Microsoft And Nintendo Team Up To Troll Playstation In Ads For Not Giving Gamers What They Want

from the trolling-as-advertising dept

Buckle up, because this seemingly mildly interesting story has a ton of intersections on topics we typically talk about here at Techdirt. As a preface, you should recall that we firmly believe that content is advertising and advertising is content. By this we mean that every bit of content a producer makes serves to advertise that producer's wider content library and that advertisements, in order to be engaging, must be useful and/or entertaining every bit as much as more traditional content typically is. We've also talked a great deal about how content producers in the digital spaces must connect with their fanbases, treat them well, and provide them what they want, or risk backlash. Add to that, finally, that we think restrictive protectionism in the name of wider profits often achieves the opposite of that goal.

Which brings us to Microsoft and Nintendo somewhat suprisingly teaming up to push out a bunch of ads centered on the ability for users of either to crossplay games across both systems.

For those of you who cannot see the video embed, it's an ad put out by both Nintendo and Microsoft pointing out that gamers on both systems can crossplay with one another on some games, including the example shown in Minecraft. Frankly, it's quite jarring to see these combo-ads (there are more) put out by two rivals in the console space. If you weren't well-tuned to the video game industry, you'd probably be left wondering what the hell was going on here.

The answer is that these ads are rather entertaining trolling attacks targeting Sony's Playstation 4, which has been the subject of some recent backlash coming out of E3 over the platform's lockdown on its system's games. While there is pretty much no such thing as a Playstation user that does not want crossplay enabled, and there are many who want it very much, Sony has gone the protectionist route. This is an attempt to convince friends of friends to buy Playstations so that they can play together, I suppose, but it's stupid and awful.

Some of the world's biggest games, from Fortnite to Minecraft to Rocket League, all support some variety of crossplay, allowing people with PCs, Xbox Ones, mobiles and Nintendo consoles to play on the same servers. Yet Sony continues to refuse to allow PlayStation consoles to get in on the fun when it comes to playing with Microsoft or Nintendo consoles.

In the wake of E3 and the disappointment of Fortnite's account locking, then, two of the companies that do allow crossplay have teamed up to take a swing at the PlayStation 4 with this commercial for Minecraft, a game that's also available on PS4.

A couple of reactions. First, Sony made this shit-sandwich for itself by not giving its customers what they want for no other reason than protectionism, so it's not without fun to see them have to eat it up. Second, the combo-ads put out by Microsoft and Nintendo are both useful and, if you enjoy watching huge companies troll one another, fairly entertaining. And the companies have kept this up as a coordinated effort, rather than just limiting it to a one-off video ad.

And the Xbox Twitter account responded, of course, happily saying they're ready to build something together. While this might have flown right past many gamers, enough will realize that both companies are going out of their way to rub Sony's nose in crap to make this all a bit fun. Whether Sony will respond to the ribbing by finally unlocking its garden remains to be seen.

In the meantime, though, this is a great example of advertising as content.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 6:51pm

    Revenge is sweet

    I remember a video a few years back where Sony was poking at Microsoft over how easy it was to share a game on their system by literally handing the disc to someone else, in comparison to MS's at the time plans to lock games to a given console. To have MS turn around and use Sony's greed against them for PR purposes now is just hilarious and well deserved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2018 @ 8:11pm

      Re: Revenge is sweet

      To have MS turn around and use Sony's greed against them for PR purposes now is just hilarious and well deserved.

      ... although to have Nintendo chide someone for "not giving its customers what they want" is a little ironic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2018 @ 8:36pm

        Re: Re: Revenge is sweet

        Yeah, while I'll grant that Sony has pulled off some pretty big fuck-ups with the Playstation, I'd be wary about making Microsoft and Nintendo seem like the heroes of this story.

        Realistically it's like two playground bullies realizing they can get a real kick out of making fun of the third bully.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 9:06pm

        Re: Re: Revenge is sweet

        Oh absolutely, Nintendo seems to have a history of screwing with their customers/fans, but this time at least they seem to be on the right side, and are using that for entertaining PR.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MindParadox (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 8:17pm

      Re: Revenge is sweet

      Except MS never planned to lock anything to a console. the idiots who couldnt understand basic english made this up, and of course, since lies shout while truth whispers, it became widely "Known"

      what MS wanted to do was, say you have a game i dont, but we wanna play together. If you have the game on your hard drive, as long as a 1 time for about half a second every 24 hours check was done to establish that you had not in fact traded in the game(if on disc), we could play together.

      But people only heard "check in online" and went bizarro berserk over a bunch of crap they made up.

      Don't believe me? by all means, go look at the official MS press release, or the E3 presentation video where they described exactly that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2018 @ 8:54pm

        Re: Re: Revenge is sweet

        And they had good reason to do so... they originally wanted Always Online DRM... which had the potential to effectively brick the console if it wasn't able to connect.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 9:04pm

        Re: Re: Revenge is sweet

        This article would seem to argue otherwise.

        'Here's how the system works: when you buy an Xbox One game, you'll get a unique code that you enter when you install that game. You'll have to connect to the Internet in order to authorize that code, and the code can only be used once. Once you use it, that game will then be linked to your Xbox Live account. "It sits on your harddrive and you have permission to play that game as long as you’d like," Harrison said.

        ...

        But what if you want to bring a game disc to a friend's house and play there? You'll have to pay a fee—and not just some sort of activation fee, but the actual price of that game—in order to use a game's code on a friend's account. Think of it like a new game, Harrison said.

