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Console Wars Phase 2: The Surge

There has been a lot of bad press lately in the infrastructure of games these days, though Sony is coming up clean presently as they take a commanding lead in the console wars, or so it seems. In the console wars, there has always been two clear combatants and one that is trying to rise to take the place of a clear loser among the main combatants. Now we are about to embark on Phase 2 of the Console Wars where we will be surging to the big battle at E3 in June. It’s usually been a dead heat between Sony and Microsoft and Microsoft seemed to have taken a lot of Sony’s thunder away as they ran away with the solid structure of Xbox Live. But since the Xbox One’s release, a number of gaming news outlets have named Sony a strong winner with sales of the PlayStation 4 out numbering Xbox One sales 2:1, though Microsoft’s ‘Major Nelson’ Larry Hryb will have you believing otherwise with his mentions on Twitter of millions sold worldwide.

This tweet by ‘Major Nelson’ was followed by a tweet from Sony’s Twitter account, declaring they had sold 4.2 million units at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show). Meanwhile Nintendo’s Wii U console, released on November 18th, 2012 has only just recently climbed to the sales numbers of 3.91 millions consoles sold as of December 2013 as mentioned in a USA Today article. So poorly have the sales number been received by Nintendo, even Nintendo’s Iwata Satoru has declared to take a heavy pay cut by slicing his salary in half in spite of those poor numbers for 2013. As Sony and Microsoft would appear as they have nothing to fear from Nintendo towards their own battle, its hard to imagine that even Microsoft would consider bowing out of the console production business.

In another recent article from The Washington Post, it was indicated that the Microsoft’s Newest CEO, Satya Nadella, is receiving push from investors to eliminate the Xbox division from Microsoft’s production lines among their Surface and Bing products (Fung, 2014). Despite what appears like Microsoft’s seemingly obvious success with their consoles, its reported that the Xbox division lost Microsoft over 1 million dollars in 2013. I myself have been rather harsh in the slow rollout that the Xbox One has had since its release with updates and content, even I find that as rather dramatic shock because it appears to be such a solid money maker for them. From television shows to movies, rap and hip-hop songs to Super Bowl commercials, its either that Microsoft has really just been shoving their console down our throats, or it really is in high demand. Yet the other obvious side to this is just as simple as going down to your local game or electronics stores where consoles for Xbox One are easily obtainable and seem rare for PlayStation 4 consoles. Though speaking with store managers of these locations, Sony sends these locations a much smaller quantity of PlayStation 4 consoles where Microsoft sends bulky shipments of Xbox One consoles on a much wider time frame.

So what does this say about the future of gaming though? Certainly at this time it is unclear as we are coming close to another E3 convention in June with both Sony and Microsoft trying to drum up a great presentation to leave the other speechless. Nintendo chose to hold their own press conference last year leaving Sony and Microsoft to go at it, but they still had booths and games for all to see. I personally heavily criticized Nintendo’s release of the 2DS handheld as I felt it was an unnecessary product to make. Even though its sales figures have seemed to have broken even for Nintendo’s expenditures of the device, I had felt that those costs could have better gone to the production of a new flagship title, preferably with a new leading icon instead of the same reused ones we have gotten year in and year out. Mario will always have a strong place in my heart but I feel its almost time to retire the old boy and hand the reigns to someone else in the lineup. Maybe it is Luigi’s time?

I definitely hope that Nintendo isn’t ‘out of the game’ yet, though I’m not sure as I recently saw a television ad for a local sports and family restaurant by the name of Dave & Buster’s that showcased Mario Kart arcade machines towards their whole ‘fun for the whole family’ marketing. Though these locations hold more memory for me watching drunken fools that you may or may not recall trying to play Dance Dance Revolution halfway intoxicated at 1am, and I can see them easily migrating to drunken Mario Kart wars. As its been mentioned as well in recent news that Nintendo is open to other business opportunities where it was even rumored and later debunked at Nintendo games crossing over to OSX to iPhones and iPads, there is no direction hinted by Nintendo as what types of business ventures they are considering. This is typical of Nintendo has they hold all information of theirs as tight as they can. Nintendo is pushing forth some new Pokémon titles, so that should be fun for some though there still doesn’t appear to be anything strong on the horizon. We’ll see if they decide to hold from another E3 conference this year which will indicate a more clear distinction of their position within the console wars.

With Nintendo aside, we’re left to think about Sony and Microsoft as to how they will try to dazzle our hearts and minds as well as our eyes. Sony is enjoying a commanding lead and there is no shortage on content where it was recently mentioned that Sony plans to have at least 100 titles for PlayStation 4 alone before the end of this year. Of course this is on top of PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PSN supported titles, and that’s a lot of titles coming our way. I wouldn’t have imagined that Sony would be able to get the better of Microsoft challenging Xbox Live, but their free provided content from their PlayStation Plus membership is something I cannot talk enough about and will always urge any PlayStation owner to invest in. Xbox is just now coming to the shores with free content to its Gold members, but the titles have been less than exciting with only 2 titles provided to members a month. Disappointingly enough, World of Tanks which is a decent and enjoyable game on PC has yet to make it to the Xbox One; something eluded to during last year’s Microsoft Press Conference at E3.

Killer Instinct enjoys a spot in the line up of games at the EVO Fighting Game Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, but its teaser trailer debut was booed at last year’s EVO Championships. These little exclusives, as fun as they appear to be, are not captivating the audiences. Titanfall is probably the biggest let down as it fell short on its idea of a holiday release among other games such as Watch Dogs, but with the BETA now in full swing until February 19th, it has received raving reviews and solid remarks that it may be what brings the Xbox One out of the cellar. And the Xbox One definitely needs a headliner now more than ever since Ryse fell on its sales figures and Halo 5 will not join the library of games until 2015. With what I have played of it thus far, I could definitely see it joining the line up of games at tournaments around the world.

Right now, neither side seems to have an ace up their sleeve, though Microsoft seems to be holding a strong hand with Titanfall soon to be released in March. Sony will bring us Final Fantasy 14 to the PS4 and at present stronger performance rates for Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, but I don’t see much more from them other than Infamous: Second Son that presents a draw over Microsoft. Elder’s Scroll Online is said not to carry an additional subscription on PS4, but that will not have any pull until a running demo of the game is played by the gaming news community and clue us in towards its said beauty. We’re all going to enjoy another year of console battles, but the battle plans are not fully known right now so I can say right now is…..gear up people, because we may be spending some serious coin this year if its a big one

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A video game fiend and enthusiast that has pretty much owned nearly every possible gaming console that has existed. Graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Game Art & Design with aspirations to become a full fledged game designer at some point in my life. I push for the evolution of games with no definitive winner to the console wars because if there were only one means to develop for, what would the fun be in that?