An Open Letter to Fanboys

January 12, 2010 by Alex Beech  

There always seems to be huge furore over console exclusive titles. Games that platform holders either developed themselves, or heavily subsided. The presumed quality of these titles is based solely on the simple fanboy logic that if their manufacturer of choice feels a game is good enough to grant it the seal of ‘PS3 Exclusive’ or ‘Only on Xbox 360’ then some how it must be justifiably better than other titles on the market.

It is a theory flawed for so many reasons I cannot begin to fully articulate why it is wrong. Certainly manufacturers would ideally like to stock their machines only with the last and greatest exclusive games, but given the current environment this isn’t possible. It simply is not profitable for large third parties to promise their titles to a single platform without the kind of subsidies that would, eventually, bleed even Bill Gates’ pockets dry. This has lead to a generation filled with expressions like the ‘lead platform’, ‘exclusive DLC’ and ‘limited exclusivity’ in attempt to set games apart from their rival platform counterparts.

There are very few other aspects of life that elicits the kind of bile I see so often spewed at something as inconsequential as the console exclusive debate. I never hear a guy saying ‘My girlfriend has better [edit - bump mapping] and a far tighter [edit – graphics engine] than yours.’ If I did hear that I suspect I would also soon hear the individual getting hit by both the chap he was talking to and his girlfriend. In the real world it is extremely rare that we directly compare anything against that of another with the sole purpose of ingratiating our own stance and beating another’s down.

With so many early adopters no longer able to see reviews before the purchase the review process for the hardcore is fast becoming an act of affirmation rather than information. Reviews have stopped being the advice of trusted professionals they once were. Now they are simply used as bullet points during Internet flame wars to bolster arguments and the support of opinions for the vocal monitories.

Of course specialized, console exclusive, sites exist for these individuals. These are sites that unabashedly trumpet the merits of one platform over another, blind to any contradicting facts. But it is on the multiplatform sites where these fights are fought, by people with some misplaced belief that they need to convert other console users, or maybe just try and ruin their day. To go back to an earlier example we are talking about discussions with all the reasoning and consideration of ‘My girlfriends better than yours!’ or perhaps more fittingly, ‘My Dad’s Superman!

In response to this I have had an idea. Basically, sites write two standard, boiler plate reviews, that they simply insert game names into and then they write one ‘real’ review for normal, balanced people who at some point after the day of release may be looking for a game and really want advice on which to by. This third is pretty much akin to everything you see on this site, reviews which reflect the opinions of a real gamer just out to say what they think about a game. The other two fanatical reviews follow.

For a system’s fanatics wet dream of a game.

‘(Game A) for the (Platform X) is developed by (Studio) and is by far the greatest game of its genre. I eclipses the (Platform Y)’s (Game B) in every way. The graphics are superior with higher textures with more polygons and effects on screen than (Platform Y) could ever hope for.

Both the single player and multiplayer are perfectly balanced allowing for some epic battle that the amazing line up of weapons compliment in a way (Game B) could only one day hope to accomplish.

It is thanks to the (high storage capacity, better online components, faster writing of onscreen polygons, generating of textures, anti aliasing – delete as appropriate) that this game manages to achieve all it does. It could never be made of the (Platform Y) without numerous feature being removed/compromised.

The best game I have played in recent memory and a real game of the year contender.’

And lets give it a 97% so it’s believable.

For an enemy of the system.

‘(Game A)’s muddy graphics do little to hide the limited number of effects on screen at any time. It is a sad indictment that (Platform X) that it continues to lag so far behind (Platform Y) even after this game has been so long in development.

I don’t know what (Developer) thought they were doing when they designed the level layout. Wondering the dull, grey, low res, world feels like you are stuck in the movie Groundhog Day but without Bill Murray. Even the action quickly becomes repetitive thanks to the lack of innovation in weapons and enemy design.

Those who have been anticipating the release of this exclusive are set to be disappointed as all of the games praises have been blown out of all proportion by blind fans of the series who mistakenly believe it to be the second coming, and the saviour of the failing (Platform Y).’

Lets call it a 64%, totally mediocre, because lets face if it really sucked no one would try to defend it and that would be no fun.

If you are one of the people out there telling reviewers that their opinions are wrong then these are basically the kind of reviews you want and deserve. With that in mind in the future feel free to substitute all of the relevant words into which ever review you feel best supports your opinion. You can accredit it to me if you need to, no one will know any different, and just go about your day happy in the knowledge that I at least I agree with your stilted extremist view. Just so long as you don’t go around pestering hard working writers who are trying to inform those more open minded than you, I am happy to take one for the team.


8 Comments on "An Open Letter to Fanboys"

  1. Jeff Barker on Thu, 21st Jan 2010 3:20 pm 

    Excellent – thanks, Alex…as a reviewer for VGR I have received a few comments in retaliation, with one guy going so far as to completely rewrite my review into something he saw more fitting (which was promptly deleted, ho ho). The fact of the matter is that we are gamers too, unbiaised and prepared to view something we SHOULD be enjoying as objectionally as possible so that others may purchase/avoid the product in question. It’s not always easy to identify flaws in a game (MW2, for example) or find good in others (which shall remain nameless) or even approach something you’ve been waiting MONTHS for in that manner. Unfortunately we don’t always get it right (we’re human, too!) but we try our damndest to – and for the record readers, you try playing through the amount of pap so that you don’t have to and not come out a cynical, shrivelled mess afterwards…

    Great article, Alex…has to be my fave of the year so far…

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