"Why do people, who has already made up their mind about X console, feel the need to comment or point out the flaws of the competing console at any chance they get?" I would say the biggest reason is to justify their purchase. I am pretty sure most of the ones who do it are new to the buying of systems. I have been playing for decades so I have no reason to say my system is better unless already having been constantly taunted as you stated. I also think you find that PS3 vs Xbox people are the ones who fight is because they consider, for the most part, Wii owners as two casual of games to waste time debating with. It might be a religious type view as you say because I doubt people would chance systems as easy as they would change religions. A fun thing I like to do is be the devils advocate and if someone argues with me on what system is better I will randomly pick another system and say its better while not really caring. Good blog topic and I hope you find the answer your looking for in the near future.
Looking at the forum posts regarding any console news, the ugly face of the biased comments is to be found just about everywhere. Its a bit funny, actually, because there is absolutely no need for these comments. They serve no purpose whatsoever, except to throw sand in the eyes of other reader and consequently turn the discussion into a kindergarten shouting contest. Or so it seems.
But more importantly, what is the purpose of these comments? Why do people, who has already made up their mind about X console, feel the need to comment or point out the flaws of the competing console at any chance they get?
Well, to be honest, I'm not sure. I guess you can look at these comments and their impact in both a positive and negative way.
To bias or not to bias
The positive approach would be to say, that the manufacturers are not getting the chance to rest on their laurels. The owners of a given console are constantly being reminded of the strengths of the competition and sometimes they may even find out they've actually bought the wrong console for their particular needs.
The negative approach would be to consider these comments as needless taunt. Pressure, and sometimes outright provocation, from the followers of the competition which makes it all the more difficult to discuss the real pressing matters, or even the subject at hand.
I guess I stand somewhere inbetween. I guess I can understand the need to participate in a discussion in order to make oneself heard, but at the same time I would've liked people to stay more on the subject, instead of killing or turning a discussion towards the usual "fanboy" discussion, in which both sides usually takes turn shouting. Not that I'm a fan of the word fanboy, as it turns out to be used primarily by the fanboys themselves, and the word seems to justify not taking the other side seriously, which in turn just makes any attemptto reason futile.
More importantly, the habit of thinking oneself 'right' and everyone else 'wrong' is the first sign of a near religious look at the consoles. If you're ready to participate in a discussion, the first smart thing to do would be to consider whether or not you have anything important to say about the matter. If 300 people has made the same comment as you are about to make, theres no need spam the thread with yet another one. The next thing to consider is whether or not you've read the article discussed. Some people feel as is the news being discussed is just a starting point for their own agenda - something that will surely lead up to the ever present shouting contest.
To be fair, I've succumbed to the dark depths of the taunt, feeling as if I needed to 'get back' at a ridiculous comment in a thread. But this temptation usually leads to the 'dark side' (this blog needed a reference to Star Wars, so here it is), and be sure, that if a comment is smelling to begin with, the rebuke will not get any better.
I try to discuss with people that at least has the courtesy to actually read what I say, and I tend not to adress my starting comment on a thread to anyone in particular, as I always try to start with a general view, observation, point or information before discussing the specifics. If other people has made a similar starting comment in the area I'm interested in, I usually adress them first. And not the trolls. But sometimes I fail, and address the wrong people first in a thread, and the discussion will suffer.
Some may be wondering now what my point is. The point is simple. Religious rhetorics and onesided views tend to attract opposite views. When two sides fail to communicate with eachother in a constructive way, the thread succumbs into chaos and shouting. And we've seen this happen way too often on Gamespot.
A final thought
One thing I've been thinking about lately, is why the fans of a particular console even bother reading and commenting the news about the competing console. They've already made up their mind, so why bother?
Is it insecurity? Curiousity? The need for confirmation of their choice? I'm not entirely sure,I think its a mixture of the reasons - there is a reason why the most heated "fanboy" discussions is always in the PS3 and Xbox360 forums (in my experience). I simply think its a matter of these two consoles being so close in terms of their primary customers and services, they simply attract the same people. So people have to make up their mind, but whatever they choose, they are never 100% certain they've made the right choice, so they have to put forward their insecurity to others. Which, of course,is absurd, as either side can feel absolutely comfortable with their choice as both consoles are excellent - in different ways.
There can, of course, be a number of other reasons for the need to pick on a console and a consoles crowd aside from this, but the above mentioned reason seem to be the one I think is predominant.
But I'm prepared to listen if you have other reasons. Always. If you're ready to listen as well.