The Upcoming (And Pointless) Console War

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The Upcoming (And Pointless) Console War

New gaming hardware should improve gaming universally.

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I don't see console wars ending anytime soon. The main problem is that game consoles often have to be sold for a loss, so the companies have to be greedy and hoarding with their titles, at least for the first few years, just to survive releasing a new console. Hardly ideal, but that's the market we face.

Besides, I'm not too sure that indie games are too disadvantaged by the current system. Admittedly, they don't get big marketing campaigns and all the shelf space at gamestop, but that's more than offset by their significantly lower price tags, making them far more tempting to download and try than their big, bulky $60 adversaries.

Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

Rogue 09:
Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

I know this is off topic, but on the contrary, if there's one thing we can learn about American, things get worse with competition. Things generally just get cheaper, and the quality lessens as a consequence. I see very little in innovation or improvement is lifestyle in America.

I agree with everything else you've written though.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
New year, new industry. One where Call of Duty stands next to Cave Story on the same list, with no judgment and equality for all. Think on it.

Well, except on lists measuring a game's QUALITY...

The "competition" is going to get rather amusing, as I imagine, if/when 10-20 Steambox products are sitting on shelves not a stone's throw away from whatever Sony/Microsoft makes for their new consoleboxes. Consumers will quickly flock to whatever seems to provide the best price/experience, which may or may not be one of the different variations. It'd be even more funny if Sony ended up making one, being a hardware company.

Ideally it would crush the entirely lame exclusivity thing. I cannot imagine a single negative facet to a system where having a single hardware piece means you can purchase and play what you like. I don't have to buy 3 different DVD players to watch the films I've purchased, and it turns out my oven can both bake pies and cook steak.

Man, Cave Story is so good (I bought it for my 3DS this Christmas).

I really don't see why you're using the Wii U as an argument to invalidate the Sony/Microsoft consol war. Nintendo is what happens when there's no one else around for comparison: Nobody realizes how stupid they are. Unless someone forces them to try to be smart, they wont.

I have one word for you, Yahtzee:

"Ouya"

It sounds like the noise you make when your massage gets a happy ending, but it's a console slated for release in March that runs on Android and thus has that openness you were chiding Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft for lacking. It's made a bit of a stir what with it's successful Kickstarter and all, so it's strange you didn't mention it in this article, even in passing considering how relevant it's existence is to your topic. Hopefully you'll address the Ouya in a future Extra Punctuation, giving your thoughts on it's chances to be the revolution its marketing department claims it will be or even it's chances at simple survival in a largely stagnated market where spunkgargleweewee dominates the triple A rung and people play Android games on portable Android devices, so a console tied to your living room and massive fuck off television just doesn't make fiscal sense. Not to mention things like the requirement for some kind of free-to-play aspect when developing for the Ouya despite demos proving to be a detriment to game sales (the Extra Credits guys covered this in a recent video). Either way, I would like to know what your take is on the Ouya at this early stage so you can backpedle or claim foreknowledge when it's finally released. Frankly, it's the only console of this next generation I find interesting because I don't care about the next Playstation or Xbox the way I didn't care of the current Playstation or Xbox. Nor do I find the Wii U all that compelling. It would have been better if, instead of a separate controller it could simply use the 3DS as a controller. Ouya is actually trying something interesting and whether it succeeds or fails, it should be a good show.

You act as if it's not a really cheap box that will still cost the makers more than they've raised so far and will be packed with exactly the kind of garbage that we were trying to get away from, since the demo/"f2p" requirement is not a big hurdle for the shovelware derps who make demos with price tags slapped onto them for a living, while the actually fun games don't really make demos because they don't have to, or don't want to misrepresent their game.

Besides, the Steam box is probably going to elbow it off of the market due to the fact that a lot of people already have games for it, and it doesn't hurt that Gabe's got enough money to build a scrooge mc duck like vault out of the money.

I can only imagine how bad these new consoles are going to be. Think about what microsoft is going to do with the next version of kinect and all this smartglass stuff. A new kinect will probably be a standard part of the xbox 720 package; it will come in every box just like the controller. There will be a whole lot of "Now shake your ass at the tv while rubbing the screen on your cellphone, isn't this revolutionary?" stuff going on. The PS4 will probably have some kind of new eyetoy/playstation eye that does everything kinect does, plus a bunch of stuff where it interacts with the playstation move and the vita and playstation mobile enabled tablets and phones and all that crap.

