Predictions in the 5th-Generation Neo-Console Wars

For those who don’t understand the premise, allow me to explain.

The console wars were when Atari, Coleco, and Mattel battled for dominance of the console hardware industry. Atari appeared to be coming out as a victor, but we’ll never really know because 1984 happened. 1984 in the gaming world is the equivalent of aliens coming down and ending World War II by destroying the human race. We had an idea who’d win, but we’ll never know, because the whole thing dissolved.

Thus, the Neo-Console Wars began in 1985 when Nintendo released the Famicom/NES. Their only real competition was the Sega Master System, which was far more successful practically everywhere in the world except for the USA. Nintendo won that race pretty much hands down, and their sales weren’t even slowed down by the introduction of new hardware both by their competitors, and themselves.

The 2nd-Generation Neo-Console Wars started in 1989 when Sega released the Mega Drive/Genesis. They pretty quickly stomped out the NEC PC-Engine/TurboGrafx in most countries (along with the help of Nintendo’s Famicom/NES), and even kept a pretty good lead when Nintendo released the Super Famicom/Super NES. It wasn’t until Starfox or Donkey Kong Country (it’s debatable which one) that Nintendo really started to get their lead back, and somehow ended up winning the round.

The 3rd-Gen Neo-Console Wars started early in late 1994 when Sega released its Saturn months before they had originally scheduled it, and without properly alerting the press. They were crushed pretty quickly (at least in North America) mere months later as Sony unleashed the Playstation upon the world. Nintendo showed up later than usual with the Nintendo 64, which quickly fell into a distant second behind the Playstation. Sega somehow made another stab at the entrants of this generation with its 4th-Gen hardware released very early in 1999, but it wouldn’t last long against Playstation, or its successor.

4th-Gen started, as previously mentioned, with the early release of Dreamcast. Despite technical abilities, people almost completely forgot it by the time Sony released Playstation 2 in October of 2000, and Sega stopped producing it about six months after the launch of both Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s Gamecube in November, 2001. Despite changing its image somewhat with Gamecube, and ditching the ever dreaded cartridges, Nintendo still fell into third place worldwide. Microsoft took a decent second place with Xbox and its superior hardware, but Sony was able to keep the market, mainly due to amazing 3rd party support.

So, I ask you; what do you think is going to happen now? We’ve got Microsoft threatening a system launch by years end, and both Sony and Nintendo prepared with “something big” by the end of next year. Also, now Sony and Nintendo are both supporting handhelds as well as their home consoles. So, who do you think has the best bet of winning?

Here’s my prediction:

3rd place: Nintendo
Sorry, guys. You know I’m a HUGE Nintendo fan, but the big N has a lot of catching up to do, and good hardware won’t cut it. They need two things: incredible 3rd-party support, and the attention of the audience. I’m afraid it’ll take a real miracle to procure the latter. Nintendo had the former this generation, with exclusives from Capcom, Square Enix, and Namco. Nintendo could have software and hardware perfect this next round, but unless they can convince people to give it a chance, they’re not moving anywhere.

2nd place: Sony
Yeah, I said it. I don’t think Sony will pull off a hat trick. I think they had their two rounds, and they’re done (for now). They’re still in an excellent position, though. People will buy the system for two reasons: name familiarity, and third party support, which I imagine they’ll keep. However, I think they’ll lose to Microsoft in a couple of key areas, which I will list below.

1st place: Microsoft
So, why do I think M$ can pull it off? Well, a few reasons. First, online play has become a huge factor in modern consoles (I’m talking to you, Nintendo), it doesn’t matter if any of you (or even me) personally use it or not. It’s there, and it’s only going to get bigger. Presently, Microsoft has the best online service for any home console, period. Sure, it may cost a yearly fee, but it’s fast, you can easily find friends/opponents, you don’t have to set up individual accounts with every game, and, well, it’s simpler and more streamlined than what anyone else has to offer. The only improvement they could make is to offer an “Xbox Live Free” which allows you to play certain simple games (like Tetris) completely free over the XBL network. Now, Sony and Nintendo are stuck because of this. They basically have two options. They can continue what they’re doing, and be knocked for not having the quality online support that Microsoft does, or they can follow in Microsoft’s example, and be accused of copying Microsoft’s idea.

