Consoles Wars Aren’t Won But Endured

Here we go again.

BuzzFeed, posted probably the best article condemning the very idea of a console war and the impending one coming this holiday season. It boils down to what I feel so strongly about: There are no true winners in a console war.

Yes, consoles do die while in battle. But they aren’t long fought wars. It’s either a quick defeat or a long, difficult tussle that later no one really gives a shit about.

Never forget.

I remember 2006, my “first” E3. The first E3 where I paid attention to everything video games. It was that E3 where the rest of that generation of consoles were unveiled. While the Xbox 360 already had a head start, it was the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 that had their debutant ball. And I remember the Carrie-like hell unleashed right after.

Sony’s arrogance lit up the internet with memes and Nintendo placed itself warmly in the hearts of gamers with the unveiling of the Wii. I remember like it was just yesterday partaking in the furor of battle, singing along to what we thought was the demise of Goliath and cheering for David.

Funny how things change in seven years.

This last generation’s console war diluted to a minor scuffle. Early on, Xbox exclusives like Halo3, BioShock, and Mass Effect demanded your attention while the PlayStation 3 came back from bad PR with marquee titles and IPs like Resistance: Fall of Man, inFamous, LittleBigPlanet, and God of War III. In between, the Wii had Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario GalaxyOh, it had a lot more, but be honest: Did you play them?

Early in the war, it was actually fun to pick a side for me. But what the hell did I know? I was in high school. Go read Cracked to find out why I so easily succumbed to buying into “the war.” There is/was no war. We fabricated it. The company giants competed, sure, but us gamers made it so personal.

The war went out not with a bang but with a whimper. Some of the console exclusives I mentioned soon became multi-platform. Some of the biggest games even started out that way, like Assassin’s Creed, Rock Band,and Call of Duty: All of Them. Each console expanded its media capabilities, adding Netflix, avatars, motion control, and all sorts of apps that taking a step back, you realize everyone is doing the same thing. Each console wanted to be your center, and every time it did so it became less and less unique from the other one.

Things were different, but everything was kind of the same. Photo credit: ARSTechnica

The Nintendo Wii was in fact behind in its internal hardware, but it still sold big and it satisfied its customers. And if it didn’t, everyone had one expensive dust collector. (Seriously though, Google search “dust off Wii” and you’ll see it became a cliche when anything newsworthy and relevant happened to the Wii post-2007.)

Was there a winner? You can look up sales of each console. Sometime in 2012 Xbox managed to outsell Nintendo and Sony. But there is no concrete winner. Console sales across the board dipped in 2012, no doubt consumers smelling the air the incoming new generation. But no one’s hand was raised. No one had a victory lap. No one popped champagne and snorted coke off a call girl’s backside. Maybe they did when initial sales figures came out if they were good. But not at the end. Because no one cares what happens in the end. If a console dies, it dies early or halfway. The Wii U is selling at a loss, but Nintendo seems hopeful it can rehabilitate.

Multi-platform titles were among the biggest selling titles in all of entertainment last-gen, which is starting to make exclusives less appealing for publishers.

It’s telling how fickle and forgetful gamers are when, six years ago, critics and gamers alike said Sony was killing their brand with the over-priced PlayStation 3 and its smug attitude and that Nintendo will experience a rebirth. Six years down and the roles have switched. No one but Nintendo fans seem interested in Nintendo, Microsoft finds itself at the butt of all jokes and now Sony is punching back.

It’s not a war but a cycle. I’m too young to remember past E3 events, but my cousin posted this on my Facebook wall shortly after I posted that “How To Kill Your Brand” video from E3 2006. (You’ll have to take my word for it, unfortunately, I cannot properly cite it or screen cap it.)

Not just 2006, but also 2001 and 1996.This is the exact same situation. A company becomes arrogant off of the success of it’s previous console and alienates it’s core audience with ham-fisted decisions or a shot at more money.

I’m not picking a side anymore. I’m a tired, old veteran who just wants to play games. Can’t we have some peace?

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