360, DS And The Trouble With Tretton

Sadly, given half a chance, it’s possible for some major company CEOs to come across as arrogant, ignorant blabbermouths.  Not that Jack Tretton, head of SCEA, makes such an activity a particularly regular one, mind, but then again you only need to do one such interview and that’s your comments all around the internet: like this one, when he spoke to Fortune recently, which spread like vitriolic wildfire.

It’s not like Joe Blog was selectively grabbing snippets for their own barbed agenda, either, it wasn’t necessary – even the original article went with the headline “PlayStation chief: Nintendo makes ‘babysitting tools”‘.  And that’s Fortune, not the latest N4G bait – but whilst some of Tretton’s later comments come across like an angry schoolchild, at least at the start he’s talking more sense than nonsense.

“If you’re really going to sustain technology for a decade,” he said, “you have to be cutting edge when you launch a platform. Here we are 4 years into the Playstation 3, and it’s just hitting its stride. We’ll enjoy a long downhill roll behind it because the technology that was so cutting edge in 2006 is extremely relevant today and is conspicuously absent in our competition.”

[drop]Ah, the ‘competition’ – it was all going so well.  We’re well aware that companies like Sony (and the rest) enjoy a bit of so-called ‘smacktalk’ here and there, but from here on in, Tretton seems adamant that talking down said competition is the best way forward.

It makes for uncomfortable reading for someone apparently so confident in his own platform, one that – for the most part – can quite happily sing its own praises.

“They’re starting to run out of steam now in terms of continuing to be relevant in 2011 and beyond,” he says, referring to the 360 and, for the rest of the sentence, the Wii. “I mean, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Why would I buy a gaming system without a hard drive in it? How does this thing scale? Motion gaming is cute, but if I can only wave my arms six inches, how does this really feel like I’m doing true accurate motion gaming?”

Why would you buy it?  Perhaps you wouldn’t, but a lack of a hard drive doesn’t stop everyone else buying it.  Sure, the hard drive’s been a blessing to the PS3, but aside from running as a media centre, on a personal level mine’s full of four and a half gig installs of games that still load slower than the equivalent ones on the ‘competition’ – even the one without a hard drive.  And the comments about ‘waving my arms six inches’ baffles me completely.

But what stings the most are the comments about the DS.  “Our view of the ‘Game Boy experience'” – his words – “is that it’s a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those,” he says. “He’s too old for that.”

Last time I checked, the DS was being marketed (incredibly successfully) by Nintendo across all age groups.  Sure, there’s a considerable focus on games for kids, but there’s a similar campaign based on older age groups, particularly with the puzzles and book collections that receive heavy, and frequent, television promotion.  And then there’s people like myself, that have been playing Nintendo games since forever.  I can’t remember the last time I caught a bus, but I’ll happily take out my 3DS (or otherwise) on a train – and I like to think I’ve got plenty of self respect.

I honestly don’t know what Tretton was trying to accomplish with that remark.  Am I supposed to now doubt myself when I’m trying to perfect Pilotwings?  Is Pokémon really just for schoolkids?

The other issue is whether or not the 360 is “starting to run out of steam” – Microsoft, of course, would vehemently deny this, and I’m surprised they haven’t responded themselves yet, never shy of a public scrap. What do they have lined up for 2011?  Well, we’ve asked that before and – for the moment at least – little has changed.  Yes, there’s Gears of War III, a new Forza and hopefully a new Halo (even if it’s a remake) but anything else is being kept tightly under wraps.

But we’re betting that the 360’s got plenty of steam left in the engine, it’s still outselling the PS3 worldwide and Microsoft aren’t about to give up on it.  As for “2011 and beyond” – well, E3’s just around the corner.  But one things for sure, Jack Tretton has managed to wind up a good few gamers with that interview: let’s hope what he’s got for PS3 and NGP backs up his confidence…



  1. 360 is just running out steam???, ran out of steam years ago imo

    • I don’t see how, it’s still outselling the PS3 whether the active instal base is bigger than the PS3 or not we don’t know, not to mention it is still the lead engine for development for a lot of devs. I agree this year is looking pretty drab, kind of ironic actually this being the year I actually chose to re-invest in a 360, but I dounbt MS have quite given up on it just yet.

      • 360 out sells the ps3 because you have to buy a new one every so often thanks to RROD, at least 3 360’s to the lifespan of one ps3 maybe more

      • i think the ps3 has just taken the lead in sales over the 360 i maybe completely wrong but recently i read that ps3 outsells 360 in every region apart from the US and that the ps3 is almost 1 million units ahead

  2. Fight talk, that’s all it is, fight talk. Although this level of ignorance usually is reserved for Microsoft officials.

  3. Whilst his comments were stupid and rather ignorant, I’m amazed at the reaction from it. We hear this kind of talk on a far more regular basis from Microsoft bigwigs but without the ‘shocked’ response. Find it odd myself.

    • We expect it from Microsoft, it happens often enough. Tretton seems to be quite well looked up to so it is a suprise.

