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RANT: Viral marketing cause of console flame wars?

Nick Doerr

We're going to start qualifying even the rants with that warning, but it doesn't make the subject matter any less important. Well, I think it's important. See, I've got this theory. Hear it out before you pass it off as Sony-spin, because this includes Sony in it as well -- not necessarily positively. A while back, I remember an article in some magazine (goodness, I can't recall the name of it) where a man being interviewed admitted to taking part of a fairly sketch side of what's known as Viral Marketing -- using existing social networks to spread brand awareness, promotion, etc.

The guy, I believe he was on Counterstrike, would make friends with players and slowly start to fill their minds with what products they should buy, you know, "as a friend". Sometimes it's an obvious ploy, sometimes the people are really, really good at it. Keeping that in mind, let's turn "brand awareness" into "brand identity" and allocate the same general concept. The console companies (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) are actively engaging in such activities on the internet. No, we're not talking about Major Nelson (is that right?) or ThreeSpeech -- propaganda blogs that will spin whatever they can, however they can, into positive news for themselves and their company (ThreeSpeech not as much).

We're talking about you: the commentors. Please, don't stop commenting, but here us out on this. Is it not remotely plausible that those who visit blogs like this one, or Joystiq, or 360Fanboy, or any blog affiliated with gaming (each with their respective biases), could be hired by any of the console companies to slowly gain trust in the community, then begin to propogate their companies agenda in the form of trolling or flaming? Not even that extreme -- expressing detailed support of one console or another while remaining kind towards the competition may be suspect. Since the internet spreads news so quickly, these companies may have jumped on board to keep the good news good or make the bad news worse.

We're not trying to make everyone suspicious of one another, but it's something to think about. Are the 360 fans that frequent this site really here because they want to? That doesn't make sense. What if Microsoft wanted them to come and check things out, possibly argue people into their camp? What if Sony is doing the same on 360Fanboy? Or if Sony has people checking out PS3 sites just to post a "good job" or "Sony rules"? Like I said, it's just a theory... don't get suspicious of one another. Trust me, this blog is still too small to get that kind of attention. Maybe.

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