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Sony Exec Actually Says The DS Is A "Babysitting Tool" That Adults Don't Use

dskitteh.jpg

Update: This article was originally written to be a sarcastic editorial about the subject. After a weekend's consideration I feel that that tone doesn't speak for who I want to be as a writer. The original is included after the jump in annoying strike-out form in case you want to see where the talkback on it came from.

...

Sony exec Jack Tretton is quoted as saying the following in an article from Fortune, in reference to the bazillion-selling Nintendo DS:

"Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those," he says. "He's too old for that."

As I said, hopefully this is a misquote as the points made are, to be charitable, extremely flimsy (well, if I can be light-hearted for a moment, I'll give him that the DS can be a good baby-sitting tool but it's certainly a lot more than that) and, as our writer Super Swede pointed out in the talkback on this article, Mr. Tretton appears to be insulting the very market Sony's courting.

[via: kotaku]


This article's going to be more editorial than usual, but I believe you'll understand why momentarily.

*Ehem.*

I'm going to err on the side of caution on this one and suggest that he might possibly be misquoted, but Sony exec Jack Tretton is quoted as saying the following in an article from Fortune, in reference to the bazillion-selling Nintendo DS:

"Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those," he says. "He's too old for that."

So, you can see why I might think that this is some sort of horrible misquotation. There is no way that anyone who is remotely connected to the gaming industry could possibly say something like that without either a) drenching his words with god-tier hipster irony, b) being completely misquoted, c) being in desperate need of antipsychotics, or d) forgetting that April Fool's was last week.

Let's break this down. "Our view of the 'Game Boy experience'..." Perhaps he's fallen out of some sort of time-warp in which the Game Boy is still a current platform? Who knows? "...it's a great babysitting tool..." Okay, maybe he's got a point there. "...no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those..." I'm sorry, what was that? Perhaps our 20-something (and up) DS-playing readers would like to chime in on that one? Cause last I knew, the DS had wildly outsold the PSP. Something about the DS having nearly 70% of the market share. In fact, last I knew the PSP was being marketed directly at teenagers, while the DS is the handheld that everyone and their uncle owns.

In the article more generally, Mr. Tretton argues that Sony's gaming products are just finding their legs, and there is a legitimate argument to be made there. This is despite the fact, however, that Sony was outsold again last year by Nintendo. And Microsoft. Sure, the 3DS has hit a speedbump in Japan, but Nintendo's new handheld has already outsold the PSP worldwide in 2011 - and this before the release of most of the 3DS' AAA titles. (Are we to assume that Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Resident Evil: Revelations are babysitting tools?)

So, then, the final explanation for Mr. Tretton's, erm...indiscretion...could be that this is some sort of sour-grapes trash talking from a Sony exec who's had to spend the last four years watching his sexy, high-tech products wildly outsold by Nintendo and Microsoft's comparatively under-powered consoles - only to finally find their sales traction when they're actually priced what they're worth. At which point they're still outsold by their competitors. (Don't get me wrong: I've enjoyed both the PS3 and the PSP, but the numbers are there in black and white.)

I hope that's not the case, but the alternatives aren't too flattering either, are they?

Oh, by the way, Mr. Tretton is also quoted as taking pot-shots at motion-control gaming. Perhaps he hasn't heard about that whole Nintendo-expanding-the-gaming-market thing, or the hullabaloo over Microsoft's money-printing Kinect? Perhaps it's not yet clear to everyone that motion control has, pardon the pun, connected with a large population of gamers. But if that were the case, wouldn't Sony have released some sort of motion control wand yet?

[via: kotaku]

19 Comments

Pauwow said:

I love my 3DS but I'm 30 and I have to agree with Jack Tretton, people consider DSi, DS and 3DS as products for kids. I never seen a 20 years old playing with a Nintendo console in the campus but I've seen lots of 10 years olds kids playing Pokemon for example. I like Nintendo but yes, I do receive that "he is too old for that toy" feeling from other people when I play outside my house. About Kinect yes it has great sales, but it is a great product with terrible games (if you are not into dacing or Microsoft Fit) and nothing interesting in the horizon. As a gamer I care about titles, not about scores, rankings, top tens or sales record. I don't think mr. Tretton is wrong is his statement I think is just the way of saying it that sounds pretentious that "self-respected" sounds terrible in his sentence.

oldtaku said:

Plenty of adults with DSes around here.

