The gaming industry changed forever when Sega threw down the gauntlets against Nintendo, who up until then was dominating the industry. Although the SNES ended up selling a few million units more, the fiery rivalry no doubt helped push both companies and their developers to do one thing: bring gamers to their side by delivering amazing experiences.
Flash forward to today and another hot console war is going on, mainly between Sony and Microsoft. While some people dislike the idea of “console wars” due to all the nasty fanboy comments flooding the internet, here are several reasons why competition in the console industry is actually a good thing for all of us as gamers.
Encourage companies to take risks.
Taking big risks doesn’t always pay off. Just ask Nintendo and their infamous Virtual Boy or Sega and the ill-fated Dreamcast, which failed to sell well enough to keep the veteran Japanese in the console race. Of course, many of the best games and hardware in the industry were made thanks to companies willing to take a big gamble.
The Nintendo DS, for example, sold like hotcakes even though there was initial skepticism about a device with two screens. Meanwhile, Sony’s Vita focused more on console-like graphic and was left in the dust in terms of sales and support. Microsoft is currently preparing Project Scorpio, the most powerful consoles ever creating in hopes that gamers will appreciate its ability to produce better graphics and performance. Whether it succeeds or fails will no doubt impact the future of Microsoft as a game hardware manufacturer.
Help breed innovation
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s our favorite way to play games. There’s nothing like holding a traditional game controller in your hands and exploring virtual worlds on your TV. But if there’s anything the industry has taught us in the last decade, it’s that occasionally we also enjoy playing games in unique, different ways.
There’s no better example of this than the Nintendo Wii. It was inferior to the competition in terms of horsepower but outsold them by introducing a fresh and exciting gameplay. Today we have Sony pushing VR on the PlayStation 4 while Microsoft looks to blow gamers away with their augmented-reality HoloLens. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the competitiveness of console wars inspiring innovation.
Push 1st party developers to do better
Whether it’s a big budget triple-A title or a 3-man indie project, passionate developers will always strive to do their best. But when they’re constantly reminded by the internet that other teams are also cooking up something great, it usually encourages them to work harder so the end result is better than expected. Now just imagine if Sony or Microsoft is counting on you to create the next system-selling exclusive for them?
This has been the case with a number of teams who helm some of the biggest exclusive franchises in the industry. Talented developers like Naughty Dog (Uncharted) and 343 Industries (Halo) at the helm of giant IPs are forced to do whatever it takes to top the competition while pleasing both fans and their company. The end result: we get to play better games designed to try and make their respective home console the must-have machine.
Allow For Much-Needed Criticism
By ‘criticism’ we’re of course not talking about the fervid comments left by fanboys all over the internet. We’re referring to when the big video game giants make a decision that’s clearly the opposite of what we want from our video game console. The big three have all been in the hot seat before after revealing their plans and being met with backlash from gamers and critics alike.
Who could forget the negative reception Sony received after revealing the daunting price tag of the PS3? Or when it was revealed that the Xbox One would come with a Kinect whether you wanted it or not. Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, was condemned early on for its severe lack of 3rd party support. In the heated spirit of competition, each company had to learn from their mistakes or continue losing ground. Fast-forward to today and we have a PS4 that released with a reasonable price tag, Kinect-less Xbox One consoles, and a Switch with plenty of 3rd party games in the works.
Lead To Imitation
Gamers passionate about their console of choice are always quick to poke fun at the competition whenever an idea is ‘borrowed’. But the fact is, imitation has always existed in the gaming industry and we’re better off for it. When one company comes upon something that works while trying to outdo their rival, it’s better for gamers everywhere when the rest also do the same.
If you don’t believe us, consider how now both PlayStation Plus and Xbox One offer free games each month. Even Nintendo is preparing to follow suite with their own program for the Switch. People might poke fun at last generation’s motion control devices but at one point most of us had some fun flailing our Wiimotes, Move controllers, or arms with Kinect. Hot console wars like the current one between Microsoft and Sony also lead to great bundles, price drops, upgraded machines (Xbox One S/PS4 Pro), and more.
Build Passion For Brands
When asked what people hate about console wars, most will answer with the same response: fanboys. There will always be that group of people who want to shred your opinion apart with loud cries and biased logic. At the same time, there are a lot of gamers out there who are simply very pleased their favorite game console. The big game companies want this to happen, which is why they’re putting more effort than ever into engaging with customers and building a relationship.
Despite a bumpy launch, the Xbox One has a faithful fan base because they started listened, such as by offering polls to let us choose titles for the Backwards Compatibility program. The PS4 is dominating this generation because Sony decided to create a console that catered to what gamers actually wanted. Competition drives these companies to make us as loyal fans by doing whatever it takes to give us the unforgettable gaming experiences we desire.
Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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