The Sore WinnerShawn Drotar

Posted on May 21st, 2007 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News by Shawn Drotar

When Sony updated it’s PlayStation 3, allowing it to participate in the Folding@Home medical research project, they were justly hailed for their contribution to the larger community, and it’s been perhaps the PS3’s brightest moment since the system’s launch.

Despite the fact that nobody remembers who led the second expedition to the summit of Mount Everest anyway, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Jack Tretton, isn’t too pleased about the possibility of anyone else trying to climb the same hill - despite the fact that doing so benefits everyone.

In an interview with GamePro magazine, Tretton is asked about a rumor that Microsoft may also want to participate in the Folding@Home project, and while plenty of phrase-parsing ensues, it’s clear that Tretton believes that the charity is now Sony’s turf, and Microsoft isn’t welcome.

GamePro: Folding@Home has been a big success. There have been rumors that Microsoft wants to participate, too. Aside from any medical benefit that it might produce, would it be smart from a business standpoint for Microsoft to do join in considering the under-power of the Xbox 360 CPU compared to the PS3’s Cell?

JT: I think what’s very important to us, and I think is great for our consumers, is the pride that it gives you as a company to say that we’re helping to fight and research Alzheimer’s and that 250K people signed up in less than 60 days. And what we’re doing takes 30 times longer on a PC, and that’s a great testament to the PS3, but it’s more a real feel-good thing to take your machine when it’s idle to help contribute to that cause.

So if other companies can help contribute to that, I think that’s great. But let’s face it, if your motivation is for PR, to me, that’s a little shallow. We go out of our way, correctly so, to make sure that we don’t try to sell PS3s on Folding@Home. We try to look at it for just what it is, which is great community service for a great cause, and I think to look at it as a marketing platform is something that a company certainly wouldn’t want to do. I’m certainly not insinuating that’s Microsoft’s motivation, but I’m not even sure how relevant it is to what were doing.

Would they be even having this conversation if we weren’t doing it? I don’t know. I would guess that the medical community would take help from anywhere they could get it, but the commentary that I heard is that Stanford isn’t sure that [the Xbox 360’s processing abilities] would help them very much, which is odd to me, because if it helped at all, it seems like they would welcome it with open arms.

It’s really ugly territory to get into, but let’s take fighting a disease and see if we can get some credit for that. It’s not a cool game to play one way or the other, so I don’t want to even give the impression that that’s our motivation and I’d be very disappointed if they’re looking for PR value or to try to suck off some of the goodwill that we’re doing.

I think I just threw up in my mouth.

I could dissect this double-talk nearly word for word and slather myself in its disingenuousness, but I’ll assume the more enlightened regular readers of this site see right through it already, anyway.

Let’s not be played for fools - of course Microsoft would be joining Folding@Home for PR purposes - just like Sony did.

Individuals are, of course, capable of true charity, but almost by definition, corporations - legal-status conglomerations assembled with the express intent of generating money for self-advancement - are not. Make no mistake, corporations do things for one reason only: motivated self-interest. The key for charities is to make sure that they place themselves in a position that behooves a corporation to assist.

In this case, Folding@Home requires a tremendous amount of processing power, something that Sony and it’s partners in developing the Cell processor, IBM and Toshiba, desperately want to prove is superior to current PC chip architecture. Note the “30 times” faster reference by Tretton? That’s not an accident - it’s the very reason they signed up for this charity instead of writing a giant check to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America - it furthers Sony’s business through de facto advertisement… in other words, “PR”.

Want some further spin? Take this phrase in its proper PR context: “I would guess that the medical community would take help from anywhere they could get it, but the commentary that I heard is that Stanford isn’t sure that [the Xbox 360’s processing abilities] would help them very much, which is odd to me, because if it helped at all, it seems like they would welcome it with open arms.” Using a charitable medical project as an excuse to slag a competitor’s abilities? After pointing out that participating in it for PR purposes would be “a little shallow”? That takes the guts of a burglar, doesn’t it?

Tretton indicates that Stanford doesn’t want Microsoft’s help, simply because they haven’t yet “welcomed it with open arms”? How they’re to welcome what doesn’t yet exist is question enough, but regardless, that’s akin to a hospital telling its patients that since it takes twice as much time for a certain medication to work, they won’t use it all - and instead wait until the faster version shows up and risk the consequences.

Taken in their true context, these comments are… disappointing, to say the very least.

Moreover, none of this “ugly territory” ever needed to be crossed. Sony will always be first to the table here - and nothing can ever change that. So why not take the high road? Did Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay ridicule the next expedition to the world’s highest summit? And whom do we still remember as the mountain’s pioneers?

For comparison’s sake: “…let’s take fighting a disease and see if (Sony) can get some credit for that… I’d be very disappointed if (Microsoft is) looking for PR value or to try to suck off some of the goodwill that we’re doing.”

“Goodwill”, indeed.

2 Responses to 'The Sore Winner'

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  1. Wowser said,

    on May 21st, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    You nailed it.


  2. on June 10th, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Talk about “calling the kettle black”. Did that moron from Sony actually think he was being convincing about their ‘pure intentions’. Someone needs to take some persuasive writing classes. He sounded like a fake, jealous, and insecure ex-girlfriend. Kudos on calling him out! lmao@ “I think I just threw up in my mouth.”

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