Dr. Carlos DIAZ RUIZ

Professor in Marketing & Consumer studies

Understanding the console wars

1 Comment

I am far from being an expert on technology, but during the last month I have been exposed to a crash course on graphic cards and computational performance courtesy of the console wars between Microsoft and Sony. An odd result is that now I am quite convinced that the laptop that I currently own is substantially better than both consoles. So I am intrigued. What is the WOW factor of the new consoles?

Honestly I can’t see the “OMG!” factor for the new products. Games may look slightly better, but it is unclear if it is because of smoke and mirrors. Microsoft, for instance, presented their games using PC’s equipped with higher technical specs than their new console. The lack of interest on innovations in games seems to be that gamers became a marginal target group for gaming consoles. Evidence is that Sony and Microsoft presented boring first person shooters; the trademark of casual gamers. Shooters were boring since the innovation is that Call of Duty now has a dog. Microsoft placed a huge emphasis on home entertainment. Games from PS4 look better than those of PS3, but only as a cumulative improvement, to me nothing radical.

Perhaps the OMG! factor is in the new gimmicks? Well, the PS4 does not appear to have any new relevant trick, which is disappointing. Without new features the Sony camps looses points for lack of creativity. But then again, at least Sony did not present anything scary. Microsoft did scare many announcing a High Definition camera which is originally designed to be always on, even if the machine is turned off. Kinect is so invasive that even congressmen in the US are lobbying for an act called “We are watching you”.  Equally scary to me is the reassurance, by Microsoft, that the microphone will only react to the phrase XBOX ON and nothing else. This implies that the machine will be listening, and understanding what you say. And I am not going to continue with the much maligned licensing scheme for games, because Microsoft retracted themselves recently.

The customer verdict? Some sources suggest that 95% prefer PS4 over XBOX1. And obliged question is: What is it special about the PS4? The new PlayStation 4 seems to be a lift up of the good old PS3 if nothing else. I do not see anything radically new or exciting about the PS4. Perhaps more computational power than before, but less than a PC. What seems to be special though is the PR disaster of Microsoft.

I do not own a TV. In fact, I haven’t owned a TV for 7 years, although now I know that my laptop is pretty cool. My conclusion is that, excluding the exclusive titles, I can’t see any real reason for people not just to get a PC, which is far more useful, and demand publishers to release games on PC. For instance, the game THE DIVISION now has more than 93,000 signatures demanding Ubisoft to release the game on PC; a lot of money for independent publishers. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginning of the end for gaming consoles as we know them?

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Author: Diaz Ruiz

Carlos A. Diaz Ruiz is Assistant Professor in Marketing at Kedge Business School in Bordeaux

One thought on “Understanding the console wars

  1. interesting your point of view, I agree,

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