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RANT: Viral marketing cause of console flame wars?

We're going to start qualifying even the rants with that warning, but it doesn't make the subject matter any less important. Well, I think it's important. See, I've got this theory. Hear it out before you pass it off as Sony-spin, because this includes Sony in it as well -- not necessarily positively. A while back, I remember an article in some magazine (goodness, I can't recall the name of it) where a man being interviewed admitted to taking part of a fairly sketch side of what's known as Viral Marketing -- using existing social networks to spread brand awareness, promotion, etc.

The guy, I believe he was on Counterstrike, would make friends with players and slowly start to fill their minds with what products they should buy, you know, "as a friend". Sometimes it's an obvious ploy, sometimes the people are really, really good at it. Keeping that in mind, let's turn "brand awareness" into "brand identity" and allocate the same general concept. The console companies (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) are actively engaging in such activities on the internet. No, we're not talking about Major Nelson (is that right?) or ThreeSpeech -- propaganda blogs that will spin whatever they can, however they can, into positive news for themselves and their company (ThreeSpeech not as much).

We're talking about you: the commentors. Please, don't stop commenting, but here us out on this. Is it not remotely plausible that those who visit blogs like this one, or Joystiq, or 360Fanboy, or any blog affiliated with gaming (each with their respective biases), could be hired by any of the console companies to slowly gain trust in the community, then begin to propogate their companies agenda in the form of trolling or flaming? Not even that extreme -- expressing detailed support of one console or another while remaining kind towards the competition may be suspect. Since the internet spreads news so quickly, these companies may have jumped on board to keep the good news good or make the bad news worse.

We're not trying to make everyone suspicious of one another, but it's something to think about. Are the 360 fans that frequent this site really here because they want to? That doesn't make sense. What if Microsoft wanted them to come and check things out, possibly argue people into their camp? What if Sony is doing the same on 360Fanboy? Or if Sony has people checking out PS3 sites just to post a "good job" or "Sony rules"? Like I said, it's just a theory... don't get suspicious of one another. Trust me, this blog is still too small to get that kind of attention. Maybe.

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(Page 1)

1. Sony rules.

Posted at 1:20PM on Jan 26th 2007 by matthew

2. makes me wonder about pixelator ;D

Posted at 1:37PM on Jan 26th 2007 by alienclay

3. "suspicion turned off"
that aside, i wonder who much power public opnion on blogs like these really has on sales?
i mean, if you run around more than casualy on ps3 fanboy is it not true that most likely you are a ps3 fanboy looking for ps3 information? we see trolls from time to time but i would think they are the exception to normal fanboy blogers.

Posted at 1:40PM on Jan 26th 2007 by alienclay

4. I definitely wouldn't put it past Sony since they've already been in touble for a similar thing. Haha

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4741259.stm

Not to mention the whole Sony music CD fiasco containing spyware.

http://news.com.com/Sony+settles+rootkit+class+action+lawsuit/2100-1002_3-6012173.html

Posted at 1:43PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Matt

5. Caught me fair and square. I've been on here trolling for Pilsbury and their delicious Cinnamon Squares.

Seriously though, it does beg the question as to why so many xfannies spend so much time on here and joystiq, talking about how much they play their 360 when it seems like they must have very little time to do so, with so much of that available time being spent on being here... do they not work? sleep? This could shed some light on the term Xbot.

I have also noticed a lot of people that so blindly disregard falling points of Nintendo and Sony as well with a "good job" or a "Thank you (company)!" whenever the slightest positive news nugget surfaces. A good example is how so many supposed Nintendo fans bash Sony's online when the Wii has yet to even launch it's own online service. How are they so sure that it isn't any better or worse? Sony fans also do the whole "something awesome is just around the corner guys..." thing in various forums, and then never come back to feed us. No? Nothing around the corner?

It's possible, and highly likely that every and anything we could think of that Sony/M$/Nintendo are doing to win our trust in a "viral" manner. The DS and 360 ads in PS3 magazines are pretty bizarre if not inappropriate, as well as the little grouplets(my word) of fannies on Digg.com of all three companies that keep posting OLD or misconstrued articles to undermine the competition.

But seriously, I had some of those little cinnamon square things last night and they were SO good. Make sure you use a fork because the icing and cinnamon gets all sticky, and you have to wash your hands afterward.

Posted at 1:51PM on Jan 26th 2007 by OrganicShadow

6. As a Xbox360 guy I must say you make a compelling arguement in general, but this is line is ridiculous.

"Are the 360 fans that frequent this site really here because they want to? That doesn't make sense. What if Microsoft wanted them to come and check things out, possibly argue people into their camp?"

