August 11, 2013

Still Alive + Brand Loyalties discussion

I didn't completely drop off the map just yet I'm still around. I've been doing some interesting things lately and I'll be happy to share them with you later on. However I will be out of reach for the next month or two while I'm on a bit of a vacation that sadly after tomorrow will most likely not include much if any internet access. That having been said I felt like branching this blog out a bit and this time including some only barely related discussion of brand loyalty.

The conversation I had prompting this was the obvious ps4 vs X1 that I'm still shocked is even a legitimate discussion at this point but I digress. It's my fault for listening in on a friends conversation and then interjecting my 2 cents instead of just keeping my mouth shut but once I was in it was like a freefall face plant. (you're all in and it's going to be ugly)

Being that I don't have any given console loyalties something I learned back when my great debate was n64 vs ps1, I shared my thoughts on both consoles and how I've been loving my pc gaming the last couple years. Immediately in my own head I realized how I had sounded when I was saying what I was saying and even called myself a douche. Which right around the same time was followed up with my friends calling me "douchebaggins" which somehow has been a thing among us lately spawning from something to do with the lord of the rings I can't quite remember. Things got a little heated but there were many valid points expressed on brand loyalty to a positive light rather than pointing out the pointlessness of brand loyalty to the corporate machine. This being aside from the fact that probably one of my greater desires is unfortunately being a part of this system regardless of if that makes me a sell out.

The discussion can be boiled town to some of the following bits. Starting with that not all brand loyalty is bad and that in some scenarios it's practically a necessity. Unlike games where long term investments tend to pay off to some degree in the consumerist world we're in buying the same products and their iterations exclusively from specific companies tend not to have any benefits. In the computer world your brand loyalty between intel or AMD really is just that as there really aren't any alternatives readily available on massive scales. I am speaking about consumer based desktops to clarify not the server world or mobile devices. In that case it may be picking the lesser of two evils or just picking what you know works best for you. In my case I support a specific ideology and methodology. AMD focuses on hyperthreading, additional stream processes, better performance for a given price range and much more. In the end I tend to pick AMD products because they're right for what I need hence why I advocate them. However if this were not the case and their products and details were similar and the choice was relatively arbitrary I might make the same decision based on a distinct hatred of intel primarily for their practices and policies.

 The real problem with brand loyalties to me is more apparent in areas like cell phones where people insist on sticking with a given provider for service or a phone manufacturer for some unknown reason. For me it just doesn't make sense and while I love a lot of the smart phones out there sadly I don't have one for myself because I just can't bring myself to sign into an absurd 2 year contract mandatory with basically every phone and service provider out there hence why I just have a very basic phone. Yet consistently I hear these arguments over the new galaxy or the next iphone and I wonder while both phones are great why neither party would ever consider even looking at anything other than what they already have. I can only assume it's some psychological need for validation of their decisions.

In gaming brand loyalty is a bit harder to discern as it's nearly impossible to understand why someone specifically supports bioware as some form of supposed superiority over ubisoft which while a competitor in the world of gaming is not exactly a direct competition that I know of in any way. In something a little more clear cut though there's the regular debate of Battlefield VS Call Of Duty and thus your brand loyalty can at least be understood in some coherent fashion as opposed to some conspiracy theory sounding explanation of why mass effect is in "direct competition" with assassins creed on the same level as BF3 vs MW3. Still being the gamer that I am I've played both and actually own both games on multiple platforms though in full disclosure I only paid for each once. I wouldn't simply ignore the next battlefield because of my preference for modern warfare or vice versa. Similarly I'm not ignoring the next call of duty because I loved battlefield I'm ignoring it because I'm fed up with a definitive lack of innovation and this was already a strain to begin with as within the battlefield vs CoD there's a subset of loyalties to infinity ward vs treyarch as to which call of duty line loyalties lie with.

When it comes to consoles I heard a lot of the same arguments between the ps3 and the 360 and I might argue that in that scenario it was more valid than now as there were valid points made on how xbox was a newcomer and the original xbox didn't have a very wide library where as the ps1 and 2 both had many great experiences available with established franchises. The substantial price difference also meant that your decision as to which to get was significant and it was between sticking with what you knew and were familiar with or going with the unknown. A lot of people were blindly picking which to go with based on past experience as if it were some how indicative of competitive performance rather than the expected future performance within the brand. That is to say that somehow the fun you had with halo was effecting your judgement on how the ps3 would do, or how FF, SotC, ico, MGS, etc suggested how the 360 would do which hopefully when I clarify it like that you can understand how absurd and utterly ridiculous it sounded. Yet literally you could hear people saying "oh it's going to flop because of (this game/ or franchise)" and even worse some of the statements about how windows domination of the pc market was indicative how their inevitable domination of the gaming market without even breaking stride to consider that at the time sony was the windows of gaming. Clearly they didn't realize that MS wasn't quite the all dominating force they made it out to be. Now if G.E. ever gets in the game business... that conglomerate  is literally a world dominator they have their hands in everything and brand loyalty in that case is pointless in the face of total annihilation.

Moving back to PC for a second consider brand loyalty as it pertains to graphics cards. There are plenty of people out there who swear by a given brand which may be known for a given quality of some sort but when it comes down to it it's all the same card no matter who's name is on it and you're not doing yourself a favor blindly sticking to one brand if you can get the exact same thing elsewhere for better cost.

As you can see I'm split on brand loyalty. Generally it's a stupid idea, when it's necessary you should consider carefully, if it's for a fashion statement you deserve any punishment you receive for it, and honestly if you really wanted to support a given brand buying their product is the wrong route anyway and you're a fool if you believe that it is. If you really want to contribute support them more directly. Become an investor for example, and as a stock holder you can actually influence decisions and policies so that you can help make it the brand you want it to be. As to putting my money where my mouth is... I am an AMD stock holder and yes I'm keenly aware of their losses, equally I'm well aware of all their new products such as being the first to market with a 5.0ghz processor once again handing intel their collective asses, and then some. I would also point out that I'm aware of why some of their numbers are low given their focus on the mid range rather than high end hence why it took them so long to come out with an official 7990, not to mention the fact that they sold off some assets in order to try and minimize their deficit, and their entry into the memory market, and just so much more. I see where the company is headed and as a shareholder I vote on these kinds of things and quite simply put at this point it's not "brand loyalty" anymore. If there's something you're really into like you blindly must have the next iphone then I highly suggest you become a shareholder in apple stock so you can actually tell apple what you want in that next iphone and make it the best iphone ever, otherwise you can't just arbitrarily state it's superior by default because it also has plenty of drawbacks and I would have no problem making a solid argument against it or in favor of one of it's competitors.

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