This article was originally supposed to be a passionate, hateful, vitriolic rant about Nintendo. I'm a day one 3DS adopter after all... and I'm spoiling for a fight. I've completed Ridge Racer. I'm sick to death of Street Fighter. And quite frankly, I don't actually want to experience Ocarina again through my tired, cynical eyes. To be honest, I only use my expensive aqua blue paperweight as an electronic business card exchanging device at industry events (and to stop my stack of real business cards from blowing away on windy days). The lack of quality software and subsequent price drop felt like a kick in the teeth from a company that I've genuinely come to love and have invested huge amounts of my hard earned cash into, and I was ready to absolutely ream them.
But I can't. I literally can't. And the reason why will be obvious to anyone who's ever been bullied at school.
Let me explain. There's no sport, no joy whatsoever, in kicking someone who's already down and admitted that they "probably deserve it." It worked on my aggressors back in the day - and this is exactly what Nintendo have done. Iwata, Miyamoto and the entire upper management looked us straight in the eye and admitted that they screwed up, publicly took a massive pay cut and apologised for their failure. Ninty will now be going away for a bit, reflect on what they've done and promise to fix everything when they come back.
And that's fine by me. This isn't just an amazing turn of events for Nintendo fans, but an incredible precedent in its own right. It's incredibly rare, in fact, it's practically unheard of for major corporations to admit their wrongdoings, let alone do so publicly and in such a forthright fashion. An apology is an incredibly powerful tool if used properly, and our industry would be a much more interesting place if more publishers were willing to hold their hands up and bite the bullet every once in a while. Let's take a look at how a simple "sorry" could have saved a few of gaming's biggest offenders a world of grief. And averted some of the biggest PR nightmares of recent times.
One of the most obvious gaming debacles in recent memory is Sony's handling of the PSN hacking scandal. Personal details and passwords simply weren't stored in a secure fashion, and there's no getting around the fact that information security was as much to blame as the despicable hackers responsible for the deed. PSN subscribers deserved a full and frank apology - or just an explanation of what was actually happening - but this only occurred after weeks of stonewalling, evasion, silence and downright lies. This resulted in a period of total panic and confusion as angry consumers lashed out against the lack of information... but just explaining the situation from day one and admitting the cause of the problem would have allowed us to settle down and get on with our lives until normal service was restored. As it turned out, the revelation was like a slap in the face.
Microsoft are no better. Their treatment of independent developers (from the smallest Xbox Live Indie outfits to Team Meat and Joe Danger dev Hello Games) is absolutely appalling, and yet the Redmond colossus simply isn't willing to open up a dialogue. Just the tiniest shred of humility, the slightest hint that they're willing to work towards a brighter future for the platform would be enough, but instead the deafening silence has been causing enormous rifts to open in what should be the console's major unique selling point. Developers are angry, underpaid and starting to seriously consider jumping ship to Apple, Steam or Sony in droves. A little honesty could go a long way towards sorting this out, but don't hold your breath.
EVE Online fans probably deserved an apology after a leaked internal newsletter purportedly revealed that CCP's parent company believes "greed is good" and that their fanbase are nothing but cattle to farm for their precious money. An immediate apology could have stopped millions of players holding enormous, silent protests. An immediate apology could have stopped countless subscribers cancelling their accounts. CCP finally managed to smooth the situation over and sort out the problems thanks to a rare meeting of the Council Of Stellar Management... but not after aggressively denying all knowledge and even going on the offensive those who brought the queries to light on the forums.
And finally there's one developer who, if I'm being brutally honest, needs to "do a Nintendo." Sonic Team. Wouldn't it be nice to wake up tomorrow to find an email from SEGA in our inbox apologising for running the Blue Bomber into the ground through years of misuse and mishandling? Begging our forgiveness for turning Sonic into a running joke... and then a werehog? Hell, if they'd done it earlier, the extra time could have been used to turn the promising but flawed Sonic Colours into a true return to form. If Sonic were to retire for a while and return in the next generation with a bold new focus, I think we'd understand. All would be forgiven.
Us gamers aren't the enemy. We're not a hostile force that needs to be misled and misinformed at every opportunity. We're just ordinary people who make mistakes - and we're willing to forgive a multitude of sins if, once in a while, a publisher is strong enough to stand up and say those six important words that we're dying to hear.
"Sorry. We'll do better next time."