The year 2019 is coming to a close. Ending another year, no, another decade of video gaming. And with a new decade just around the corner, it’s fitting that the industry will celebrate this new decade with new hardware.
I probably know what some of you are thinking about. “The next round of the console wars! Sony Ponys vs. Xbox Fans vs. Nintendo Fanatics vs. The PC Master Race!” And in the past, I felt the same way. I mean, it’s always been like that in the past, so having this logic would be okay, right?
Well, you would be wrong. Because as this decade winds down, the industry begins a new decade with an industry that will complete a radical change. A radical change that we saw develop in real-time as the 2010s went on. This new change would be the end of the traditional “console wars” as we once knew it.
So what do I mean by this? Well, take a look at the big three video game makers (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo). Have you noticed their approach to playing games has drastically changed within the last few years? Each company approaches things and markets its products in completely different ways. And this approach has happened drastically before our very eyes.
Think about it, the current generation started with the traditional “console wars”, and now it’s ending in a way that is anything but traditional. The industry is currently near the end of what I call a “transitional period” and the different philosophies of these companies will take full effect next year. These different philosophies are as follows:
Sony will follow the more traditional console cycle with the PlayStation 5, albeit with a few minor twists. What I have read so far, Sony will market the PS5 and the primary way to play your games. With services such as PlayStation Now and Remote Play being secondary options, but not front and center with the PS5. Some games like Death Stranding are coming out on PC, but I doubt that will become a trend with other Sony exclusives.
Xbox, on the other hand, is taking a completely radical approach. This philosophy started when Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division in 2014. To him, instead of right the ship after the disaster that was the Xbox One launch. He decided the company go bolder. Yes, they still have a traditional console. Project Scarlett is coming out next year. But notice how it’s not front and center marketing-wise.
Xbox has marketed itself as a company platform. Not something that is limited to one console. Sure, you can play your games on Xbox One and Scarlett. But there is more. Are you a primary PC player? Well, you can play on PC via the Xbox App or Games Pass. (Heck, they even put the Halo games on Steam! That seemed unthinkable just five years ago!). And Project xCloud will be available soon and looks like the real deal (R.I.P. Stadia). What Phil and the gang at Xbox are doing is making Xbox a platform, not a console. And they will bring that vision to full tuition next year.
Nintendo’s approach this time around is, well, being themselves. The Nintendo Switch has been a huge success and a great comeback from the Wii U’s failure. Nintendo is just riding momentum off the Switch with hit game after hit game. I am well aware of those rumors of a more powerful Switch supposedly being made. And I completely understand the arguments being made that Nintendo needs to upgrade the system in order to compete with PS5 and Scarlett. But as of right now, it’s all speculation, so I have no opinion on the matter currently.
Three different companies, with three different approaches. But there is one thing these three companies have done recently that, in my opinion, is a total game-changer. And that is cross-play. These companies have finally understood a long-running myth about consumers.
We aren’t dedicated to one console anymore. And with the different philosophies the big three have adopted, it makes more than enough sense to come to that realization. I own every console and a PC. And most hardcore gamers have more than one console in their home. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have finally understood this. The three companies, while running on different ideas, all agree on one important aspect of the industry. The consumer! And with cross-play, each company can bridge together and expand their user bases more than ever. The possibilities are endless.
With these different philosophies and the benefit of cross-play, I can safely say the “console wars” as we know it is over. Now, of course, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are still technically competitors, and will no doubt try to get an edge over each other financially. But they never hated each other; quite the opposite in fact. All three companies care about the most important things. Making great games, and making gamers happy, regardless of what platform they play on.
A perfect analogy to all this was during The Game Awards 2018, when Phil Spencer, Shawn Layden, and Reggie Fils-Aime shared the stage together to open the show. To all of us, it should symbolize how much the video game industry has evolved over the last ten years, and what the industry as a whole will be like once the new decade starts. Because in the end, both the industry and the consumers can agree. We aren’t separated into groups. There aren’t console gamers or PC Gamers. We are all gamers, period.