Amidst competition and their respective troubles, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and gamers alike have failed to realize the signs that, as far as the current generation is concerned, they are all in this together.
Healthy and a non-monopolistic business is inherently competitive. There is no doubt that until recently there has been a war of sorts in the video game industry between Sony, Nintendo, and relative newcomer, Microsoft. There is also no doubt, that on occasion, very serious blows have been dealt during this “War”. But unlike in the past, now, when such a blow is struck, it tends to be something that further evens the playing field.
Indeed, while competition still exists (which it most certainly should) and if any war exists still, it is a “cold war” of positioning rather than the constant bombs of exclusivity of generations past. Though surely it was unintended on the part of former dominator Sony, it appears that many major occurrences of this “New Gen” of gaming have led the three to relative equality with major prosperity and growth on the horizon for all three companies due to a growing video gaming market.
Microsoft’s XBox 360 appeared on the market a full year before the up-and-coming consoles of their competitors. They wanted to capitalize on being first. They wanted to expand their market so that they had more strength beyond the borders of North America, and they did. Yet still, they didn’t clean house as they probably could have due to a large percentage of critical problems with hardware, and lingering Eastern resistance to the XBox franchise.
Sony’s Playstation 3 looked to reconnect with the success that the PS2 had in bringing the DVD into mainstream with their High Definition Blu-Ray disk. In addition to that strategy, they also packed the console with the power to center a home’s entire entertainment experience around it. Though it was not intended, the inherent cost of such a product combined with less of a focus on gaming than in the past, not to mention the year handicap given to their closest thing to a head to head opponent, saw Sony forfeiting the majority of market share. While it is more than safe to assume that the Playstation franchise will continue to be a force for years to come, it is also safe to assume that Sony’s next few major 3rd party exclusives will for the most part be the last we see of that degree of exclusivity.
Nintendo’s Wii did come out a year after the XBox 360, but with its lower price, it targeted those who were put off by the cost of HD gaming. Nintendo’s banking on the popularity of the point and click, motion controlled interface on the console, has also paid off. Some would say that Nintendo, due to its astronomical sales so far has the clear advantage. There is no doubt that they currently have the majority of the gaming market share. However, continued 3rd party support and sales problems due to past mistakes make Nintendo’s advantage a small one so far, as the consoles with fewer in home numbers tend to sell more games. While Nintendo is undoubtedly and justifiably ecstatic about their success, they’d be foolish to assume that this success will continue long-term on the backs of Mario, Link, and mini-games alone.
What Nintendo has done for gamers and its competition with the Wii and DS
Nintendo is, through the Wii and DS, expanding the gaming market by making gaming a more mainstream idea rather than a fringe or extreme genre of entertainment. Also by meeting the needs of those who seek gaming immersion through interactivity more so than graphics. Nintendo has established, expanded, and capitalized on the handheld market. The great sales of the Sony PSP owe much of that success to Nintendo’s popularization of the: “Not quite as expensive” handheld. Through the Wii, Nintendo has not only brought Moms and Dads and Grandmothers into gaming, they’ve made those consumers more likely to buy gaming products for others; when in the past, many of them frowned at the idea of video games. This translates directly into more sales for gaming in general.
What Sony has done for gamers and its competition with the PS3 and PSP
Sony is blazing the trail through the “New Technology” rough times for gaming with it’s forcing of the Blu-Ray format. Whatever HD format ends up standing a few years from now, it is Sony who has forced the high-end HD issue in the minds of gamers. Even Nintendo will be on board the next time around if they want to remain as successful. Sony has also helped keep alive this idea of using cutting edge technology on the gaming console for those who value graphics capability more so than interactive controls with both their PS3 and PSP.
What Microsoft has done for gamers and its competition with the XBox 360
Microsoft is continually setting the standard for online console gaming quality. The online services of the other companies can’t help but be influenced by what Microsoft is doing. Due to this influence coming from a quality standpoint, this is a good thing for gamers, as well as all three of these companies. Microsoft (of course, being from the west) also is a large outlet for more Western based thinking when it comes to gaming. Japanese games and ideas are wonderful, but without different types of input, things get boring and stale quickly. As long as a successful western company, with western ideas and support exists, the companies that are more Japanese oriented must take note and adapt to some extent for competition’s sake alone.
This evening of the playing field has brought about a unique time period in gaming, that will likely end up being one of the most enjoyed, once it’s all said and done. Of course, there may at some point be a new “War”, during times that aren’t as plentiful or symbiotic for these companies. However, as of now, this so called war has ended with a redistribution of wealth amongst the big 3, prosperity for all, and enough choices for gamers to find contentment, no matter what types of games are preferred. Even so, we all know that each company is working hard on the next “nuke”, even as we play. Since after all, business is business, and none of these companies would mind having the upper hand again.