      • Just strikes as double standards really. It’s okay for these guys to do it as they do it all the time, but not for Tretton as he’s normally so upstanding.

    • Not really it’s just more that people expected better of him than they did of MS

  4. On my phone so can’t comment fully, but I originally thought Tretton was wrong & I still do.

    Yes being bleeding edge has it’s advantages but these advantages are largely outweighed by being first to Market & being cheaper, this builds momentum which can easily reach a critical mass further adding to the problems of being bleeding edge is that it can take a year or two to for develops to leverage the tech & for the advantage to show and for all that time the cheaper supposedly lesser tech continues to build a sales lead.

    The best tech as far as companies are concerned is the one that sells

  5. Idiocy, as I’ve said before. It’s difficult to imagine how a man of such a high position can say the type of things often found in the comments of N4G.

    • yet when Microsoft execs do it, no one cares at all. that’s idiocy if you ask me

  6. Sony Rep makes a harsh remark and everyone is up in arms. One Rule for Microsoft and One Rule for Sony is how it looks to me.

    The 3DS, DS, DS Lite however you look at it are more aimed at youngsters then any other console. I am 31 and i know loads of gamers, none of them have a 3DS but they do have PS3/360/Wii. their children on the other hand love the Ninty Hand Helds and I cant tell you how many times you see mums n dads shushing their ickle ones with brightly coloured Ninty Handhelds.

    I think Tretton is wrong for being so blunt, however he does kinda have a point.

    360 running out of steam, a little harsh, but at the same time its true as they have nothing other than Gears 3 and Kinect on offer. Which no matter how you look at it, compare it to Sony 2011 and you cant really argue that its running out of steam.

    These are comments that are a view of Trettons, and in many respects they hold water. They might not be to everybodys tastes, fair enough, but there is a little truth in their whether its diluted or not.

    • Agree completely on the NDS comment. Have no interest myself but both of my kids (7Yr old son, 10Yr old daughter) have DSi’s and are interested in the 3DS. Dont know anyone over the age of 18 who plays NDDS, DSi, 3DS or Wii (other than with their kids).

      Personally I am quite happy with my Android phone for mobile gaming, at least until the NGP hits…

      Also i do think the 360 does seem to have hit its limit with regards to what it can do, without adding overpriced peripherals made for crappy party games….

      • On the flip-side I know plenty of people who are 30+ (including myself) who have one or more DS variants they play.

        You could almost make the argument that the 3DS is targetted more at those of us who spent too many hours on a SNES or N64 than it is at ‘kids’. Look at the first games Nintendo chose to remake; PilotWings, Star Fox and Ocarina of Time.

    • Saying that the 360 has run out of steam because this years lineup is looking slim is just not logical. A dry spell, yes. The end of the line, not at all. And who know what they’ll announce at E3. Might be nothing, but that still doesn’t mean that you can count the system out. Exlusives aren’t the only games on the market. The console is still selling well, kinect is still selling well and the vast majority of multiplatform games still sell/look/work better on 360 than on PS3.

      Sony’s line up this year is awesome, but it’s not an indication of MS’s position.

  7. Given all the comments Microsoft throw at them I don’t blame Mr Sony for fighting back every once in a while. I also personally agree with him. Out of the three next gen consoles, the PS3 is certainly the most future proof in terms of hardware. Then again, with Sony’s standard 10 year cycle its not really a surprise.

  8. The anti- Wii and 360 stuff about lack of hard drive and running out of steam, I can completely understand, you may not agree with his thoughts, but it’s his job to talk down the competition, and they are valid (again, not necessarily correct) views.

    The “Gameboy” comments on the other hand are bizarre and incredibly out of date It hasn’t been called a Gameboy since 2004 and while Nintendo do aim a lot at the young child market, there are plenty of adults who like them. I myself am hoping that the 3DS launch will result in a few cheap second hand DSi/DSLites appearing in local adverts, so I can catch up on the Pokémon games!

  9. I think he’s largely incorrect but I have a sneaky suspicion he knows it.

    I’d credit Jack Tretton with a little more intelligence than the average fanboy spewing rubbish on forums. He knows the 360 is still outperforming the PS3 at market and in technical comparisons (for multiplatform titles, at least. PS3 exclusives are fields ahead.) and he knows that neither can compete for market share against the Wii. Likewise, he knows that the evolving PSP has, globally, been soundly beaten at market by every one of Nintendo’s DS iterations and the future competition with the 3DS and Apple/Android is going to be tough. Jack Tretton didn’t get to where he is by not noticing a market trend or not being able to read market reports.

    He says these things to appear bullish and confident to investors and to show fans that SCE have a bit of fight left in them (just like when Bobby Kotick makes brash statements). Jack Tretton knows that the fans want more ammunition for the next time they’re bickering with an Xbot so he’s giving it to them. It keeps Sony’s profile high and sets out their stall for a few more successful years pushing these products.

    Job done, as far as I can tell.

  10. I believe Penny Arcade said it best about the DS’s broad appeal.

Comments are now closed for this post.