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Okay… hear me out. Sony’s press conference at E3 was ridiculed by some and panned by many as a bit of a shoddy mess. Journalists at the show were unnecessarily shepherded around different rooms as part of an “experience” (until it was clear Sony had seen the backlash) and the livestream was strewn with a myriad of technical difficulties, the official Sony stream going offline for about two minutes at one point.
But what if it was all deliberate? What if the entire press conference was one big metaphor? For wealth inequality, no less?
Sony and Microsoft go through ebbs and flows, where one company becomes complacent in its success and angers video game fans, while the other takes the opportunity to steal the crowd and usurp the top spot in a vicious generational cycle. Sony is currently being overtaken, with a lack industry-wide cross-platform play on their shoulders and Microsoft’s immensely-appealing Xbox Game Pass offering a whole lot more than the PS4’s current offering. Sony needs a hook, something to draw people back to the platform, and to make them popular again. And you know what millennials are really digging right now? Anti-capitalist sentiment.
So of course, despite the sheer irony of the situation, it makes sense that Sony would attempt to appeal to its target audience in this way. Communism is hot right now, as is critiques of Capitalist hierarchies, and a large component of Capitalist hierarchies is an unequal distribution of wealth. If you read (perhaps a little too much) into the metanarrative of the Sony E3 press conference, you can piece together a metaphor for this wealth inequality.
The first two games in the showcase, The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, received top-notch treatment. Both seemingly had rooms dedicated entirely to showing them off, and both had accompanying musical numbers thematically-tied to each game. It was a spectacle, it was high-class, and it was mostly uninterrupted by horrid technical difficulty. But what about the rest of the games that Sony had to show us?
Cobbled together on the same screen. No interludes, no banjos or culturally-appropriative flute-playing. There were screen glitches and occasional buffering and freezing, and none of the games in this clump of trailers were given any special treatment whatsoever, and were displayed as comparatively less than important. Why is this? Some of those games were very much sought after, hell, Death Stranding was one of them, unceremoniously sandwiched between Kingdom Hearts 3 and Nioh 2 without much thought
Unless, and this is what I suspect, it’s all about wealth inequality. The Last of Us 2 and Ghosts of Tsushima are the capitalist class, the 1%. They have the concentration of wealth, and so can afford to flaunt themselves in parades of bourgeois decadence. Death Stranding, Kingdom Hearts 3, and the others? The working class. There are much more of them, but they’re given the scraps, barely enough to get by despite deserving treatment just as equal.
I’m on to you, Sony.
Featured Image Credit:Charley Gallay / Stringer / Getty Images