his recent article on PlayStation 3 and Xbox360′s 2012 line-ups, Mark Butler sounds off on the issue of console fanboyism – and why it does us all a disservice.

Last week, I posted an article in which I argued that the PlayStation 3 has a stronger array of exclusives lined-up for 2012 than the Xbox360, and suggested this may have something to do with Microsoft’s over-reliance on Kinect.

The reaction to this opinion piece was predictable – and depressing. Xbox360 fanboys labeled me biased and deluded; Sony fanboys gloated about the superiority of their system. Both sets of enthusiasts took to the comments section to argue and duke it out with each other, and the whole fall-out left me feeling both frustrated and enraged. Welcome to the world of ‘The Fandom Menace’.

Console fanboyism is, in my opinion, one of the most utterly stupid forms of behaviour that gamers can indulge in. It is petty, unnecessary and, due to the superficial, biased arguments it throws up around important issues, detrimental to gaming as a whole.

Somewhat ironically given the number of people who lined up to accuse me of Sony bias, I happen to be an Xbox360 owner. But the fact that I own Microsoft’s console does not mean that I consequently despise the PS3 and feel the need to belittle its achievements, while championing the 360′s own. The truth is that they both have their own respective strengths, and weaknesses, and neither can be held to be truly superior to the other.

Personally, I prefer Xbox Live to the PlayStation Network, think that the Xbox’s control pad is far more satisfying and user-friendly than the PlayStation’s, believe the Achievements system is a cut above that of Trophies and – until recently – was generally happier with the exclusives available on the 360. However, having had plenty of hands-on experience with the PS3, I can also say that I reckon it has greater technical potential and capability – with many cross-platform titles boasting more impressive graphics on Sony’s console – and its own range of exclusives has now become more enticing, in my opinion, than Xbox’s own.

It angers me that serious comparisons between consoles, their output, or the companies behind them cannot be made without flaming weird tribal loyalties and reducing the discussion to a slanging match based on little more than ego and bravado. It’s a genuine problem, as it undermines the ability to raise important questions or understand the differences between the various platforms – without having to couch the argument in such blunt, unsophisticated terms as which is ‘better’. For example, my aforementioned article was largely concerned with exploring the impact of Kinect on Microsoft’s prioroties – but this was largely forgotten in the deluge of ensuing name-calling and nose-thumbing.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Fanboyism has its roots within two main forms of behaviour, neither of which are particularly desirable or noble.  The first is petty tribalism,  stemming from the desire many people have to split themselves off into distinct clans of like-minded souls, where those who differ or diagree are viewed as the enemy. When taken in good humour, such rivalry can be simply tongue-in-cheek or fun, but I find the genuine ferocity of many console fanboys nothing short of jaw-dropping. After all, this isn’t even a local sports team you’re supporting, with all the civic pride, history and weekly drama such an investment of pride involves. No – here we’re talking about loyalty to a goddamn piece of hardware.

Secondly, fanboyism is really just an extreme version of ‘brand loyalty’, which is, in and of itself, a somewhat depressing phenomenon. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with liking a particular company’s products, and sticking with something you enjoy and are familiar with, but the superficial need some people feel to attach themselves to a commercial brand – and defend the decision to do so at all costs – is genuinely irrational and creepy.

Yes, it is understandable that fans of the Fable series, and Gears Of War, may develop affection for the Xbox because of its exclusives, just as Uncharted and God Of War fans may do the same for Sony’s hardware. And it’s fine for an Xbox360 owner to rub their hands together with glee when they get to look forward to Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, just as a PS3 owner should be delighted that The Last Of Us is coming to that particular console.

But to identify so strongly with a gigantic, commercial company’s brand that you take to the forums and comment sections to abuse rival console owners, and wax lyrical about the superiority of your own, is truly bizarre. It’s like enjoying the taste of Coca-Cola over Pepsi – and then actively berating people for choosing to drink the latter. No wonder those who own multiple consoles find the whole affair baffling and hilarious in equal measure.

Ultimately, one of the great things about gaming is the diversity of experiences on offer, and this is something we should celebrate rather than squabble over. I enjoy playing a really great game regardless of the platform I’m playing it on, and my only bugbear is that lack of cash prevents me from enjoying titles on the PS3, Wii and PC more frequently, with my cross-platform endeavours generally dependent on visits to friends, relatives, or my housemate’s laptop (when he isn’t otherwise engrossed in Shogun II himself).