Dumb people who just want to drool over technological artifices will go on and on about the immersive revolutionary experience of standing in front of a tv, spinning around in place while tapping icons on a cellphone screen and blowing into the microphone while a camera on the tv tracks your movement and translates it into something really boring on the tv that other people are interacting with by waving their arms around and shouting and smearing their fingers all over a bunch of tablets and so on and so forth. Console gaming will start to look an awful lot like the opening parts of 2001, with the apes and the monolith.

Call of Duty and Cave Story do sit on the same list though: the list of rehashed to hell rubbish I'm not particularly interested in playing anymore.

Honestly, I'm surprised they haven't ported Cave Story to the Atari 2600 yet, because heaven forbid any console goes without a port of that miserable slop.

He's not calling for removal of consoles or a single noncompetitive system. Quite the opposite. He's suggesting that rather than two opposing incompatible pillars, we have a single base console spec from which every hardware manufacturing can iterate. So Sony & Microsoft could still have their own builds, but if you got tired of one you could switch the the other without having to buy whole new sets of games and controllers.

Hear, hear! Never hath thee spoke the truth as hard as thou spoketh now, Yahtzee!

I doubt that the Steambox (or the Ouya, as someone already mentioned) will be that kind of revolutionary thingamabob, but we do need something like that, and anything that takes a step in that direction is a good thing. When we have a console, no more expensive than the Wii at launch, with a decent penetration amongst the non-gamer crowd, and a Hypercard style method for creating content, then we will no longer need to have the 'are games art?' argument.

Rogue 09:
Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

Yeah, that's why America is doing so well economically and has no unemployment whatsoever. [/sociopolitics burn]

As for the situation the consoles find themselves in, I'll tell you a joke.

Once upon a time, two hunters were huting on a forest. At night, they heard a noise, and when they came out of their tent, they saw a lion charging down towards them! One of the hunters started sprinting, but then he realizes the other has stopped to put on his shoes.

"Are you dumb?", he asks. "Why are you wasting time putting on your shoes? With or without shoes, you ain't gonna run faster than the lion!"

"I don't need to run faster than the lion", the other replies. "I only need to run faster than you."

If Nintendo continuously takes the money from Mario and Zelda fans, Microsoft continuously takes the money from people who like big showy games full of sound and fury about shooting men or stabbing orc-men. There's no room for actual improvement, just doing what the other one is doing but better, because they don't need to outrun the lion.

The only way there'll be actual improvement (and not 'boy, last generation's graphics were almost lifelike, but this generation's graphics look even more almost lifelike if you have a top quality TV and one of the ten best looking games of a given year!' fake improvement we usually see) is by allowing anyone, anywhere, to contribute to the medium of games, so we have stories and mechanics that vary and don't borrow heavily from a twenty-year-old vocabulary. The closest thing we have to that today is the PC, but it's set up so that an old PC can't run newer games even if they aren't the big showy things (there are amateur 2D games that require state-of-the-art video cards because of the tools used) and there isn't a centralized hub to distribute them (Steam essentially works like a console since you need their obscure permission to sell stuff on their site, and more independent distributors like Desura and IndieCity don't have the penetration necessary for this kind of revolution). But the excitement for the Ouya (even if not the actual product) and the small but steady growth of amateur games (GameMaker and Unity, simple as they are, are at the top end of this) show that the path ahead is slowly being forged.

I'm a little torn about the issue of motion control. It's usually wretched when it's used in place of a function that would be far easier to perform with a button; it's utterly wretched when it just doesn't work, as one hears was the case with Steel Battalion. But at the fringes of things, one can see places where it could work, even does work, and possibly works in a way that would feel different from using a console controller in a positive way.

I think the real question is this: if motion controls being a primary focus of developers for another generation or more is the cost of creating and refining systems for something like motion control that actually work (with the attendant slue of games that to varying degrees fail), is it worth the cost?

