[ Blog Post ] A Tale of Three Console Stores

The Last of Us: Remastered. I really shouldn’t have been as excited about it as I got. I didn’t even have to spend a dime on it as I got it as payment for doing a favor for a friend of mine. Anticipation has a weird way of betraying that kind of knowledge, though; I’d purchased the game for my PlayStation 3 when it was released but I had to sell it quite a bit later due to hard times. Before you ask, yes, I have modded my system but this game was made in such a way that it had to be loaded into the system itself; I know I could just replace the internal drive but, like I’ve previously implied, I’m not exactly made of money so that wasn’t an option… so I was without the game for a long time and, because my PS3 had been banhammered, I’d never been able to play the game online. Trust me, that anticipation was there for a reason. I’d pre-ordered it on the PlayStation Store as it was the method of payment my friend had chosen for me and, well… like someone who’s been anticipating something for a long time, I waited through the wee hours for the game to drop. Nothing came, through the night, leaving me to have to wait until I woke up to see if it downloaded.

If you’ll believe it, this is not the first time I’ve been in this kind of situation with content I want to purchase from the PlayStation Store. There’s been numerous times where I’ve had to wait long periods of times just to get content that should have been out when it was promised. This isn’t always the case with disc-based games as, if I’m anxious enough, I’ll just purchase the game in a retail store, or something, but with something like downloadable content, you don’t have much of a choice.

If you’ve not gotten something from this, so far, this is more of a rant about the PlayStation Store: I’ve never had the kind of anticipation frustration in waiting for something I’ve wanted like Sony has continually put me through and I sincerely don’t understand why. You guys already know quite a bit about my experience with their customer service but let me give you a rundown of how Sony’s PlayStation division handled my banhammering all those years ago: they ban my account and my console and, knowing fully why that might be and calling only to confirm my suspicions, a Sony representative replies only with the reasoning of “violation of Terms and Conditions” and repeats this infinitely as I try to prod him for further information. After doing some research, the code I got was likely for using unsigned software, which was exactly what I was doing but I don’t understand why the representative wouldn’t relinquish that information, especially when it’s made public via the error code I received from my system. I got in with another few representatives and, while I had a little more luck, there was, generally, very little help to be had from their customer service departments. I pray that I never have to call them again. In regards to my experience in the PlayStation Store, generally speaking, all of my annoyances are probably brought on by myself, like the previously stated issue, but they should be asserted by the company that is providing the services, instead of getting the general feeling of “you should be grateful we’re even providing this to you!”

This wouldn’t be as bad if this was a problem across the board, from all companies that provide a similar service. Let’s look at my brief but deep experience with prodding around in the XBOX Live Arcade: I can easily get to what I want, how I want, and in a reasonable amount of time, I can access what I purchased. As far as release times go, it’s on the same time, every week, that all major releases get dropped, with some small variances in smaller billing content. Given, there’s not quite as much that I wanted from XBOX 360 that I couldn’t get elsewhere, in terms of digital content, so my experience with this one is limited but the general experience in getting what I want in a timely fashion in a fashion that doesn’t leave me upset or frustrated is positive.

As for working with Nintendo, well, in working with them to handle a situation regarding my Nintendo 3DS and 3DSXL has easily been one of the most positive customer service experiences I’ve ever had. My general experiences with the eShop for the 3DS and the Nintendo Shop for my old Wii have been some of the best online purchases I’ve ever made, though I do have one very specific complaint: the separation of shops for each of Nintendo’s consoles. It really seems redundant to have a separate store and currency for each system, especially when the other players have made all of their consoles available under their same relative markets. Other than that, I haven’t had many issues other than their catalog, which seems limited to only so many titles when opening up their library, especially regarding Virtual Console, would make much more business sense.

While each market has its flaws and strengths, at least Nintendo and Microsoft’s online markets seem to be a bit more grateful to the user, presenting itself in a way that makes it rewarding for the user to indulge in its content, lacking or otherwise. In Sony’s case, it feels as if they’ve always been doing things their way and the only reward we get is the privilege of being able to indulge in their content: feels very “it’s our way or the highway.” Every single time someone points this out or criticizes them about it and they actually take the time to publicly respond, they always deflect the question: they claim that it isn’t as simple as just pushing out the content on time, often blaming developers and back end staff, saying things without really saying anything of substance and explanation. This really pisses me off because it feels as though the other companies try hard to reward the gamer for choosing their systems while Sony doesn’t reward the gamers: it comes off as “this is our playground, feel grateful we’re opening the gate to you and if you want to play elsewhere, you’re just plain wrong.” It feels very arrogant and snobbish. Given, I agree that I love the content Sony’s systems offer, more generically speaking, but this feeling I’ve gotten, over time, is not a good feeling. It’s almost like they feel like they know they’re the best and they’re showboating.

If EB Games had released a game late by no flaw other than the explanation of “we’ll release when we damn well feel like it,” people would be burning locations down to the ground. There would be riots. Why the hell are we accepting Sony’s version of things? This is not the standard, this is the exception, and we can’t accept this. Something needs to be done.

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