sonyWe sure loved the Walkman, but since that revolutionary device Sony has dropped the ball quite a few times. Below you will find 10 particularly messy ones.

1. PSP UMD Movies

Such a bad idea that even pointing out the mistake (expecting people to watch cinema movies on a 4.3 inch screen) has become a cliche. Understand: the concept is so fundamentally flawed that it you can’t even say it without sounding unoriginal and stupid. How can that get past a trained team of engineers?

The problem was massively amplified by the Sony’s patented “Assume Victory And Start Screwing Them Before They Buy It (TM)” approach. You couldn’t output video to any other device (like, say, one with a screen bigger than a paperback book), and with the blu-ray being pushed at the same time it became clear that Sony expected you to buy every single movie three times. This company believes Tomb Raider is worth over a $100 per viewer, and there’s just no negotiating with people that insane. Target and Walmart apparently agree, having discontinued UMD movie sales. And Walmart stock NASCAR-themed Barbies.

2. DualShock 3

Sony and I have different ideas about what it means to spend over half a thousand dollars on a console. I figure that a Sony executive had better drive over here in a limo and polish the thing for me with a jewel-encrusted dusting wand. Sony take the alternative tack of figuring “Hell, if they’ll put up with that they’ll put up with anything!” and proceed with the most shameless bait-and-switch in recent memory.

November 2006: Players told that rumble is “last generation”, and instructed to buy Sixaxis.
September 2007: Sixaxis discontinued, players told to buy Dualshock 3.

When you’re already losing two hundred dollars per console this kind of money grubbing isn’t just shocking, it’s retarded. It’s like selling your home to set up a soup kitchen but then kicking everyone you feed in the ass – you’re losing a lot, working very hard and everyone still thinks you’re a dick.

3. Customer Service

Continuing the “Lose money AND Piss off customers” extravaganza, Sony have adopted the returns policy of a dirty magazine store. You’re treated like an untrustworthy pervert the instant you do business and asking for a refund will be met with the kind of stare you’d get by complaining that this inflatable doll doesn’t feel right and you’d like to try another in the store.

For example, the customer who was told the warranty on his PS3 was void because the console got dusty. For the Amish out there reading this on a converted donkey-cart, electrical devices attract dust like a little sign in dust-ese reading “Free booze and dust-cheerleaders here!” – and according to their press the PS3 contains more electronics than a fleet of Cybermen. Refusing to service a dusty console is like the White Star Line refusing to deal with the Titanic disaster by crying “Well, if you’re going to get the damn thing WET we can’t be held responsible!”

They claimed that the dust damage was an Act of God and refuse to release the repair report photos without a subpoena. I may not work for Sony, an you can probably tell by the fact I haven’t insulted your intelligence yet, but I’ve got to think you shouldn’t say things like “You will have to take legal action to get us to do our job and God hates our console.!

4. Backwards Compatibility

Sony have access to one of the greatest software libraries in existence, the vast array of awesomeness that is the PS2. If you think this make an excellent crutch while building up a quality catalogue of next-generation titles, then congratulations – you’re far, far better at this than a major gaming company! Realising that customers were DARING to buy the wrong Sony games while developers fumbled with the PS3 hardware, backwards compatibility was stripped out of the console – first moving from hardware to inferior software emulation, then disappearing altogether.

I’m no dreadlocked anticapitalism hippy fighting the corporation and shampoo consortiums, but when one part of your company cripples its own product to prevent a subdivision of their own brand from making sales? You could flood Dundler-Mifflin with laughing gas and still get better business decisions.

5. Pro Evo 2008

Why would people who’ve just laid out the cost of a kidney in some countries then play previous gen games? Probably because Sony reached a zen point of absolute failure by screwing up the release of the actual games. Games that already worked far better on “inferior” consoles. Struggling with the Cell processor (which requires a team of Rubix-cube juggling MENSAns to understand) Konami released a version Pro Evo 2008 vastly weaker than the XBox 360 one. Hell, it was inferior to FIFA 97 on the Super Nintendo, which at least never stopped actually moving.

