GamePro’s Jack Tretton ‘interview’ is a lollipop

Sony and GamePro, sitting in a treeBefore you head over the GamePro interview between Vicious Sid and Sony Computer Entertainment of America President Jack Tretton, you have to close you eyes and do a little imagining for me. First, picture Jack Tretton shirtless and lying down on a massage table. Yeah, I know, it’s frickin’ weird, but bear with me on this one, please. Next. imagine Vicious Sid standing over him, massage oils already rubbed into his hands, generously applying some kick ass moves, holds and massages to Jack Tretton’s back while he asks questions like,

“Speaking from a personal perspective, I’m not a terrific fan of the Wii. I think it’s great for the industry, but it doesn’t speak to me as a gamer. The technology is pretty limited and I think that in 2-3 years that it could go into this casual Tamagotchi kinda thing. It seems like a different industry almost.”

Now, my track history aside, the Wii comments aren’t even what got me. It was the shoddy, irresponsible journalism that make me spit up the Klondike bar I had finished slurping down only minutes earlier. If ever there was visual proof that the current gaming media is ready to fall from grace, this interview was it.

Do you still have the disturbing massage images in your head? Good. Now imagine Vicious Sid (who certainly didn’t get his nickname for being a vicious journalist) rubbing Jack down while he asks that loaded question. Hey Sid, why not just lob a few softballs in Tretton’s general direction? Why not frame the answer for him so he doesn’t waste precious energy sweating out the tough questions? Oh, that’s exactly what you did? Great!

The first question was an absolute joke. As a journalist it offends me and as a gamer who embraces innovation and holding developers and publishers accountable it makes me laugh out loud at how pitifully unprepared the current crop of “gaming journalists” is for the future. And, if you don’t believe me when I say that ol’ Vicious was basically having a pow wow with Tretton and not an interview, just look at how Tretton answered that question: “I would tend to agree with everything that you said.”

But wait, it gets better.

“On that note, let’s shift gears to the PS3. You were talking about appealing to both casual and hardcore gamers, a sort of do-it-all approach. The PSP is almost a digital Swiss Army Knife, for instance.” — Vicious Sid

That wasn’t a question, that’s a press relations person coaching their company executive on how to answer a question. That was a press release.

But now onto the main course, so to speak. You’ll see what I mean.

How would you describe each current game console if you had to describe it as a meal or food?

JT: I probably couldn’t do it objectively.

Sid: You don’t need to be objective! (for f**k’s sake, I haven’t been! — added by Jack)

Tretton: I think the PS3 is the Surf ‘n Turf. You want the lobster and steak and you’re going to give yourself the treat of getting the best thing on the menu. The PS2 is your favorite burger restaurant — you go there for comfort food and it’s just always good and is a good value.

[As for the other two consoles], one [Wii] is a lollipop, and I’m too old for lollipops. The other one [Xbox 360] I get sick from once in a while because the cook isn’t always reliable.

Hmm. You can tell by this point that those massage oils are REALLY starting to heat up. Tretton is feeling VERY comfortable at this point — and why shouldn’t he? He’s getting the full service works from this interview. He’s being interviewed by a gamer, not by a journalist, so it’s all a big self-contained echo chamber.

Now as a follow up I — an actual real live paid journalist outside of Infendo — would have take Tretton to task for his little joke instead of immediately setting about writing my “controversial headline” as it is apparent the folks at GamePro did. Maybe I’d joke around a bit too, but you can be sure I wouldn’t let that comment stand as it was. I would ask, but Mr. Tretton (I’d be polite of course), you could have the best steak in the world, and lobster too, but right now you only have one plate (game) worth eating. Where are the other steaks, and why do they cost so much when I can get the same ones in Microsoft’s less expensive restaurant? How are you making sure that your “treat” as you describe it, remains exclusive to your restaurant? And, Mr. Tretton, I’ve seen the lollipop’s sales numbers. I’ve read the analyst reports and I’ve followed the things that matter to people like you: investor’s comments about your company and what people are saying about your stock. Those lollipops are what people want right now, your super steak house be damned. People think you’re going to have to compete with Microsoft’s shoddy steak house. Thing is, people are still rabidly devoted to the XBox steaks, because there are more of them and they taste the same as yours.

But no, we don’t get that at all. What we get is an actually “LAUGHTER” transcribed in the interview, as Tretton and Vicious Sid share a laugh at the competition’s expense. I’m pretty sure the laughter will be short lived though, given the state of the PS3 right now. Why? Because what Tretton’s brash food-laden outburst meant to me is that there’s some desperation at Sony right now. Why else would you lash out? Why else would you need to? When Nintendo was asked to respond to Sony’s slightly inaccurate PS3 “price cut” last week, George Harrison replied curtly that there were no plans to do anything at all. That was it. No desperate little quips necessary.

Is it over yet? Not quite. More mouth garbage from Vicious:

Concerning Microsoft’s hardware failure, does that show that they don’t have the experience in the hardware sector that Sony does?

Gee Sid, what’s Sony going to say when you serve up something like that? Luckily for Tretton, he’s regained some composure and simply says the PS3 is solidly built. Well, the hardware is anyway. Jury’s still out on that software, eh Jack? What Sid did there was actually a straw man argument. No one outside of Microsoft’s manufacturing division knows what the failure rate for the Xbox 360 is, and that “no one” includes Sid and Jack Tretton.  “Some people ” say the 360 has problems — but it was only enough to warrant a warrantly increase, not a recall. I imagine the raging Internet minority claimed another victim here much in the same way Nintendo was “forced” to give out new wrist straps. Ten people bitching constantly on the Internet these days is akin to thousands of people sending in snail mail, apparently.

And that there above was the last question. I’m glad I haven’t read GamePro since the mid-1990s, because this was atrocious. Tretton’s answers, even with the coached questions, were equally bad. He still doesn’t come out and say the PS3 is too expensive, instead opting to give a looooong personal experience about photos and a $1,000 music player and HD television. He said he played some games on his personal PS3, but neglects to mention any. I’m going to guess they’re Motorstorm and Resistance.

But let’s not end on a low note. Let’s play along. Let’s pretend this interview were a food item. For all the meatballs Vicious Sid lobbed at Tretton today, the food item I’d choose is a big heaping bowl of processed Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs. Tretton brought the fork (which was Blu, by the way), and had himself a meal. Why, to me anyway, did it sound like his last?