Copycats and fanboys

OK, so Sony, who get a lot of flak for the kids who can’t bear the fact it’s not 1995 any more, have pulled a blatant copying stunt with the tilt-sensing Dual Shock 3. First of all, it appears to me that it’s far more of a copy of tilt-sensing games like the older GB games like Kirby’s Tilt and Tumble than the Wii-mote. But, fanboys and their short and selective memories will only go as far as the first thought that enters their head. So what’s new there eh?I applaud Sony for having the balls to do what they’re doing. It’s not particularly grown up or noble but, frankly, business doesn’t need to be. And kids, this is a business we’re talking about here. None of these companies love you, they all want your money. Yes, even Nintendo.

By the time we’re talking about boxes on shelves the overall impact of Nintendo’s vision will be vastly reduced. Sure, it’ll still have total freedom of movement and still look like a remote control but it won’t be the only thing out there that does that sort of thing. Frankly, it never was – only those fanboys too ignorant to believe that such a device could ever exist before Nintendo thought of it ever thought so. So, that leaves Nintendo with a lot less originality to take to the bank courtesy of Sony. You could argue that Microsoft do this to Apple a lot of the time actually. I don’t think Bill Gates is regretting those decisions, do you?

But this topic is about the noble art of plagarism. There’s copying ideas and then there’s copying of entire identities.

Allow me to elaborate. Apple ‘chic’ is the fashionable look. You can spot their style a mile off. Apple, perhaps more than any other manufacturer around, has made their technology fashionable. The Apple interface look and those damn glass buttons are still being copied on websites and operating systems all over the place. They’re trendsetters in technostyle and fair play to ’em!

Consoles don’t sell on their appearance. Gamers would never be so superficial! Who care’s what something looks like. It’s like caring about graphics over gameplay! The notion is ridiculous! Nintendo are, apparently, making this point very clear that we should not care about the superficiality of our hobby but care about what it feels like.

Well I’ll tell you this: when you touch a DS Lite or stroke a Nintendo Wii it’ll feel just like the Apple product that it so thinks it is.

This is no accident. Nintendo’s redesign of the DS and their overal design of the Wii is straight from Apple. I really don’t think anybody is going to argue that. Even Wii – a totally made up word makes you notice the ‘i’ more than any other letter. That same ‘i’ as in iPod or iMac. For a made up word it might as well be ‘Woo’ or ‘Wee’ – the latter being far more suited to the notion of “we” and “inclusive gaming” and far less like a mis-typing of Wi-Fi than Wii does. But if Nintendo did that then they wouldn’t share that all important ‘i’ that has seeped into the consumer consciousness of people with Apple products and those aware of iMac and iPod. Frankly, the only way Nintendo could be more blatant would have been to call it iRev.
But what am I going on about? I’m just making this up! Maybe the logic makes some sense but some of you simply must think I’m making too many assumptions in another critical review of Nintendo’s practices.

What if I told you they pulled this stunt over a decade ago?

What if I told you that the last time they did it they were latching onto Sony’s identity and not Apple’s?

“PREPOSTEROUS! YOU KNOW NOTHING!” comes the chants of the Nintendo supporters. I must be making it all up. Right?

Wrong.

Cast your mind back to the way the world was when Nintendo launched their astoundingly succesful Gameboy handheld. That was in 1989. If you weren’t around in 1989 or think I’m asking too much of you to think back that far because you were too young and your the sort of dweeb that happens to go around making “Sony copy Nintendo!” accusations then you can fuck off right now. You’re ignorant and narrow-minded and, most importantly, wrong.

So, 1989. What was big in 1989 around the time the original Gameboy launched? Well, I’ll tell you. It was small. It was portable. It ran on batteries. It was a global phenomenom and it was an entertainment device.

It was the Sony Walkman.

It’s not inaccurate in any way to say that the Sony Walkman was 1989’s cultural equivalent of the Apple iPod. Like the Apple and iPod, Sony and Walkman were synonymous with the ‘walkmans’ of every type and manufacture – even those countless Toshiba, Aiwa, Sanyo, Samsung, Philips and other makes. Sony was the name and Walkman was the brand.

Now, to make my point, say the word “Walkman” in your head at a moderate pace five times over.

Now, say the word “Gameboy” out loud.

Gee whizz! Did you notice that? Walk / Game, Man / Boy ??? There’s some pretty clear brand theft going on there wouldn’t you say?

Nintendo know what they’re doing and they’re happy to act the parasite and latch onto a popular cultural brand if it’s going to raise the profile of their product. They did it with Walkman and they’re currently doing it again, nearly 20 years later, with Apple.

