I like games!!! No wait…I LOVE GAMES. Ever since booting up my old Commodore 64 in 1980 something, I was hooked. Ignoring the fact it took the Commodore the same length of time to load a game as it would for me to drive from the UK to Poland, the wait was worth it. Dizzy, Chucky Egg, Paperboy, Curse of Sherwood…I could go on and on. The point being I was totally sold on video games, and despite my receding hairline, grumpy nature and a penchant for many alcoholic beverages….not much has changed…I still love video games.
Since the days of Commodore and Spectrum, I started console gaming picking up a Sega Master System. Following on from that I’ve had Master System 2, Mega Drive, SNES, PlayStation, DreamCast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, N64, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and a Nintendo Switch. Is fair to say my love of video games has never diminished over that time period. After joining Twitter around five years ago, I had my first experience of ‘The Console War’. In all the years previous I never even had the inclination such a thing even existed, despite the fact Sega and Nintendo openly threw shade at one another, I can honestly say I had never sat in front of my TV playing a game on one console and was thinking about the experience on another, or about other gamers playing it on a different platform. I was genuinely gutted when Sega announced they were not to make another console after the DreamCast, which brought me to the question why does a large number of gamers on social media today spend their time arguing with others about which platform they play on? Why the emotional investment in one piece of plastic against another? Why the hope one company will fail to a degree that sees it fall the same way as Sega? Because I tell you something gamers if Xbox or PlayStation were to exit the game, it would be a disaster for us, the consumer.
Lets go in big to start….COMPETITION IS GREAT FOR THE CONSUMER. That’s right people. If you look at the evolution of console gaming over the last decade or so, Xbox and PlayStation specifically, you can see how competition causes one to react against the other. The addition of Xbox Live and Achievements saw the birth of PSN and Trophies, the PS4 Share Button and Hardware led to a similar software on the Xbox One and a grab for power advantage with the recently announced Xbox One X. The sales, discounts, exclusives and new hardware bundles all exist because there is a single goal for both companies…to draw the consumer to their user base.
Now obviously there is a big omission from this argument in the form of Nintendo, but recent changes in hardware direction means they are seen as something of an enigma when it comes to a direct comparison. Many of the multiplat games will only be available on Xbox and PlayStation, with Ninty becoming more focused on its own exclusives and brand of gaming, without seeing the likes of COD and Battlefield on the Switch. You could argue that exclusives makes one machine better than the other. I for instance prefer Sony Exclusives, but that is subjective and tailored to my own preference. It would be naïve of me to think everyone would agree, just like some wont agree with me that the Xbox has the better controller. This direct competition between Sony and Microsoft keeps them both on their toes, making more innovative ways for us to play and saving us money in our back pockets. Imagine if you will, one company were to stop making consoles, the price hike in both hardware and software would be astronomical. They could charge what they wanted as there wouldn’t be much alternative for console gamers….unless you went to PC…but most console gamers prefer the accessibility of consoles, the space they save, and the grand they would save in their wallet from not buying a decent PC rig. One without the other wouldn’t benefit the gaming ecosystem…we need balance.
Now the other reason for my rant….’gamers’. I say that with a touch of sarcasm because with a quick glimpse of Twitter, Facebook and even some media outlets I seriously have to question whether some of these people are actually gamers at all. I will be honest when I first joined Twitter, without prior knowledge that such bitter arguments existed within the gaming community, I very nearly got involved in it myself. At the time I was a 360 only gamer, not because I didn’t want a PlayStation 3, but I couldn’t afford both and many of my friends were already on Xbox Live. Its quite easy to become embroiled in an argument over which console is better because you want to justify your purchase…I get it…to a degree. But the more I read the more I couldn’t believe the sheer hatred some people showed towards others. Many of which would never have met one another, over a piece of plastic that’s sits in their room at home, what they have no invested interest in other than to play games on. When you sit back and think about what is actually taking place between adult human beings here, it really is quite sad.
It gets worse because many are of an age where you would think they would know better. Grown ass men/women sat behind keyboards and phones, discussing how they can see jaggy lines in graphics and how other consoles don’t have as many P’s. Calling people Ponies and X-tards, people they have never met and for what? For a console made by a company that couldn’t give two shits about the arguments these people are having online. Many of whom I would argue spend more time throwing insults around and fighting a false war than actually playing games and enjoying the systems they own. The media in some cases are not much better. They fan the flames to get hits and site traffic, losing sight on what’s really important…GAMES. I could quite easily find many a conversation focused solely on why one console is better than another, but rarely could I find an example of two gamers of different platform preferences discussing how good or bad a game is. It is certainly a trend that needs to change. I wouldn’t like to see either Xbox or PlayStation fail, because ultimately with both systems doing well and competing I win.. the consumer wins…the gamer wins.