We’ve all been there. You are having an honest conversation with someone about the strengths of the various consoles. Maybe a friend has come to you for advice on which would be best for them, or you and your coworkers are talking about what you like and do not like about that. Suddenly someone steps up and says something that just makes you cringe.
“Yeah, but you don’t want to own a 360. Every single one of them is designed to break. You’ve heard of the Red Rings, right?”
Or maybe it’s “Yeah, but the PS3 is so hard to program for that all cross platform games play better on the 360!”
Now you are facing a choice: do you try and steer the conversation back to the reasonable discussion you were having, knowing this new voice is going to fight you every step of the way, or do you just decide it is not worth trying. Some might say there is a third option, arguing against this new person, but in the end that almost never turns out to be a good idea. The other person walks away convinced he has won another argument, and you are lucky to leave with your sanity. Welcome to the world of Fanboys.
So what is a fanboy? Wikipedia defines them as a person considered to belong to one or more fandoms to a point of obsession. Now understand we are not condemning being a fan of a game, console or otherwise; after all, most of us have things in the gaming realm we like better than others, even consoles. What we have a problem with is people who are so enthralled with what they are supporting that they cannot accept there is anything good about anything else. In this case, we are arguing specifically against the console fanboys, in particular of the PS3 and the 360, but they are not the only fanboys out there.
You know the worst part about fanboys? They often bring up valid arguments. They just take them to invalid conclusions.
The Attack on the 360
Anyone who has spent time playing on Microsoft’s entry into this console generation knows it is capable of some impressive things. They also know there are some design flaws in the system itself. The PS3 fanboys like to prey upon that fact, and though some of their arguments may have an element of truth, their presentation leaves a lot to be desired.
So let’s deconstruct their arguments and see what is truth and what is just fabrication.
- No built in wireless internet: Okay, I cannot really argue with that. There is no built in wireless connectivity in the 360. This can make life interesting, as people’s home networks are not always set up in a way to make wired connectivity a reality. There are solutions, however, and some that do not even require you to buy Microsoft’s overpriced wireless adapter. As one who has gamed online with the 360 in both wireless and wired capacity, I can honestly say wired is the way to go. May not be convenient, but there is a difference. In the end, however, the lack of native wireless is a valid argument, but not when taken to the extreme of “my console is so much better because it has wireless support, and yours doesn’t, so mine is better.”
- Have to pay to play Online: This is one of the PS3 fanboy’s favorites. The fact you have to pay for Xbox Live Gold is no secret. What seems to be missed, however, is how little you actually pay for what amounts to an amazing service. So let’s break it down. A 13 month card costs $50 if you pay full price, and honestly it is usually pretty easy to find it cheaper. Still, for arguments sake, we will go with the full retail price. $50 dollars spread out over 13 months equates to about $3.85 a month. For that measly amount, you get the ability to create a list of friends, invite them directly into your game, form parties with your friends within your game or across multiple games and take advantage of other services like Netflix streaming and Last FM. When you consider all the benefits, just under $4 a month seems to be a more than reasonable price to pay. Sure, we would all rather Gold be free, but I am willing to pay for a good service, and Live is a good service.
- Sony has better exclusives: Talk about your judgment calls. Granted, the PS3 has some absolutely amazing exclusives, but the 360 has been no slouch in that area. This year alone, there has been Mass Effect 2, Splinter
Cell: Convictions and the soon to be release Alan Wake. Granted, some of these are being released on PC as well, but to say that the only good exclusives are coming out in a particular console is really putting on blinders. Both consoles have great games you cannot play on the other system.
- Every 360 is designed to break: There is no denying the fact the 360 has had design issues. The Red Rings of Death are a serious issue, as are the drives burning out on some of the older systems. Saying something like this, however, cheapens the seriousness of the problem. It also does not factor in the steps Microsoft has taken to do something about the design flaws. Not only are more recent 360s much better systems, but extending a console warranty 3 years past the sale date is practically unheard of. While it may have taken a bit for the company to take action, Microsoft has really worked to do something about the problems with its console. Failing to recognize this just makes fanboys look petty.
Blasting the PS3
Just like the 360, Sony’s entry in this generation of consoles has it share of positive and negative points. 360 fanboys, however, make it out like Sony is the old dog that needs to be put out of its misery. Shall we look at some of their arguments?
- Installs/Updates take forever: Okay, there is no doubt that installs and updates are an issue with the PS3. It can be frustrating when you dome to that time you have set aside to game on the PS3 and find you are not ready to do so because the of the latest game or system update or install. It’s not like this happens ever time you turn on the system, however. Fanboys make it out like every time you turn on your PS3, you will have to download an update or install a game. This is not the case; when I was playing InFamous, I had an initial install and update but never had to do so again. This is an annoyance, not the death sentence some make it out to be.
