Like it or not, some fights inevitably result in a double K.O.
For years, the console war has raged on. We’ve seen systems come and go, some more notable than others. While many point to the Nintendo/Sega years as the beginning, you can backtrack even further to a time when Atari and Intellivision would run commercials comparing how much better their game’s graphics were to that of their competitors. Thus, technological advancements would become the x-factor many would focus on, in their attempts to solidify their superiority in the market. Some would succeed in doing so, while others would flounder in their efforts. Atari Jaguar is a shining example of style over substance, ultimately leading to its colossal failure.
But for all our strides made over the years, we still find ourselves having the same old debates.
The focus of what’s going on under the hood in the next-gen consoles is still the #1 topic of debate for many. One of the most recent examples is gamers being upset that Microsoft’s Xbox One runs far less titles in full HD than its PS4 counterpart. This has led some to speculate that the additions of both the Kinect and Smartglass technology has ultimately hurt the system, stealing away vital resources that could instead push the hardware further in the graphics department. Drew McCoy (Producer of Microsoft’s Titanfall) recently weighed in on the hardware debate, calling it an unwinnable war. “It's Sega does what Nintendon't. There's going to be games that look better on one or the other. There's going to be exclusives that look better, for whatever reason. And we never set out to engage in the tech war. I feel like that's a war that no one actually wins. We never set out to engage in the tech war. I feel like that's a war that no one actually wins" he states.
McCoy also reveals that graphics were a secondary concern to the development team of Titanfall, as making a great game was always their paramount objective. “We consciously just decided that we're going to make a game that's fun and new and exciting and then worry about making it as good-looking as we can. And I don't think we made an ugly game, but no one in the office will tell you we made the prettiest game out there. Or the one that runs at the highest resolution." Said McCoy.
But is he right? Is the console war something that can actually be won?
That’s simple, just ask the likes of Nintendo or Sega. These two juggernauts, at one time, dominated the video game landscape. When the Super Nintendo and Genesis were at their hottest points, no one would have dreamed that just a decade later Sega would be out of the console business. While Nintendo was able to hold on a bit longer, the writing on the wall suggests that they too will soon transition into a new future (potentially seeing them devote 100% of their resources to the mobile market). So yes, I do believe you can measure victories in this war in terms of winners and losers. As of now, no one can deny that PlayStation is the clear winner. Granted, anything can happen and the Xbox One could still turn things around (as it’s still a hot commodity even by #2 standards). However, with rumors circulating that Microsoft might consider selling off their entire gaming division at some point in the future, we might be looking at a check in the “W” column for Sony sooner rather than later.
Technology has been the Achilles heel of some consoles (take the precursor of the Oculus Rift the Virtual Boy for example), but has been the saving grace to others. I credit the last generation of the Xbox 360 and PS3 as ushering in a new era of HD gaming that we still enjoy today. It was this period that bridged the gap between the old-guard and the new.
Let’s just hope this never ending hamster wheel of improving technology doesn’t distract us from what is truly the most important thing about our industry: the games. It’s always been about the games, first and foremost.