Jealousy is a horrible thing which makes people say things they don’t always mean. It’s an emotion that runs rampant throughout the video game industry with the latest victim being Jack Tretton, ceo of Sony. He’s launched an unexpected attack on Nintendo handhelds to Fortune where he belittled the system and its user base: “Our view of the ‘Game Boy experience’ is that it’s a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those. He’s too old for that.”
There’s clearly some confusion here because the last I checked, Nintendo had sold more than 146 million units whereas the PSP is less than half at 67 million so Tretton isn’t in the best position to criticise. He does have the beginnings of a point because the DS is popular among younger gamers but if you just look at all the fuss and excitement over Twitter and other social networks, you’d see how games like Pokemon have adults enthralled. It doesn’t stop there either, the DS has a wealth of games not necessarily aimed at adults but definitely enjoyed by them. This has been the case ever since Nintendo started their domination of the handheld market with the very first GameBoy.
Another odd aspect is how Sony have admitted in the past how the PSP is something of a child-friendly console itself even releasing a special pink Hannah Montana version a few years ago. It may be fortuitous to bad mouth the DS and its audience in an effort to almost embarrass older gamers onto the PSP but at some point you just end up looking a little silly and hypocritical.
Tretton didn’t stop at Nintendo either knocking the Xbox 360 for a lack of storage space, an argument becoming increasingly redundant what with all Xboxes being sold with some form of internal memory. It’s not as much as the standard or competition but it’s there and gets units off shelves. The Xbox 360’s reliance on a DVD format was highlighted by Tretton too which has posed a problem for Microsoft forcing developers to split games over multiple discs. But some help is on the way with the recently announced testing of the system update to include the expansion of DVD data, removing the copy protection from the disc allowing for up to 1GB of extra information.
This whole thing thing feels a bit odd. Sure platform holders frequently slag off the competition but Tretton’s comments came out of nowhere as if he’s been waiting a long time to get it off his chest. While there will be those who agree with what’s been said, I’m betting there’ll be a lot more thinking “eh?”