The new generation of consoles has brought out the ugly side of gaming.
Console wars have plagued the games industry since the days of Nintendo versus Sega, but now it tends to be PlayStation versus Xbox. Whether you are a middle schooler or a tweeter in your early 30s, arguments about which console is better is common to hear and see. These arguments have created, what seems to be, a deep divide between loyalist on either side.
Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, describes this “toxic brand loyalty” in an interview with The Verge as “tribalism,” and he considers it “one of the worst things about our industry.” However, Phil is not the only one to have a distaste for the perceived console war. Jim Ryan, President and CEO of PlayStation, spoke to TASS and stated he does “not use or actually like” the term console war but rather views the competition as a positive. With the heads of both major consoles stating that they are against this tribalism and the concept of the console war, why does it seem more prevalent than ever with the new console generation?
While many could speculate an answer to that question, I believe that the large divide is due to the astronomically high prices and shortage of the new generation consoles. Due to the high prices, individuals may have to choose one or the other, which likely leads to a brand loyalty to the first console that individuals own. Further, from what I have seen, PlayStation fanatics seem to act in a tribalistic manner when seeing a post about Xbox or when the Series X|S is back in stock. I believe this is largely due to the PlayStation 4 being the dominant console last generation. It should be noted that this is merely speculation, and there are surely many more reasons for the unhealthy brand loyalty.
While this tribalism runs throughout the gaming industry, many miss the positives of having two major consoles. Jim Ryan puts it best when talking to TASS, saying “It avoids us from getting complacent.” By having this competition between Xbox and PlayStation, the true winner is the gamers as there is a focus on innovation as the two companies fight for sales. Consider the new DualSense controller. The adaptive triggers within this controller are something I never thought I would have seen, but, through the innovation of competition, it has been created to enhance our gaming experience. While on the Xbox side, they worked hard to create the most powerful home console, giving many an opportunity to experience PC level gaming.
It is important to reconsider views on console wars and come together to embrace the good that competition and gaming provide to so many!