Console Wars – Round 3

February 21, 2014 2:00 PM

The console war has played a large part in my late childhood; there was always some form of rivalry whilst I was growing up, which starts with your favourite colour, and progresses into what football team you support. Despite rivalries like these, there was not a console rivalry for quite a while. There was only ever PlayStation. The only bit of agro that was generated when it came to computer games was which was your favourite Crash Bandicoot. Mine personally was ‘The wrath of Cortex’.

Even when the Xbox was released in 2001 only a year later than the PlayStation 2, it never really made a dramatic impact on theconsole world. There were only a very select few who owned an Xbox with the vast majority of people owning a PlayStation 2. The figures showed that Xbox reached a sales figure of 24 million by May 2006 compare that to the record breaking figures of the PlayStation 2 that reached 155 million units sold as of December 2012. Despite there being a small group of people owning an Xbox, with the Xbox came exclusives. The HALO series was born along side Xbox being Xbox’s first exclusive release, there was now a reason to have an Xbox over a PS2. This did not hinder the PS2 sales but it definitely helped the Xbox sales as it offered something different but familiar. The birth of HALO was a sign of things to come with exclusives being a major selling point with consoles.

With the unstoppable force of the PS2 and Sony being the face of console gaming, Microsoft knew they had to do something. In November 2005 Microsoft released their new console, the Xbox 360. With the Xbox not being able to compete with the PS2 on an even playing field Microsoft knew they needed to gain a hardware advantage. With the Xbox 360 came improved graphics, more memory and new possibilities. This time Microsoft was the first to strike and was in the market for quite some time before Sonycaught up. The 360 came out with a new exclusive taking the name Gears of War. This game was the face of 360 upon its release, I recall the first real game advert that made me care, that really made me feel was this advert. Microsoft was alone and enjoyed sales figures of 1.5 million units worldwide by the end of the year, immediately running out of stock. Microsoft’s overall sales figures as of October 2013 are 80 million units sold worldwide, not reaching the dizzy heights of the PS2 but an overall brilliant effort for their second console. After an entire year of the 360 being alone in the seventh generation Sony finally released the PlayStation 3. Despite being released a whole year later, the differences in hardware were not very apparent, there were minor graphical improvements but that was all that was noticeable on the surface. The main selling point of the PS3 was the introduction of a Blu-Ray player. Blu-Ray sales were on the rise and the PlayStation was taking full advantage of the improved quality of films and using it in their favour. Because of the late coming of the PS3, Sony sorely missed out on the market and the need to have a PS3. For all of those who wanted next generation graphics an Xbox 360 was already purchased and in their inventory for the past year. Because of this, Sony’s production costs made it so that with every PS3 sold, a loss was made even with the expensive PS3 costing £399 (a whole £100 more than the 360). Sony only started making a profit on the PS3 with the introduction of the PS3 Slim. Despite the late start and initial slump in sales, as of November 2013 Sony had sold 80 million units, matching the Xbox 360.

When looking at the Xbox One it’s hard to ignore the civil unrest that the announcement caused with a little issue known as DRM(Digital Rights Management). When announced, Microsoft said that with every purchase you would activate that game on your account and bind it to your account. This was so that you could use a number of the other features such as having the ability to play any Xbox game on any Xbox simply by logging in with your own details. On paper it seemed like a good idea and even at the time it was a good idea. However, the public almost instantly shunned the idea, there was an uproar at not being able to trade games with your friends. There was also the issue of the Xbox always being on and having to be connected to the internet at all times even if you wanted the play a single player game. One of the main reasons with Xbox never truly being turned off was because of the camera that came with it. If the Xbox is on, that means the camera is on. This was also around the time where the NSA (National Security Agency) was in the news about spying on everyone with files coming out every other day showing phones being tapped and emails being read by the hundreds of thousands. I believe Microsoft were unlucky with the timing of their announcement. There was a dip in projected pre-order sales and in fact because of this, the PS3 benefited greatly. The only thing Microsoft could do was to remove the feature and therefore any other feature that required it. Fans were happy about this and with some system and hardware upgrades the Xbox One managed to get on par with the PS4. Microsoft managed to fix their pre-order figures that were at a state of the PS4 out selling the Xbox One 4 to 1. The Xbox One was released on November 22nd worldwide; their sales upon release were very similar to that of the PlayStation4. 1 million units were sold within the first 24 hours of availability; there are also reported figures that show 2 million units were sold in the first 18 days. Microsoft announced that 3 million units were sold in 2013 and in a report published in January 2014, in Microsoft’s Q2 2014 Earnings report 3.9 million consoles had been shipped worldwide.

 One of the main talking points about the PlayStation 4 was the innovative new controller, the Dualshock 4. This controller was
revered by every reviewing site as the best controller ever made. It had taken the previous controller that didn’t have anything wrong with it and just made it perfect. I personally don’t like that they got rid of ‘select’ and ‘start’ even though, arguably, ‘select’ never really did anything significant. There was also the introduction of the ‘share’ button that allowed you to post videos straight to Facebook, videos that are of your own personal gameplay. There have been some issues with the ‘share’ feature and I personally struggle with it in terms of actually capturing what had just happened, the 6 seconds of gameplay that made me press the share button never actually show up because it will start recording once I press share. The PlayStation4 was released on November 15th in North America and November 29th in Europe. Despite having a later release date in Europe, pre-order sales were at an all time high and the PlayStation 4 quickly became the most sought after piece of technology for Christmas time in the UK with stock being emptied in the first 2 days. Within the first day of the North American release, 1 million consoles were sold. The reported sales in the UK reached 250,000 within the first 48 hours. Sony announced that they had sold 4.2 million units by the end of 2013 with overall software sales reaching 9.7 million.

I don’t want you to read this article and think that I should have titled it something else. I have not forgotten about Nintendo with their Wii and Wii U. It’s just that with regards to sales and competition, they are not in the same league as Xbox and PlayStation. The Wii was invented and marketed on a gimmick. The ability to move a stick and have your movements affect the game. The PS2 had this with iPlay, it might not have been as accurate but Sony knew it was just an addition. I’m not saying that Nintendo’s figures are awful and that it didn’t work. Their figures are remarkable. The Wii had been purchased 67 million times by January 2010, and despite the Wii U having low figures, I believe that it is the future. The integration of the tablet to the Wii system is genius and it shows a lot of promise for the future. They just aren’t the types of console that are going to compete with the PS4 or the Xbox One and Nintendo know this.