Time for a featured opinion article by a guest contributor, John Sollitto. As an avid gamer and newly graduated journalism student from CSUF he helps shed light on the “Console Wars” arguments:
So here’s the thing, I don’t really think there’s a “console war” going on right now. I think what’s happening right now in the gaming industry is equivalent to what goes on in the automotive industry.
“Hey look! This new Ford has an MP3 player in it and airbags all over the place!”
“Hey, this new Mazda has all of that and on-board GPS navigation!”
Both Sony and Microsoft are gunning for the top spot in the hearts of gamers and it’s just getting sad to watch. Why? Allow me to elaborate:
None of it matters. Not E3, not their press conferences, not even their press releases.
“Why?” you ask skeptically. Well I’ll tell you. None of it matters because this has all happened before and at the end of the day both companies will still exist, their consoles will drop in price. and the gaming industry will continue to move on.
Now, many people equate the console company fighting to Microsoft and Apple, and that may be a fair estimate, but people are forgetting Nintendo. The problem with Microsoft and Apple comparison is that Linux is not making more money than either of them and it isn’t a household name.
As a gaming journalist, I’ve had my share of laughs at the expense of gaming companies. I won’t lie that when Sony had that three week disastrous security breach, I snickered to no end. I shake my head at the never-ending Halo series and babble incoherently at the fact that there are more and more Pokemon each year being added to the Pokedex.
With the blood in the water after Microsoft’s poor reveal of the Xbox One at E3, I had to look away for a while.
I was sad to see that people jumped ship at the first sound of words they didn’t like and the ideas that frightened them.
“Always online?” “Kinect necessary?” “Live television?”
It was like people had never heard these words before. My issue was that no one was sitting down and thinking about why Microsoft was doing this.
Microsoft essentially owns the PC gaming market, so they decided to take a chance with their latest system and offer a lot of things to the consumer that weren’t previously available. Microsoft made a system for the consumer that still didn’t have a console. They were trying to win over the market that Sony had somehow hoodwinked into buying their system when saying the phrase “Blu-Ray included!”
Think about it: Microsoft was offering a system that had television, internet access, lots of games and well known titles to the market that was coming into this new age of gaming. Not only that, it was a business decision.
People like to think that since this is a game industry it isn’t an industry. Anyone who pays attention to the layoffs and constant churning out of Call of Duty games can see that this is a business that makes money. Microsoft was trying to expand its consumer base. The only consumer base they forgot about was the gamers. Which, in the end was their downfall at E3.
But wait! They fixed the always online, necessary Kinect and used game sanctions they had on their system and now suddenly gamers are sitting there open mouthed going “…oh.”
This is why I think Microsoft is a smarter company than any of the others. Microsoft has the power and the ability to listen to their audience and change and entire console model so that they can make money and win back their users. If Microsoft was a President of the United States and completely changed his policies to fit the majority of the nations concerns, they would be President for life.
I can’t fully explain what bothered me most about people complaining about the Microsoft issues, but the Dorkly article that was released some time ago as a satire to Don Mattrick’s “response” after completely changing the Xbox One’s platform was hilarious and spot-on. I will merely warn you that there is lots of foul language in the article but it had me rolling at the accuracy.
Suffice it to say that the main points were well put. People complained about being always online? Aren’t they anyway with websites and their phones and Steam? People complained about not being able to buy used games? Well, forcing people to buy new games puts more money in the publisher and developer’s pockets rather than that of Gamestop. What if you didn’t actually own any sort of television service like cable or satellite? You might actually want something that has a DVD player, game system, web browser and live-TV box in the same container.
But enough about Microsoft. What about Sony? I won’t lie, I don’t like Sony. I really feel that the company’s entire marketing strategy is “We’re Sony! Love us!” Which reminds me of Apple’s and that pisses me off.
However, I have to hand it to Sony that they produced a system which was made with the gamer in mind rather than their wallets. I will gladly concede that they won E3 and might possibly become first in the hearts of many gamers. Well done, Sony, well done.
Microsoft made the fatal error of thinking with their bank account first before their gamers. Sony’s biggest flaw has always been, and always will be, thinking that their biggest strength is their exclusive titles.
Well guess what? They lost two of their biggest ones.
Both Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV (and as I write that number out I stare at it in disbelief because I cannot fathom how this franchise is still alive after the massive screw-ups it has had in the past) are now going to be on Xbox One and PS4.
So, now people are not faced with the choice Sony was banking on: If I want Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy I need a PS4.
This is Sony’s biggest problem, because now people have to sit there and really think about which system they want, especially since Microsoft has begun to make revisions to their system. In short, Sony screwed up.
In their defense, this could have been a decision by Square Enix, in which case Square just hit the jackpot in brains. Sony, however, should have made sure that both games stayed with them to secure a ton of consumers on day one. Now, many people will be indecisive and they’ll lose them to the waiting game.
Sony did a good thing this time in not making two versions of their system. I never thought they’d learn from that but damn they’re smart and they made it cheaper than Microsoft which, again, is a smart move.
Think we’re done? Oh no, we’ve still got Nintendo!
Ah Nintendo. The friend we’ve had since childhood that shows up just when we need a new Pokemon game or Super Smash Bros. These clever bastards will always have the number two spot in the console rate purely because of their handheld monopoly and exclusive titles.
Not only that, but the Wii U is more of a decent system than the industry thought it would be. I think that scared the crap out of Microsoft and Sony. The fact that it didn’t flop and actually made money, albeit less than expected, was the best thing to happen to Nintendo since they made the DS.
Nintendo will always exist as long as Mario, Link, Zelda, Samus and Sonic do. Why? Because they’re family friendly characters and they make parents comfortable and entertain kids.
Let’s not forget that the Wii U is also cheaper than both Microsoft and Sony.
Why does Nintendo choose not to rub this everyone’s faces? Because they’re already developing the next big thing. The gaming industry thrives and lives off of Nintendo’s innovation. Without Nintendo, we wouldn’t even have the consoles we have, nor would we have motion control or mobile gaming. If it wasn’t for Nintendo and Atari, you wouldn’t be complaining about the console wars.
Plus, the Wii U is the best party system I’ve played in a long time. Anyone can use it, and the amount of time I’ve spent playing it with friends has made sure that it has more than paid for itself.
So, in conclusion, the console wars don’t matter. They don’t matter as long as the video game companies stay in business because at the end of the day, these companies aren’t going anywhere. The only thing consumers have to worry about now is comparing specs and exclusive titles to one another. In the end, it’s kind of boring to think about and less exciting than many believe it is.
What you should be thinking about is what you’re going to use the system for. Do you like having people over and playing? Get a Wii U. Do you like playing with other people online? Microsoft or Sony. Do you not care about Mario and his buddies? Microsoft or Sony. Do you care about exclusive titles at all? Blindfold yourself and throw a dart at a wall covered with the company names.
Does this all make your head hurt? Buy a PC.