Console fanboyism does us all a disservice. And we’d be a great deal better off if people stopped blindly championing their chosen piece of hardware – and actually made an attempt to seriously engage with the issues facing our beloved artform.



Comments
11 Responses to “Opinion: Console Fanboyism Is Petty – And Pathetic”
  1. HD Owner says:

    Dude no one gives a shit about fanboys… You cant talk to them how much you want they wont give a shit about what you are saying and they will keep saying their things its the best things!

    Myself i loved Uncharted 3, i Loved Gears of War 3 and i cant fucking wait for Last of Us, Halo 4, God of War IV, RySe, Last Guardian and New Alan Wake!

    Fanboy miss those great games because they are fanboys, they miss some of gaming finest moments because they are blinded fanboys. Missing Gears of War 3 or Uncharted 3 should be a crime.

  2. Tom says:

    Great article, it’ll never go away though, unfortunately. I own both but only play my 360, the reason why I do is along with most of these points + the fact that my friends played on it. I think your friends make a big difference as to which console you play, that’s why I’ll never laugh at someone who plays PS3 only.

    And Pepsi Max over any Coca Cola any day of the week! :P

  3. JS1HUNDRED says:

    I agree completely. These people are ridiculous. I am like Tom. I have always had a 360, as have all of my friends. I recently got a PS3, but only so i can play its exclusives. But I still barely use it.

    PS I cant stand Pepsi :P

  4. WTH says:

    I have to 100% agree with the headline: Console Fanboyism Is indeed Petty – And Pathetic.
    The only sad thing is that the writer himself is a living example of that statement based on his earlier piece.

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s entitled to his opinion as much as anyone else, but when your opinion is so one sided, so biased and lucking any perspective – you can’t complain when people disagree with you and butcher your failing arguments.

    The logic that “Microsoft over relies on Kinect” might have a valid ground, but when author arguments are comprised of bashing titles (calling Halo “fanboy cause celebre”, Alan Wake “underwhelming” and Fable “hype-athon”), ignoring other titles, and being wrong about more titles – he demonstrates why he himself is the problem mentioned in the headline here.|

    Let’s go over the arguments:
    On The PS3 he mentions Twisted Metal, Starhawk, The Last Of Us, God Of War IV, The Last Guardian and Amy.
    On the Xbox 360 he mentions Halo 4, Fable, Alan Wake. And then he moves on to talk about worrying lack of originality on the Xbox platform.

    But saying that completely ignores the fact that neither Starhawk, Twisted Metal, or God of War IV are new and original IPs. Moreover, Amy is a multiplatform title heading to the Xbox as well…
    So the originality on the PS3 in 2012 can be summed up to The Last Guardian and The Last of Us? Neither are even confirmed to year 2012, and The Last Guardian development process had so much troubles so far that we’ll be lucky to even see it released in the far future. PS fanboys are waving this game in the exclusivity war since around 2008 when it was still codemaned Project Trico, but we are yet to even have a confirmed release date.
    Even worse? Speculating on games such as god of war IV which haven’t even been announced yet. How about we throw in every unannounced and made up Xbox game to the pile then?
    So what 2012 CONFIRMED games are we left with on the PS3 front from this list? Starhawk and Twisted Metal – both are two old IPs dating back to the original PS3, and neither is considered a spectacular game on the scale of GOW IV and The Last Guardian. If anything, I would have mentioned instead Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time which has a 2012 release date.

    So then we move on to the Xbox 360 front: 5 games which are actually ANNOUNCED and CONFIRMED for 2012.
    So yes, two of them are coming from the PC front. But who gives a heck? Will you be able to play them on the Xbox 360? Yes. Will you be able to play them on the PS3? Likely no. And the best thing? These are probably the top 2 PC exclusive titles in 2011, so this means great third party support for the Xbox 360 and two titles which already proved themselves and can be considered must have games.

    And then there are Halo, Alan Wake and Fable, three flagship games for the Xbox coming in the same year. Fable being always overhyped by PM does not detract anything from the fact that these are all still solid games with proven developer track record. Even with the third game being not as compelling as the earlier two, this is still a series can still easily compete with the quality of Starhawk and Twisted Metal franchise.
    The same goes for Alan Wake, which I have no idea how it can be classified as “solid but underwhelming” or “same old name” when it’s just the second iteration of a very good and original IP. It sounds jaded and one sided when this claim is attached to AW and not to the lot of PS3 games from generations past.

