Console Wars – Why?
The “console wars” have been an interesting, and usually quite stupid thing to watch. For those of you who don’t exactly like video games, know nothing about video games, or just haven’t visited a section of the internet dealing with video games ever, let me catch you up to date real quick. There are two video game systems out there that are mainstream and deal with everything from graphical power to high focus gaming. Those two are Sony‘s PlayStation 3, and Microsoft‘s Xbox 360. The Nintendo Wii is also in the “next generation” system of consoles, but they aren’t trying in any way to compete with the PS3 or 360. They lack the graphical power, and care to want to be better, and try to focus more on interactivity and group gaming, of which they succeed in. Unfortunately though, that leaves the other two systems, both vying to show that they are better than the other, to fight for the market and consumers to buy them.
Both systems carry a wide variety of similar features that are standard for this generation of gaming. Both carry an online store in which you can buy and play downloadable games, watch downloadable movies, buy add-ons for games that you’ve purchased and much more. They both have an online system which allows you to have a friend’s list, play online, send messages, etc. Both systems have a hard drive, minus the Xbox 360 Arcade, which can store and play music, photos, and videos. They each can play DVDs, CDs, and other media. Both use wireless controllers, both use headsets, both have typing pads for their controllers, both can have webcams. So, as you can see, the market standard for video games has been upped with this new group. But in the hardware sector, there are some notable differences between the two.
The Microsoft Xbox 360 comes in three different bundles, each of which comes with multiple games to get your collection started. Each bundle comes with a different sized hard drive, and different accessories included. Which the arcade just comes with a Composite cable and 256 MB worth of external memory, the Xbox 360 Pro, now just the standard Xbox 360, comes with a 60 GB hard drive, a headset, a network cable, and Component cables. Finally, the Xbox 360 Elite comes in the color black, has a 120 GB hard drive, the headset and cables, but also includes an HDMI cable for true high definition output. Software-wise, the 360 comes with the exclusive Dashboard, now upgraded to the NXE, or New Xbox Experience.
On the other hand, the Sony PlayStation 3 comes in two different bundles. The 160 GB PlayStation 3 which comes bundled with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and a voucher for Pain, and the 80 GB system which comes standalone. Unlike the 360, the PS3 has a few more special nuggets that comes standard within it. Compared to the 360, the PlayStation 3 has free online through the PlayStation Network, while with the Xbox, you are required to pay $20 for 3 months, or $50 for a year, just to be able to play with your friends online. Also, the wireless controllers for the PS3 come with a built-in rechargeable battery pack, which the 360’s use AA batteries, or, sold separately, a rechargeable battery pack of their own. The PlayStation 3 comes built-in with Wi-Fi, meaning if you have a wireless internet point nearby, you can connect automatically. The Xbox 360 is wired-only, or you can purchase a wireless adapter which will set you back $100 to give you that function as well. Also, the PlayStation 3 has built-in Bluetooth, so if you have any Bluetooth headset, you can use that for your online gaming and chatting; the 360 only allows Microsoft headsets to be used with it. One of the biggest differences, though, is that the PlayStation 3 is also a Blu-Ray player, and all games made for it are put onto Blu-Ray discs, which contain up to four times the space of the DVDs that are used in the Xbox 360.
Out of all of that, the PlayStation 3 is a clear-cut winner, looking at the hardware side of things. But most people tend to look past that and look towards the software side of things, which is an extremely understandable thing to look at. This is what sparks most of the console wars that turn up in discussions. The most talked about issue is that of “exclusives”. The Xbox 360 has notably more exclusives than the PlayStation 3, including such titles as Halo, Gears of War, Fable, and more. The PlayStation 3, on the other hand, carry titles such as LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, and Killzone. A few games, though, have brought up much controversy in the land of gaming due to them being put out multi-platform, which used to be format exclusive games. Final Fantasy was the big shocker as it was announced for the Xbox 360 as well, while there is also a teaser that shows a possibility that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots may also be porting over (source: http://www.konami.jp/kojima_pro/mgst/?ref=kjp_eng). The problem is, most people tend to think that the system with more exclusives, or “better” exclusives, as a matter of opinion, is the better system overall. While Final Fantasy XIII is coming over to the 360 as well, SquareEnix has announced that they are creating the PlayStation 3 version first, and porting the game to the 360 afterwards. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the game will be worse, hands down, on the 360, it does mean that they are looking to not sacrifice the quality of the game just so that it can be made for both systems.
Another issue that I’ve found with porting games over is the fact that Blu-Ray discs hold at least four times more space on them than the DVDs used for the 360. If they were to port a game such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots over, they’d have to “dumb” the game down, and take out a lot of extra content just to make it fit on a disc to be played on it. While exclusives is a big part of having a good console, in the long run, making a good game isn’t just looking at the system it’s played on. If a game is good, it will be good on it’s own, not just because it’s on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. Another issue that turns people to one system or another is it’s user base. The Xbox 360 has been around for longer, therefore meaning there are more people who play online with it. Even though that’s true, the PlayStation 3 online service has been picking up steam with the holidays approaching, and the longer it’s out, the more it sells. Also, being a free service, having built-in Wi-Fi, and including new features such as PlayStation Home into the mix, it creates a more easily accessible and immersive experience for players.
One thing I understand is that people are going to take this as a biased rant of a fanboy for Sony. The fact is, yes, I only own a PlayStation 3, but, I know a good game when I see one. I am currently in college for Multimedia, Digital Entertainment & Game Design, so I look at the quality of a game in general, not the fact that it’s exclusively on the system that I own. I am also a video game journalist, I write about video games, review them, and talk about them all of the time. My honest opinion does boil down to the fact that I believe the PlayStation 3 is better when it comes to a hardware perspective, and a software perspective as well, but I will not be so naive to say that the Xbox 360 does not have good games, is a very well made system, and has a fan base just as large, if not more, than the PlayStation 3 does. Surfing forums of sites that I regularly visit, and seeing threads ranting about how one system is better than the other, though, get to me, because “fanboys” and “fangirls” tend to put their blinders on, and only look at how the system that they own and use is the ultimate video game machine ever made. The fact of the matter is, video games in this day and age… are cool.