Of course, to see this you need to stop gushing over ever word Nintendo say. You have to stop believing every false claim they make. You have to stop falling for the hype and look for the truth. The truth can be alarmingly obvious – as I’ve just demonstrated.

I wonder if Sony would bother to copy if Nintendo hadn’t been there to show them how to do it in the first place?

Karma

17 Responses

  1. AirRaven May 9, 2006 / 10:19 pm

    The fact still remains that it’s going to send every fanboy on the planet into collective apoplexy.

    Not that I’m complaining, of course. 😆

    Still- using the controller in this fashion isn’t going to feel *nearly* as intuitive as the Wii’s remote- the Dual Shock’s basic design is based around fitting your hands in a specific way, wheras the Wii’s remote has been designed from the ground up for this specific purpose. It’ll feel clumsy if you attempt to hold a Dual Shock 3 and use it in the same way you’d use the Wii remote.

  2. Frasier May 9, 2006 / 10:25 pm

    Of course, Sony using this idea shows that Nintendo weren’t that crazy to use it in the first place.

    I know that the controller is motion sensitive in six planes, but that isn’t quite the same as the Wii’s controller, simply because the PS3 one is just an ordinary controller with the function built in. I am not saying this is a bad thing; what I am saying is that the two will fundamentally differ in what the controllers do to the gaming experience. I doubt either will “recreate” the games industry, but I wonder which one will be better to use.

  3. Retroid May 9, 2006 / 10:41 pm

    I think you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel Koff. That whole post reeked of the “good aids and bad aids”.

    Ah, knock yourself out I’m not going to argue – there’s nothing argue against apart from a total lack logic and crazy conspiracies which wouldn’t even bother me if they were true.

  4. Koffdrop May 10, 2006 / 6:00 am

    Retroid, the point I was making (and proving) was that Nintendo have copied Sony and other companies in far more brazen ways and that, if a fanboy is going to point fingers and claim copycat then they’re going to look like a fool defending a company like Nintendo that copies products and indentities of other companies.

    It’s not scraping the bottom of the barrel, it’s a deliberate attempt to quieten the zealots who will do all they can to ‘defend’ their beloved “can do no wrong” company that lies, cheats and steals as much as the other guys.

    Sony copying Nintendo is, as I suggest, Karma for Nintendo copying Sony all those years ago. It’s not big or clever but neither party is innocent and claiming that one is pure and the other is evil is to overlook historic events.

    You wouldn’t overlook historic events to prove your point would you Retroid? You claim you’re not a fanboy but every time you have something to say to me on the topic of Nintendo, you come off sounding like one.

    Odd that.

  5. SegaMark May 10, 2006 / 4:01 pm

    Looks like it’s not even the Dual Shock 3, since the pad now has no rumble, according to Gamespot’s webcast.

    Guess it’s all related to that law suit, but I imagine some people will miss the rumble features.

    So, what could the new name be? Dual Tilt? Dual Stick?

  6. Retroid May 10, 2006 / 4:48 pm

    Nintendo and Sony weren’t even in the same industry all that time ago plus it really is (very) questionable if they did copy Sony – there’s a vague resemblance but that’s about it.

  7. Retroid May 10, 2006 / 4:51 pm

    (Sorry for the double post)

    There’s a big difference in drawing inspiration from other industries and blatantly copying from your competitor.

  8. Koffdrop May 10, 2006 / 5:39 pm

    There’s a MASSIVE difference in copying an idea and piggybacking on the entire branding of a globally succesful consumer product such as the Walkman or iPod.

    The similarities between Nintendo’s GameBoy branding to Sony’s Walkman branding are plain to see (unless you’re afraid of seeing something you don’t want to see, eh Retroid?) just like the Wii and iPod/Apple aesthetic. I notice they’re not even using the word “Nintendo” on the standard controller (which clearly pays homage to Sony’s Dual Shock design! SHOCK HORROR! COPY!) so as to make it seem even more ambiguous as to whether it’s a Nintendo or Apple product.

    Nintendo is strealing and entire cultural icon in the hope of riding the fashionable wave Apple (and earlier, Sony) created with their globally recognised brands.

    Retroid, the only reason you can’t see clearly is because you simply don’t want to see it. Anyone who can see things as they plainly are doesn’t pretend it’s not staring them in the face. Just folk like you. 😕

  9. Samor May 10, 2006 / 8:11 pm

    “gameboy” definately was a copy of “walkman”; even young Samor realised that back in 1989.
    As for the tilting ps3 controller, someone else said this and he’s right because I remember: Microsoft had a Sidewinder with a similar effect for PC YEARS ago.

