Monday, March 25, 2013

Console Wars: Pick Your Side or Not

Console Wars: Pick Your Side or Not

by Greg Woolston

Fanboy wars have raged for decades, and maybe even farther back before consoles or game systems even existed. This is something that anyone has to deal with that plays games on any console, but it goes beyond consoles to any sort of brand that we techies get behind. There are Playstation fans or Xbox fans; iOS fans or Android fans; Windows fans or Mac fans that seem to constantly debate which is better, and each fan will take their brand of choice to the grave. As a tech conscious consumer in today’s digital world, I have become less of a fanboy and more of a proponent for innovation.

The point that I am trying to make hits most closely to home with each new console generation, and with the new generation quickly approaching I wanted to get my thoughts out there to maybe open some minds about trying to avoid being an obsessed fanboy. My first experience with fanboyism came when I got my first console. As a child I had had some experience with the NES and the Genesis, but I wasn’t allowed to get video games until I was 9 years old. Almost 16 years ago my father asked me which console I wanted: a Nintendo 64 or Sony Playstation. I was unable to make a clear decision. We decided to rent both systems, and try the games from both systems. I instantly fell in love with Wave Race, and Star Fox on the 64. However, I also loved playing games like Crash Bandicoot, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the Playstation. In the end my father made the choice that he thought the Playstation would be better for me and that more of the games resonated with me. My best friend at the time gave me a lot of trouble for getting the Playstation, and I had no idea why. Why was it that because I got the Playstation I became the enemy? From that moment on, I stood up and defended the Playstation with everything I had. I had become part of Sony’s army at just 9 years old, and I had no idea why.

To this day I have played on Sony’s platforms, maybe it started because of that first fanboy experience that I had when I was 9. When I got a job as a teenager I was able to purchase other systems to try them out, but ultimately always reverted back to my Playstation. I really enjoyed Halo on the original Xbox, but nothing could compare to sneaking around as Snake or Raiden on the Playstation 2. I loved, and still love, the Playstation platform, and the Dualshock controller is my personal favorite gaming controller of all time. The games I wanted to play were on the Playstation. Even with my deep Sony roots I have recently come to the conclusion that the whole fanboy war is stupid, and completely useless. Who cares how you play games? As long as we are getting the immersive gaming experiences that we crave, who has the right to tell us that we are doing it wrong?

Companies try their best to satisfy customers with their products, and offer certain features to retain those customers. Let’s face the facts. All Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo really want is to make money. We can stand by our gaming ideals, and preach that company X or company Y is out there to deliver unique experiences for their customers no matter what happens on the business end of the company. But, all of these companies are run by CEOs that have board members, and maybe more importantly the stockholders that keep hounding them if the company isn't profitable. Why did Sony introduce the Move? Or, whose brilliant decision was it at Microsoft to release the Kinect? Each of these companies saw how much money Nintendo was raking in with the Wii, and  they both wanted a piece of that pie. I have never used a Move controller, but I have spent a lot of time with the Wii and some time with Kinect. As a gamer I have no interest in motion gaming, and I feel that I am not alone. But, these things will exist as long as the parent company can make money off of it.

Getting back on point, we give these companies our hard earned money to get a product that we can get countless hours of enjoyment out of. Purchasing a gaming console can be quite the hurdle for some, especially at launch before any kind of a price drop. Sometimes kids will have to save their lawn mowing money for months before being able to purchase a game. This is, in my opinion, where devotion to a brand begins. We invest in a piece of hardware, and we don’t want anyone to think that what we bought is dumb or inferior. Instead of defending the company that produced my game system, and berating those that didn’t buy from that company, wouldn’t it be better to have discussions about how gaming has improved over the years because different companies exist? What would have happened had Sony and Nintendo been able to work out their joint console? Would Microsoft be in the console race today, or would we have one console that may or may not be state of the art?

When different companies compete for the same customers, we are the ones that receive the most benefits. We get to enjoy the improvements of each console generation, because if one company doesn’t step it up, then the other will innovate in order to win more customers. The conversation going around should be about where this industry can go with competition rather than which company sucks, and which company should be worshiped. With the new console generation I hope to be able to purchase more than just the next Playstation to get a well-rounded view of what is good across all platforms. I’ll have to start saving now. Take my opinion for what it is worth, but in the end take an audit of how childish it sounds to defend a certain company the next time your inner fanboy emerges. Wouldn’t it be better to improve, and gain new friendships around games?

Written by Greg Woolston
Junior Tech Editor


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