The war for dominance over the eighth console generation will soon be on. Nintendo has a head start with millions of devices sold, but starting next month, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will hit store shelves, unleashing what will surely be a hotly contested battle between the firms.
But I’m here to tell you, before the industry has even had a chance to get all three devices on store shelves, that the PlayStation 4 will be the winner this console generation.
Let’s start with Nintendo. The Wii was the dominant force during the last console generation, but as that device’s started to tail off, Nintendo thought it could keep things afloat with help from the Wii U. But as recent sales figures have shown, Nintendo’s console is a dud. The chances of the Wii U even coming close to matching the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One anytime soon seems unlikely, at best.
So, let’s move to the Xbox One. On the online-gaming front, Microsoft will probably be quite successful, due in large part to its Xbox Live platform. In addition, the company has done a fine job improving Kinect and delivering enhanced performance for those looking for better graphics. Microsoft has even won over several developers that are looking to capitalize on the new-generation gold rush.
Still, we can’t discount one very important point: Microsoft’s Xbox One will probably prove to be a disaster in Asia. In countries like Japan and South Korea, the Xbox has never really caught on. Some have said that’s because Microsoft’s consoles are too big, while others claim it’s about the game library. Others say that consumers are simply more interested in what Nintendo and Sony have to offer. Whatever the reason, Microsoft has no foothold in Asia.
[aquote]The Xbox One is a purely Western game console[/aquote]
Looking ahead, there’s no reason to suggest the Xbox One will change that. Microsoft has proven time and again that it’s content with focusing on the U.S. and Europe, and based on its launch dates for the Xbox One, it feels that way yet again. The Xbox One, in other words, is a purely Western game console. And that will hold Microsoft back.
Sony, meanwhile, has all of the issues wrapped up that Nintendo and Microsoft can’t handle. Sony doesn’t need to worry about Nintendo-like problems, including a somewhat small game library and second-rate online-gaming features. And unlike Microsoft, Sony has a loyal fanbase in Asia, meaning the PlayStation 4 console’s chances of becoming a regional console are slim, to say the least.
But perhaps Sony’s trump card will be the likelihood of the PlayStation 4 getting off to a better start. Sony’s console is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One at $399, which means it’s likely to have a better holiday shopping season. And as history has proven, getting off to a quick start and selling boatloads of consoles up front usually means more games from developers, which translates to more hardware sales.
From this vantage point, the PlayStation 4 appears to have all of the pieces in place to make a major impact on the eighth console generation.
But as with anything else in the gaming industry, there’s one caveat: will consumers behave in the way they’re expected?