  10. Yamcha May 10, 2006 / 8:22 pm

    Im pretty sure there was a motion sensetive controller before the Sidewinder aswell.
    I agree by the way, everyone copies everyone else at one point. Even the ‘highly original’ Nintendo that so many see as the lifeblood of innovation in the industry are guilty of using others idea’s and latching onto trends. Certainly more so than Sony.

  11. Thyson May 14, 2006 / 2:12 am

    what on earth do Walk and Game have in common??? The BRANDING????? I think your he one in denial Koffdrop… this Sony copying nintendo thing is staring everyone right in the face, and you try and make nintendo seem like the bad guy in this

    accept it, sony screwed up… i mean.. KARMA??? Sony deserves to lower themselves to copying because the walkman and the gameboy were both in the shapes of rectangles??? YOU accuse people of being huge fan boys… you sound like a sony fan boy… or just anti nintendo.

    No offense, but your very anti nintendo on this site, like if nintendo had copied sony, you probably would have gone on about how desperate and stupid nintendo is (im just going on what Ive seen on this site)

    the fact is, Sony took the idea from nintendo, and people are going to condemn sony for doing it! Defending them wont work… the sleek design of nintendos copying Apple… what about the ps3 and the 360???… ALL the new systems look slick, and like gigantic i-pods!

    all of those “copy cat” accusations can be denied easily… Sony’s cant really deny it. “um… we had the idea all along?” isnt gonna cut it, nintendo annoucned the motion sensing a year ago

    …. sony copied… no big deal cuz its not gonna earn them anything! They’ve brot themselves down in the eyes of gamers and tryin to shift the blame wont wont work

    With “folks like you” as you put it, its pretty impossible to convince them when they;re wrong… so I dont expect anything here, but whenever you talk about fan boys… its always nintendo, whenever anyone has no “integrity” its nintendo, you shoot down zelda as generic? graphically unimpressive? Your just kidding youself, you go along with the anti-nintendo feelings (that started bcause of the gamecube) and you think yur clever

    get off nintendos back… bottom line, sony did something wrong, and theres no way out of it

  12. Koffdrop May 14, 2006 / 9:44 am

    Thyson,

    Firstly, I’ve never said that what Sony did wasn’t (ethically) wrong. It’s clear that my obvious anti-Nintendo sentiment has rubbed you up the wrong way. It rubs many people up the wrong way because they have an image of the company in their minds and my comments don’t fit in well with that image.

    I liken it to the reception that guy must have had when, one day, he said “Guys, you know something? The world is round, not flat”. He must have had a remarkable amount of flak thrown at him by those that felt comfortable with the popular opinion.

    It didn’t mean he was wrong did it?

    Once you calm down a bit, show some objectivity and check out the facts of the situation you’ll find that what I say isn’t anti-Nintendo. It’s merely pro-truth.

    There’s many people that read my site that felt my comments are just works of fiction. If you read long enough and can remain objective you’ll find that I’m on the money pretty much all of the time.

    That’s the great thing about Nintendo, they keep proving me right!

  13. SegaMark May 16, 2006 / 8:44 am

    Oh and it should be noted that the “virtual console” is nothing new. Sega did this six years ago with the Dreamcast in Japan.

    DreamLibary offered Dreamcast users connected to the internet via the Dreamcast’s PlanetWeb sofrware to download Sega Mega Drive and NEC PC-Engine games… Sounds a lot like what the Wii has!
    That’s because it’s the same.

    Oh and GameBoy/Walkman is a perfectly correct argument, to not see it, you’d have to be blind. Fact is Nintendo do it too, noone is innocent.

  14. Thyson May 20, 2006 / 3:42 am

    I still say you’re quite anti-nintendo, but thats besides the point

    the fact is your “pro truths” don’t make sense! OF course the Wii and the DS look like Apple products, everything from toasters to mp3 players are built in that sleek, clean look that Apple has made so popular.

    And of course Sony isnt the only culprit… but I dont see anyone making that accusation. Sure nintendo has done it… but the gameboy walkman comparison is still NOT a perfectly correct argument. The only things those 2 products have in common are a rectangular shape and they’re both battery powered. Gameboy made games portable, walkman made music portable… maybe Nintendo though… what sony did for music WE can do for games!!! BUt thats hardly copying is it?

