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After something of an inconspicuous start it seems that this console generation is starting to pick up some steam, courtesy of the two biggest names in the business. The PS4, dominant for much of this first part, has had some serious missteps, while Xbox under Phil Spencer seems more determined than ever to win back the hearts and minds of the gaming public. There are iterative hardware upgrades coming for both systems, and while the PS4 Pro has nearly a year long head start on Xbox’s Project Scorpio it won’t be quite as powerful. Sony have said no to game mods while Microsoft is embracing them. PSVR is real and looking fantastic while Scorpio may well have support for the major VR headsets, possibly Oculus Rift. And, of course, Nintendo is quietly chugging along, doing its own thing as it always has.
It shouldn’t matter what side you’re on. Because whoever loses, we win.
I like to think of myself as something of a dedicated leftie: generally I’m distrustful of large corporate entities, especially those responsible for the services we need to live good lives, since they probably don’t have the best interests of their customers at heart. There’s a lot of bullshit about the free market society we live in, particularly when the system is gamed to suit the wealthy few. Yet I’m not so cynical as to deny that a free market has its benefits; it’s just a matter of what kind of market you’re entering and what the competition is like.
The gaming industry is probably one of the few areas in which I’m happy the market is open because the recent fronts opening up in the console wars are showing us how we’ve been told free markets are supposed to work for years. One company put out a better product than its competitor and subsequently was rewarded with higher sales, so the competitor had to change their ways in order to gain back that lost ground.
It’s therefore almost unbelievable to think that Microsoft screwed up the launch of the Xbox One so badly in 2013, what with the always online DRM and restrictions on used games that ultimately weren’t implemented, and did enough damage that they’ve only just recovered. Sony have essentially been coasting on the PS4’s lead and appear to have stopped caring about keeping their customer base happy, opening up opportunities for the boys in Redmond. As an example, thanks to Sony’s nonsense you won’t be able to install mods for Fallout 4 and Skyrim Legendary Edition, even though support was promised by Bethesda. I’m pissed off about that since mod support has been and will be a major selling point for those games, even with them coming to consoles, and as a PS4 owner I paid full price for a product which is incomplete and inferior to every other version. Xbox One owners have had mod support since May and they have every right to feel a little smug about it.
There’s a lot of bullshit in the gaming industry but the thing that no-one should lose sight of is that games exist to make us happy, to allow us to take a break from our stressful lives and immerse ourselves in a virtual world. If you want to be a smart consumer you should be happy to part ways with your hard-earned cash, not feel obligated to. It’s big business and the big console manufacturers will do anything to hold your attention, because that gives them opportunities to take your money. This kind of competition can only be good for gamers, so get informed and make your choice.