The Top 7... PR disasters

1. The PlayStation 3 launch

How do you take one of the most anticipated game consoles of all time and - within the space of a year - turn it into a hate object reviled by the entire internet? If you're Sony, you do it by slowly eroding the goodwill of your customers with a management attitude that reeks of detached, ivory-tower arrogance.

Granted, this doesn't have the chilling scope of something like Hot Coffee, but good public relations couldn't have solved that problem. This one, on the other hand, was almost entirely created by bad PR efforts, most of them coming straight from management. For example, Sony's response to complaints about the $600 price tag? "It's probably too cheap," as Sony Computer Entertainment chief Ken Kutaragi said in a May 2006 interview. "As with the PS and PS2, we believe people who like games will, without question, purchase it," Kutaragi said.

Nobody likes to be taken for granted, and many interpreted Kutaragi's comments to mean that Sony expected - even demanded - that gamers would mindlessly line up and swallow whatever the company deigned to give them. The perception was reinforced nearly every time Kutaragi opened his mouth, and for a while there the man was a walking PR disaster unto himself.

Back in 2005, for instance, Kutaragi made his infamously weird declaration that "We want for consumers to think to themselves, 'I will work more hours to buy one.' We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else." The strangeness of his quotes reached such a fever pitch that industry blog Kotaku  challenged its readers to weed out Kutaragi's real quotes from ones it had just made up, such as "The PS3 will instill discipline in our children and adults alike. Everyone will know discipline."

Yeah, everyone knew discipline, all right. The discipline of stampeding through launch lines and hoarding systems to sell on eBay. For most people, though, the prospect of "working more hours" to afford a PS3 - at either retail or inflated scalper prices - wasn't appealing, and so the launch frenzy quickly faded. Sony refused to believe it, however; in a January interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, SCEA President Jack Tretton famously offered a $1,200 bounty on any systems found "on shelves for more than five minutes." (Famously in part because it prompted the creators of comic strip  Penny Arcade to demand $13,200 after photographing 11 unbought PS3s in stores around Seattle.)

Back in the real world, however, the consoles were beginning to gather dust, and it wasn't helping sales that the PS3 didn't live up to Sony's promises. Rather than enabling anyone to "experience the 4D world," as Kutaragi vowed in 2005, it enabled those who bought it to experience a lengthy firmware download, followed by a chance to play launch titles that were mostly either awful or nearly identical to their Xbox 360 counterparts. That last bit in particular cast a few aspersions on Kutaragi's claim that the PS3 would outpace Microsoft with "revolutionary technology," leading more people to question whether the shiny black brick was actually worth the extra $200.

It's worth noting that Microsoft also offered vibration-enabled controllers, which Sony didn't consider "revolutionary" enough, going so far as to insist that consumers didn't want rumble technology at all (even though they clearly and loudly did). Even if consumers did want rumble, Sony said, adding it to their motion-sensitive Sixaxis controller would be impossible. And it remained impossible until early March, when Sony settled their patent litigation suit with vibe-tech maker Immersion - something that, up until that point, Sony had insisted wasn't a factor in its controller design.

Sony's attitude didn't improve when the Wii started eating its lunch, either. SCEA spokesman Dave Karraker went so far as to dismiss Nintendo's perpetually sold-out console as an "impulse buy" at $250, further reinforcing Sony's image as completely out of touch with what the average consumer could afford.

Things have been looking up for the PS3 ever since Sony's announcements at the Game Developers Conference, and if the European launch - a few days away as of this writing - goes well, the PS3 could see an upswing as its install base grows. For now, though, the console is just a whole lot of untapped potential strapped with a clunky interface and only a few games worth playing, so whether people will actually start buying the things en masse is anyone's guess.

Mar 19, 2007


Top 7


  • ShokuaHyuga - November 19, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    This is a gloriously shining example of why I hate hackers; you can't enjoy the game as it was meant to be enjoyed, can you, you have to pick through all the locks and find everything that was never meant to be found, assholes. P.S. I remember reading the GameInformer article that Ken Kutaragi quote came from.
  • ImAliveOMG - March 14, 2010 5:59 a.m.

    Hmmm... looks like some people need their comments replyed to by a 12 year old dimwit with A.D.D! @SuperBadnik 360 AND Wii? I understand the 360 part but the Wii!? Although you are right when you say the Wii offers a whole new experience. The whole new experience of... WII MUSIC! W00T! Can you feel the sarcasam in the air yet, son? You sure as hell better. @Vader999 It depends on what game you're playing on what console, you ass. @Cwf2008 Yes it was funny, now go outside and play with your friends so the grown-ups can talk. @Trakx Name 10 good E or E10 rated games for the 360, PS3 or both. How many did you come up with? Exactly. Grow some balls.
  • Vader999 - October 28, 2009 9:05 p.m.

