With only a few more months until the consoles launch I could not think of a better thing to do then stipulate on circumstances that no one knows the outcome of. So I sat down and wondered what I would write about. Would I write about how robust the PS Vita’s game lineup is even though it’s sales were far from superior to the PSP? Then it hit me. What is the one thing that units fanboys and destroys friendships: Which console will be better this holiday season? I thought it would be difficult to try to decide who would win console supremacy this holiday season (I won’t call it the “Console Wars”, though). Yet, with the lackluster performance of the Nintendo’s WiiU and the core-centric approach of Sony’s Playstation 4, Microsoft has all but cashed the check for this holiday season. I definitely advise you to read another valid opinion by my colleague Taylor Katcher over at in the Gaming Column (after you read mine of course).
How Sony and Nintendo Messed Up.
To figure out how Microsoft succeeded it would be tough without explaining how Sony and Nintendo pretty much let Microsoft win.
Nintendo took a gamble by releasing their console a year ahead of the big dogs in the hopes that they could ride the wave of success that the original Wii had created.
There was only one problem: the people who bought the original Wii were not gamers.
When the Wii first came out it was marketed as a “family machine”. The Wii came bundled with Wii Sports and allowed the whole family to jump in the game with minimal effort and enjoy bonding and laughing while they virtually putted in golf or punched each other in the face in boxing (virtually). As the years went on Nintendo found great success in marketing themselves as a family machine and never as a core-gamer machine. Sure there was Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart that would take in the Nintendo fan-boy or lover of those series (myself included), but the problem was that with the release of the WiiU, Nintendo did a terrible job at marketing the new console. The commercials made it seem that the WiiU was just a big $300 tablet that you attached to your old Wii to make it do more stuff. Nintendo could not expect their Wii audience to understand that the WiiU was a new system because before the Wii, most of these people never owned a system.
Now with Sony, the story is the exact opposite. Sony has always made a beautiful console for the hardcore gamer. With the non-ergonomic thumb-sticks that sit right next to each other (we all know it is not comfortable) and the bare bones social and multimedia features of the system, Sony was made for the Hipster class of gaming: the core gamer. The core gamers are the people who have beaten Dark Souls without a walk-through and never went back to get their stuff after death (core gamers can also be people who got the reference).
So with the PS4 Sony decided to market this console to the core gamer and that is where the problem lies.
Sony is trying to sell to this niche market of gamers who do not outweigh the growing segment of casual gamers who are flooding the market after the success of the Wii and the rise in mobile gaming.
Sony based its console solely on the technical prowess and the strength of its AAA line-up. In most cases I would be applauding this because I am a fan of Sony Santa Monica, Naughty Dog and the likes, but when I want these developers to get more time in the sun for the beauty they have created, they are overshadowed by the producer who is trying to stay to cool for school and won’t join the casual gamer party.
—Yet, this creates a paradox within me—
I like the exclusivity that the PlayStation brings. I enjoy knowing that I have this all powerful machine that most do not enjoy because the UI is to cold and sterile. The problem is that the people who do not like what I like is growing and Microsoft is taking them away.
How Microsoft Got it Right.
The Xbox One is not a technical behemoth. It runs essentially the same set up that the PS4 and higher end gaming PCs run. But that does not matter to Microsoft’s new favorite crowd, the casual gamer. Microsoft is selling the One as the item that you can use for your everyday life. It connects to your cable box, it plays Blu-Rays, it syncs your fantasy football stats, it finds movies for you via the Internet Explorer app— oh and if you want to play a video game you can do that as well. During the hour long press conference roughly 20 minutes was spent discussing upcoming games while the other 40 were displaying all of the entertainment aspects that the Xbox One will bring.
This is not to wag a finger at Microsoft for growing up and leaving the guy that brought them to the big dance in favour of the foreign exchange student that no one gets but we try to impress them anyway. This is just an acknowledgement that the Xbox One will be the dominating console because it knows who the majority is and knows how to get them what they want with some video games on the side.
So Where does the Core Gamer Go?
Even if the Xbox One is the best selling console of all time and creates a 75% market share this will not spell the end to Sony (I cannot say the same to Nintendo). Sony has their niche market filled with beautiful games for the intelligent player and will always be the gamer’s game system. But especially with the emerging trends like mobile gaming, the Ouya box and the Xbox One, Sony may need to expand a bit more to gain a foothold in the ever changing video game market. Although I have no doubt they will be along for the ride the entire way.
(Nintendo fell off 5 miles back)
We were all thinking it.
But what do you think? Am I crazy? Am I wrong? Let me know your opinion in the comments on who will win this battle for your living room; or do you even care?
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