Published on August 2nd, 2015 | by Gary Mullen


Console war so far…

Many people will tell you the so called “console war” is over, Sony won, Microsoft lost and Nintendo were the French. Which when you consider as soon as the Playstation 4 and Xbox One touched down the battle of who had better graphics started, every game had a microscope over it checked for the slightest difference in the screen be it number pixels or tearing, then in that aspect the war was finished long ago. However looking at the games which are selling large numbers you’d be forgiven in thinking that actually means not a lot in the current generation.

The fact is the indie gaming market has been hitting both consoles hard in terms of number of games sold and number of titles available on the marketplaces. Most indie games we see don’t really push the consoles to the limit, which leaves us in an awkward position; the question of “who has better graphics” is irrelevant as both consoles can run these indie games without a flaw, so from a “war” born by fans over graphics it is now fast turning into another “war” over content, with timed exclusives being the in thing this generation.

Yes timed exclusives are not a new thing, even back to the older generations we have seen Sony holding GTA to timed exclusive for example (earliest example I can think of). For this generation though we are seeing them come thick and fast. It has created an odd side effect, where we see for the first few months that we are playing games full of bugs and then, when the timed exclusivity runs out the game is usually just starting to run without flaws. There is no doubt that is costs big money for these timed exclusives however it seems the gamers are the one suffering; either you don’t have the console the timed exclusive is on at first or you do but the game comes out with so many bugs you wish to smash the controller against the wall.

Which brings us to a point about this generation, the generation of bugs as we shall call it? Can you remember a generation so bad in terms of major bugs being released in games or that had so many games getting major feature changes just over a month after release, features which lets be honest should have been in the game at release (I’m looking at you Witcher!). I’m not looking at Early Access games right now, as those changing or being buggy is pretty understandable seeing as they’re still in development, but when you are handing over money for a physical product in the store which is supposed to be a finished fully released game we should not be expecting massive updates so soon after release to change parts of the game they have had complaints about. Surely this stuff is supposed to be picked up during the quality assurance stages and now in many aspects we are the ones now doing the quality assurance of the game (Halo Matchmaking?).

After all these problems we do have three console makers selling next generation consoles (yes Nintendo Wii U is next generation!). As a whole the companies are selling acceptable numbers and are successfully creating a buzz about the industry again, many would say this years E3 was the best that has ever happened with both Sony and Microsoft shooting firmly on target to hardcore gamers and Nintendo doing what they needed for their more casual market.

As well as the timed exclusives the consoles offer a different variety of fully exclusive games, be it in-house or third-party. Microsoft really started the ball rolling with smashing down Respawn’s Titanfall onto the console as an exclusive. With the likes of Halo, Call of Duty and Battlefield you find the buzz about the games are mainly due to the crowd who play those games, but with Titanfall we have seen a more widespread buzz of the gaming community as a whole. This was a real strong move for Microsoft and it showed in the jump in console sales when the game was released. However Sony seemed ready to create a bigger buzz and successfully did it this year at E3 with the announcement of Shenmue 3 (which is currently an exclusive).

Along with the games both consoles have made major changes to the instruments that we are using to play the games in the terms of controllers and other things such as Kinect. Both companies have spent a lot of time testing and trying controllers to fix some of the issues from the previous generation, most people will still have a preferred controller however you have to give it too all three console companies that they have improved the controllers. Nintendo deserve extra praise for the remote play on the controller which was a smart move and something which, some time later, we now see on PS4 (via Vita) and Xbox One (via Windows 10), Nintendo do seem to mould the console market future more than a lot of people give them credit for.

When you cast your mind back to the day Don Mattrick stepped out on stage to announce the Xbox One, that it must always be online, you could not trade our game in and how it was more of a “media centre” then a games console, it is simply amazing to see how far Microsoft have taken on the gasps of shock from everyone that day and moved the platform more to what the market actually wanted. They have moved into a point where they have actively listened and are acting upon peoples views, in effect handing the power to the gamer to mould how they want to see the future of the Xbox. In comparison Sony have sailed through not having to do a lot, but that comes back to the point where they listened from the outset, they listened to the people that said they were not ready for digital consoles (we will ignore the PS Now as that a whole other issue!), they listened to the games people wanted and have nabbed a few key exclusives in the indie market (Broforce being the best one in my opinion), so as people may argue Microsoft have listened more since the announcements I would argue they had no choice in the matter.

Regardless of what happens now this generation the problem lies with a large number of people who will simply define the gaming companies like the below for this generation

Sony – came out strong and stayed strong
Microsoft – the masters of backtracking and u-turning
Nintendo – the forgotten cousin

which is a shame as this generation has changed gaming, it has given more power to indie devs and also the gaming community, we now have a voice and the console makers are having to listen more than ever before. Many people are still going back to the first point, comparing the graphics of each of the three consoles and to put it simply simply if graphics matters that much more than the stuff around it then you should have bought a PC not a console as a PC will always trump consoles in terms of graphics*.

So is the “console war” really over? Did such a war really exist? I am not totally sure if am being honest, but as long as all the companies keep trying to out do each other and create better games for us all then frankly I could not care who is winning or who won this console war.

*Barring Batman but that is best left to another day.

Disclaimer: This post is just the thoughts of Gary Mullen & not all the team at Honest Games Reviews. If you disagree with anything this post has to say then please let old Mullen know via his Twtter account

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About the Author

Gary Mullen is an avid gamer from the days of C64 up to the latest generation of consoles/computers, for him the most important part of a game is the plot and storyline that drag you in and where you can't stop playing the game till the ending however the exception for the rule is his love of tycoon style games where he has spent far too many hours building his perfect theme park/water park/hospital/prison and so on! He has studied and currently works in the IT support industry with a wide range of IT technology exposure.

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