Journalism with too much of a smile

I had just finished writing my post about Sam Kennedy’s weak defense for the lack of real video game reporting, and thinking about the whole game press as PR thing, when I randomly got an issue of PSM magazine in the mail. And in a feature called PS3 Buzz: Truth or Trash, the magazine sorts out the rumors from facts — with some, um, helpful assists from “our industry sources both on and off the record.”

Here’s the answer to “Claim #3: The PS3 isn’t going to come with a hard disk drive”: “This is true. That doesn’t mean it won’t support mass storage, however. Sony is taking a cue from its experience in other consumer electronics with PS3 and planning to let the consumer decide how much and what form of storage they need. After all, why drive up the cost of the system … by including a hard disk when not everyone will make use of it? … Start small and cheap and run out of space, then upgrade to something larger. That’s the idea.”

Right. Why drive up the cost of a system by using the economies of scale to give every buyer a decent amount of storage, when you can force them to buy a memory card for what it would have cost to add five to 10 times the storage to the system in the first place?

Not all of PSM’s answers are so enthusiastically in tune with Sony’s company line — the feature helpfully points out that despite Sony’s hyping the PS3’s 1080p resolution, “the simple truth is that 99.99% of PS3 games in development are set to run at 720p” — but even their fully reasonable defense of the batarang controller seems a little too enthusiastic: “The DualShock 3 … is a lot smaller than photos would have you believe (the camera adds 10 pounds, right?) and has some smart ergonomics behind it.” Then a few pages later, the magazine gives its top 10 PS2 games of the year — and gives the creators space to respond! So Capcom is “thrilled that Devil May Cry 3 made the PSM 10,” and Criterion Games’ “Burnout team is really honored,” and the Guitar Hero team is also “thrilled.” And people in the gaming press wonder why we’re skeptical.

— January 25, 2006

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