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I Don’t Connect with the Sony Fanbase Anymore.

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 01/07/18 at 04:28 PM CT

It seems like it was just yesterday: Sega was wallowing in incompetence, Nintendo was taking its first bold steps into irrelevance, and Sony – the new kid on the block – was going to save us from the incumbents’ terminal stupidity. Yes, the 1995 release of the original PlayStation, known to all at the time as the PSX, was the first major shake-up in console gaming since the Crash and resurrection of the early ‘80s, and it allowed the gaming community to look inward at itself and see who was a pragmatic lover of gaming and who was a corporate-stooge fanboy.

At the time, it felt great to throw off the shackles of Nintendo and scoff disdainfully at the company’s sudden dearth of third-party (read: Squaresoft) games, crude 3D conversions of its flagship franchises, and sudden/inexplicable fixation on PvP multi-player. While the PSX, like every PlayStation console to follow it, got off to a glacially slow start, by the time all of the teams were ready to compete head-to-head, it had nailed down enough exclusive (read: Squaresoft) games that you’d have to be blind (or intentionally wearing blinders) not to see the writing on the wall.

While I did eventually end up owning all three of the 5th Gen consoles, the PSX was my favorite by miles. There was so much genre diversity, so much quality, so much lingering 2D. It didn’t matter that the one (Squaresoft) game I was looking forward to so eagerly ended up kind of crappy; there were so many other incredibly solid options there to take its place. While each of the other 5th Gen contenders also each had at least one truly incredible game, it was also a time where it was quite easy to buy all three consoles (even on a child’s allowance and accounting for inflation) because they were sub-$200 new and typically sub-$100 used, plus the number of games released on all of the platforms was much smaller than the number of multi-platform games released today, so it was entirely possible to keep up with the top titles on every platform without having to bend the laws of spacetime and economics.

Yes, it sure felt great to be a member of Sony’s community as the ‘90s and the 20th Century came to an end. With the new, young Internet suddenly available to us, we were able to share our enthusiasm for videogames on an unprecedented scale – and somehow everyone seemed to get along (probably because the truly stupid were unable to figure out the early Internet, and were thus absent from the conversation). Sure, there were already a few cracks in the marble floors of the temple of Sony, such as the overwhelming praise heaped upon the afore-mentioned kinda-crappy Squaresoft game and the first trickling infusion of non-gamers who just wanted to soil their pants through the jump-scares of a certain crappy Capcom game.

Over the next two decades of PlayStation, things only proceeded to get worse and worse among the fanbase. The PlayStation 2 saw gameplay quality take a dip while graphical quality finally reached an acceptable base level for 3D polygons, and the Sony fanbase suddenly became infatuated with pretentious and not-particularly-fun ‘Games as Art’ titles, while the growing non-gamer/mainstream presence was positively obsessed with the brand new Action/Sandbox genre, which allowed them to dick around, pretending to be criminals, instead of playing through an enforced structure. Shooters domination hadn’t come to PlayStation yet, largely because the PlayStation 2 existed side-by-side with the Xbox OG, and gaming had become severely compartmentalized and segregated by platform. The PlayStation 2’s launch was so dismal that it sent me packing back to Nintendo, where I enjoyed the early life of the Gamecube quite a bit… but then Nintendo ran out of steam just as Sony’s slave harem of third-parties started cranking out better and more diverse content, so I found myself back with Sony for the latter half of the 6th Generation, but it never really feel like a comfortable relationship. The irrationality of the fanbase was starting to become overwhelming.

Unsurprisingly, the PlayStation 3 did nothing to inspire my adoration at launch. The console that ultimately ended up in last place for its generation seemed barely any different from the Xbox 360, with whose DudeBro fanbase I wanted no relationship. I fled back to Nintendo – again – and ended up thoroughly enjoying the Wii… but Nintendo managed to do the exact same thing they’d done with the Gamecube and allowed the library to run dry as time went on. I figured I may as well see what the PlayStation 3 could offer and jumped on the fully Backward Compatible model while it was still available. While the platform itself never managed to impress me, the fanbase actually horrified me. Where once there was an agreeable lot of nerdy gaming aficionados, there now seemed to be a monkey house. Factional schisms and mutual hatred even among a single platform’s fanbase made it nearly impossible to simply talk about games or get recommendations online because everyone had lost their minds and would defend a horrible niche title to the death or retroactively heap praise upon an older (PSX or PS2) title that was panned when it was new. Sanctuary came from the most unlikely of places: The omnipresent PC gaming community that had traditionally mocked and sneered at all things console was suddenly becoming a lot more cosmopolitan and – despite the continued presence of the “Glorious” PC Gaming Master Race – felt more like the pragmatic home for people who just wanted to play games that was the old PSX community.

Today, I no longer have anything in common with Sony’s house of fanboys, and still have absolutely no interest in the PlayStation 4 or its ‘Pro’ upgrade. These people are more factional than ever, and have doubled-down on their increasingly horrible taste in games, promoting and obsessing over high-school dramas more than the multi-platform ports of incredible games that wouldn’t have been available on any console when the PSX was king. They obsess about difficulty and demand that everyone ‘git gud’ or GTFO; they pursue the Pavlovian ‘ding’ of the Trophy pop-up at the expense of actually enjoying the experience a game offers; they eat-up Cinematics no matter how banal or stupid the narrative beneath actually is; they defend and deflect all criticism toward their corporate overlord, for Sony can do no wrong. The fact that the PlayStation 4 is the 8th Generation market leader after the PS3’s abject failure seems to have made the fanboys even more belligerent as they desperately try to make up for lost time.

Where is a wanderer to go, whose loyalty is with quality games rather than a corporate surrogate parent? When toxic, insane fanbases dominate every major platform, it only makes gaming a more isolating hobby, even as it becomes increasingly ‘social’ via compulsory online features. We’ve known for decades that Nintendo fanboys are delusional and Microsoft fanboys are only interested in shotgunning beer and other hypermasculine activities… but et tu, Sony fans? Et tu?

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