The new console generation may have begun with the Wii U's release, but we all know that the real console wars will begin once Sony and Microsoft officially face each other down with the PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox. It's been a few years since we've seen extensive use of insults like “Sony Defense Force” and “Xbot,” but something about a new console launch just brings out people who are determined to convince the entire Internet that their console of choice is the best and the competition is a piece of donkey dung.
Of course, the Console Wars have always been fairly pointless, but they're more pointless than ever for the upcoming generation. Here are three reasons why it's best to just step away from the Console Wars.
Exclusives Are Fading Away
With the exception of Nintendo's large stable of first-party titles, there just aren't a ton of exclusive games on consoles these days, especially for gamers who are mostly fans of the mainstream AAA game titles. During this generation, most third-party game publishers decided that the profits they could make from releasing muliplatform titles outweighed any bonuses they were given for making an exclusive game.
Sure, Microsoft has Halo and Sony has Uncharted, but the vast majority of Western games are now published by the likes of EA, Activision, and Ubisoft. Those companies are more than willing to port games to any device short of a toaster, so arguments over which console is best because of its exclusives aren't terribly worthwhile anymore.
It's Not About the Hardware
A big part of the Console Wars has always involved comparing hardware specs between machines. Those specs, however, aren't going to matter a ton in the upcoming generation. Sony has abandoned its Cell infrastructure and will be using more standardized off-the-shelf components in the PlayStation 4. We don't have official knowledge about the innards of the next Xbox yet, but it's unlikely to be anything radically different from the PS4. Both companies will want their hardware to be easy for companies to develop for in the coming generation. All the next generation consoles have access to both traditional controllers and motion control, with the biggest difference being between wand-style or full-body control.
The only company that's likely to lose out on some multiplatform titles is Nintendo, though that probably depends more on whether the Wii U user base buys multiplatform titles than on hardware differences. The reality is that most developers won't take full advantage of any of the new consoles' capabilities for at least a few years. For all the geek talk about hardware specs, differences between the home consoles just don't matter a great deal in this standardized multiplatform world.
You Already Know Which Console You're Getting
North American gamers have settled into a fairly comfortable identification with the major home game consoles. Nintendo consoles are for people who enjoy Nintendo's titles. Xbox consoles are for people who enjoy shooters or prefer Microsoft's more-robust multiplayer infrastructure. PlayStation consoles are for people who like to buy Japanese games or are attracted to the PlayStation Plus program.
It's all about personal preference, so why do so many gamers seem intent on taking part in the Console Wars? There aren't that many exclusives to fight about, hardware differences aren't going to be a big deal this generation, and we all have a basic idea of which console is likely to best fit our personal gaming preferences. Let's just enjoy the consoles when they come out and skip the silly arguments and name-calling that make up the Console Wars.
Date: March 13, 2013