Console Wars! Evaluating the state of the Big 3

If you’ve never read the comment section when a console exclusive gets announced, then you’re missing out. Fans will swarm and attack one another, spurring a debate as to what console is greater. Those who play exclusively on PC will usually ignore the thread or take jabs stating that PC is the master race. While this seems trivial and somewhat childish, this type of competition amongst the masses is actually good for gaming.

Microsoft is in a weird place. They have the most powerful console in the Xbox One X. Sales for their Xbox One product line has been solid and yet Microsoft finds themselves as the third most popular console right now. All of this is due to the fact that there just aren’t that many major exclusives. This will seem like an unpopular opinion, but it’s true. The big three for Microsoft are Halo, Forza, and Gears of War, all of which have sold well and are still highly regarded, but have honestly, ran their course. They have found critical success with Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead. But those are indie titles and aren’t system sellers.

Major console exclusives like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive were commercial successes, but for whatever reason haven’t seen any type of follow-up. Sea of Thieves has potential, but it needs far more content to be sustainable. Fans are still waiting on Crackdown 3, which has been missing for over 3 years now, but supposedly will release this year. E3 can’t come any sooner for Microsoft as they’ll have the opportunity to announce new IP’s to help bolster their library. Hopefully, they’ll showcase an Xbox One X exclusive as I’ve been interested in purchasing one, but graphics alone isn’t reason enough to drop $500.

Nintendo has been on fire since the Switch released last year. Which is crazy, because upon initial release, the only game worth purchasing was Breath of the Wild. They soon made up ground with ARMS, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and Mario Odyssey. It’s been a little over one year since the Switch’s launch and their library is already packed with a variety of first-party titles that justify a console purchase. Even crazier, the Switch has already outsold the Wii U, which was out for FIVE years.

What in Tarnation?

Nintendo could literally sell cardboard and people would buy it! Which is exactly what they are doing. The Nintendo Labo are cardboard cut-outs designed to be utilized by children in conjunction with the Switch. I honestly don’t know how to feel about this, but I think that an interactive play model is something that could yield some fascinating results. I love the Switch, it’s made up for the Wii and Wii U, which I felt were a bit too gimmicky. The Switch’s first party library looks to continue to grow in 2018 with Kirby Star Allies, Smash Bros, and Bayonetta 3. Here’s hoping that they release Metroid Prime 4 this year, I’ve been waiting a long time for that one.

Sony was practically living in third place behind Microsoft and Nintendo when the PS3 was initially released. A gaudy price-point and lack of a system exclusives really put them in a compromising position. At E3 2013, Sony capitalized off of a poor Microsoft conference and announced that the PS4 would not only be cheaper but it would be more accessible than the Xbox One. Microsoft has yet (!) to recover from this conference as Sony has been on a roll as every single year they announce a number of new exclusives that their fans can look forward too.

Since 2013, Sony has seen tremendous success with the PS4. 70 million consoles sold and counting. Over half a billion in games sold. Like Nintendo, Sony has been on fire and can do practically whatever they want. They boast the strongest library amongst all current consoles. The sheer variety that can found in their exclusives can be staggering; Nioh, Bloodborne, Horizon, Persona 5, Infamous, Uncharted, Yakuza, the list just goes on and Sony has no intent on stopping. This year will see the release of God of War, Detroit Become Human, and Spiderman, all highly anticipated games that will more than likely see commercial success. Want to play in Virtual Reality but find the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift too expensive? Pick up a PSVR. It just received a price drop and its library continues to grow. Sony has the flexibility to move in whatever direction they want due to their success, similar to Microsoft during the last console generation.

Regardless of preference, competition is healthy. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have been doing this dance for over 20 years now. More than likely, this won’t stop anytime soon and as a consumer, you shouldn’t want this to stop. Console exclusives are important, it displays differentiation and this is important when it comes to competition. Imagine if you had three consoles and the only difference was graphical quality; why would you care? You wouldn’t, as visuals only make up a part of the experience. When one of the big three announce an exclusive, there’s always build-up; fans get amped and you know that the other two are going to have to counter otherwise fans could defect. The “Console Wars” won’t end anytime soon and that’s a good thing.

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