An Errant Fealty

An Errant Fealty

I’ve never quite been one for things like school pride. I went to a building, I got a degree, and now I’m done. It’s over. That time of my life is done. Insulting it then or now has no bearing on what I accomplished there or here.

It’s kind of the same reason I don’t buy into sports rivalries that don’t involve individuals. The longstanding Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins rivalry, for instance, doesn’t make sense once you consider that all the original folks involved are either dead or a nonfactor at this point. The rivalry lingers largely because of fans and players that grew up with it and seemingly live and die by “we’ve always done it that way.”

So I may not be the best person to analyze this, but throwing around die-hard allegiances to video game consoles—especially those that don’t even exist for the public yet—is absolute nonsense. It happens, of course, for the current and past generations of consoles as well, but years of filtering feelings through objectivity have clarified many opinions. (The N64, for example, was kind of trashy but hot damn those games.)

Nintendo 64

Being fans of companies is even somewhat understandable on a certain level, though the parallel problems of sports fandom persists here as well; an ever-shifting landscape of management, ownership, and players erodes the logical foundation of athletic loyalty. The people that run console manufacturers come and go, as do those of other companies. Would you still hold Apple’s design aesthetics in such high regard if Jony Ive wasn’t there?

But loving the shit out of the PlayStation 4 before you’ve even put hands on it is absolutely bonkers. Praising the virtues of the Xbox One when you’ve only seen it in streaming press conferences is lunacy. Assumptions can be made, sure, like they will be functional pieces of technology upon purchase and that the list of features are not a list of lies. But as to the quality of both the hardware and software along with developer relations goes unseen.

If you recall, Sony basically mopped the floor with Microsoft with both its announcement event and following press conferences. Their PlayStation 4 had all the features that, on paper, the Xbox One did not have or did not tell us. It didn’t have to be always online, it didn’t block used games, and it was cheaper. Fans rallied around these pillars of superiority and never looked back.

Xbox One Reveal

Now, it seems that Microsoft has somewhat of an upper hand. The Xbox One’s launch lineup seems to be quite a bit stronger (and less diminishing) and most of the things you thought the PlayStation 4 would be able to give you lies behind a day-one—and beyond—patch. At least among those in the industry, favor has shifted to Redmond.

But make no mistake, as this is still a fealty based on assumptions and guesswork. It’s a leap of faith that either of these consoles will do what their PR says they will. (To be fair, though, from what I’ve seen, read, and played, it’s all mostly true.) So those that still strive to turn making mountains from molehills into their day job, they grab onto the slimmest chance of object fact.

This is how you end up with comments on news stories and video reviews of next-gen games that dissect the graphics because that’s all they have at this point. It’s hard proof that these textures on this console are higher resolution than the ones on this console. It’s undeniable that the framerates are better here than they are there.

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

And they aren’t wrong. Those are, indeed, facts in some cases, despite the inanity and aggression they are asserted in the face of none of it mattering at all. The differences are often indiscernible to most people that aren’t part of an organization called the Digital Foundry, and yet they cling. Rose and Jack be damned they cling.

No matter how hard they never let go, though, it doesn’t matter. Not this early, anyways. Do you remember how butt ugly PlayStation 2 games were when they first came out? Now do you remember how great Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal Looked when it came out? It’s a lifecycle for a reason; it grows and evolves. (Besides, how are graphics the biggest deciding factor for a game’s quality? Stop thinking that.)

The same goes for services and features. The PlayStation 3 was far and away an inferior product when it came up against the Xbox 360. From its social interactivity to its online store to its appeal to developers, it was worse. At best, you could say PSN was free. But then Sony added chat and trophies and made PlayStation Plus a heck of a deal and cleaned up its act and managed to attract some amazing indie games.

PlayStation 4

Yet those loyalties persist. Those that live and breathe Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will never give up the noble quest of educating the fools around them. It should be an objective evaluation, a rolling and shifting line of top quality. Arguing in comments over non-final software and hardware and comparing screenshots of different builds is going to get you nowhere. Or at least nowhere that matters.

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