With each generation of video game consoles, there comes an unofficial console war. We may claim there's no competition, and every system has its merits, but there is always one that rises above the rest of the pack. While some may say it's too early to ascertain the outcome of the Great 8th Gen Console War, I say it's already over and Sony has won. Call me a hater and ask me to hand in my Wii U, 3DS, and Nintendo fangirl card if you want, but I think Sony's done it. The Xbox One and Wii U have their merits, sure, but they can't compare to the PS4's initial charge.
It all starts with a system, and Sony's PS4 is the star of this generation of consoles. I wish I could just say it's because it actually convinced someone like myself to start livestreaming with that effortless share button, but it's more than that. The focus with this console is on the games. (Sure, there aren't a lot of them just yet, but the system's only three months old!) Sony went to developers to find out what they wanted, and actively courted independent developers to ensure a strong library. The DualShock 4 feels divine in a users' hands. Not to mention that price point - a comfortable $400.
The other two consoles can't compare. Okay, perhaps the Xbox One could, if it weren't so focused on trying to be everything at once. If the Kinect wasn't being forced into our lives, and Microsoft cut back on trying to make the Xbox One as much about watching TV and movies as it is about games, it wouldn't be so bad. But Kinect is shoved into our homes and the latest, big, Xbox One exclusive was early access to Chozen, so that isn't going to happen. Plus, that $500 price tag is going to make some people balk, especially since we all know most major releases will be coming to both the PS4 and Xbox One.
And the poor Wii U is languishing because Nintendo didn't market it correctly in the first place, leading some to think it was just a Wii add-on, causing third party developers and publishers to jump ship, and leaving everyone wishing, waiting, and hoping for Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. I doubt we're approaching a "too little, too late" situation, but the Wii U is destined to become this generation's GameCube. It'll be a great machine with strong first party exclusives, but it'll trail behind the PS4 and Xbox One.
Yet, the console itself isn't the only reason Sony and its PS4 will be this generation's winner. PlayStation Plus is going to help win this war. It's already been established that anyone who buys a PlayStation Plus subscription is getting in on one of the best deals in the industry. At the end of 2013, it got even better. Between the $29.99 Black Friday subscriptions and the strong show of support for the PS4 from the very start, people are getting their money's worth.
I mean, just look at the initial PS4 Instant Game Collection lineup. People get Contrast, Don't Starve, and Resogun. At $14.99 each, that's already almost $45 worth of games. Driveclub is already confirmed as a PlayStation Plus game as well, and we'll surely be taken care of in the months to come. It may be a while before we start seeing PS4 retail games as free downloads, perhaps not until the second half of 2014, but the point is that PlayStation Plus is more than just a ticket to online multiplayer for the PS4, it's a free pass to great games and that's going to make a difference.
Then there's the wildcard, the newly announced PlayStation Now. Granted, we may not all have the bandwidth capacity to properly use this forthcoming game streaming service, but its existence is enough to call every gamer's allegiance into question. You know you have a favorite system. We all play favorites, even when we try to be impartial and say we love them all because we own them all. Knowing that we could play our favorite PS2 and PS3 games, either by renting titles separately or partaking in a Netflix style subscription plan, on our PS4s, PS3s, Vitas, phones, and TVs is going to make a difference. We can't be sure how this will perform, since the beta isn't starting until later this month and any streaming service takes a few months after an official launch to find its groove, but this is a game changing move on Sony's part.
Imagine if PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now team up. If Sony gets really smart, and does something like include PlayStation Now with every PlayStation Plus subscription, it could make for the quickest console war win in history. Even if it's a minor collaboration, like 2-4 free game rentals per month for each PlayStation Plus member, it's enough to convince people that a Sony console is one to own.
The eighth console generation has only just begun, and Sony's already on the cusp of greatness. While all three consoles have their merits, every move made by Sony in the last years has pushed the PS4 ahead of the pack. With the console's focus on games, the glorious PlayStation Plus, and the exciting PlayStation Now, it feels like the only way Sony will lose is if it purposely does something to trip itself up.