And part of the reason that question should be asked, and not treated as a rhetorical, is it's been true of any number of other developments as well. A good case could be made that it was true of the transition from largely sprite-based gaming to largely polygon-based gaming, and bloody hell, were there some growing pains in there.

A-fucking-men. I own an Xbox, a Ps3, and a Gaming PC. The consoles I waited until many price drops to get, but they were still pretty expensive.

And I hate that.

I hate that I have to have more than two different platforms to play Halo and God of War. Heavy Rain was amazing, but why the fuck cant I just play it on my PC? Microsoft and sony both make computers. Why do we still have to deal with this exclusive bullshit?

Saladfax:
The "competition" is going to get rather amusing, as I imagine, if/when 10-20 Steambox products are sitting on shelves not a stone's throw away from whatever Sony/Microsoft makes for their new consoleboxes. Consumers will quickly flock to whatever seems to provide the best price/experience, which may or may not be one of the different variations. It'd be even more funny if Sony ended up making one, being a hardware company.

Ideally it would crush the entirely lame exclusivity thing. I cannot imagine a single negative facet to a system where having a single hardware piece means you can purchase and play what you like. I don't have to buy 3 different DVD players to watch the films I've purchased, and it turns out my oven can both bake pies and cook steak.

I got to agree with you there. It seems that many of the things Sony & MS do to stay competitive with each other involve trying to screw over the competition's consumer base rather than actually making their product more functional and desirable.
I think we'd all be better off (especially the game developers) if the hardware developers grew up and agreed on a standard so we wouldn't have to deal with crappy ports.

Yes, try to end a competition war by adding another party to it. Because that always works so very well.

Falterfire:
He's not calling for removal of consoles or a single noncompetitive system. Quite the opposite. He's suggesting that rather than two opposing incompatible pillars, we have a single base console spec from which every hardware manufacturing can iterate. So Sony & Microsoft could still have their own builds, but if you got tired of one you could switch the the other without having to buy whole new sets of games and controllers.

What he doesn't get is that this is also Microsoft, Sony and Valves goal too. The problem? Each of them thinks theirs should be the one spec that all others should be forced to build for.

Rogue 09:
Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

Yahtzee is talking about something a bit different here. Yahtzee doesn't want game developers to start banding together to share ideas around a campfire. That would be rediculous. On the contrary he wants more competition. But Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are actually hurting that competition by making three entirely different consoles. I'm no game programmer but that must make designing video games more of a pain in the ass. Instead of working with one standard device (like Yahtzee's example of the camera to shoot a movie), developers have to deal with three different devices that are not compatible with eachother. And I'm sure that's just one issue among many. So i think the removal of these corporate giants would only help the industry in terms of more content and higher quality, not stagnate it.

mjc0961:
Call of Duty and Cave Story do sit on the same list though: the list of rehashed to hell rubbish I'm not particularly interested in playing anymore.

Honestly, I'm surprised they haven't ported Cave Story to the Atari 2600 yet, because heaven forbid any console goes without a port of that miserable slop.

I got Cave Story running on my TI-86 graphing calculator

Right on. This is a symptom of a much larger problem, where hardware manufacturers get involved in the content business. Thus you have to look into 3 or 4 streaming services to get all your TV and movies, and 2 competing ebook formats, and 4+ video game formats. So instead of content being able to find an audience on its own merits, it's at the mercy of the hardware gatekeepers.

Rogue 09:
Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

Actually, Sony and Microsoft are competing for the Nintendo market, hence the Move and Kinect. Hence shifts towards friendlier interfaces and other crap we don't need. Wii set the standard by selling more. So, by this line of thinking....

Foolproof:
What he doesn't get is that this is also Microsoft, Sony and Valves goal too. The problem? Each of them thinks theirs should be the one spec that all others should be forced to build for.

This really isn't Sony and Microsoft's goal. Not for the same reason, at least. They are looking specifically to reap the licensing, which is where the real money for them comes in. That's the only reason their standards matter to them.

Valve is looking more at a monopoly on the sales end of things, because they've got a service all lined up for their "console," but it still won't be their standard per se. Not to mention, barring unseen proprietary hardware (seems unlikely), competing clients/platforms could develop out of the same standard as the "Steambox."