I have wondered if Sony executives are taken on executive retreats where highly paid consultants are brought in to teach them how to say stupid things. Not Kaz, he does it naturally.

jayoshi said:

Really? You're mad that your system isn't selling so you have to trash talk your competition and their owners. That's not very smart. These 20 something DS owners (like myself) are probably not going to be too happy that you think they are not self-respectable adults because they play their DS in public. This Exec is an ass.

It reminds me of macho straight guys saying no self-respecting man would wear something like that or act a certain way. Frak you.

ironmouse said:

Didn't someone say a similar thing a few years ago? Was it Sony (again) or Nokia or something?

On the one hand, yeah its certainly used to "babysit" kids etc, but being a 34 year old gamer, I find it a fun portable system.

Whenever I'm travelling somewhere I always have a portable system with me. Personally I have found the DS has more fun and interesting games compared to PSP.

Looking forward to upcoming 3DS games :)

Scizzy said:

The campus I used to go to would receive some 12,000 students everyday. I saw DS/DSis everywhere everyday. The biology student lounge always had at least one DS/DSi in sight. My mom is in her late 50s and she takes her DS (with Tetris) absolutely everywhere. Sometimes we play together when we go out and I take my DS with me. Everyone and their mother have a DS and are not afraid to whip it out in public.

What the hell, Jack Tretton? I think you're just bitter...or you don't know jack. (Sorry, too easy. lol)

Rosa said:

Sigh.

Console wars leave me cold, whether it's execs making snarky comments, or editorials on websites I like getting bent out of shape that ~*their*~ console got insulted on the internet.

I dream of a day where we don't need to fucking fight about this shit anymore.

Vial said:

I got a DS in Japan solely to run an 英和辞書. Together, they cost significantly less than the cheapest portable electronic dictionaries(none of which had a touch-screen/stylus for drawing kanji). It has served wonderfully in that capacity, but I stopped trying to buy games for it after bitter disappointment with FF4DS and the FFXI "sequel". Only other game I got for it was Sim City DS, which is fun enough. So yeah, from a Japanese learner's point of view, the DS is(or atleast was) a good investment.

However, doesn't everyone remember that brain age craze? How can anyone insist that that was targeted at teenagers?

Yep, totally glad I had my fill of Sony with the PS1 and PS2 [the later really went to their heads with the PS3 launch - not to mention the PSPGo and 'NGP', in general].

And I've mostly always played my handheld systems [a GB, GBC, Classic DS and 3DS] inside [as schools pretty much banned them in the 90s here in the UK] anyway.
If the gaming industry hasn't fallen under its own rehash bloatedness by then [or gone fully digital or a 'one console' future, I have no doubt that I'll still be playing [consoles and handhelds] in the comforts of my own home.

Super Swede said:

Business Lesson #1: Contrary to popular belief, insulting potential customers is not the best way to entice them to purchase your products.

I'm waiting for some sort of arse-covering corporate statement in the near future -- something along the lines of "Sony takes pride in providing top-quality games for a wide range of age groups, and will continue this trend in both our current and next-gen handheld market."

Perhaps there's some bitterness afoot, as Nintendo is responsible for a handful of characters that became icons of our gaming youth (continuing to be successful to this day), whereas Sony's fledgling attempt resulted in a bug-eyed, anthropomorphic marsupial (I'm looking at you, Crash Bandicoot) that always stuck me as a sort of cross between the mascot of the latest anti-meth campaign and Timothy Leary's power animal.

In the meantime, it's not as though Mr. Tretton is saying you shouldn't buy a Nintendo handheld; he's simply making the statement that doing so makes you a man-child incapable of appreciating real games.

