For those of you who somehow think that there will be a single victor this console generation, think again. Like the days of the SNES and Sega Genesis, we have not only 2, but 3 video game consoles that will fight this generation to a stalemate.
Usually in the war of consoles, there are winners and losers. Nintendo destroyed Sega back in the 8-bit era, but in the 16-bit era, both Sega and Nintendo were equally successful with their consoles. When Sony stepped in the game, Nintendo and Sega couldn’t get a foothold. As awesome as the Sega Saturn was, it was destroyed by Sony’s business sense. They had better hardware, it was easier to develop games on and Sony was buying ip’s left and right. Nintendo had a short success with the N64, but we had already moved on to CD’s. Cartridges were too expensive and not as versatile as optical discs.
I’d have to say the biggest console blow in history was the day that Sega went cold turkey on the Dreamcast. It was almost as if they gave up on the system before it could even finish the fight it started. Did Sega see something coming that we didn’t? The Dreamcast still stands, in my opinion, as one of the greatest consoles ever made.
And what became of the Gamecube? Damn it was a hot little box. It didn’t make sense for developers to make 3 iterations of their games, especially since Gamecube versions sold poorly in comparison to the Xbox and PS2. Many argue that the Xbox was a more powerful machine than the PS2, but Microsoft didn’t have the Japanese 3rd party support to push it to success in Japan. Plus Japanese gamers are fickle when it comes to name brand. Microsoft did well, but lost to Sony’s world domination of 100+ million consoles.
Sony had destroyed the competition for 2 generations in a row. Everyone is banking on them doing the same thing once again for the 3rd time around. This time however, Microsoft and Nintendo are playing with loaded dice. First Nintendo tapped an untappable market; the baby boomer gamers. They managed to get everyone that games and everyone that doesn’t game to buy the Wii. We are talking about a demographic that spans 18 - 70yr old individuals. Non-gamers rushing out to buy a game system is still mind boggling to me. Both my aunt and my mothers friend bought Wii’s and they are in their 50’s.
Next comes Microsoft. They beat Sony to the punch by an entire year. They scored a bunch of great ip’s and finally got some Japanese developers on board. While Xbox 360’s are selling in low numbers in Japan, they are still selling. Microsoft, being the smart company they are, has limited distribution in Japan. So they really aren’t spending as much money in Japan and are getting a small return. They managed to steal some great ip’s from Sony and for the first time get a GTA launch game. The piss poor hardware quality of the Xbox 360 hurt them. I’d go as far as saying that one big mistake cost them a few million console sales. They’ve recovered and managed to stay ahead of Sony.
Sony had a slow start as well. They had a lackluster system launch, high priced hardware and one too many SKUs. They’ve dropped the price several times since launch and are on the turn around with the PS3. This year looks to be the best for the PS3 like 2007 was the best for the 360. Sony is now battling on two fronts: One against Microsoft and another against Nintendo.
The Wii will continue to sell and so will the 360. The Xbox 360 is now a household name in America and it shows. The majority of Xbox 360 sales are made in North America and Europe. Sony makes more sales in Japan and Europe. Nintendo is selling equally worldwide. While Sony has made an incredible 180 degree turn around in 2008 and are finally outselling the Xbox 360 in Europe, they have a long way to go before they can catch the Microsoft. Even if the PS3 outsells the 360 by 100k a month, they are only gaining 1.2 million sales ahead of Microsoft per year. At this rate it would take Sony 6 years just to catch up to Microsoft.
The bottom line, gamers have chosen their sides, all 3 of them. As long as all 3 systems continue selling, there will never be a clear winner of this generation. This is a good thing. No one wants to relive the pain of our beloved Dreamcast going belly up again. Enjoy what you have and stop hoping for world domination. Competition is good for gaming.