Microsoft and Sony Make the Console War Personal
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If the console war took place in a prison yard…I’m pretty sure one of the companies would get shanked.

It sounds weird, but that seems to be just how personal the console war has become--not for just gamers, but also for the companies releasing the systems as well. Over the years, I’ve seen the birth of many new generations. Actually, I’ve seen just about all of them. I was there when Nintendo resurrected the gaming industry with its 8-bit innovation, and I’ve been gaming ever since. While I’ve not owned every console, I’ve seen successes and failures come and go. Now we’re left with what I call the “big two”: Sony and Microsoft.

It used to be that the trend for defending your home team (and cutting down your competitor in the process) was something you’d only hear from the most hardened of fanboys. All sides have them, whether it is the PS3 fanboy who’s convinced that Sony is the sexier console because of its exclusives, or the Microsoft fanboy who believes that the online model of Xbox Live is what makes it superior. I won’t get into what PC fanboys believe, because some of them are so passionate they may burn my house down ( not that I haven’t touched on it before). Now, however, it seems that the stiffest jabs are coming right out of the developers’ camps. A trend has developed in the world of console development where executives of game companies regularly engage in a war of words directed at their opponents.

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At this year’s E3, Microsoft made announcements that were, needless to say, controversial. So much so, that Sony spent the good portion of its time picking each item apart one by one. Microsoft, in many ways, helped write Sony’s keynote speech and gave it the rope to hang them with. In the meantime, Microsoft has since reversed course on many of the plans it had for its console, hoping to course-correct before the Xbox One hits the market. This, of course, seems reactionary and makes it look like Sony had it right, and Microsoft was totally missing the mark. So, is Microsoft out of touch for getting it SO wrong at the jump, or is the company savvy by knowing what to tweak and making the necessary changes rather than just staying the course?

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida thinks the latter. In an interview the GamesIndustry International, he says “We know they're very smart people. It's great that they were able to quickly realize that some of the things they were doing were not popular, and were able to make really quick decisions to change some of those things - even things that their engineering group must have spent a lot of time preparing before the launch. It must have been a very tough time for them. That shows how smart they are, and it shows their dedication to making Xbox One successful.”

Somewhat of a backhanded compliment, but a compliment nonetheless.

Of course, Microsoft is no stranger to sharp-tongued comments directed at its counterpart--lest we forget the yearlong victory lap it took when the Xbox 360 released over 12 months before the PlayStation 3. More recently, the Microsoft team touts how completely unfazed they are by the fact that the PlayStation 4 will launch with a price tag of $100 less than the Xbox One. They’ve regularly stated that Microsoft has a better product, and the Xbox One is just worth more than its competitor’s offering.

It all comes down to one thing: perception. As they say, perception is reality…so let’s look at the public’s real viewpoint.

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The fact of the matter is, no matter what Sony and Microsoft say to try and convince consumers they should buy one system over the other, in the end we make our own decisions. Sure, some of us are swayed, but most know how to see through the fog of BS and make a decision that’s best for us as gamers. The truth is, as of this writing, estimates have Sony outselling the Xbox One this holiday season, and one of the biggest factors is price. Most gamers will buy the system that’s the most near and dear to their heart, but the price tag is something that obviously will appeal to the general public. It comes down to perceived value, and even if the Xbox One does turn out to be a better overall console( which is far from a sure thing), it will have an uphill battle to prove that when the PlayStation 4 will gain the lion share of sales and attention at launch, largely due to its price markdown.

Not to toot my own horn, but recently I speculated that even with the gaming community typically not being swayed by marketing ploys (such as a price cut for example), you can’t deny the impact of just how much a $100 difference can mean to the general public, especially during a busy holiday season.

It seems I may have been right. So…um…toot toot…

Jason Messer
Jason Messer
@J8sonMesser

Contributing Writer
Date: 10/03/2013

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