    Theres a difference between blatant plagarism and inspiration. And don’t worry I’m coming to Nintendos defense minimally because as you said… EVERYONE is guilty of it

    I guess the thing that “rubbed me the wrong way” was that although Sony had obviously copied… your post almost made it seem like it was Nintendos FAULT for sony copying them

    Companys pull off of eachother , and thats not necesarily a bad thing, it forces the companies to compete and strive for new and better things. But sony stepped over the line a LITTLE bit, compared to the Wii their motion sensing is basically pointless, just the tiniest feature compared to Nintendo trying to re-evaluate the controller

    … and comparing yourself to Galileo or whoever it was… i donno if disliking Nintendo(just saying ALOT of yur stuff is about Nintendo sucking) is going to make us completly rethink the principles of anything QUITE yet, so you might wanna tone down that… just FYI

  15. Koffdrop May 20, 2006 / 7:43 am

    Thyson,
    If you do your research you’ll find yourself quoting the URBAN MYTH at me, not the truth.

    Sony copying Nintendo? Have you seen Sony’s patent they had on their own tilt technology dating back years and years? The short-sightedness of gamers is that they so rarely see past the end of their nose. You think that if you hear about it on a Monday it happened on a Monday – do you think FURTHER than that? Apparently not.

    Now, I fully understand the argument of “Why didn’t they use it before then?” and maybe the answer was that they saw no value in it until it presented itself as a way of knocking the impact from the competition. The same could be said for Nintendo’s attitude towards online play.

    The Gameboy/Walkman thing is DOCUMENTED as a direct riff on the cultural icon of Sony’s machine. Your attempt to paint it as some noble ‘inspiration’ is utter bollocks and demonstrates yet another attempt by someone to turn another piece of shameless Nintendo behaviour into something decent and honest.

    I’m not the one going around the internet saying how bad copying is. Competition is great as the consumer benefits! But this whole damn culture seems far too happy to turn a blind eye to Nintendo’s crimes because they believe Nintendo are a fluffy and cuddly company that cares. That’s all rubbish and my ‘pro truth’ stance does what it can to show just how sneaky a corporation like Nintendo is – sneakier than most.

    As for the Nintendo / Apple thing – you should see some of their latest PR. It’s 100% aping on Apple’s style. It’s as blatant as it can possibly be and not just some coincidence as you’re suggesting.

    Nintendo

    Apple

    I guess it’s only a matter of time until people like you claim Apple are stealing from Nintendo…

  16. Citrusponge May 20, 2006 / 2:19 pm

    I read this and thought you might be interested, Koffdrop:

    http://www.mcvuk.com/newsitem.php?id=1039

    specifically: “With Nintendo, I’m trying to think of anything we’ve copied… but I can’t.”

  17. Thyson May 30, 2006 / 11:41 pm

    you tend to find ONE thing wrong with an argument and twist it completly against the other, without regrding the other facts

    What does the PS3 look like…. a big i pod, what does the 360 loook like … a big i pod, what does the revolution look like… a big ipod

    ALL THREE companies are going on the same design plan, they’re all sleek with curvy edges and subtle blues and greens

    and i am NOT trying to make nintendo sound noble, if they’ve copied they are as worthy of jsut as much scrutiny… but i still argue.. gamboy and walkman??? DOCUMENTED??? In what? some book by some guy? documented doesnt say anything

    and um… i looked at the patent that you spoke of… it bascically proves that they had the idea. uh huh…. and? So they WANTED to make something tilt *applauds* someone give them the prize! They’ve won, i mean it doesnt matter that they coodnt make it work, OR they didnt see it as “profitable”

    what did nintendo do? They took a risk (THEY DID!!!!) I am NOT trying to make nintendo try and sound honorable, or kick ass… it’s true they are taking a chance with the Wii… i mean look at the name for gods sakes!!! In my opinion Microsoft and Sony are playing it kind of safe, i see a whole lot of first person shooters on both of those systems… BUT

    i am not saying Nintendo is the master of all, i want to make that clear… but you alwats seem to accuse Nintendo of being “shameless” in repeating themselves over and over… if gamers didnt like it they would have stopped!!! If someone picks up a nintendo game and thinks “this is just like the alst one” thats not a good thing, people woodnt buy that game. Its seen as a NEGATIVE.

    Is it a crime for nintendo to take characters that WORK, (metroid, mario, link) that havnt gotten tired or repetitive because theres always something new, its a different experience

    This could be said for any system, but nintendo is the one being “attacked” so to speak. Nintendo is not the GOD of gaming, they are not the sinless ones…. but they are also not shameless repetitive losers. Be fair, i dont know if ive ever read a word against any other company on this site

    That patent doesnt prove anything, they gameboy and the walkman are VERy differnt…….. ugh…i donno…. its yur opinion… but just dont act like your word is law.

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