Aside from online play, Microsoft has another advantage. They really tested out the water this generation, and came back smarter than I ever expected they could. They’ve fought the idea of making general audience games like Sony does so well, and is instead catering to two very distinct, but very different groups: the casual gamer, and the hardcore gamer. They get the casual gamer with things like Halo, Madden, and Grand Theft Auto. Sure, two of those are available on Sony’s system, but the casual gamer cares not for exclusivity. They’ve got the hardcore gamer with things like Panzer Dragoon Orta, Metal Slug 3, and Steel Battalion. Note that none of those are available on another console, because the hardcore gamer will only buy a console if a game they have to buy is exclusive on that system. Getting the extreme hardcore gamers and the casual gamers pretty much guarantees everyone in the middle. Those two extremities will convince their friends to buy the system, for one game or another, until third-party companies, particularly Japanese ones, can’t ignore the system any longer. Hell, the same thing happened this generation. Note the abundance of games by Capcom and Konami in the last two years for Xbox, compared to the almost none in its first few years. Not to mention that hardcore gamers will flock to the new Xbox for Sakaguchi’s new game.

So long as Microsoft doesn’t truly flub up the hardware (though I’ve heard some bad things about those DVD-9 discs), and they keep good relations with the third-parties, they should come up on top. Most of the gamers are convinced now, and it’ll just take a few more exclusives (Sakaguchi’s game? a new Final Fantasy? a Resident Evil?) to convince anyone else to come over. Not only is Microsoft trying to beat Sony at their own game, but their studying the field very closely before they make any more dumb decisions. They got enough guff for those giant controllers last round, they don’t need anything new.

(side note: though maybe that controller flub wasn’t such an accident after all… This is almost conspiracy-theory level, but perhaps they intentionally made the controllers bad so that they would be a laughing stock? That’d certainly give them an advantage if they wanted to be quiet in their observations as they tried to steal Sony’s game…)

Actually, I see things a bit differently. While your points are very, very valid, we need to consider a few things.

First, contrary to what you may have heard, Microsoft is losing money with Xbox live. Despite the monthly fee, it is costing them more to keep that functionality it is lauded for. They will need to do one of two things; cut back, or charge more. More likely the latter, and if they do, my opinion does not change from your own. Also, Nintendo has vested interest in Online support for the next gen, and hinted at wireless play for the DS. But, for all we know it may be something stupid like scoreboards, and the execs will be like “see, stupid Americans? On-rine!”.

Also, we know little of the lineups for this next generation. I’ll agree catering to both extremes of the casual-hardcore line was a good idea, but will it work the second time around? One reason those games came to both systems was because either A) Microsoft paid them, or B) The Xbox had the superior hardware. Now, MS wants to actually make money this round. For the XBox, they spent more money than they earned, but they still ‘won’ because the goal of the XBox was to gain market recognition for the XBox2. Now they are to reap the rewards, and spending too much money this round is going to defeat that purpose. For B, they are coming out first. As the PS2 demonstrated, coming out a year early is a bad idea hardware wise.

Not that I’m saying MS is doomed, though. Your arguments for Nintendo make some assumptions, and my experience says you should never try to predict Nintendo. FOr the N64 they were crazy about multiplayer, going so far as to have 4 controller ports. Here they are, all against it (or the online kind, at least). Also for the N64, they used cartridges against all sane reasoning. When they announced the DS initially, no one guessed the second screen was a touch screen. Nintendo is insane, and like an animal, you never know what a crazy person will do when backed into a corner. This could be good or bad for them.

FOr sony, they are kinda just cruising along. The PS1 came out in 94, didn’t it? It didn’t get popular until 97 or so, when games that were going to be N64 titles went PSX instead in response to the cartridge ordeal. Sony seems to rely upon the failures of others, and only got somewhere with the PS2 because of market recognition from the PS1.

I’m not saying you are particularly wrong, but I’m not placing my bets on any particular company until after I see the systems all revealed. And the games offered on them, for that matter. If I had to say now, I’d say this generation is going to be another ‘decisive battle’, wherein each side has a chance to tip the scales in their favor.

The winner in the next generation of consoles will be decided not by the hardware, but the software compatable on them. Nintendo has no decent developer support these days; they have no chance of coming out on top and shouldn’t even bother releasing a new console until they get their act together. Sony and Microsoft will be competing to bring developers to their platform, but Microsoft’s has the advantage here. While both Sony and Microsoft have their respective in-house game development teams, Microsoft has been buying up lots of smaller computer game developers for the last 5 years. And because they’re owned by Microsoft, I’ll bet my ass that they’ll be developing games for Microsoft’s new console and not Sony’s. I’d say Sony’s probably got the better position starting off, but Microsoft seems willing to throw as much money as it takes toward making its console number one. Because of this, Sony will outsell Microsoft for the first few months, but after that it’ll be Microsoft leading the pack with Sony not too far behind.