    As for the “fanboy cause celebre” Halo 4 (wait, couldn’t this also be said about GOW 4?), I don’t see anything wrong with expecting a new story in the Halo universe revolving around the chief, especially considering the fact that we haven’t had a proper sequel to the trilogy since Halo 3 in 2007, and the fact that there is a new all-star studio expected to bring something fresh to one of the most beloved series.

    And you know what you can top all that with? That’s right! XBLA games. Considering the fact that you bothered to mention PSN exclusive Amy (which is most likely to be just a timed exclusive, if at all), how come you didn’t mention all the exciting announced games coming to XBLA? Here’s a quick rundown:
    Trials Evolution, Fez, Battleblock Theater, Retro City Rampage, Skulls of the Shogun, and so on…

    I don’t know about you, but to me this whole list looks like a more diverse and compelling list of games than what is expected on the PS3 in 2012 (which is the opposite of what I think about 2011), but I would never go as far as writing a trolling article claiming that it “trumps” the PS3 line, or that Sony is abandoning their hardcore PS3 players in favor of Vita.
    And even if I had, I would definitely never bash PS3 games and their fans just because I can’t come up with and logical argument, and then cry and whine about console fanboyism when people respond and prove me wrong…

    • Mark Butler says:

      This is really starting to get quite hilarious now. If you’re calling me a PS3 fanboy, as the beginning of your comment appears to suggest, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention. For the last time – I am an XBOX360 OWNER.

      My original article was not motivated by inherent bias towards Sony’s console (I don’t even have one in my possession – so how would that work?). It is simply my opinion that the PS3 has better exclusives lined up for 2012 than the Xbox360. That’s it.

      You can accuse me of bias all you like, but that’s just the way I see it. For example, you state that you’ve no idea how Alan Wake can be termed “solid but underwhelming”, but guess what? Having played the game thoroughly, that was my own personal verdict, and I really don’t find myself all that excited about an even more action-orientated follow-up. It was an opinion piece, and I expressed my opinion. Is that so hard to contemplate?

      Moreover, you seem to have completely missed the point of why I chose to write this second article. I did so not because people disagreed with what I had to say. Of course people aren’t always going to agree with my point of view (and, like yourself, they frequently tell me so). I did so to respond to the petty squabbling and doing-down that broke out in the comments section, with PS3 fanboys attacking Xbox, and Xbox fanboys bashing Sony, and the accusations of bias thrown my way by Xbox fanboys, who clearly saw me as some kind of flame-baiting Sony zealot – as you yourself seem to – even though I am no such thing.

      You can disagree with me all you like. That’s your right. But accusing me of being a fanboy for a console I don’t own is just plain silly.

      • WTH says:

        I’m not calling you a PS3 fanboy, that’s a tag you may have earned from other people (rightfully or not). The “I own an Xbox” is not a valid excuse, just like “I own a PS3″ is not a valid excuse when you get the facts wrong and when an opinion piece is jaded and one sided (I’m not gonna talk about concepts like buyer’s remorse).

        I’m just saying (like you do) that Console Fanboyism is pathetic in general, but from your previous article you sound one like yourself – by bashing one console yourself without any regards to actual facts.
        Maybe I am wrong, but to write something like what you wrote, one can be either a fanboy, a troll or just plain ignorant (and in most cases a combination of these). You’re claiming you’re not a fanboy, so which one are you then? Did you write that post just as a flamebait for hits? Or are you seriously that ignorant?

        After all, your reply talks about everything around the subject and none of the actual points I raised. I mentioned quite a few misconceptions, fallacies, wrong facts and bad logic in your arguments – and you addressed none of these. It seems that what you fail to understand is that the general backlash you got in the comment section to the previous article was exactly because of that and not because people are fanboys (well, some are. But this still doesn’t change the general validity of your arguments).

        Moreover, you are mixing facts, speculation and opinion: if you think that Alan Wake is “underwhelming” and this is your personal opinion, good for you. But Then you try to mix this with facts and speculation that MS lineup is not as good because of kinect, and claim that Alan Wake constitutes to “same old names” – this is plain wrong.
        It makes as much sense as if someone who personally thought that GOW 3 is underwhelming (opinion) will then use it as an argument to say that Sony lineup is weak in 2012 compared to the Xbox (getting the facts and the actual release schedule wrong) because they “probably focus on the Vita” (speculation).