Now go buy a PSP.

raindog469 said:

Someone from Sony -- it may or may not have been Tretton -- said the same thing in 2004, more or less, claiming that how much someone liked the DS depended on their interest in Pokemon. I used my DS for most of two six-hour flights last year. I'm 41 and have never bought or played a Pokemon game. Scribblenauts and Korg DS-10 for the win.

I really don't understand why Sony's executives think the best way to combat Nintendo's dominance is to release jumped up, late-to-the-party versions of Nintendo's equipment (GBA -> PSP, DS -> NGP, Wii -> Move) while trotting out the old "baby game for babies" lines that failed to work for Sega 20 years ago.

Thank you Rosa. I really want to give you a big hug for understanding what most do not on this website.

It's 2011 people. Whether it's over-paid execs or writers for websites, it's really time to give up the trash talk console wars bullshit. Play what you like, and quit giving people a hard time if you don't agree with what console they enjoy gaming on...

hal said:

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough when writing this, but I didn't mean it to be a swipe at Sony per se, but a catty diatribe about a ridiculous statement (from someone who should know better) that, as Super Swede put it, insults the very customers Mr. Tretton's employer is looking to court. As I stated in the article, I enjoy both the PSP and PS3. The only real criticism I would have of either is that I felt they were over-priced on launch (which, to be honest, I feel about the 3DS too). I certainly do not believe any one console is better than the other. Better selling? Yes, but selling better doesn't mean it is better (compare the box office of Transformers 2 and A Single Man). Better catalogue of certain genres? Yes, each console lends itself to different styles of play, different demographics, and therefore different genres. None of this suggests superiority. There's certainly room for all to play.

fillerbunny9 said:

I use my DS in public every day on the 20 min bus ride into downtown on my way to work. oh, and I am 30. holy shit, according to Sony I do not exist!

meanwhile, my (launch unit, btw) PSP has been sitting in my desk drawer at home for well over a year. it wouldn't be fair to say it's collecting dust, because it is protected in there, but.....

Rocky H said:

Is this article posted on here to distract readers from finding out that the PSP is currently outselling the 3DS in Japan?

http://www.gamespot.com/news/6307610.html

Funny how Nintendo fans are always guilty of two things:

1) Always bringing up numbers. Just because a console can sell millions of units doesn't make it the best. (Side note: Limp Bizkit sold millions of records and they are the worst band in the world.) Look at the ratio of high-rated games vs. low-rated games on the DS and the Wii. The numbers are staggering. A small hand full of quality first-party games doesn't make it "the greatest of all time".

2) Hurling insults/Cheap jabs towards other companies. Your average Nintendo fan ALWAYS throws out the same insults: "Sony is a joke!" "Sony sucks!" "F**k Sony!" etc, while your average Sony or 360 player just gives the usual "I'm happy with my PS3/360. Nintendo just doesn't appeal to me anymore." You want to find the more mature players? I wouldn't look towards the average Nintendo fan.

raindog469 said:

@Rocky H, fanboys insulting each other on the Internet isn't really news. CEOs openly trash talking each other's products is, though, and this particular news item has made it onto mainstream, non-gaming-oriented news sites as well. Can you seriously imagine Satoru Iwata saying something like "We avoided an NGP-style strategy because we want people without acne to buy our products too"? Executives acting childish in public is always, always news.

I passed on Nintendo consoles for an entire decade (and may start skipping them again with the 3DS), then passed on the Xbox in the last console cycle and am sitting out Sony on this one. You don't have to be a die-hard anything to go where the games are and smell corporate desperation tactics from a mile away.

And if you haven't seen Sony (and Microsoft) fanboys decry Nintendo products as being for children the way Tretton did, you haven't been on the Internet for very long. At least they could attack Nintendo's products for their actual faults: their launch games are often either thin, almost demo-quality experiences or retreads, they don't know how to handle online interaction or mature games at all, their refusal to loss-lead their consoles that's made them so much money also hamstrings them technologically, they desire too much control over their third-party developers in the name of "quality" while greenlighting all manner of shovelware, they come up with industry-changing innovations and then implement them in ways that reduce them to gimmickry, and on and on.