I'm not a fan of Valve, but their goal is actually a bit more in line here.

The flip side here is that the likes of Microsoft and Sony ARE behind standards on other media, which means obviously they can work with others and establish such a setup.

Rogue 09:
Gotta disagree with you Yahtzee. Competition is what continues to elevate Playstation and Xbox over the Wii systems. They're competing with one another to create a better product, where the Wii just kind of sits back and takes money from Mario and Zelda fans continuously.

The removal of competition means stagnation. I know you probably don't get that is socialist Aussie-town, but over here in America we've learned that we can only improve when someone else sets the standards. Well... everyone but dirty hippies. But we'll be dealing with them soon...

Except the systems should be entirely irrelevant. Unless you're an electronics engineer or you work for sony/microsoft why should you care about the system? You should care about the service and the games, neither of which benefit from the competition between the systems, because they're insular. Live is for the Xbox and the PSN is for sony's products, which means that if you own the console, you use that system, which is the very opposite of competition (Which is why companies are rebelling against win 8's marketplace restrictions).

What everyone would benefit from would be an environment where the consoles worked on a standard, like yahtzee suggested, and i will tell you why:

You would get a market where the consoles had to compete on the hardware, customer care and additional service, instead of hoarding licenses and basically using games as marketing tools, contrast with the home movie industry.

Which would make you free to purchase the system on its own merits, rather than the games it comes with, and switch platform whenever you like without losing all you purchased.

It would also mean the manufactors could launch whole lines of consoles with varied prize points and would no longer need to sell at a loss. Also, it would mean less attrition when it comes to upgrading, as it would not be a binary process, but rather a fluid one, where hardware allows more, and games make themselves comfortable with the newer hardware over time.

Developers would not have to go through lenghty approval processes and expensive certifications, the market would dictate who sells, instead of arbitrary bullshit rules.

BUUUT this is basically the PC environment, which is precisely why the console war will never go this way unless this steambox shaped speck on the horizon manages to fuck every other company over so hard that microsoft or sony will jump on it.

I found it a little wearying to see comments on my ZombiU review to the effect that my distaste for the Wii U was "inevitable".

You're surprised by this? You probably already know this Yahtzee, but Nintendo fanboys are the worst (with an exception to Bioware Fanboys the Biodrones)

Seriously you cannot criticize Nintendo in anyway shape or form no matter how constructive or mild. Talk about their beloved Nintendo in anyway that's not a glorified praise and they will jump on you like a pack of wolves on an injured deer.

Sorry, but I have to say non-exclusivity sounds like a really stupid idea, as the market would most likely end up with a monopoly with consumers suffering. Think about it, if consoles had no exclusive titles, then you're going to pick the one which has the best quality and features for the best price.

Problem is though, because each console is going to have a different build with different add-ons, controllers etc. you and your friends are most likely going to choose only one to do most of your gaming on. This way you don't have to mess around and get pissed at the different quality or features or whatever each time you play at someone's house; you'll want to have a similar setup of play so you feel comfortable and can get on with enjoying the game. Ditto for playing online; having a mixture of different consoles would make it more likely that something will go wrong in interfacing and playing games.

The problem with non-exclusivity is that one console and developer will most likely emerge as the clear winner and the other two will bomb, and trying to convince shareholders to back another console with effectively 2/3 chances of failing hugely will make those two that fail pull out of the market as they can't afford the risk. So you end up with one company as a monopolist, free to ramp up prices and release more samey own-brand games knowing that consumers don't have any other choice. And the only way a company trying to enter the market would be able to compete against a monopolist would be to offer that very same exclusivity in what the gamer can play (or else spend and risk much more on an industry-changing gimmick that you hope will tempt consumers enough to make up for even more costs. Exclusive games would be a much safer bet.)

The funny thing is, the Big 3 know this, and they know its much better to play safe with exclusivity, where all are likely to make at least some profit, even if certain consoles only do well later on, than take an all-or-nothing gamble with non-exclusivity. Having the competition actually benefits both consumers (with better choice and not being held to ransom by a monopolist) and producers (in being much more likely to turn a profit).