        "The bits that are on that disc, you can give it to your friend and they can install it on an Xbox One," he said. "They would then have to purchase the right to play that game through Xbox Live."

        "They would be paying the same price we paid, or less?" we asked.

        "Let’s assume it’s a new game, so the answer is yes, it will be the same price," Harrison said.

        ...

        'Another piece of clarification around playing games at a friend’s house – should you choose to play your game at your friend’s house, there is no fee to play that game while you are signed in to your profile.'

        What this means is that if you take a game to a friend's house and try to play the game on their system using their account, you'll need to pay. If you take it to their house and try to play it on their system using your account, you won't need to pay.

        Unless they were lying to Kotaku that seems pretty clear to me. Required 'authorization' to play a game the first time, and if your friend wants to play too unless they're using your account they'd need to shell out as well.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2018 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re: Revenge is sweet

        This is patently false.

        The "check in online" backlash, while it happened at the same time, was not the same as the backlash against console/account locking of games. It all got announced at the same time so the backlash happened at all the same time, so I suppose you could be forgiven for confusing the two but they were, in fact, two separate policies with their own separate backlash. Xbox gamers just went nuclear on it all, all at the same time.

        The check in online was essentially DRM, if your console couldn't check in at least once every 24 hours, you couldn't play your game. Gamers, rightly, lost their shit over this.

        Having your game tied to your specific console/account, meant you couldn't bring the disk to your friends house and play on his console unless you signed into your account, nor could you loan the game to him. Gamers, also rightly, lost their shit over this. After all, this is one of the few advantages consoles have over PC gaming.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Doug D, 22 Jun 2018 @ 7:48pm

    Actually, the response to that tweet...

    ...was literally "our bodies are ready".

    Microsoft responded to Nintendo by saying "our bodies are ready".

    This has its own meaning to Nintendo, relating to E3 announcements, that just adds to the palimpsest of masterful trollage here.

    Here, have a context: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/my-body-is-ready

    To spell it out, Microsoft is basically referencing a Nintendo in-joke deliberately while talking about playing a Microsoft game together with people on a Nintendo console.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Madd the Sane (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 11:14pm

    Fortnite lockout

    Looks like the Fortnite lockout was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    In summary: Fortnite players, who have played Fortnite on a PS4, can't use their Fortnite accounts to log onto a Switch or a XB1. You'd need to create a whole new account. Although the PS4-only accounts can be used for phones and PCs, but no other consoles.

    Just going over the Fortnite lock-out on its own might be interesting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      silentchasm (profile), 24 Jun 2018 @ 2:46am

      Re: Fortnite lockout

      I think the lockout is the more important factor rather than crossplay. If it was just the lack of crossplay problem, it would just be business as usual in terms of past console generations. The preventing people from using a third-party account on other consoles seems like the bigger issue.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2018 @ 10:16am

      Re: Fortnite lockout

      Honestly Fortnite Battle Royale has been forcing a lot of conversations on gaming development and corporate practices. I'd love to see someone compile a list of "Revenue strategies and poor service models Fortnite Battle Royale has forced publishers to rethink" in the near future.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    freedomfan (profile), 22 Jun 2018 @ 11:34pm

    Yeah, but "trolling" ?

    Interesting article. But, is the ad really "trolling"? Seems like a stretch to me. I usually associate trolling with a fairly unsubtle attempt to get a rise out of the target. In contrast, the embedded just ad highlights a feature available with the advertisers' products. Isn't that largely what ads do? Admittedly, it's unusual to see joint ads by makers of competitive products. But, still, "trolling"?

    The ad doesn't even mention Sony and, in fact, never even directly mentions that the cross play isn't available on Sony's product. If that's really fairly characterized as "trolling" these days, then what isn't trolling? The term is diminished into meh-dom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2018 @ 4:50am

      Re: Yeah, but "trolling" ?

      Clearly, you don't get it. This is most likely not an isolated incidence.

      You don't have to comment on every article that you don't agree with and we will understand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        freedomfan (profile), 23 Jun 2018 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: Yeah, but "trolling" ?

        If MS or Nintendo are running ads that are actually what most people would think of as trolling Sony, then the article easily could have linked to them. Trolling generally has a negative connotation, so there ought to be some evidence presented that it's going on before using the term, IMO.

        BTW, there may be a reading comprehension issue here, since I never said I disagreed with the main thrust of the article, aside from the use of the one term. And, I haven't commented on an article here in months, despite reading techdirt nearly every day. However, feel free to take your own advice.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jun 2018 @ 6:28am

    Oh the unintentional humor...

    Bot or spammer tries to advertise 'geeky' site, can't figure out markdown code to get the link right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    r_rolo1 (profile), 24 Jun 2018 @ 6:03am

    Something about pots and kettles ...

    While I raise a toast for Nintendo and Microsoft doing the right thing at this point, it is somewhat rich to see this two companies to poke at anyone for being protectionist beyond any reasonable measure ... Microsoft has it's flagship software locked to a particular chip manufacturer architecture for #reasons ( just for starters ) and better not start talking about Nintendo, to not make a wall of text :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2018 @ 5:19am

    Hey @Xbox, since we can play together in @Minecraft now, did you want to build something?

    This has some good symbolism behind it. The last time I recall Nintendo teaming up with another company to build something, we ended up getting the OG PLAYSTATION.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Jun 2018 @ 11:33am

    This must be the most glaring example of "Pot, meet kettle." I've ever seen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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