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Why The Console War Hurts More Than It Helps

This platform or that one? It’s a question we ask ourselves every time we consider next-gen drops and try to squad up with that new friend cross-console. More and more clearly, it seems like this division among gamers and companies may hurt more than it helps.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about competition, and a rivalry between two companies when done right produces some mighty fine results in sales. It lights a fire under them when the community is up at arms, but it’s only okay to a degree. Microsoft and Sony have been having a console war since the early 2000s, and they’ve both seen their fair share of wins and losses.

Console War
Courtesy of Den of Geek

It Can Lead To Fewer Sales

Remember how whenever the Wii came out everyone was going crazy about the motion-mimicking play of Wii-Sports? That technology wasn’t inherently new, since PS2 already had a multitude of games that worked with a webcam, Wii merely just improved the model. The reason I cite this is that the number one reason that Xbox saw poor sales during the first phase of the XB1 release was because they were trying to force the Kinect down everyone’s throat at a $100 higher price tag than the PS4. This lead the PS4 to dominate the market, and it wasn’t until later that Microsoft would later take out the Kinect and drop the price tag to help struggling sales.

This “innovative” move to gain an advantage via hardware almost lost them the war entirely.

Courtesy of ExtremeTech

Exclusives Lead To Acquisitions

This is where the console war fires back at the gaming community. Exclusives are the bread-and-butter of the console’s catalog, and everyone who has a Microsoft or Sony console probably has similar lists. When the company weaponizes the exclusives, we start to see a problem. Think “Timed-Exclusives.” These start off with game modes on a certain shared-platform game and then branch up to the full-on games before the studios become exclusives themselves.

Microsoft buying Zenimax and Bethesda is an effect, not a cause. In April, Sony stated that they had multiple timed-exclusives locked in for the PS5. These would-be timed-exclusive titles included games that were usually multi-platform; there were even rumors buzzing that one would be the new Black Ops game. This was months before the Zenimax acquisition, and we know that Sony was proposing certain deals to keep upcoming games shelved away from Microsoft.

Does Microsoft have plans to release games from these studios to the PS5? Sure, but not all of them, and they’ve stated that it will be on a “Case-by-Case basis.” There’s also going to be shared profits coming in from sales on Sony platforms. Sony doesn’t have a response to this. It’s very unlikely that they will buyUbisoft, Capcom, Konami, or any other AAA studio because they don’t have the budget for it. Yes, they have billions, but Microsoft has trillions. Sony will most likely focus mainly on their first and third-party studios.

Conclusions

I love bickering about systems for fun as much as the next guy, but there are some serious ramifications that come along with console wars and stoking the fires of corporate rivalry. Microsoft’s need to have better hardware almost took them out of the sales game in the very beginning, and Sony helped weaponize exclusives by keeping them away from Microsoft to hurt sales. Thankfully with this gen, it seems like the console wars might actually see a conclusion. Microsoft is no longer just focusing on hardware, but creating the “Netflix for Videogames” experience while Sony boasts its mastercraft ability of storytelling.

I just hope my wallet doesn’t have to see anymore casualties of war.

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