So you're excited about the Ouya, and like Android and PC gaming too? Because the whole open platform thing already exists, and I just listed the handheld, desktop, and couch based versions of what Yahtzee is talking about here. It's true that there are exclusives that don't run on one of those three (really two, since the Ouya is android based) platforms, but they're as close as you'll ever get in the real world, for reasons of hardware level incompatibility if nothing else.

I just hope the Wii U doesn't force that GamePad on everything. I'd rather stick to my Classic Controller Pro when I'll be playing Monster Hunter, or the "enhanced version" (totally not a ripoff) for that matter.

Didn't Yahtzee argue against letting everyone have easy access to game making in his LittleBigPlanet review?

This article was actually kind of nice, not so much 'Im mad', more 'Im worried'... okay he was a little mad but if getting rid of exclusivity will stick it to bad developers im game!

Terramax:
I see very little in innovation or improvement is lifestyle in America.

You... uh, don't get out much. Do ya? I don't see how you can make that kind of statement with a straight face unless that was the case.

Blind loyalty to an uncaring brand; people really are sheep easily baited into thinking what others tell them, or are these "which games should I buy?" threads somehow deliberate irony? Seen people stubbornly defend a bad series entry because they love the series or the developer, the latter making even less sense? It's the difference between being exploited and defending/excusing/asking to be exploited. I saw one guy actually propose paid DLC with better endings for Mass Effect 3.

The console war is no different, it's a series of manipulated children barking at other manipulated children, all incited to generate fringe advertising. Tell anyone they're being used, they'll stick of for whomever is using them to their last breath.

Reads more like an Anti Nintendo Rant than about a Console War.

Personally I like the Hud being scrapped off the screen and put down on the second screen.

Nintendo did the right thing with bundling it. Putting it as a separate "add-on" dooms it to never be used. If a developer cant guarantee that it's there with every system then games are written for it to NEVER be there. Nintendo's learned this lesson over the years. Yes, games that don't need it shouldn't use it for anything other than being able to play the game while someone else watches TV. But some games can use it like ZombiU to improve the experience. I like being able to shuffle the limited inventory without a horrid control driven selector. I like being able to look at the screen without having the menu pop up and down and the occasional hitting of the menu button to mess with me.

Multi-player is really where the tablet works best, and if you're anti-social then yea you're going to have issues. I prefer Nintendos Social network over what everyone else has done on the consoles. It's far easier to type messages on the tablet then it is with a D Pad. It's easier to pull up a web browser in the middle of a game then it is on any other console. Typing in a URL isn't a pain on the Wii U ether. Some games are going to abuse the pad like Fifa 13. Just don't buy those games if you don't like their direction.

If all you want is a mindless box that you can launch a game on in then Learn HTML 5 and Java script. The Wii U's browser is competent at doing at least that, and most next gen consoles will be targeting the minimum HTML 5 spec. That way your game can work on any computer capable of browsing to your site. You're going to be limited and stuck in a restrictive box, but whatever you make should at least function if you do it right.

If you want more power and get a mindless box to run compiled code off of some USB stick then you're delusional. You can't do that for Home computers. You probably think you can, but in reality you're just targeting one particular platform and ignoring the rest. Getting a game to run on Linux, Windows, and on Mac OSX takes work. More work then just writing the code and dumping it onto a USB stick. There are some workarounds, but any workaround is going to have a high cost. Writing your code in Java, like Minecraft, or in HTML 5 will cost you performance at a minimum. Then there is the constant outdating of code. You can't run ANY 16bit applications on 64bit Windows 7 or Windows 8, and yes there are morons still using 16bit compiled code from the early 90's and expect it to work as it has for the last 20 years. This stuff should have been scrapped a decade ago, and doing so would have had a performance gain. But people like you are nieve, or stupid enough to demand that things just "Run Everything" causes things to to advance slowly.

Did you ever consider that the reason why Consoles outperform PCs when you put the same exact hardware in the PC is that all the Junk your delusional demands cause is slowing the PC down. The Console just scraps the old junk since 20 years of compatibility isn't a concern.

Your just plug-and-run delusion is the pipe dream of Sun Microsystem, and just look at what that got them.

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