Let’s say, for all intents and purposes, that all industry soothsayers in their little business suits in their little towers are wrong and consoles are not on their way out. Mobile and PC? Hah. Silly distractions from the true spirit of video games, in which Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are the kings of warring nations and their subjects will fight to the death to defend their consoles choice in the great wars of flame.
Ok, not really. Console wars are dumb and you shouldn’t participate. But in the grand scheme of things, consoles are likely not going to die anytime soon. In my mind there are still legions of consumers willing to shell out for another console, Pokemon will always outsell the bible, and Sony is a profitable, highly rated company with no chance of failure. Any sign to the contrary is a threat to my carefully defensed sentimentality designed by the sadistic devils at Kotaku and the like who wish to destroy the hearts of console gamers everywhere(note: I play PC and mobile games every now and then and do in fact function in the real world and recognize when change is happening).
So without further ado, here’s a look into the current and future statuses of our beloved/cursed consoles. I promise not to be too facetious (not really).
When not running crossplatform games in far inferior frame rates and resolutions, my PS3 is largely an entertainment whore, sucking up all the films and TV shows my internet connection can provide and coughing it back out onto my face. Of course when I do use it for games I always remember to wipe off the powder that builds up from the analog sticks grinding into their plastic frames. Oh, and wait an hour or too for them to charge, as my TV is too far from my couch to plug in and play. Ah, glorious Sony, you know exactly how to please me.
In all seriousness, though, the PlayStation 3 is in a interesting position right now. Despite very aggressive pushes in innovation from the Microsoft Camp and a shallower exclusive pool this year when compared to the year prior, it’s apparently managed to overtake the Xbox 360 in total worldwide sales (but just barely). Both consoles sit at around the 70 million mark, and have done amazingly equally this generation. It’s actually kind of nice to have two great options that offer similar levels of exclusive features and content, considering how outrageously successful the PS2 was when compared to the meager 24 million overall sold by Microsoft and the measly 21 million by Nintendo. No, this time around the PlayStation and Xbox brands both carry about the same international weight and owning both is certainly a treat, as you are given all the benefits of a closely competitive race.
With the end of the console generation likely to arrive at the end of this year, Sony will undoubtedly try to avoid the same plagues that burdened the PS3 launch. Don’t expect the next PlayStation to cost some outlandish amount (at least compared with the next Xbox). I certainly doubt it’ll be marketed with the same… perverse audacity as the first, which advertised it as more a harbinger of our doom than a gaming console.
Some early development news also suggests that Sony may be abandoning the Dualshock controller design for the first time since Sony first introduced it for the PSone. A welcome change? A sorrowful misstep? If it comes to pass. that’s really up to you. Personally I like the DS3 but could see how an upgrade could be nice. My hands be too big for this shit.
Of course expect wonderful graphics, PSVita integration from the get go, 4K support, greater use of online features (maybe even some game streaming will Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai), and a plethora of other stuff. For now, the PS3 is doing strong and has some great games to its name.
After living a long life with lots of Mass Effect time, my family Xbox 360 has hit the dust and withered into the wind. I’m actually amazed it lasted as long as it did, considering that I bought it in late 2007 and my parents used it for Netflix, Hulu, and ESPN pretty much every day. It was the last of all of my friends’ original Xbox 360s to perish and I guess there’s some pride to be had with that. Regardless, it’s nice to not feel obligated to pay another $60 for a service my PS3 basically provides for free and without ads covering the dashboard. You’re a pal, Microsoft.
This E3 made me realize that I was really not the target audience for Microsoft anymore, at least in the way they hope to keep the Xbox alive with healthy sales before their next one gets a launch. Their press conference was just entertainment features and extended system implementation of Kinect. It supports Spanish now! Oh happy day!
The original Xbox was actually one of my favorite consoles ever, namely because it was the place for Star Wars games if you didn’t have a capable PC (which I didn’t back then). It also had an interesting, comfortable controller, at least after they redesigned it, and for those that cared it had Halo and system-based online features. It was also noticeably more powerful than the competition and many of its games still hold up graphically today.
But for some reason Microsoft seems to be neglecting the Xbox in a major area, namely console exclusives beyond another Halo and Gears of War. I get that those games have big fans who are perfectly satisfied with what the Xbox offers (and don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ways the Xbox succeeds and provides for its customers), but personally I find it lacks in vibrancy and variety. Even so, it is home to many superior versions of crossplatform titles, as most western games are developed for Xbox first and ported to PS3 later. And I hear that much of the Mad Maxian design of the first 360 was thrown out in the slim redo, which I guess makes any jokes about it being flimsy hysterically outdated.
The future of Xbox is likely going to revolve around some crazy implementation of technology that will demo really well but ultimately not work as well as promised. The fact that Kinect was actually a business success for Microsoft despite not really being good for anything except dance games is a little scary, and I seriously hope that incorporating the Super Kinect, or whatever Microsoft will unveil at E3 won’t further hinder the development of good old-fashioned controller games that have always been superior with that lovely, wide, ergonomic controller in every conceivable way.
What a way to fail a launch. You got no games, no functionality, and no chance. We already all gots iPads and Galaxy Tabs, and Nintendo is proving its irrelevance once again.
Well… until today, when the Patron Saint of politeness and funny Japanese accents, Satoru Iwata, saved the day for everyone.
You see, I bought a Wii U at launch with the full expectation that if I was going to buy a launch system, it was going to act like a launch system. And despite a few hiccups, like an outrageous out-of-the-box update and long menu loading times, I would call this launch considerably smoother than that of the 360 or PS3. Hey, at least it didn’t cost $600 or have an 80% chance of immediately refusing to work.
As for games, yes. I’ll concede that the situation could have been better, and those who bought into the system are having to wait a bit for the real gems to arrive. But that’s just sort of how launches these days seem to go, if the 3DS and Vita are any indication of that.
No, I think the Wii U will find success. Certainly not like the original Wii, but that’s not really a bad thing. Nintendo will have to work a little harder this time to push sales, and solid games are certainly going to come from it. As we learned today, Nintendo is really starting to implement a bold new strategy of cooperation with other developers. We saw this originally with the news that the next Smash Bros will have the hand of Namco pulling the strings and the surprising enthusiasm from Platinum Games for developing exclusive content for the Wii U. Now we can add those clowns over at Atlus for joining the ranks with their Fire Emblem Shin Megami Tensei crossover project, and whatever that entails.
The Wii U is not perfectly safe from a longterm failure, as many have yet to see much of the system’s value. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that the Wii U will be a major departure from Nintendo’s strategy of isolation. There will likely be few cross platform games in the long run and on the flip side will likely have games you can get nowhere else. If those games manage to excite the public, then Nintendo’s little box of wonder will succeed. If not, we may end up having another Dreamcast on our hands, and I don’t think the console gaming community is ready for what that might imply. Luckily today’s announcements spur hope for the contrary.
Ultimately, I just want a console with hardware by Sony, OS and networking by Microsoft, and innovation implementation and games from Nintendo. It would be the super console to beat them all, and it would be glorious.