Fanboys are a very interesting species to observe, and there's no doubt that we all love to hate them. They all appear to operate in the same aggravating way to the untrained eye- but once studied, markedly different behavioural traits and tactics start to emerge between the various factions. What's more, it's important to note that they actually benefit the games industry in a profoundly important way. Fierce console rivalry creates a drive for increasingly competent games... which is primarily spurred on by their constant forum battles and playground arguments.
Thanks, fanboys. You do the hard work so that we don't have to.
With this in mind, we're not here to insult or belittle them. Rather, we're going to try and understand them- as well as the history behind their motivations.
And yeah, okay, we'll probably take the piss out of them a little.
Sony Fanboys: Scorched Earth Defence
- AKA: Crybabies
- Strengths: Pack hunting, pre-emptive defence
Sony fans had to fight hard to get where they are today. The Playstation emerged into an incredibly competitive market dominated by Nintendo and SEGA, meaning that the rank newcomers had to battle for every inch of ground. The death of the Dreamcast and subsequent PS2 soon rewarded their efforts in spades (allowing them to reign supreme for a time in smug dominion)... but when the Xbox 360 launched, they suddenly found themselves firmly behind the times. During over a year of suffering under the new kids on the block, they were essentially forced to take it on the chin and wait for better days. The PS3 delivered on its promises and finally gave them something to crow about- but the vast majority of Sony fanboys haven't lost the fire and resentment born from years of playground and forum conflict.
This ancient and deep-seated angst has made Sony fanboys incredibly defensive about PS3 exclusives. Some would say precious. Not only do they hunt in packs to take down any direct threats to their favourite titles, but they swarm around practically any review that awards less than ninety percent to first party games. Brendan's GT5 review is a prime example of this primal behaviour (despite the article being largely positive)... and let's not forget their savage mauling of Gametrailers who dared to give Metal Gear Solid 4 a 9.3. Sure, you'll sometimes see them leave their comfort zone in small raiding parties, but Sony Fanboys are usually found jealously guarding their exclusives like meerkats surrounding their nests. Vicious, deadly, noisy meerkats.
PS3 fanboys, we salute you.
Microsoft Fanboys: Complex Superiority
- AKA: XBots
- Traits: Unprovoked hit-and-run attacks
It's always tricky to be the new kid in town- but Xbox fans had a much easier time of it than most. They had to go through the motions when the original Xbox released at the dawn of the new Millennium, but the 360 soon released as the first- and only- truly next gen console. This afforded them more than a year of unassailable domination, where they would merrily belittle and attack every other demographic on the market. Just because they could. Nintendo and Sony fans (see above) simply had to grin and bear it as the Microsoft horde merrily lorded over them from a lofty pedestal. Xbox fanboys had every reason to feel superior at the time, and thoroughly rubbed their foes' faces in each passing innovation.
And then the PS3 arrived. The playing field quickly swung into a neutral stalemate... but once you've gotten used to being the kings of all you survey, it's nearly impossible to give up the intoxicating feeling of entitlement that it brings. To this end, Microsoft fanboys are almost always found on the offensive: delivering brutal hit-and-run judgements on Sony and Nintendo franchises and striking deep within enemy territory. Whilst most of these assaults are based on the strange belief that Gears Of War 3 will somehow make everything better, they usually lead to titanic engagements with Sony's zealous defenders. Finding an animal analogy is difficult- but the latter days of the Roman Empire works pretty well. You can only attack for so long before your dynasty starts to crumble around your feet.
Microsoft Fanboys, we salute you.
Nintendo Fanboys: A Different Breed
- AKA: Wiiners
- Traits: Stages of grief
Nintendo fanboys started out like any other... but in 2006, a remarkable transformation took place that completely changed their outlook on the console war. The Wii was purposefully designed to avoid competition with the PS3 and Xbox 360, meaning that the Ninty's enormous and all-conquering army were suddenly left without an enemy to fight. After a few months of frustrated, confused and arbitrary attacks against anything that moved, they actually settled down, relaxed and accepted the situation. The Wii still offers experiences that can't be found anywhere else. Why worry?
However, there's always an exception that proves the rule- and there are always those who refuse to accept the status quo. Interestingly, the Nintendo fan subcultures all mimic stages of coping with loss. The vast majority have moved on to beatific acceptance... but a significant number recanted their allegiance; storming off to find other battles to fight and consoles to support. That's anger right there... but a much more interesting minority are still rooted firmly in denial.
A diehard few still haven't quite grasped that the Wii is designed for unique and new types of game- and any hint that it's not a great fit for FPS games or other mainstream genres instantly causes a backlash of staggering ferocity. I rest my case.
Wii Fanboys, we salute you.