This is frankly unacceptable – the only crashes we see on this generation of hardware should be beautifully rendered with CrushEvisceratePhysics(TM) picking out highlights as our fender cartwheels through pedestrians.

6. Their Grip on Reality

Business analysts have started checking the Sony headquarters water supply for hallucinogenics – because some of their recent decisions sure as hell can’t be explained by financial reports or the state of the industry. If Sony were a person instead of a corporation we’d be hiding the sharp objects and edging towards the door, as they’ve been exhibiting a level of delusion normally preceded by “No, seriously, these mushrooms are safe to eat man.”

They just don’t seem to get that the days of merciless control of the two computer games magazines that exist are over. These days we can talk to each other, usually saying things like “Can you believe this latest shit from Sony?” (Protip: the answer is usually “No”). The masterpiece of this starkly denial of reality was Jack Tretton’s now infamous statement that he would pay $1200 for any PS3 somebody could find on the shelves. Approximately four nanoseconds later the net was flooded with so many pictures of unsold (and slightly dusty) PS3s that Sony would have to invent alchemy, and apply it to the moon, to pay the bill.

7. Dealing with the Internet

Sony eventually did notice the Internet, but they’ve been treating it like a bunch of unruly children who need to be disciplined for treading on their corporate lawn. They were rudely awakened when they tried to lay down the law on popular gaming site Kotaku. Kotaku printed something that Sony didn’t like, and were sternly told that they’d misbehaved and were no longer welcome at any official events and would receive no press releases. We presume Sony then added that Kotaku should go to their room and think about what they’d done.

Now, unless you’ve spent the last ten years in the same lead-lined cave as Sony, you’ll know that the Internet doesn’t take kindly to this kind of thing. Half a day of massively condensed PR disaster later, the head of Sony America PR phoned Kotaku to personally apologise.

8. Dealing with people who actually sell PSPs

The view of customers as naughty children has had much worse effects than that, however. Towards the end of 2006 Sony sued beloved import business Lik-Sang for having the unmitigated gall to sell PSPs to people who want them. Whatever Sony are after, apparently sales and a customer base aren’t part of the plan.

The problem was that Lik-Sang were exporting Japan region consoles to other parts of the world – aka “Solving the region-discrepancy problem that only exists because Sony invented it in the first place.” This is classic parent-style authority instillation, “It doesn’t matter if I’m right just DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD”, which in the case of UK and US customers means waiting until SCEA damn well feel like releasing titles over here.

Because as we all know, when customers are forcibly prevented from buying a product legally, there’s absolutely nothing they can do but wait patiently to do their corporate master’s bidding. I’m no lawyer, bu when the business sues to prevent you from buying their product I don’t think it even counts as piracy anymore.

9. Proprietary USB

By this point it’s becoming clear that Sony Computer Entertainment is an oxymoron or a prank, a vast “Missing the Point” competition between sadistic electronics experts. We can only hope that the man behind TransferJet won a good prize, because this proprietary USB is the most incredibly point-defeating device since the army deployed experimental anti-porcupine missiles.

Intel, Microsoft, HP, Samsung and others got together to push a Wireless USB standard, hoping to remove the mutated spaghetti junction that lurks behind the glittering facade of your computer setup. Sony are now attempting to punk the entire industry with their own incompatible technology, and goddammit Sony, when you spend money developing a version of Universal Serial Buses that isn’t bloody Universal you need psychological help or a spanking. When even Microsoft want to work on an open, sharable standard there’s a chance you’d need to be the child of Blofeld and Ming the Merciless to stand in the way.

10. The PS3

Rabid PS3 fanboys, shivering because they had to give up heating to pay the mortgage installments on their overpriced monolith, continually insist that the PS3 WILL dominate the future of gaming. Somehow forgetting that we’ve been buying a new console every five years for over two decades. So for every year it takes before our primitive organic brains to evolve up to appreciating the majesty of Sony’s vision another 20% is knocked off the likely lifespan of the machine, and its been two years already. Two years of being hideously outsold by a little white box of calculator parts with a motion sensor because Sony set their technical bar a little high, as in “Scientists run spacetime curvature simulations on PS3s” high.

Hell, if you’d at least let us do that it’d be a cool game.

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