Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. This week, we take a look at Aaron Greenberg's most recent outlandish statement regarding Halo 3's supremacy.
I love Aaron Greenberg. I'll have to disagree with Jon here - rather than Major Nelson, I'd like to posit that Greenberg actually fulfils the role of Embarrassing Uncle far more spectacularly than Mr Hryb. It's his job, mind you, Greenberg is paid to scream Microsoft's praises from the rooftop and to big up the positives left, right and centre even in the face of widespread disparagement, sceptical analysis and laughter from the competition. As such, he's only ever going to be biased, but that's to be expected.
This week he hit the headlines again with a gloating little tweet:
'Just in from research team (NPD): Halo 3 has outsold Resistance 1 + 2, Uncharted 1+2, Killzone 2 and God of War III COMBINED....wow'
Wow, indeed. But before we begin to gasp, eyelashes fluttering, in a deep swoon, let's remember a couple of things. First off, we haven't seen any numbers yet and any data that has been considered will be restricted to North America - Microsoft's strongest competitive area for install bases. If we were taking the Japanese and Europeans markets into consideration the results might not be quite so overwhelming. Second of all, if we're talking about exclusives, a little look at the success of the Gran Turismo franchise might well wipe the smile off of Greenberg's face. We won't even get started on Nintendo's exclusives.
Nonetheless, credit where credit is due. Bungie and Microsoft made a fantastic game, one that catapulted the acclaimed space-saga into this console generation with an almighty bang and built upon the paramount titles of yesteryear to provide one of the most definitive multiplayer experiences of all time. Love it or loathe it, you cannot deny that this is a staggering achievement.
But it papers over some of the cracks, and this news has revealed a number of things. The first is just how vociferous the Sony fanboy community is when confronted with bombastic statements that serve to threaten the perceived supremacy of their console. Some of the comments have been nothing short of hilarious, from taking swipes at Greenberg's weight to his sexuality to wishing violence upon his person and equating him with bridge-dwelling monsters. Of course we've seen this all before, but this one escalated pretty damn fast.
Hysterical kneejerk reactions aside, there's a perspective here that's becoming increasingly difficult to disagree with: Microsoft are something of a one-trick pony. If the PS3 was criticised roundly in its first couple of years for offering little by way of variety or anything particularly outstanding, then it might appear that the worm has turned. Sony's burgeoning stable of first and second party developers and their exclusive IPs is snowballing. Microsoft appear to have put all of their eggs in one basket with E3 just around the corner with Natal, whereas Sony are already exploring other avenues. That's not to say Microsoft aren't but, as an Xbox 360 owner, my state of worry has slowly been churning away at the lack of publicised innovation. It's worrying at a time when we're looking towards the future that Microsoft are attempting to gee everyone up with a vague bit of data about a game that's over three years old.
And what about Sony? What did they have to say to all of this? Well, apparently they're pretty apathetic to this latest outburst of heavy-handed manoeuvring. SCE UK boss Ray Maguire had this to say, talking to Edge yesterday:
'I’m not too fussed about the competitive bits or people’s comments because at the end of the day, I’ve only got my focus, and that is giving consumers a great experience and great content and I don’t care what anybody else does. If we are doing that and if we are measured by the enjoyment and the engagement that we have with our consumers and we can have a successful business then that’s what it will be. Our DNA is about innovation and giving people technology that they didn’t even realise they needed at the time and about pushing the envelope.'
Enter 3D, the second part of Sony's big E3 push. When quizzed upon the future of gaming in the same interview, Maguire was unequivocal about the dimensional upgrade's importance, stressing that Sony's competitors would be forced into utilising the medium due to the changing landscape of visual entertainment and its representation of the outside world.
'I would say that they have to. Whether they can is a different matter, but of course everyone will have to get into 3D because it’s the natural way of viewing the world. So why would you stay in a 2D world if you have the ability to do 3D? We have the ability to do 3D right now with the devices consumers already have in their living rooms. So what I need now is lots of people to go out and buy 3D TVs.'
In my own opinion, Microsoft need to pull their heads out of their asses and start cultivating some talent and, whilst this is a towering achievement for the 360's flagship, they need to stop resting on their laurels. Bungie are soon to be gone and, although this news bodes well for Halo: Reach, I'm not sure Microsoft can afford to limp through on the strength of one game with the Move device, not to mention the Wii, offering staunch competition in the face of Natal.