Pauwow said:

@Rocky H:
The problem here are not the fanboys, the problem here is that a Sony's executive should not talk like a fanboy and say things like "no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those". With that sentence Sony is not making fan of Nintendo, is making fun of gamers who enjoy their Nintendo portable console. As Super Swede said in this post "Contrary to popular belief, insulting potential customers is not the best way to entice them to purchase your products." I might agree with the opinion that Nintendo products receive often the label of "for kids" but making fun of potential costumers that are obviously not happy with that negative label is not really smart. Also Sony making fun of a portable console is like Ozzy Osbourne giving lectures about drug and alcohol abuse. Yeah i know that psp has great sales in Japan I read that all the time and?? I don't care! I don't live in Japan! Most of this Japanese psp games never arrive to Europe or the Usa. Also, pspgo got terrible sales at launch (holds the "honor of getting the "worst sales at launch of any portable console" EVER). I have a ps3 and a psp and I use them almost everyday but Sony and Microsoft's attitude are often arrogant and pretentious (towards Nintendo and towards each other). If you want see the different on class between Nintendo's executives and Sony or Microsoft, watch the video on the last GDC. There Satoru Iwata mentions that Sony has done great things for the game market and Microsoft's Live experience was an example of a great service. Now imagine you are a potential costumer who doesn't know that much about Sony or Nintendo, which executive do you thing looks better? the one that says that makes fun of the costumers or the one that admits the other companies have great products too. Don't get me wrong, I love my ps3/psp and I invested a little fortune in Playstation Network's titles but Sony/Microsoft CEO's are just terrible; they are agressive and arrogants. They behave like the bully that makes fun on everyone in school. I stopped reading the Official Sony and Microsoft forum because I just got sad reading people's racist/homophobic/antisemitic insults. Nintendo fanboys are not better but again some of them are older than the average gamer, they grew up like me with the first NES and they are usually more tolerant. If don't believe me just go the the Official Sony forum and count how many people are using offensive language and then go to Nintendolife.com and count how many insults you find there.

Akamaru said:

Pot = stirred, judging by all the comments.

Trenton is playing politics. One way to do that is to divide the "electorate". The fact of the matter is....he's right. The perception of the DS platform(s) is that it is for kids. Let's not pretend that Nintendo hasn't marketed it any other way. However, that doesn't mean that the software for the platform(s) can't be played by adults.

If you're trying to target a certain demographic of consumer, which has always been Sony's goal, you need to be keenly aware of perception. Sony claims to cater to 17 year old males, because as the saying goes over at Sony: boys under 17 wish they are old enough to be 17 and men over 17 wish they were 17 again. Obviously Sony is targeting a different demographic of gamer, of which is more image conscious.

As a 26 year old male, I have to wonder how well that is working out for them these days, considering that no amount of image conscious marketing will make their current generation platforms appeal to me. I like what I like. If Sony can't prevent long standing customers, like me, from jumping ship to Microsoft this generation (and never looking back), I think they need to re-think their marketing stance.

Dear Sony, focus less on image and more on substance. There is a reason why Microsoft and Nintendo are both doing better business than you while you still flounder nearly 5 years after the launch of the PS3. Your slogan "It only does everything" is ridiculous when either of your systems do not do ANYTHING particularly WELL. At the risk of appearing to be "babysat" by a consumer electronic device, I think I'll stick with my DS (or Android phone) for all my portable gaming needs.

Mittens said:

I played my DSi on airplanes when my PSP ran out of batteries (or when I was playing Dragon Quest IX--how awesome was that on the DS?). I have never been self-conscious about it. I totally believe that the PSP is outselling the 3DS--between earthquake, super-limited supply, and a vacuum of good titles that are 3DS-specific, it would be bizarre if that weren't the case. I don't think this Sony exec thought he would be quoted or intended to be given a scrutinized statement here. Like when I say that Cheesecake Factory's sizes are ridiculous. They are...sorta. I still ate there on Saturday...AND I'M PROUD OF IT!

Pauwow said:

Well, If I was Sony I will be worried, in a few days Capcom-Japan will reveal some big news and I'm guessing is a new Monster Hunter but this time for the 3DS. MH was a huge responsible for the psp sales in Japan.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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