        • Mark Butler says:

          I’m sorry, but you seem to be labouring under a serious misconception here.

          You say that “to write something like what you wrote, one can be either a fanboy, a troll or just plain ignorant (and in most cases a combination of these).”

          That’s just plain rubbish. I happen to believe that the PS3 has better exclusives lined-up for this year- and of course the article expressed that as I saw it.

          Does that make me a fanboy? Well, only if I wrote it because I have a diehard affinity for Sony’s output that leaves me completely biased, and I don’t.

          Does it make me a troll? Well, only if I wrote it purely to aggravate people like yourself, and generate hits, and I can assure you I didn’t.

          Does it make me ignorant? You clearly seem to think so. You’ve pointed out where you believe I’m talking a load of nonsense, and I can handle that.

          But bear in mind that most of your criticism seems to derive not from actual factual inaccuracies on my part, but from your differing perspective on the issue, and interpretation of the facts.

          There are plenty of other people, regardless of which console they own who (shock horror) actually agree with me on this subject. Are they all fanboys, trolls and ignorant morons too? Or do they simply have a different outlook to yourself? Ultimately it comes down to a matter of opinion, which is what my original piece was naturally based around.

          I never said it was an objective fact that the PS3′s line-up is stronger this year. That just happens to be my opinion, and by simply expressing it strongly and clearly I have been called ‘biased’ and ‘one-sided’ by yourself and others.

          Ultimately, I find your assumption that to hold my own personal views on the matter I must be a “fanboy, troll or ignorant”, deeply flawed.

          • Mark Butler says:

            P.S. Because you accused me of talking around the issues you raised, let me briefly confront the major ones head on:

            1) The Last Guardian and The Last Of Us may not be confirmed for 2012, but they are looking probable for release this year, and are highly promising original IPs. Can you name any equivalently-exciting original prospects heading for the 360?

            2) Witcher 2 and Minecraft are fine games to have ported to the system, but they have been out on PC for a long while already, and I cannot see them working better on a console set-up than they do in their present form.

            3) You’re right to point out that Amy is not actually a PSN exclusive as I stated. I made a mistake there, and I hold my hands up on that one.

            4) You expressed your own enthusiasm for Fable: The Journey and Halo 4. It is not an enthusiasm I happen to share – hence me writing the original article in the first place.

  5. axelstone says:

    Mr. Mark Butler I have read your post and I respect it. And yes, fanboyism has became ridiculous & out of control.

    Look how a positive, factual article like that is taken nowadays? Its just sad.

    But have you ever posted an article on the root of this chaos?

    The Irresponsible Western Gaming Media created fanboys!
    I don’t know in Japan, but that is the big problem.here in the West. Fanboys are victims of media manipulation.
    Media has turned this industry into how horrible Hollywood has become.
    Low life bloggers help convert a lot of sensible gamers into lowlife fanboys by twisting facts.

    Negative Publicity should stop.
    The even more sadder & disappointing fact is the media is taking advantage of the fanboys by using Negative Publicity to feed their businesses. This is really so uncivilized behavior from Western gaming media – US & UK.

    This is Video Games not Hollywood!
    Gamers don’t need controversies, politics, grand sales figures every week, flame bait articles, word war, click bait reviews..We just want to play great games. The gaming media should stop this. Its doing more harm than good.

    If you don’t want to get annoyed by fanboyism you should tell your media buddies to stop their negative crap, too.

    It will benefit the gamers , the media, the developers, the publishers, and the big Three.

  6. Tyler says:

    Agreed 100%. I am an Xbox 360 and a Wii (and PC if my crappy laptop counts) owner, but I personally have nothing against PS3. I don’t know much about its exclusives or their quality, but I’m not one of those sad assholes who’s going to start attcking others based on what piece of plastic they own.

  7. N7 Shepard says:

    i play on pc and i buy both xbox 360 and ps3 to play kill zone and halo gears of war resistance fall of man and console fanboys are pathetic saying nect gen consoles replace ……. pc gaming so that is an insult someday so immature so stupid wi wish some people saw their stupidity

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