War. War never changes.
Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the awesome power of games and video, games have been made of everything: from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage. Atari made games to gather wealth. Nintendo built an empire from its lust for gold and market shares. Sega shaped a battered slot machine company into an economic superpower. That’s when the console war to end all wars started. A war raging to this day just the names have changed slightly. A battle for licenced franchises and enriched yellow cake bits.
Even Disney played all sides like the family friendly weapon dealers they are. Pushing more and systems to homes normalizing the competition into talking points. Now it’s more numbers moved rather than quality provided. So glancing over the 16 bit era which one could consider World War 1 and we get to the big ol’ sequel war that rarely gets discussed… yet. The PlayStation to the PlayStation 2 was a crazy time with Sega’s downfall. Now though it seems more calm, but way more dangerous at the same time.
The Console Wars have finally gone nuclear. As in it’s nothing but a bunch of posturing and words from two companies who are arguably the same. Sony and Microsoft, two names that at first glance say to me “Home theater systems and computers” go figure these two companies don’t know how to hold a decent console pissing race. During the age of HD they got stomped by Nintendo’s wiggle waggle Wii. Much like Donny they are out of their element.
Sony only got in on the action because Nintendo double crossed them with CD-i back in the day. I’m sure that one has been talked to death over and over again. Oddly enough Nintendo is partly responsible for xBox being a thing as well. Just a lot less directly. Still not here to go into that whole debacle. It’s a long story about, and I am not making this up, Super Nintendo Lion King as well as Netscape Navigator and developing Star Fox 64. The stars aligned and a terrible massive baby was born from that mess.
So regardless of those circumstances to bring Direct X into being and then shoving it into a box. Yes that is why it’s called that. We still are left with the question of “Why Microsoft?” Feel free to add a comma into there it doesn’t change much. Microsoft even helped with the Dreamcast by making a modified version of Windows for Sega’s last system. Sega in turn repaid them with supporting the xBox with some exclusive titles at it’s launch. So with that said we have Sony as the new Nintendo and Microsoft as the new Sega. Not to mention old Nintendo as the quirky “I do what I want” country in this fictionalized war scenario. So where does that leave us? Honestly the same place we were on the PS3 launch. I mean Dunkey made a good run down on how the graphics are not that much better since the PS3 era. I won’t even pretend that didn’t get me thinking about this so let me link that.
So yeah, why do I say it’s a cold war? Well the basic concept of a cold war is one where the cost of attacking would be the downfall of aggressor. Selling a console at a loss is common place. It’s about making up for that loss with license fees or in Nintendo’s case not so much selling at a loss but selling older cheaper technology. Sony and Microsoft will keep pushing forward slightly every few years. Sony atleast waits awhile before making a Pro version that is beefier than the launch version and a slim sleeker version that is cheaper and more appealing as alternatives to the PlayStation already out. Microsoft likes to just make new versions with progressively stupid names like say… The xBox One XLS Platinum or something equally as incomprehensible. These all suffer from still being the same console generation. All toasters toast toast. All PS4s play PS4 games. No company will spite itself to get a slight advantage to boost about.
Okay so Sega did, and you see what happened there right? These companies also won’t drop the price of games. If Sony charges $65 then you can guess how much that Microsoft will charge for the same game. Not to forget having to pay for online features. Once Microsoft started that trend it didn’t take long for Sony then even Nintendo to follow suit. So the systems cost about the same, except for Nintendo but they often are an outlier, the games cost the same and online play costs about the same. These two systems are the same. The closest thing you get one of them making a charge is a slight jab at a bad idea or poor move from the other company. Like when xBox started registering games to accounts even disk games making selling or lending used games require a fee we got this gem.
So much like the anti communist propaganda spreading out once we had more nukes than was safe to play with the console war became much the same. Chest thumping and bickering among the fans and followers is all we have now. A tribal identity that we cling to in order to cause a divide. An “Us vs Them” state of mind that humanity has been drawn to since well, tribes and ancient times. Because that way when our side does good we feel we also are winning. We share in the triumph and legitimately feel an entitlement to the accolades that a company we support accomplishes. So equally we take jabs and barbs personally when the others try and mock or stand over our platform. We only struggle against ourselves as these two giants rest and reap the rewards of our efforts. Every slam vlog or online debate is just free advertising for them. The more mindlessly we consume the less they have to innovate. Basically the more we fight each other the less they have to. So until we outgrow this pettiness don’t expect this cold war to stop. Might as well settle into mediocrity and worry as it’s all we’ll get. Because we are currently having a large console release seemingly based on faith. No one I know has a PS5 or xBox Series X outside of YouTubers and Twitch Streamers. We have people arguing over which is better who haven’t even seen the thing they are defending with their own eyes.