Published on May 10th, 2014 | by Corey Milne5
Question of the Week: Is the Console War a Good Thing?
I think anyone over a certain age will readily admit, or at least should admit that the console war is stupid. It has been a seething hotbed of fanboy rage and consternation ever since Nintendo and Sega had the audacity to bring to different consoles to market. It will of course continue on between Sony and Microsoft until we are all absorbed into the gelware hive mind of our future robotic overlords. No doubt subsets of its consciousness will splinter and brag about things like blast processing. Going back to the question at hand though, is the console war a good thing? Well that all depends on who you ask.
Rivalry seems so important when you are young, whether it’s another school or your favorite football team. It’s only natural that this stretches across to the entertainment children and young adults play. This doesn’t just extend to consoles. When I was young I had spirited discussions with friends about whether Crash Bandicoot was better than Spyro/ Metal Gear Solid was better than Splinter Cell/ why one Final Fantasy was better than the other Final Fantasy etc.
There is one particular element about the console war to consider when looking at younger players. When you have no finances on your own, and you receive games through your parents, making an allegiance early among your friends means you won’t be left with X console while your friends are all playing Y. It’s a kind of social gaming safety net.
When it comes to the press, they are all too happy to fan the flames of conflict. How often do we see “Has Microsoft Crushed Sony?” or “Is ShootDude Playstation’s Halo Killer?” It’s good business to prey on consumer’s rivalry and insecurities. The very notion that someone bought into the wrong choice is enough to produce pages of heartfelt defences against a platform. The potential page hits are not to be laughed at, and it’s always useful to trot out the subject on a slow news day. It’s lazy journalism to be sure, but no worse than the vapid celebrity rubbish that gets pushed in mainstream magazines. The console war is an everlasting content creation tool.
The final piece of this puzzle is the game companies themselves. It’s only natural that the console manufacturers would want to build their brand around the console war. It’s why Sony was able to come out during E3 2013 and present themselves as the company for gamers. Many may have traded their Xbox 360s in for a PS4 simply because of the price difference between that and the Xbox One, but there’s no denying that a certain percentage of gamers were undoubtedly won over by Sony’s core messaging.
So we know who perpetuates the console war and why. So is the console war a good thing? It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just a tool, and a rather inoffensive one at that. Getting rid of the console war isn’t going to rid the internet of its obnoxiousness. It’s just something you grow out of given time, and new priorities take its place.