Gaming’s Biggest Flip-Flops
It is often said that the only thing that remains constant is change, and rarely will anything better exemplify this than the videogame industry. Driven by a perpetual technological arms race along with continual software innovations, the business will often shoot past the viewpoints of those standing in it. It is in this environment that promises can end quickly, quotes can turn abruptly and policy can age rapidly. The following ten turnarounds show that no quote is safe from an ever-morphing business. In certain cases, they show that some people aren’t safe from themselves.
10. The "PSP Brite’s" non-existent battery problem
When Sony announced the PSP-3000, it seemed like a nice little incremental update to the platform. Sure, the brighter screen and tweaked cosmetics wouldn’t lure many existing owners into a repeat purchase, but it would help keep the aging platform relevant.
But within just a few days of its announcement, it came out that in one key way the “PSP Brite” would actually be a downgrade over existing models: battery life. In an interview with Gamespot, Director of hardware marketing John Koller said, “Battery life will decrease by a small amount. It’s material, but it’s about 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes.” Koller explained that the pretty new screen had a higher power draw compared to older models.
With the PSP never renowned for its battery life in the first place and with complaints beginning to roll in that the extended battery pack was becoming a required purchase, Koller quickly printed a correction on the official PlayStation blog. “The new PSP will have equivalent battery life to the current PSP, about 4 to 6 hours for games and about 4 to 5 hours for UMD videos. While the enhanced screen of the new PSP draws a little more power, our engineers in Japan worked to reduce the power consumption of the overall system including its components.”
9. Harrison denounces multiple SKUs
It is during that wonderfully anxious window of time, between the first unveiling and global launch of a new console, where you’ll find the competing companies really take the gloves off. After all, as each generation turns the gaming community gets set to ask itself that most important of questions; which console do I buy?
And like a repressed fit of rage, each company’s emphatic answer (“ours!”) often blurts out in baseless criticisms of the competition. Of course such adversarial critiques, usually with the purpose to simply dissuade and not inform potential buyers, can often boomerang. Take a classic Harrisonism, for instance.
Speaking at the European Game Developers’ Conference late in August 2005, merely three months before the launch of the 360, the then-VP of Sony’s worldwide studios explained that Microsoft’s policy of multiple hardware SKUs “just confuses the audience.”
"Are there two versions of the Xbox 360 that people want to buy, is my question," he explained. "I think we wouldn’t take that strategy. We wouldn’t create confusion."
Wikipedia has provided a useful, color-coded table of all current PS3 SKU configurations.
8. The Capcom FiveFourThreeTwoOne
It was in January 2003 when Capcom broke the golden rule in the Art of Backtracking: Never wash one spurious statement with another.
A few months prior, the company announced to the world that its development arm Production Studio 4 was working on five exclusive Gamecube titles. It didn’t take long for speculation to grow on the validity of Capcom’s claim, in part due to the quixotic nature of the promise (Capcom is, after all, a third-party publisher). To set the record straight, Capcom sent a memo to the press reiterating that “all five titles are for the Gamecube only."
At the following Capcom Gamers’ Day event, held in Las Vegas mid-January, the company explained that the exclusivity claim was, in fact, the result of “miscommunication”. To set the record straight, again, Capcom explained that of the five projects – P.N.03, Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, Killer 7 and Dead Pheonix – only Resident Evil 4 would be a definite Gamecube exclusive.
Resident Evil 4, of course, like Viewtiful Joe and Killer 7, was ported to the PS2. And with production of Dead Phoenix grinding to cancellation, P.N.03 remained the only exclusive Gamecube title. A second ‘miscommunication error’ statement was never released.