November 28, 2013
Xbox Passes Million Mark – Start Of Console War?
It wasn’t exactly a slow news day last Friday. It was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, while Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the debut of the hit sci-fi TV series Doctor Who.
For video gamers, the big news was the arrival of Microsoft’s new Xbox One. Yet, a CNN headline stood out, “Xbox One’s midnight launch officially starts new console war.” The story goes on to declare:
“The box hit shelves a week after rival Sony‘s PlayStation 4, marking the official start of the latest battle in gaming’s console wars.”
Not to pick on my brethren in the video game press, but the headline claims this is starting a “new console war” while the story implies this is “the official start of the latest battle.” The former thus implies there was a break from the war, or at least a lull. The truth is much different, but with all due respect, the video game press has always been known for hyperbole. There have been numerous stories that noted that the PS4 has surpassed a million units, and now the same headlines and stories are declaring that the Xbox One has done the same and passed the million mark.
Is that news?
It was expected even before launch dates were officially announced that these systems would have strong starts. The bigger news would have been if the systems didn’t sell so well. Then there would be something to stand up and take notice of… and actually we’ll be seeing those stories, I predict.
As I’ve also previously noted, Sony and Microsoft are competing as much against themselves respectively this time around as they are competing against one another. This is because the new systems, this next generation, has improved but it is far more evolutionary than revolutionary. In evolution, change comes slowly, as opposed to a new and radical change.
Thus many gamers might not be so eager to jump to the new systems. Moreover, as recent releases of Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Ghosts have shown, gamers are still gaming with those current (or should I say former) generation systems. As long as these games keep coming out for those systems, gamers may not upgrade and if gamers don’t upgrade… well ,you get the picture.
So, back to the point about the war: this war never had so much of a lull. Sony and Microsoft are just taking different approaches now. As the CNN story also added:
“The Xbox One, which sells for $499, continues Microsoft’s move toward making the console not just a gaming device but a central entertainment hub.”
The question now becomes how this might play out.
Sony is taking an approach, that is going after the hardcore gamers; this strategy is similar to one Nintendo has long taken, albeit with very different games. Nintendo could have dominated the casual games market, but for reasons this reporter will never understand (nor appreciate), Nintendo wanted to be a core game system. Sony could thus be making a mistake.
Of course, it did score big as a hardcore game system with the PlayStation 2 and practically kept Microsoft out of the market. The Redmond company fired back with the best “do-over” the video game world had ever seen by releasing the Xbox 360 just four years after entering the video game arena in 2001. Now, eight years later, the Xbox One has launched the next salvo in the on-going video game console war.
Yeah, my statement is more hyperbole, but at least I understand the battle has continued and will continue for many years to come.