Conspiracy theories are everywhere whether it be 9-11 truthers, JFK assassination theorists, or even health food companies. Since we are a videogame site, I’ve rounded up ten of the zaniest, goofiest, and possibly weirdest conspiracy theories out there in no particular order. Maybe we can see a shred of truth in them.
Sony can control all PS3s remotely
Remember back in March when nobody could access their PS3 games for a few days due to date issues within PSN? All it took was one angry fan trying to figure out what was going on to create a conspiracy theory. What it boiled down to was since all the PS3s in the world supposedly stopped working at the same time, then mysteriously started up again at roughly the same time, Sony must have a “Big Brother” switch wired in to monitor what we do on our PS3. The real reason for this bug was revealed to be a hardware internal clock, which thought it was a leap year, but that doesn’t stop folks from assuming the worst.
No PS2s at Christmas due to Iraqi mass purchase
Hot on the heels of the wild story involving Saddam Hussein planning to buy up PS2’s to launch nuclear missiles; word began to spread of another Iraqi plot on our livelihoods that seemed to confirm this rumor. Suddenly headlines began to spring up reporting that a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report stated that as many as 4,000 PS2s had been purchased in the United States and shipped to Iraq in the last two to three months of 2000. Not only did this cause the shortage of PS2s over that particular holiday season, but with the right know-how Saddam Hussein could build a crazy super-computer for his nukes. By buying Playstation 2’s rather than PCs Saddam could pass through UN sanctions as the PS2 was seen as a gaming machine rather than a computer. Sadly years of watching the movie Wargames were put to bed when reality set in. Not only would someone have had to create some unique software to run the PS2 processors, but developing such a program would have taken at least a few years.
Wii naming was a publicity stunt
Not everyone was thrilled when Nintendo unveiled the now mega-hit Nintendo Wii and its branding. Once called the “Revolution” the system was seen as a war cry to the other systems, a system that would change the way we play games. The name it was eventually given – "Wii" - was immediately likened to what one would call a flaccid penis rather than a game system. Up until right before launch, there were many folks out there dying of disbelief. These folks believed that the whole “Wii” name was a huge publicity stunt and the system would return to the more fanboy-friendly “Revolution” just in time. This is the age of viral marketing after all, and what better way to gain publicity with a silly fake name? Many years later and my system is still called the Nintendo Wii, sorry tin foil hat brigade.
Game systems purposely holding back production to make demand larger
This one is an “oldie”, but a “goodie”, and it involves pretty much any gaming system that becomes so popular that it sells out at some point. Without understanding how production contracts work, many jump to the wild conclusion that “Company X is purposely holding back production to make demand larger, that way it can keep in the news.” While many game companies may like the added attention that the media gives with a shortage, let’s be realists here. Game companies want to make money. Rather than have a billion unwanted systems sitting on a shelf, many companies make contracts, forecasts, and plans to accommodate a certain projected sales. If the system does better, they can’t really go out and make the factories work better, or divert money to speed it up. So while it may suck trying to find a “sold-out” game system, common sense will tell you that a conspiracy is off the cards.
Microsoft trying to sabotage new formats in favor of digital downloads
This conspiracy comes all the way from the mouth of Michael Bay, film director behind films like the Island, Pearl Harbor, and the Transformers films. Michael bay was all on board for the HD-DVD format in its battle with Sony’s Blu-Ray technology. Confused by the apparent failings of HD-DVD Bay began to spout off a few classics such as these two that were posted in the New York Times:
“What you don't understand is corporate politics. Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about”.
"That is why Microsoft is handing out $100m checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu-ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads. Time will tell and you will see the truth."
Time has told, and it seems that Blu-Ray has beaten this conspiracy.
Microsoft delays on PC in order to support consoles
PC gamers are not left out in the zany conspiracy forum, many citing the rise of the console as proof that the conspiracy exists. At the Game Developers Conference a few years ago Randy Stude, the president of the PC Gaming Alliance gave the following interview with VideoGamer.com criticizing the lack of support from Lucas arts with the PC version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed:
“In the last several years there have been at least 100 million PCs sold that have the capabilities or better of an Xbox 360. It’s ridiculous to say that there’s not enough audience for that game potentially and that it falls into this enthusiast extreme category when ported over to the PC. That’s an uneducated response. LucasArts hasn’t made a good PC game in a long time. That’s my opinion. They make some pretty good games for the Wii, you know those little sticks you wave in the air, that seems like a natural fit for a lightsaber game, sure. But I think the last good PC game they made was probably Jedi Knight 2, and even their strategy games weren’t that great. So I can understand why they would make that call.”
This mentality of being under-siege by consoles has lead Stude and the other members of the PC Gaming Alliance to propose that gaming delays on the PC are there for the sole purpose of killing PC sales in favor of console sales for the X-Box. Some have theorized huge money transfers, and other shenanigans to keep PC gamers in the dark. Of all the conspiracies on the list, this seems the most plausible despite the evangelistic method its proponents are spreading it.
Game companies using DRM to push for consoles
Much like the above conspiracy, many have the feeling that game companies are willingly frustrating PC gamers with intrusive Digital Rights Management programs to make them burn out and switch to console games. Many simply feel these companies that make bad DRM schemes must be doing it on purpose because nobody would willingly screw a game up like some games have been with DRM. This rumor began to spiral out of control recently when Ubisoft’s DRM verification server went south leaving many folks with legitimate games in the cold, while pirates gloated about their lack of issue. As with above, I feel that there is a small sense of PC elitism fueling the claims
Game companies killing systems on purpose with updates
This theory sprang up a few years ago when Sony sent out a bad patch that effectively “bricked” any PSP system that it was added to. The very vocal crowd that got slammed insisted that it was a punishment for illegal activity on the system, and they were getting their rights crushed. Same thing happened with the Nintendo Wii not too long ago with a firmware patch that removed Homebrew programs and locked up many consoles. This is yet another conspiracy that seems to have some truth to it and no company has come up to deny it.
Hulu blocks the ps3 browser because of Microsoft
Not too long ago Sony updated their internet browser, suddenly opening up a fresh new wave of content that could be accessed on the PS3. BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and a host of other video streaming websites were suddenly free for the picking until Sony updated the browser once again, removing the functionality. Many began to theorize that Hulu threatened to sue them, or that Microsoft gave Hulu money to block them and a slew of other theories. Time will tell why this happened, but one can only assume that some deal is coming in the future.
Nintendo DS game has subliminal Islam message
Sadly intolerance rears its ugly head many times in many situations and videogames are not immune to this. In our time of sensationalized reporting on terrorism by the media, all it takes is one unfortunate sound bite to make folks terrified of pretty much anything.
“Months ago, Rachel Jones was shocked to discover her 4-year-old's baby doll seemed to have a hidden message: Islam is the light. Imagine her surprise when a game for her 8-year-old daughter's Nintendo DS had the same message. Rachel said she bought the Nintendo game Baby Pals as a gift for her 8-year-old daughter after a good report card.”
This news story created quite a stir and had Christian groups up in arms against Japanese toy makers. The actual sound clip was basically a bunch of random noises that sort of sounded like what the lady claims if you are listening for it. Here is a news report based on the doll that had the sound the game later shared. Decide for yourself what it says:
The sound in question is actually a stock sound that a company created for use in toys and games, much like a company that creates stock photographs. Sorry folks, Nintendo does not promote a religion in its toys.
Well there you have it. With nuclear PS2s, surveillant PS3s, and the odd exploding Wii, it's probably not safe to play games anymore. You better put on your tin foil hat and live in the woods. The safe safe woods. Nah maybe not!