GW: Is Console Gaming Turning Elitist?

Brendancalls feels the need to write a guest article, and we love him for it. You may have noticed a lot of GWs lately, so just so you know, you can expect a couple more over Christmas. It’s nice to see what the TSAians think and what better time to do so than at Christmas?

With the rumours over the past few days regarding a Premium PSN Service, I, for the first time, felt the urge to write a Guest Article for TSA.  Its not that I have not wanted to, it’s just that I wanted the subject to be something that really got me going and I finally found it.  Elitist Console Gaming.

I have been a gamer since 1995; I was about 11 when I got a SNES and my first PC.  I remember the days very fondly.  I specifically remember most weekends and school holidays when I would empty my school bag of all my books and a week’s worth of my mum’s sandwiches that I didn’t eat, shoving my SNES and later my PS1 & 2 in there and walking to my cousins house to spend the whole day on Killer Instinct, Timesplitters or Hogs of War (I loved those games).  This was before I knew how to use the internet really so my whole gaming world was limited to my closest friends and family.

It was an innocent time, but then again maybe I am looking back with rose tinted glasses, and as I always say “Nostalgia is a thing best left in the past”, so with that in mind let’s zip forward to the current day.

This is the first generation of gaming that has truly embraced the wonders of online play, millions of people all around the world can connect to each other in the blink of an eye in order to race, shoot or beat up each other.  It is truly an amazing revolution in the gaming world, one which I am whole-heartedly behind, however it comes with a bit of a dark side which has only become apparent to me in the last few months.

I, of course, mean the rise of the Elitist Console Gamer. My first inclination that this was a problem was the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  There was a huge anticipation for the game, it took over Leicester Square like a movie premiere, people queued in the freezing cold for copies of the game as soon as possible and debates broke out in parliament about it.  There is no doubt that it was biggest launch of a video game in history – definitely maybe, I think.

With such a huge hype and anticipation came the flip-side of the coin, those who were not interested in the game were as vocal about not wanting it as those who did.  For every gamer in the world, whether PS3, 360, PC or Sinclair Spectrum, it was impossible not to have an opinion. This is when I noticed that those who were not interested in the game, whether on the internet or in my local pub, were vehemently and angrily condescending and had somehow taken the stance that the game was in someway created for the lower echelons of our society.  All of a sudden people considered themselves too good to be associated with playing this game.  People were considering it the game of the stupid, working classes – a game for those who didn’t know any better.  Evidence of this is all over forums around the internet, a quick search in Google will provide you with proof.

However, Modern Warfare 2 is nothing compared to what we are going to have to prepare for in 2010 if the rumours are to be believed about the PSN premium service.  For decades, people have been buying consoles and no matter where you were or who you are, generally, your console was the same as the guy or girl on the other side of the world.  You got the same service no matter who, what, why, when or where you were, all you had to do was buy the console and its accompanying games.

Subscription services on consoles are nothing new. As we all know, Microsoft have been charging for their online services since the launch of Xbox Live in 2002 for the original Xbox, and in the 7th generation it has been proven quite a commendable business strategy supplying Microsoft with a dependable and consistent annual income. Sony, on the other hand have been advertising that they supply free online gaming, no subscriptions, no annual/monthly fees, albeit all advertised poorly.

Most you out there reading this seem in favour of this subscription charge, but I have to admit I am not, it’s one of the reasons I bought a Playstation.  I am not going to go through all the available options on the service as that has already been done for me here.  The reason I am against it is the implementation of subscription services only furthers the elitism that is starting to creep into gaming. No longer will your experience be the same as the person on the other side of the world, will it even be the same as your neighbour or best mate? It creates a divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, which will essentially balance out to those who can afford it and those who can’t.  Basically, I believe it is the start of an online class system whereby it will negatively force people to pay the subscription in order to keep up with what their best friend has.

I would also just like to make a point about why Sony would be doing this. It is well known that Sony make a loss on every PS3 sold and if I remember correctly it is about $40 on each PS3 slim. Now obviously they cannot continue to run a business like that, so with that in mind do you really think that the subscription that you will be paying will be going towards paying for an improved PSN service, or do you think that it will be going toward reclaiming that $40 they lost when they sold you that PS3?  Just look at the list of features they have on the list, are any of them seriously going to cost Sony that much money to implement, most of them are offering discount or something that is already built or in place but they are going to improve it or give it to you for free instead.  I won’t be paying the subscription service because I don’t believe I owe Sony anything more than I have already paid when I bought my copious amount of hardware.  However, in a similar vein, I don’t believe they owe me anything other than what they have promised they would deliver when I bought my PS3, which they have done and even surpassed.

I think I may have carried on a bit here, so I better end it, but I will confirm a few things before I stop wasting more of your time.

Yes I am a left-Wing socialist, please don’t lambaste me for it, I was going to talk about elitism on the PC, but there is no way I could fit it onto one page of a Word document. I wanted to include links to the forum topics regarding people who think MW2 is stupid, but its not worth the trouble it may cause. And finally, remember all those chain messages saying Sony were going to charge for PSN access? Turns out they were kind of right. I am still considering my stance on paying individually for specific services but will not be purchasing a package.