Ever since the dawn of video games, fans have been comparing consoles and sales numbers with the same furore that sports fans use to cheer on their home team. Starting with the great 16-bit console war of the 1980s (Genesis does what Nintendon't — blast processing!), it's often these rivalries that make being a gamer so exciting, creating an even bigger buzz for new releases and conferences such as E3.
We've had some exciting #consolewars in the past, but it's felt like tensions between the gaming giants have been particularly low as of late. The PlayStation 4 dominated the market for the past few years, with no real competition to speak of. The 3DS also effectively stood alone in the handheld market.
Looking at the upcoming events in the world of video games, however, and it is clear a new battle is brewing. One that could surpass the great battles of the 16-bit generation and the 1990s 64-bit generation — and this coming war is very much a three-way conflict! Let's analyze the situation.
Sony: The King To Dethrone
The #PS4 is currently the established leader in the console market, without question. Much like the PS2 in the sixth generation, Sony made a triumphant return from a sales perspective after the underperforming PS3 — which lost to the Wii and barely overtook the Xbox 360 at the end of the seventh generation, running from 2005–2012. Thus far it's been smooth sailing for the PS4. It boasts the greatest variety of games and third-party support, the most units sold, currently the most power with the PS4 Pro, and all these factors ensure it will also have the most momentum going into this upcoming console war.
The Switch — which could be argued to be an eighth/ninth generation hybrid (much like the console's own hybrid nature) a— has opened fire on the PS4 and #Sony's marketshare in the industry. The Switch has had a really strong start and remains sold out in most major regions. Could it challenge the PS4 king for the console crown this year?
Microsoft has done little to concern Sony so far this generation, but the upcoming #Scorpio is going to be a monster of a machine. No longer will Sony be able to claim to sell the most powerful console on the market — and this brand perception of being the strongest can go so far to achieving lasting sales momentum.
Nintendo: Risen From The Ashes
#Nintendo struggled through the eighth generation with the Wii U, which proved a commercial failure that Nintendo seemed as excited to get rid of as the consumer. It had poor marketing, support and low hopes from the start, with many even unsure if it was truly a new console or simply an attachment for the #Wii on launch, thanks to its confusing name.
The Wii U possessed numerous major first-party titles, but the core Nintendo fans alone were not enough to save it. It needed third-party support, which never arrived due to the system only being powerful enough for old PS3/360 ports and not the exciting new titles that were arriving on the PS4/XB1.
The #Switch is similarly a relatively weak system compared to the PS4 and Xbox One (although not by as large a degree as the WiiU) — but Nintendo has found a way to make this idea attract a large following, at least in the weeks following launch. As a hybrid console, the Switch is essentially a powerful handheld device with the traditional functionality of a console, too. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is critically one of the best games of all time that has only served to creat a level of excitement for the device.
The Switch isn't cheap, however — much more expensive than the 3DS to consider replacing that system in the casual market — and until E3, we know little about what major games are coming for the system. We will have to see how Nintendo's latest console fares after the newness factor wears off, but it's looking like an exciting entry into this console war.
Microsoft: The Formidable Giants
Microsoft screwed up with the #XboxOne from day one, from a consumer perspective. It was said to require a constant internet connection and was initially stated to not play used games or allow you to easily share games with friends. It launched at $500, which was a full $100 more than the slightly more powerful PS4, bundled with the Kinect 2.0 that most consumers had no interest in.
Microsoft stood its ground and claimed the Kinect was integral to the console experience and could not be sold separately. Six months later, once the sales trends were clearly visible, Microsoft changed its mind and released a console $100 cheaper. But the damage had been done. The PS4 was already crushing Microsoft's system worldwide — including the United States, a traditional Microsoft stronghold — and there was little the brand could do to change this.
Microsoft has also been fairly lax on securing blockbuster exclusive games this gen, especially compared to the success of the Xbox 360. Sony, on the other hand, has gained several highly acclaimed titles, such as Horizon Zero Dawn, which released last month.
A new war is about to begin, however, and Microsoft is clearly pulling no punches. Project Scorpio is destined to be a beast of a machine — bringing PC-level specs to the console market in a way never before seen. By attacking Sony on power, it could easily claim to be the best place to play big multi-platform titles, such as the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2, and Fallout 4 VR. We still know little about Microsoft-exclusive titles for the system, but we do know Forza is coming, and it looks incredible.
Scorpio is a premium product and will be priced as such. It would be unwise to expect a price any lower than $500 for a system with these specs and it is unknown how many consumers will be willing to purchase a system for this price, regardless of how powerful it may be. Having said that, it is extremely exciting to see what Microsoft is doing with the Scorpio and it is clearly going to put up a solid fight in this console war.
The Battle Begins!
We've seen the three contenders. What can we expect from this brutal confrontation?
The PS4 is no longer going to be the clear victor from a sales perspective — the Scorpio and the Switch will tackle it from two very different angles, and consumers who are looking for certain types of gaming experiences will branch off and purchase the system that works best for them.
In this respect, the upcoming console war may be harsh, but it is also great for gamers. When there is enough room within the industry for three very different strategies to create three very different consoles, we can expect to see a great variety of games. I'm looking forward to it!
E3 2017 will take place June 13–15 in Downtown LA. What are your predictions for this console war? Let me know in the comments below.