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Sony shoves its newfound swagger in Microsoft’s face with a puckish “how-to” video

By John Teti • June 11, 2013

Last night at its E3 press event, Sony showed off a sense of humor that we hadn’t seen in a while. The company laughed at itself, and it laughed (moreso) at Microsoft. Both of those sentiments are on display in the video above, which Sony posted online while the press conference was still taking place. The video does require a bit of background—if you haven’t been keeping up with the saga of the Xbox One’s byzantine used-game policy, Sam Barsanti did a nice job summing it all up in yesterday’s Bulletin.

The one-step “how-to” is a joke most notably at Microsoft’s expense, but it has a touch of self-effacement for Sony, too. The implicit message is, “We’re not doing anything extraordinary here.” After all, it’s not like Sony’s engineers had to do something special to make used game discs work on the PlayStation 4. Sony is simply maintaining the status quo—a status quo that is going to fade in a few years, anyway, as we enter the twilight of the disc era and shift to downloads. The executives at Sony were canny enough to see that writing on the wall, and they calculated that by allowing people to keep trading their game discs, they’d earn long-term goodwill in exchange for what is ultimately a minor short-term sacrifice. Even a middling hand can win big pots if you play it to its fullest, and that’s what Sony is doing here—entertainingly so.

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19 Responses to “Sony shoves its newfound swagger in Microsoft’s face with a puckish “how-to” video”

  1. Chalkdust says:

    *Disclaimer: shared games will not play on PS4 unless passed to the recipient with both hands, and accompanied by a courteous nod and utterance of gratitude. PS4 requires that you check in with your friend every 24 hours for chatting or drinks.

  2. CNightwing says:

    Does the sharing of games and piracy not affect publishers more than console producers? Presumably any given publisher would prefer to develop for the Xbox, economically, but the PS4 is hoping to develop a larger user base as a counter to this? I’d be interested to hear more from developers on how this affects their business strategy.

    • bradwestness says:

      It seems like a bit of a spurious argument to claim that used games (and/or backward compatibility) is going to make or break either console. Does anybody doubt that digital distribution is going to supplant discs? It’s a bit like arguing that Netflix Instant will never succeed because there’s no disc to lend to a friend.

      • Bakken Hood says:

        That’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison.  Watching a movie on Netflix Instant doesn’t cost $60 or come with any claim of ownership.

        • bradwestness says:

          Is it that different? It seems pretty similar to me, the main difference being that Netflix is a subscription service rather than one where you buy individual titles. 

          Maybe iTunes would have been a better analogue, but the point is the same: digital distribution is going to happen, and that means at some point trading in used discs is going to go away. 

          I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just that it’s already happening, and arguing that you still do things the old way isn’t really a good way to sell a new game console IMHO.

      • Enkidum says:

        Well, you’re right that discs are going the way of the dinosaur. But since that’s an inevitability, why bother having any kind of convoluted used games strategy at all? It’s a huge amount of work, and at the moment a ridiculous embarrassment. Sony’s getting free press and goodwill for doing nothing except being snarky, while Microsoft continues to enable people to portray it as the Evil Empire. Sure, in reality both companies are kind of the same, but you can’t deny that Microsoft is losing this particular image battle.

        • bradwestness says:

          I agree, and that was kind of the larger point I was trying to make – there’s no used CD or DVD strategy for iTunes, so why does Microsoft need one? 

          Granted, they bungled the PR in a typically Microsoft-ian fashion. It would have been much cleaner if they had just said “it’s all digital distribution, but you can get a disc to install games if you have a slow internet connection” or whatever.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      Not all developers would prefer to develop for the xbone, as Sony still has a total lock on the Japanese market, which matters to Japanese developers.

  3. STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM says:

    this is fucking hilarious 

  4. Chip Dipson says:

    To be fair, Microsoft probably could have gotten away with DRM practices with minimal griping if they used the Dial-A-Pirate system.

    • Chalkdust says:

       They could use the always-on Kinect to take pictures of people in your friends list, then import their faces into the deluxe Dial-a-Pirate app on SmartGlass!

  5. beema says:

    After the arrogance MS has shown with their BS restrictions, I was pretty gleeful last night as Sony shat all over their faces. I’ve never really had any stake or care about “console wars,” but PS4 just won the shit out of them. Anything that gives the consumer more power gets my support.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    Oh, the shade! The shade of it all!

    This definitely calls for a Latrice Royale gif: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lwgvumTJ0z1qabz5yo1_400.gif

  7. Phillip Collector says:

    Even the design of the PS4 is more laid back than the Xbone.

  8. DrFlimFlam says:

    I love how shit-eating grin this commercial is. It’s wonderful.