I’m going to be discussing a topic that’s very passionate to some of the hardcore gamers out there but it’s also a topic that a lot of gamers don’t pay too much attention to, yet they are apart of, regardless of how they think or feel about it. This topic is of course about the console wars and I’m going to go over the pros and cons of the console wars and how it is effecting the games industry.
What is the console wars? Believe it or not but the console wars didn’t start off with the last gen during the PS3 vs. Xbox 360 vs. Wii days, nor did it start because Microsoft came into the console gaming equation with the original Xbox. The console wars as we know it today started way back during the Genesis vs. NES days but with the lack of internet the fan uproar and fighting wasn’t so public like it is now.
The console war is essentially a competition between the console manufacturers during each console generation to try to dominate the console market share. But it’s the hardcore fanboys that take it to a whole different level. Fanboys will fight, argue and troll each other all day in order to defend their chosen console, fanboys will use every opportunity to take subtle digs, cheap shots and use double standards in order to attack a rival company or fan. A lot of this passionate brand loyalty is influenced a lot by gamers simply having to believe the product they brought is far superior in every single way, to feel good about their purchase, convince themselves and everyone that they made the right choice.
Remember this? ahhh trolling at its finest!!
The Pros and Cons of the Console Wars
With all that said the console war is here to stay, while fanboyism can be a bit too much at times there are definitely positives and negatives which I’m going to run though now.
- Competition and Production
Competition is important everywhere, from the workplace, businesses, sports to the games industry. When you have two companies that have a fierce rivalry the way Sony and Microsoft do, they are always trying to out do each other and get on top, As Nintendo have a different target audience than the other big two, they aren’t directly in competition with Sony or Microsoft especially as their console hardware is significantly weaker, while their famous game series sell well and are extremely popular they are beginning to become more and more niche and stale. There’s also the fact that the 3rd party support is quite poor and the online capabilities plus features are severely lacking. So that leaves Sony and Microsoft to battle it out and they compliment each other well, neither can afford to get lax or cocky and because of this their hardware and software benefit and in most cases are always top quality, The PS4 for example can now compete with most mid tier PCs as well as achieving 1080p and 60 FPS in most cases, they still have a long way to go to come close to high-end PCs but it’s a start, and with more and more features such as Twitch Streaming, multiple amount of apps and social media sharing, the list goes on but we have the strong competition of Sony and Microsoft to thank for how far the traditional games console has come from when it was simply and solely just a pure games machine.
- Innovation and Self Improvement
With each new console generation there needs to be an improvement on the last, and the 3 console manufactures need to find new exciting ways to innovate and reshape the games industry. Nintendo have proved that they are the best at doing this and taking risks whether they work well or not, from the Wii Fit, motion controls and Amiibo’s to the fact that they dominate the handheld market, so everyone always looks to Nintendo to bring something new and different to the table. Sony and Microsoft have been accused in the past of stealing and copying ideas from Nintendo but there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by a good idea or vision and improving on the product. While its been done before in the past, although way ahead of its time, Virtual Reality is being developed and worked on for this gen so it will be interesting to see the final outcomes and how they will work for years to come or disappear like other bad trends.
- Change of Policies
Last Gen the Xbox 360 introduced a newer version of Xbox Live, a subscription based service that you had to sign up to in order to play games online and use other features only available for paying members, this was strange and unheard of because PC gamers were gaming for years without the need to pay a subscription fee, but due to the Wii having a completely different target audience and the PS3 not yet released, gamers that wanted a new gen console had no other alternative and by the time the PS3 came out it had already started to become the norm and not that big of a deal. Sony saw this and reacted by boasting about how their online features and services were free and it became a huge selling point especially as the PS3 was very over priced at its launch.
With the money Microsoft were making from the service, they was able to improve it and add better features and provide better security and smoother, more fun online experiences. In the end Sony had to do something so they changed their policy and came up with their own subscription based service which slowly helped improve the PSN that gamers were willing and happy to pay for, now both services are the norm and they both match each other in terms of what they do and offer.
Another great example of changing policies for the good would have to be the E3 2013 event when Microsoft announced all these terrible anti consumer policies, it was a huge PR disaster, Sony and their fanboys were licking their lips. The backlash was unreal and they are still paying the price for that today as a lot of loyal Xbox 360 owners jumped ship as they made it all too easy for Sony. So it’s a good job they went back on their word and did a complete 360 to change things for the better.
E3 2013 Microsoft conference
- Win at all costs attitude
If you focus too much on winning at all costs you then begin to lose focus on the bigger picture, pouring millions of cash into getting timed exclusive games or DLC isn’t that effective, it’s more of an annoyance, it’s not going to make me go out and buy your console that I’m not interested in. Because I have to wait 6 months to play a game, instead its going to make me dislike the company for hindering my gaming experience. That money has much better uses, because instead of wasting millions, that money can go towards creating fresh new 1st party studios that can make new IPs and innovative games, supporting up and coming indie developers that will freshen up the games industry that is full of remasters, remakes, yearly sequels and repetitive, same old, tried and tested game formulas. Help bring something new to the table and I’ll be happy to jump on board and buy a secondary console.
- Unhealthy rivalry between fans
The banter between fans in most cases is fun and harmless, poking fun with fellow gamers talking about games and posting silly GIFs and memes is the good side to the console wars. When that feud turns aggressive and violent it just becomes silly and embarrassing. There’s fighting, arguing and name calling on a daily basis over silly things, like someone has a different opinion to another. This strong sense of needing to be brand loyal is pointless as we’re nothing but a mere number to the big corporation, so instead of fighting and arguing with each other we should be trying to improve the games industry and get rid of all the bad stuff in it. We should be voting with our wallets and not buying the same rehashed yearly games, we can work together and strive to encourage fresh ideas and new IPs.
Gaming has come a long way from just being a box that you put a disc in to play games, consoles are now home entertainment systems capable of doing many things and the future does look bright as games are becoming more and more socially accepted and appreciated. Gone are the days of being called a “geek” or a “nerd” for having a hobby that people didn’t understand or were closed-minded about, gaming has become more diverse and there are more female gamers as well as gamers old and young. Gaming is here to stay for a very long time.
Let’s just hope the competition increases so it can take gaming to newer heights.