Now that we're in the thick of the 8th generation of gaming, the console wars are in full swing. This is going to come off as a bit of a rant because the topic at hand is something that really annoys me.
Over the past several weeks, we've been dealing with the Xbox One nightmare, a nightmare from which we've only groggily woken up from (after MS reversed their DRM policies). In the midst of all the arguments and articles trying to defend Microsoft, someone - SOMEone - would inevitably say something along these lines:
"You know, Sony is just a business too. They don't care about you. They're all about profit, too"
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that any person who says this has no clue whatsoever on how to run a business or how to sell a product. Let me repeat that: if you believe Sony (or any company) is just as bad as Microsoft just because you think they're "all about the profit", then you have no idea of how a real business works or how real sales work.
I'm under no illusion that Sony loves me personally. They don't. The only way they know I exist is through my PSN profile.
So, yeah, in the most literal of senses, Sony doesn't love me, personally.
And I'm aware that Sony is a business that wants to make money. Duh. They make consumer products. If they weren't a business, then they wouldn't be making Playstation products (or any products, for that matter). And naturally, they want to make money from those products. It's a basic principle of business and capitalism.
If you - the reader - work in any sort of service or retail market and you show up to work, flipping burgers or answering the phone or writing lines of code or doing whatever it is you do, are you aware that the very REASON you get a paycheck every two weeks is because your effort is being sold to someone who is willing to pay for it? That's business, and because a business is able to make money, you're able to get a paycheck. If you run a business or if you're responsible for managing a business, this is even more apparent: failing to balance inventory, employee training, customer complaints, public appearance, and customer rapport will mean that you make less (or no) profit for all of your hard work. You need to make profit in order to run a company, and "making a profit" does not in any way equate to "screwing over your customer". That simply isn't how business works. Sure, you CAN screw over your customer in certain ways to make more profit, but the simple mechanic of making profit in business does not automatically mean that your sole aim is to screw your customer for as long as you can. That's not how good businesses operate.
Of course Sony is a business, but do you think developers at Naughty Dog shouldn't get paid for the product they made? Snarking "Sony is a business too" makes about as much sense as blaming Shell for the BP Gulf oil spill because "Shell is a petroleum company, too". It's idiotic.
However, let's go a bit deeper. Why does it irk me when people say "Sony doesn't love you. They're a business too. They don't care"? It irks me because it is patently FALSE. Businesses in the consumer industry MUST love their customers. They MUST care, or they will go out of business. The few exceptions to this rule are - ironically - companies like Microsoft that opt instead to erase competition and strong-arm retailers into removing competing products instead of improving their own product.
Sony is a business, yes. However, the improvements they've made to the Playstation division would not exist unless they cared about their customers in one way or another. They would never have opted for a simplified architecture. Instead, Sony would've put Cell 2.0 in the PS4. They would never have tried to make PS+ a viable alternative to XBL Gold, nor would they have created the Trophy system.
When Sony makes a change or adds something or improves something, is it for the business? Is it for profit? Yes, of course. Does Sony do it because they personally love me? No! Of course not. Yet, they do it because they want to retain me as a customer. That's the big difference here. It's not about a corporation loving me or sending me a hand-written letter every time I buy one of their products. It's about a corporation acting like a good business by appreciating my money, by appreciating my loyalty, and by not taking that for granted (like Sony did back in 2006).
Over the past six years, I've managed two businesses in two different industries. Business isn't easy. Neither are sales. Both are intrinsically tied together. Sony is behaving like a good business because they are aiming to please their customers. Naturally, companies are going to miss the mark. Some companies miss more often than others, and the ones that miss too often end up shutting down. You have to take care of customers. They're the ones who spread word about your business. They're the ones who return because they liked your service or product.
Microsoft missed the mark with the Xbox One. Big time. They didn't listen to their customers. Instead, they went forward with the product THEY wanted to make and then turned around and claimed "we know better. Let us educate you. You won't understand it until you buy it".
That's bad business.
And to stammer, "well, y-yeah Microsoft m-m-messed up but SONY IS A BUSINESS TOO!" is beyond hilarious. It's sad. People who say that are oblivious to how the real world operates.
I've seen a slight variant on the argument of "they're a business too". I've seen others say "If Sony had the chance to screw you, they'd do it too". How silly. Why do you hold Sony accountable for Microsoft's mistakes? A lot of gamers suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. They'd rather associate with their abusers and insult "the other guy" than to simply change allegiances. I don't hold Sony accountable for things the other guy does. I hold Sony accountable for things like the PSN hack, their obsession with The Cell, the high price tag of the PS3, the failure rate of the Phat PS2 models, and stuff like that. I don't keep Sony at arm's length for things they didn't do. I don't keep a suspicious eye on Sony because they MIGHT do DRM or they MIGHT do always-online. I'll hold them accountable if/when they do it. Microsoft has earned my suspicion. They were the ones to suggest the Xbox One's DRM in the first place (and it really is nothing new. They already did this on PC with GFWL and again on certain Xbox Live games on 360). When Sony screws me, I'll react. When Microsoft screws me, I'll react, but I'm not going to be irrationally-suspicious of Sony (or anyone else) just because Microsoft decided to go all 1984 on us.
Anyone who wants to run a successful business: pay attention to Sony. They're not perfect (who is?) but they are taking all of the correct steps in running a customer-friendly and customer-satisfying business. Pay attention to Microsoft, too. They're an example of when a business stops paying attention to its customers and decides instead to leverage its own customers for a few extra bucks.