There is an entirely possible and more plausable reason for us flaming Sony.

Here it is: Schadenfreude
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude

I myself used to like Sony back in those good old PS1 days. Sadly my disdaine started as soon as I noticed load times (right around the time I got the Xbox). I was interested in all 3 consoles, but then the Sony PR blunder juggernaught started rolling and never stopped.

So whenever I send a story to one of my friends with a Laugh at Sony's misfortune its because of Schadenfreude.

I have an even bigger conspiracly theory for you though. Why is it this is being posted the day after the PSP oops I accidently used PGR3 for a pic of GT4? Could it be you're being paid to deflect the complete embarressment that this incident caused?
Schadenfreude

Posted at 1:53PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Nick

7. Nick,

Schadenfreude, very nice. That's exactly what it is for me too.

Posted at 2:01PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Matt

8. You've brought up a pretty good point. I remember a little while ago that Joystiq outed an IGN employee trolling on their blogs. I'm sure there's some community management employees from each company monitoring these blogs and news sites, but I don't think to the point of disruption for brand promotion (except of course the IGN guy).

Fanatics will be fanatics and some are more extreme than others. And because of this extremism, some fans will always cheer on and defend the brand that they've sunk their hard-earned money into the most. There has to be a way to externally justify your investment, right? And I believe that's what fanboys do and why they are as such.

Companies don't really need to hire anyone to troll. They have plenty of people around the world to do that for free.

Posted at 2:07PM on Jan 26th 2007 by E.J.

9. If Sony is paying people to covertly spread good word of mouth and buzz about the PS3, they're doing about as lousy as a job as they possibly could. PS3 bashing is the latest internet fad, online and in the real world.

Posted at 2:08PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Steve

10. Please note the following typos in my response since I'm going to get flamed on them anyways and I really didnt care to spellcheck:

juggernaut
disdain
conspiracy not sonspiracly
embarrassment not embarressment

Although I think sonspiracly can totally catch on in a "All Your Base Are Belong to Us sort of way.

Happy flaming now :) I know its going to be totally ironic when the fanbase flames me in a post where a PS3Fanboy is accusing all of us of being on the take.

Posted at 2:09PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Nick

11. Nick, be sure to fix "but here us out on this." as well too :)

But in all honesty, I don't think there's any viral marketing going on. Just the vocal minority of fanboys passionate about their system of choice. People whine, so you know.

Posted at 2:19PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Will

12. Quote:
6. As a Xbox360 guy I must say you make a compelling arguement in general, but this is line is ridiculous.

"Are the 360 fans that frequent this site really here because they want to? That doesn't make sense. What if Microsoft wanted them to come and check things out, possibly argue people into their camp?"

@Nick,

ndoerr also follows that up with:

"What if Sony is doing the same on 360Fanboy? Or if Sony has people checking out PS3 sites just to post a "good job" or "Sony rules"?"

Besides, why are companies' marketing departments/programs COMPLETELY controlling your purchasing decisions? Why not make the decision on your own by trying the product out instead of being a consumerist drone?

Please, try to think for yourself. It's good for your brain.

Posted at 2:22PM on Jan 26th 2007 by E.J.

13. You may as well ask if viral marketing is responsible for sports team rivalries, OS flame wars, car brand loyalty, or anything else remotely competitive.

When there are two or more options performing the same overall concept in slightly different, each offering something the other does not, people will pick sides. Fans will range from accepting to casual to extremist, whether it be in games, sports, politics, religion, you name it.

But no, a subversive marketing conspiracy isn't the reason why people bash Sony. Everyone likes to see a once great giant fall, especially when it's from their own undoing. It's the exact opposite of the classic underdog story. Goliath gets his due. Schadenfreude all the way.

Posted at 2:31PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Joop

14. We've been seeing Microsoft do this on here for some time now. Microsoft also did this when the original Xbox came out. I don't know if Sony people do this. I went to xbox360 fansite one time-- as many people have pointed out, why would xbox360 owners waste their time on a PS3Fanboy site? There are some rare instances where those owners believe they are being patriotic by supporting an American-made device. But most owners are just going to be playing that device, not wasting their time on here, spreading hate. The PS3 programs tend to have much higher dynamics (a sort of contrast ratio thing, term used in cinematography and a heavier use of esoteric lens angles. Certain 'lenses' can't be done on old-gen, because of the processing required to move huge background images that have been zoomed up. But the effect on gameplay is much more cinematic. This is why x360 tends to still look like a computer game and not a next-gen one.

