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They Said WHAT
Xbox One vs. PS4: GameSpot Calls it a Tie
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 25, 2013   |   Episode 49 (Show Archive)  

   

This is Joe Jonas buying an Xbox One, which pretty much means the PlayStation 4 is doomed!
In this age of high-speed internet, smart phones and 24 hour news, it's not uncommon to see news stories with updates. It used to be that we had to wait for newspapers to print a correction, but these days you can expect an update within seconds of the story going live. While many updates are nothing more than a missing job title or misidentified store name, some corrections are more telling than others. Such is the case with GameSpot's innocuously titled, "Xbox One sells over 1 million consoles in 24 hours."

In this news piece, published on November 22, Justin Haywald explains that Microsoft's Xbox One managed to sell "over one million consoles." They also printed an excited quote from Yusuf Mehdi, Xbox's corporate Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, as well as a few pithy facts about Xbox One games ("Over 60 million zombies have been killed in Dead Rising 3.")

So there you have it, the Xbox One was able to sell as many (if not more!) Xbox One units than the PlayStation 4. And just for good measure,

No, seriously, hang on a minute!
Justin notes that a "small number" of consoles have disc drive problems. It's a tie, Justin has done his job and everybody can go home for a relaxing weekend of playing with their new consoles.

Not so fast!!

Did you notice the 159 word update above the original story? In case you missed it, the update explains that the Xbox One was sold in 13 different countries (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand), while the PlayStation 4 only found its way into Canada and the United States. Suddenly things don't seem as even.


The people that work at Microsoft's PR department are nice, but that doesn't mean you should take everything they say as fact!
By framing the story to suggest Microsoft tied with Sony, GameSpot misled their readers. Both systems sold 1 million units in 24 hours, so clearly everything is all tied up. Instead of adding proper context, Justin simply re-writes Microsoft's press release, complete with the original PR spin.

Justin eventually updated the story, noting that he wanted to "clarify some of the questions readers have raised." This is definitely a good step, but why did it take the readers to force GameSpot to report important facts alongside the re-written press release? Would they have cared about incorporating proper context if the readers hadn't made a fuss?

Selling 1 million units across 13 different countries is a huge deal, make no mistake about it. But Sony was able to do the same thing in only two, a much more impressive feat. There are a staggering 1 billion people between

You don't think Europe matter? Then you clearly haven't licked a PSP!
the 13 countries where the Xbox One is being sold. Compare that to the 352 million people that have access to the PlayStation 4.

Think Europe doesn't matter? Then clearly you haven't looked up the numbers. Sony managed to sell 32 million PlayStation 3 consoles in Europe, more than the 27 million found in the United States and Canada. The PS Vita is also more popular in Europe, as was the PSP. Given their track record, it stands to reason that Sony could expect a huge launch when it hits that part of the world on November 29.

I'm not here to suggest that GameSpot has a pro-Microsoft bias. In fact, I don't believe that. Neither GameSpot nor Justin Haywald is in the tank for Microsoft, so get that out of your mind right now. This is not the work of somebody with an axe to grind, but rather the state of the media these days.

Justin is clearly not alone. Joystiq also reported the number without adding any context. Kotaku posted a paragraph, again echoing Microsoft's press release. The same goes for Gaming Nexus (who, in

Sometimes GameSpot reminds me of CNN (and I don't mean that as a compliment)!
the interest of full disclosure, I freelance for), though they opted to talk about personal experience over the horse race. It's also worth noting that Gaming Nexus was one of the few sites to question Microsoft's statement of being "sold out at most retailers."

Re-writing press releases has become a big part of being a games journalist, as is demonstrated by GameSpot. Spin is reported uncritically and without context, leaving the reader to believe only what the PR firm scripted. This is not the news; it's cheerleading (even if unintentional). Had Justin merged the two articles together in the first place, then he would have stood out as one of the only journalists giving the readers the full story. Sadly, it took those same readers to force GameSpot to do the actual reporting.

When it comes down to it, this isn't about Microsoft vs. Sony. As somebody who has always enjoyed owning all game systems (even the obscure consoles that never had a chance), I hope both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 succeed. This is about reporting all the information, not just what the press firm wants. Having a unique voice is always better than regurgitating misleading press releases.
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