Are we all forgetting the Phantom now? >:(

I think Starfox had less to do with the Genesis’ demise than FF6 did. FF6 and Donkey Kong Country were first and second place in Nintendo Power for like a year, while Starfox was always trailing at like 13th or something, even behind all the mediocre games. No <3 for SF :frowning:

As for console wars, GM’s right when he says it’s entirely 3rd party support. Whichever console has the highest concentration of challenging games with the lowest concentration of tedium (long load times, long scene transitions, inconvenient retries, “save points”) will win me (Please for the love of god give me another Shinobi).

And X-Box definately didn’t get 2nd place in my eyes. It was a clunky piece of shit with a mere one good game, Ninja Gaiden, which I can’t even confirm because I’m not going to buy an X-Box for one game that I’ve only heard about. It may have won in fishing in millions of 12 year old Halotards, but it definately didn’t win in being a good console. X-Box is the gaming world’s Honda Civic. People like modding it, but performance-wise, it’s really shit.

And by the way, X-Box isn’t losing money because it’s services are expensive. It’s losing money because you can buy a 200gb hard drive for $50 and instantly have every single game.

And by the way, X-Box isn’t losing money because it’s services are expensive. It’s losing money because you can buy a 200gb hard drive for $50 and instantly have every single game.

I have to agree with that,I mean why have great games like Fable,or KOTOR when it will eventually end up in computers,I mean it just makes less consoles to be sold.

As who will win the console war who knows,one thing I know is that Microsoft has never appealed to me,online gaming,bah what is the use of having it if you have no good internet connection,as for the games almost nothing that I like,I really dislike almost all FPS,I’m not big on action games it has,and it only has a handfull of RPG’s,plus for a strange reason I don’t like how the graphics look like.

One of the key factors is going to be japanese developers,if they don’t make many games for the microsoft console then it will probably lose a great source of gamers wich are the japanese and many gamers who like them over here.

Cell.

Freaking great, I’m finally gonna be able to buy the PS2 and there’s already a PS3 coming soon -_-

I see Microsoft as the big scary rhino that can destroy everything in his way, while Sony is the fox, acting swiftly and cunningly to destroy their enemies. They are both going to fight hard in the next round and whether the rhino will stomp the fox or the fox will trick the rhino into slamming itself into a wall is yet to be seen.

However, I am most looking forward to our good friend the bear: he looks peaceful and cuddly, but if you get too close he will maul you to death. I admit it, I’m rooting for the big N this time. I don’t have any particular reason to believe they can win, but I have a mix of hunch and wishful thinking that tells me they can pull something out of their asses and eat their competitors. Yeah, it’s mostly wishful thinking because I really think it’s about time we get a kickass Mario game like Mario 64, but who knows? Maybe if this new Zelda is really awesome, it can buy them some publicity and time to come up with something great.

Console Wars: Episode V
Coming Soon

That’s a really great metaphor you make there Seraph (I think it’s a metaphor)

You guys are looking at this from the perspective of the hardcore RPG player. Of course we don’t favor Microsoft, they haven’t (yet) tried to cull our favor, but they’re working on it. Remember that Sakaguchi, father of Final Fantasy, is working on an exclusive Microsoft game? That doesn’t mean it’s showing up on Windows, kiddos, they’re talking about Xbox, probably Xbox 2.

You may not use online play, hell, I don’t use online play. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a factor for the majority of gamers, which it is. The hardcore gamers are far outnumbered by the casual gamers now, so games like Madden, Splinter Cell, and Halo will determine the victor, not Final Fantasy.

As for Starfox not turning the tide, it may not have ranked in Nintendo Power, but NPD Funworld certainly took notice (that’s the company that tracks sales figures in the gaming industry). It was the time period of Donkey Kong Country and Starfox that really made SNES win. Final Fantasy VI’s sales in the US were almost non-existant. SFC had already pulled ahead in Japan years earlier at the announcement of both Final Fantasy IV and Dragon Quest V.

