Is there any place really to go left in the console war? Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo seem to do everything they can in this copycat industry. Sony and Microsoft’s consoles the PlayStation and Xbox go neck-to-neck when it comes to physical capabilities and adopting similar technology, while Nintendo’s achieved what they always wanted with the Switch, providing the capability of a home console in a portable format, something Sega grotesquely failed to do with their Nomad generations ago.
Both Sony and Microsoft embraced virtual reality (VR) and Nintendo’s dabbled a bit with the tech mainly with their Labo cardboard craft project to cheaply recreate the tech. Nintendo’s also invested in 3D gaming with the 3DS before scaling back with the cheaper downscaled 2DS since they weren’t finding fans utilizing the 3D slider feature as often because they either are apathetic or it’s not worth the battery drain.
With the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Project Scarlet on the horizon, the natural course of action is again creating souped-up dedicated gaming PCs with the expected upcharge expected of their brands plus continued support of their VR peripherals and integration of cloud gaming. While there had been strides in 3D gaming with more embracing VR and 8K televisions on the horizon, the two conglomerates are ready to pounce at the opportunity.
With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both approaching six years, neither console is showing signs of slowing down. The PS4 topped 100 million consoles sold as of July 30th. Xbox One surpassed 42 million consoles and Switch is over 37 million. With game sales still going strong, is there a hurry to put out their latest consoles? Costs for manufacturing are just going up, which the major companies will just pass on to the consumers. All three companies released joint statements previously with the tariffs since much of production comes from China. It will only be a matter of time when games will follow suit with a price increase.
Is there really a hurry when companies are still doing plenty of amazing things with the current machines? We’ve seen a lot of what these machines are capable of and what additions made with firmware updates. The need for a new console is growing less. I would stake the companies can wait 10 years than the usual five when they start hyping their next one. While we know what Sony and Microsoft are doing, Nintendo tends to be the wildcard. With the Switch cannibalizing the 2DS/3DS in the mobile market, what else can they do to innovate since motion gaming’s become a staple since the Wii and tablet gaming was already embraced before the Wii U came out?
Not to really underestimate Nintendo given their longevity in the age of powerhouses, but the Big N has not been known to push the envelope in any way. We’d be lucky if a Switch 2 comes anywhere near close the specs of the PS4 and PS5. We’re just seeing more previous-gen ports coming to the Switch, but being late to the game on these titles have limited benefits at best. Depending on the developer, most dedicated console companies tend to stick to PS4, Xbox One and PC for their major titles often skipping Nintendo. Not to say there aren’t opportunities when there is a dedicated team to develop for the Switch. Gamers can be fortunate if the game doesn’t require the full horsepower of the major systems when it is available across all platforms including Android and iOS.
Given the predictability of the industry, it’s hard for an outsider to get into the market. Just look at how Nintendo survived without strong third party support since 1996 and mostly riding their success on their first-party titles. Sega’s past failures crippled the company to the point they just developed games and got out of the console race in 1999. Other tech giants like Panasonic, Philips, and Apple have all had their attempts, but failed miserably. Even the oldest videogame company in Atari has never regained their foothold in the console industry and remained a software developer like Sega.
There are probably quite a number of you who think there is nothing wrong with the console wars as is, but I counter as an industry, we should strive far beyond just bigger, faster, and stronger. Nintendo found ways in making motion gaming mainstream with the Wii despite the technology already being available long before its release. Innovation is just as important as accessibility and having the capability to perform.
If anything, we should try to be more inclusive in the gaming community so that anyone with a physical disability can play as much as any able-bodied person. Streaming platforms and movie theaters developed captioning and descriptive audio for them to enjoy their medium. Many games already contain captioning. I pose this challenge to developers. How about creating a universal system of descriptive audio to help the visually impaired? What about custom single-handed controllers for amputees?
What innovative ways do you think these companies can do to make the experience become better for you?