    RickyV300 said: "ps3 is better by far the graphics pwn 360 in the ass" My. Balls. The Xbo 360 was more well recieved because aside from the initial red ring problem, which was fixed by the 2007's end, and it had way better games than the PS3. I dare you to bring up a game for the PS3 that is so damn good that I have to buy one just to get it. Most of the best the PS3 has to offer pales in comparison to the Xbox classics that the 360 offers. Aside from some Japanese PS3 only games, there is little that the PS3 has to offer that the 360 cannot......and there is a lot the 360 can offer that the PS3 cannot. To make it easy and simple......360 just PWNED PS3 in the ASS! It did, it will continue to do so, and it will always be that way!!! YEEHAW!!!!!
  • Cwf2008 - December 10, 2008 1:43 a.m.

    "My favorite TV moment was the September 11 attack." - IGN, June 15, 2006 Was that supposed to be funny? "What the hell is a GamesRadar?" - His immediate reaction after he hears about this article Sounds like China's reaction to Mitt Romney when he disapproved of China's decision to refuse a visa to that one Olympic athelete guy Mitt Romney: That was a bad thing to do. China: "What's a Mitt Romney?"
  • MyGameName - December 10, 2008 12:38 a.m.

    The PS3 was named the BEST BluRay player on the market. For the amount of money it costs, it better be!
  • Y2Ken - November 11, 2008 10:49 a.m.

    But in fairness, this was about PR disasters, and around that time, Sony was making quite a mess of things. Especially seeing as the technology they had was actually pretty darn good. The launch was a PR disaster. Since then, it's been constantly improving, and IMO it is the superior console. Sony just didn't put it across properly. And they're more than making up for it now. Oh, and just to clarify, I'm very much a PS3 gamer.
  • Thequestion 121 - December 10, 2008 9:52 p.m.

    Oh man, those were disasters. I didn't fully realize that the PS3 launch went so horribly wrong.
  • oryandymackie - November 13, 2008 9:50 a.m.

    Hey Kids! Do you want to be a spiky blonde prisoner dancing about the joys of PSP on a VGA camera? AND IT'S POSTED ON......YOUTUBE! Yo mon, dat PSP's got next-gen graphics! DA BOMB!
  • RandyChimp - September 11, 2008 6:47 p.m.

    this isnt really fair, i agree with the other things, but whats games radars problem with ps3? its doin okay now, ive owned it since the UK launch (which sucked, yes!) but all these other things are still crap. PS3 is advancing.
  • key0blade - September 10, 2008 2:56 a.m.

    "Yo dogg! Ya heard? Conglomex-brand Corn Snax be tha bomb-diggety, yo! Y'all can just taste the bio-enhanced Cruntulum-60™ flavor colonies in every crunchy bite. Word... izzle." Hilarious
  • Smeggs - September 10, 2008 1:36 a.m.

    I was waiting for the retard in the video to say "Fo-shizzle my N******" wouldn't have been to surprising, that ad was already borderline racist and he was humping a ladder with a santa hat that looked like a sex toy.
  • mentalityljs - August 1, 2009 3:40 a.m.

    Fu*k 360. I'd rather pay $600 on a PS3 and NOT have to deal with all the failures and extended-warranty (more$$$) bullshit that 360 owners had to. Plus, yes, you bump a 360 and your game is fu*ked. No warranty on your game for that, is there? Of course not! But Microsoft not taking action and responibility for things they should, and in a timely manner, for there shitty product is no surprise right? Right! And Microsoft, what a bunch of criminals you are! From the original Xbox release, making people pay extra for a remote and dongle to play DVD's, FU*K YOU! And now, what was an extra few hundred bucks for an HD-DVD drive? Fu*k you once more. Not to mention all the other shit you make people pay for that should be included. Sony fu*ked up, but Microsoft is 9 layers of hell further down from Sony!
  • FETALJUICE - July 28, 2009 4:45 a.m.

    I find it hilarious that Daikitana failed epically to the point where Romero is non-exisistant in the video game world anymore. John Romero had to have seen it coming with all of that overhype and arrogance that he would "make you his bitch". He got what he deserved; a healthy dose of reality. Seriously, who in their right mind would tell their own consumers you would make them their bitch? LOL
  • RickyV300 - July 10, 2009 7:01 a.m.

    ps3 is indeed the lowest bought system but by far the most powerful the 360's bland color pallet and ugly problems make it look horrible really? u bump your 360 when your saving a 100% complete gta 4 and you get scratch ring AND loos of data AND you have to buy the game AGAIN ps3 is better by far the graphics pwn 360 in the ass
  • penguinsrule3 - April 3, 2009 9:09 p.m.

    don't trash on the ps3 so hard, i mean what is microsoft doing about the red ring of death? and wtf was up with nintendo basically abandoning its hardcore fans? sony may have screwed up, but so did everyone else.
  • 044magnumx - March 25, 2009 11:47 p.m.

    i hate hackers
  • musashi1596 - January 22, 2009 6:27 p.m.

    It's a bit unfair to take such a dig at sony when you consider the way they apologised for the delayed launch.
  • tofu294 - December 31, 2008 3:04 a.m.

    all I want for christmas is a set of ear-plugs so I don't have to hear his song!
  • Trg564 - September 9, 2009 12:22 p.m.

    When they release the PS4, they really should keep Kutaragi somewhere he can never say anything about stuff by sony
  • killemall - March 27, 2009 8:41 p.m.

    AAaaa, poor got pwnd. I also weep for Daikatana, why did you remind me?

Showing 1-20 of 24 comments

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