It’s almost time for Microsoft and Sony to launch into their next generation of systems. While Nintendo beat them to the punch for the Eighth Generation of game consoles with the Switch, Sony and Microsoft are bringing out the serious hardware for their next systems. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will both be launching early in November of 2020.
Now, twenty years after Microsoft entered the home console business, Sony and Microsoft remain at the center of the “console wars”.
So, what is the state of the console war in 2020? Do people still get into heated arguments over their favorite international tech companies? Let’s take a look at the history of the modern console war, and how it’s changed in recent years.
Since the first Xbox was launched back in 2001, Microsoft and Sony have been bitter rivals in the gaming world. After the failure of the GameCube, Nintendo stopped trying to push the highest power on their systems and released the Nintendo Wii.
The Wii was a runaway success, and left Microsoft and Sony battling for the attention of “core” players who were unimpressed by the motion controls and casual offerings of the Wii.
This essentially placed Nintendo outside of the console wars for the first time in decades. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Nintendo shared a bitter rivalry with Sega.
However, after Sega bowed out of making consoles in 2001 and shelved the Dreamcast, Nintendo’s rival has made software, exclusively. Nintendo, by choosing to focus on motion controls and unique gameplay experiences, stepped out of the constant battle for best graphics and highest framerate.
The Modern Console Wars
Two distinct philosophies are on play with Microsoft and Sony. In Microsoft’s case, the company sees the future of gaming as being platform agnostic. This might sound weird, given that they’re trying to sell you a platform, but it’s plain to see in their marketing.
Microsoft is more interested in selling people Game Pass than Xboxes, to hear their marketing teams tell it. After all, Game Pass is available on Windows PCs. Many Xbox Series X games will be playable on the Xbox One.
Sony is taking a wholly old-school approach, on the other hand. The company is focusing tightly on its new hardware, and on shaping experiences for players designed around that hardware.
Sony’s tightly-plotted blockbuster exclusives are a major component of this. Spider-Man, God of War, and Horizon: Zero Dawn all speak to an old-school mentality of flagship games selling consoles on the strength of their premise alone.
At the end of the day, the heated contest between Microsoft and Sony to push the most mind-blowing gaming experiences only benefits the players. Competition breeds innovation, and that innovation makes players happy.
With the PS5 and Series X on the horizon, the future of gaming looks bright.