Oh, that and the ridiculous frame-rate skipping. Some people don't notice this but to those who do, watching a basketball game, Tomb Raider (try scrolling sideways in the jungle) and even Ridge Racer, the frame-rate problems are obvious. These are probably all one-core games. Too bad that machine heats up when you use more than one core...

It's sad that Sony has so much hate because of Microsoft's disinformation campaign. And yes, they know all about disinformation. Look at the Gates' contribution to rid Africa of AIDS. Turns out the money only goes to pharmaceutical companies (of which they own much stock) and not the vastly cheaper and more practical generic drug companies. So it looks like he's got a big heart, but he hasn't. He's about as scheming as Dick Cheney, just less evil.

Posted at 2:33PM on Jan 26th 2007 by John

15. I like to think the 360 fans are here for the same reason I'm here. They want their console (the machine they paid money for) to succeed (or not come in last and lose support so early in life like the XBox1/Dreamcast/Jaguar/etc.) Most people, Schadenfreude'ing(?) or not, don't want to see the console they bought finish last. I only wish I was getting paid to dig up facts when other's post rumors. I just want my gaming experience to be the best it can. I could care less if the games go multi-platform (that actually helps everyone feel included) Exclusive content makes people feel left out and I feel it's probably the main match that starts most flame wars.

Just give me my PS3, my upgraded hard drive, it's media potential, physics enhancements, motion sensing and all the games that the other guy's have and I'll be happy. I never liked "rumble" so I could care less about that. My decision was based on the hardware and the feature set. Not the name. I even bought the 20G for three reasons. I don't have any memory sticks or a digital camera (if you can believe it), I wanted to upgrade the drive (so why pay extra for one I was going to replace) and my router sits in my living room within range of the PS3. I don't need exclusives to make my day, just content. I'd hate to see the PS3 come in last place and developers jump ship. I just plead to the developers to develop on all three if possible. Have the user decide what they want to buy on features of the system. I happen to like graphics, physics and motion sensing so the PS3 was a perfect fit without having the need for two systems, more controllers laying around and more cables off the back of my TV. If the console all fair the same, we'll see Sony/MS/Nintendo try to snatch exclusives to try to grab sales then the wars will begin. Can't we all just get along here?

Posted at 2:56PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Andir2.0

16. I guess you could call me a 360 Fanboy because I think my 360 has much more to offer (and I like the controller much better) then the PS3. I have a PS3 too, but it mostly collects dust since there aren't many good games out for it yet. I "troll" this forum (and 360Fanboy) because I like to keep up-to-date on the latest game info.

Posted at 2:59PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Rob Holiday

17. hahaha thats hilarious, as a side note, these FRITO-LAY® Cheesy Pooofs™ are delicious.

Posted at 3:05PM on Jan 26th 2007 by j

18. I heard that Microsoft is paying people to buy Xbox 360s in order to increase sales. No wonder they sold nearly 9 million through to customers!

Posted at 3:07PM on Jan 26th 2007 by Jesse

19. Wow! Great responses, guys!

@ Nick -- about that PGR3 -> GT4 thing... I actually haven't heard about that. Well, I've heard of it, but I haven't looked into it. Had a handful of tests today, so I've been less-than-involved with the gaming news market today. I'll look it up and write about it possibly tomorrow.

Posted at 3:13PM on Jan 26th 2007 by ndoerr

20. @j haha, you beat me to the TM and R symbols. too lazy to open character map.

@ Andir2.0

You make a good point. As long as their is content and one box under my TV im happy really, but the thing is that even if all games come out on each of the 3 systems PS3 automatically loses because of price, and 360 automatically wins because it's the middle man with price, and on par with PS3 graphics. So the PS3 is kinda fuxt from the start so to speak.

It's not really a matter of which games come out for what, it's a matter of the installed user base making an impact on which console developers choose to or not to support, and without any exclusives to push people to buy PS3's, the head start of the 360 in that department looks mighty tasty.

I see where you are coming from, and I don't want to see my console of choice fail either. PS3-hating has become the new internet fad, and seems to be quickly replacing Windows as one of the top targets- regardless of how much flak Vista is drawing. I can understand DEFENDING your console for this reason, but not deliberately taking the time to go out and sabotage the other "camp" with misinformation and the fake alliance to other companies.

Posted at 3:20PM on Jan 26th 2007 by OrganicShadow

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