- You can’t play (inset game here): Fanboys love to point out the games you cannot play on the PS3. The list usually starts with Halo 3, followed by the Gears of War games. Heck, someone told me recently how they were told the PS3 was inferior to the 360 because you could not play Mass Effect 2 on it. The exclusives argument really does not work for either console; if you are only able to own one or choosing just to buy one, you are going to miss out on some great exclusives.
- Online Play is horrible: Anyone who has spent time on Xbox Live can tell you it has some serious advantages. This does not mean that the Playstation 3’s online interface is broken. While online play may not be as elegant on Sony’s console as it is on Mocrosoft’s, it does work just fine. You can still play with friends online, even if you have to jump through a few more hoops. Granted, you will find fewer people with headsets on the PS3
then on the 360 since none are provided, but you can connect any bluetooth headset to the system along with many wired sets. Maybe it would be more accurate to blame the gamers for the lack of chatter online than the system.
- Home Sucks: Okay, I cannot argue with the fact that Sony’s Home is just plain sad. Still, to use this as an argument against buying a PS3 is just lame. I mean, is anyone really buying a PS3 for Home? Is anyone going to pay $300 to play Second Life on a console? It is one thing to acknowledge Home is useless for most serious gamers, but saying it is a reason not to buy a PS3 would be like saying since you do not like Game Room, the 360 is stupid. Home brings added functionality to the console, and though it is functionality I particularly do not care to use, I will not try to use it to convince someone not to buy the system.
These arguments are just a sampling of what the fanboys say about each console. As you can see, it is relatively easy to poke holes each one. Still, fanboys have sold out so much to their consoles they cannot see reason.
And in the end, gamers as a whole are the ones being hurt.
Why this must end
So fanboys are annoying. I believe we have established that fact. If it stopped at annoying, that would be okay, The problem is they are actually hurting gamers. How are they doing that, you ask?
- Fanboys keep gamers from being taken seriously: As a gamer, you are probably used to being seen as a kid. Fanboys do not help this perception. Think about those sports fans who are so blinded by the love of their team that they just sound like idiots. Now think about how many people, maybe even you included, lump all fans of that team in with these ones, making a blanket judgment. That happens to gamers. Those outside of gaming start to view all gamers through the fanboy lense, since that is what they see. If we ever expect people to see gaming in a mature light, we need to do all we can to stop these childish attacks.
- Fanboys distract from the real issues: As we mentioned earlier, there is some basis to at least some of the arguments fanboys use. The problem is by taking these arguments to their illogical extremes, they make people defensive, unwilling to look at the truth behind the attack. An extreme example of this came out when Joystiq started reporting on the rise of the E74 error after the release of NXE for the 360. Because there was so much fanboy backlash over the red rings, many people did not take the website seriously, some even accusing them of just trying to stir up controversy. Though the tune changed for most people when Microsoft included this error in the RROD warranty extension, it did distract people from the truth of the issue and from the fact that Joystiq was just trying to bring a problem to light.
- Fanboys end up wasting our time and energy: I am a fan of Adam Sessler from X-Play, and I used to listen to his Sessler’s Soapbox podcast. I will never forget the one he did after X-Play gave Killzone 2 a 5 out of 5 stars. He spent it addressing the emails they received from the fanboys. Sure, it was not surprising that the 360 fanboys tried to put it down, but what was amazing was the mail they received from PS3 fanboys stating it was obvious that, even though they gave it a 5, they were still ragging on the game. One even asked if Microsoft paid X-Play to give the game a 5. Needless to say, Sessler was not happy, and he expressed his displeasure rather vocally. His main point, however, was that he could not understand why people could just not accept the fact that the game was good, even if it was not for their favorite console. I believe we all have felt that way about fanboys.
- Fanboys polarize the gaming community: I probably do not need to explain this one. Gaming is on the verge of making a huge breakthrough. More and more people are becoming gamers, and more gamers are growing up and becoming major contributors to the world around us. At the same time, video games are seeing attacks from people who just do not understand the medium and are afraid of it. As gamers, we need to stand united against this, but the fanboys tend to divide us against each other instead. Let’s face it; we have more than likely been drawn into arguments with fanboys that have left us turning on other gamers. Sure, when we are more level headed, we would never get into these arguments, but fanboys tend to bring out the worst in us. We need to stand together as gamers if we want our hobby to really become widely accepted, not breaking into stupid infighting because of the fanboys.
When it comes right down to it, fanboys are not helping gaming in any way. As gamers, we have put up with them long enough.
If we ever want gaming to be taken seriously, we nee to call for an end to fanboys.
After all, we all know the Dreamcast was the ultimate console. All others are pretenders to the throne.