Oldschool gamers see Microsoft as that evil force that’s taken sales away from Nintendo. But, it’s time to wake up and see reality. Microsoft simply makes a system, just like anyone else. What’s more, they’ve embrased classics, with a remake of Ninja Gaiden, and helping fund Midway’s Arcade Treasures project, and convincing Namco to release Namco Museum on Xbox and Gamecube. Microsoft didn’t enter this industry to piss us off, they have all intentions of being our friends.

As for losing money, I agree, but I thought they’d said that they were willing to lose money for the first few rounds, so long as they’d eventually make it back. Of course, it’s Microsoft, so they can always afford to take a loss if they need to, but if they are trying to make money this round, I agree that Xbox Live would need to be either more expensive, or toned back.

I’m gonna wait till I see the hardware and at the very least the launch games for this one. There are way too many variables that depend on how well they are executed to really have a clue before then.

Thanks.

Of course, it’s not that they are trying to be our friends, it’s just that they can’t afford to do anything else. In a time where our pockets get purged by Nintendo’s Game Boys with one minimum improvement in each version and Sony is being an overall ass, providing a good and reasonably cheap service counts double. That one was an excellent move. Hating Microsoft is the cool thing to do, so they had to win people over somehow. Focusing on casual gamers (I.E. People who aren’t so involved with software and haven’t developed a deep hatred towards Windows) was another very ingenious move, so now they are doing their best to win over the same people that hope a meteor falls over Billy’s head and destroys the company. I have to admit it, they played it very well on the last round. It was obvious that they weren’t going to beat Sony on the first try but they managed to take enough territory to solidify their bases.

I don’t have anything in particular against the Box and if they manage to beat their rivals and become number one, good for them. What I don’t want is for them to gain enough strength to completely erase Nintendo and Sony off the face of the earth, because then we would have a monopoly. In the words of Zerthimon: “Balance In all things”

I have to agree with that,I mean why have great games like Fable,or KOTOR when it will eventually end up in computers,I mean it just makes less consoles to be sold.
I wasn’t even talking about PC compatibility. There’s a hard drive for X-Box that you can rent games and copy them onto. You can get every X-Box game whether it’s on PC or not, virtually for free.

I’m a huge fan of Nintendo. I’ve always supported them as my first console choice until the advent of the current console generation. Luigi’s mansion was a disappointment, Mario Sunshine was boring, Wind Waker was good although tedious, there hasn’t been a real Donkey Kong game since the N64 and Star Fox Assault is good but not a realy Star Fox game since only half the game is flight based. Nintendo has single handedly crushed the glory that their legendary series once held to me. They even went so far as to crush all my hopes of a good Zelda handheld after the dismal performance that was The Minish Cap.

I’m a huge fan of Nintendo, always have been, always will be. My fondest memories of childhood were playing the original Mario games with my dad. But memories don’t keep me buying their consoles. At this point it looks like Nintendo may have completely lost not only their focus of making great games but they also seem to be completely out of touch with what the gaming populus wants. They’ve fallen to cheap gimmicks such as the DS’s touch screen to sell units. And it looks like Revolution will be another gimmick. I bought a DS only for a portable copy of games I loved from the N64, and like it or not the best games of that generation mostly came from the N64.

At this point I would call Nintendo a wounded animal. They’ve been caught in the leg trap of their own complacency and need to get out of it. I predict that the Revolution will either be another pointless gimmick or a marvel. A system so ahead of it’s time it’ll either flop or slaughter the competition. I’m hoping it slaughters it.

I’d have to disagree with you there. I mean, Suikoden 2? Castlevania: SotN? Hell, the PSX Final Fantasy games? I’d say that the best games of that generation came out on PSX. Most N64 games were subpar, but those that were good were excellent, such as Paper Mario, Mario 64, Zelda: OoT, and (for the time) Goldeneye. But I wouldn’t say they were the best games of the generation.

I agree with Saturn here, although the N64 games were certainly better than the ones for the Cube. Just look at it: OoT, Mario 64, Starfox 64, Goldeneye, Mario Party, Rogue Squadron, etc.

In those examples, I’d agree with you, but there are a couple of games for cube that are far better than their N64 equivalents. Resident Evil (and RE4 for that matter) > RE2 for N64, SSBM > SSB, and the original games have mostly been very good thus far (Eternal Darkness, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Cubivore, etc). I actually liked Wind Waker better than OoT, until the whole damn sailing part… >_<

Sorry, the words “Wind Waker” and “Sailing” awaken my deepest and most violent urges.

Am I the only one left that likes Super Smash Bros. better then Melee?

I doubt you’re the only one, but I’m not in that ship with you.