I’m sitting in my apartment on launch day of the Playstation 4, eagerly awaiting the knock at the door from Mr. UPS Man. As my excitement reaches its peak for the next generation consoles to become current generation, I’ve been reflecting on the past generation, and those prior.
For most of my childhood, a new generation of console hardware simply meant that we were getting sharper graphics and a controller with a few more buttons. It wasn’t until this past generation that a lot of the gaming landscape changed. For the first time, we had widespread network connectivity on consoles and with it came digital store fronts. The first steps toward the digital future were beginning when Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in 2005. Following Microsoft’s release, Sony launched their Playstation 3 following the height of success with the Playstation 2. Thus began the battle of the generation. Gamers chose sides and declared allegiance to one system and damned the other. This obviously wasn’t the first time gamers split themselves and yelled at one another about which gaming box was better. Personally, I remember the SNES vs. Genesis banter that was happening during my years in elementary school.
I fell into the same traps as gamers always have. When I was a kid, I stuck behind my consoles because they were what I had and I needed to justify it for some reason. As I grew older, it continued with new generations of console hardware. When the Xbox 360 debuted, I waited for the PS3. However, Sony’s hubris made the PS3 launch at such a high price and it was unaffordable for me. When I bought the 360, I stuck behind it for a few years until I started to see the lineup of exclusives on Sony’s HD platform. I bought a PS3 a few years into the life cycle and immediately became those snarky ads from the 90s. Those who have listened to The Game Fart can recall how much I would praise Playstation and damn Xbox. Of course I called both systems out for their faults, but I was leaning so hard one way and so far away from the other.
When Sony announced their PS4 in February, I immediately fell in love. I remember watching the reveal event while at work, driving around and screaming out of my window at every amazing announcement. A few months later, Microsoft announced the Xbox One, and I watched with sarcasm. I rolled my eyes at every announcement and immediately poked fun at what they were doing. To be fair, all of Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal was about the functionality of the console and nothing about the games. When Sony announced, they gave us facts like 8GB of GDDR5 and they showed us games. Lots of games. Microsoft threw out phrases like “Over 1 Billion Transistors.” I knew deep inside that gamers would switch to PS4 and that my team will have won.
E3 came in June and we saw more from both companies. We all watched as Sony dominated the conference with their used game policies and price announcement, and then I immediately preordered the console I sit waiting for right now. After the hype died down, I started rewatching both Sony and Microsoft’s press conferences from E3. I noticed something that the hype and cynicism prevented me from seeing upon first viewing. Microsoft showed games. A lot of games. Sony did too, but a lot of them were new trailers for the titles they announced in February. The only thing that Sony had to boast about was their success with the policies that they announced.
So here I am, November 15, two cups of coffee down and constantly looking out my balcony window for the big brown truck to pull up. A week from today, Microsoft will release their Xbox One. I’m not sure what synapse broke in my brain but I learned something today. It does not matter what we buy. Why are we fighting about this? Shouldn’t it just be about the games? Can’t we all just play what we like and discuss these experiences and be excited about everything? While some might wish for the PS4 or the Xbox One to burn and never survive, do you really want that? People claim that Nintendo is dying, and they hope for Nintendo to switch to simply publishing software. Why would you want that? Competition is what drives this industry. If Nintendo were gone forever, we would never have seen something like the Gamepad, which led everyone else to start the Second Screen movement. Further back, Kinect wouldn’t exist without the Wii Remote.
Moving forward, I plan on ceasing the cynicism. Sure, I’m still going to make fun when Microsoft comes out saying “TV TV TV TV TV TV TV TV Call of Duty Dog.” But if that is what you’re into, embrace it and enjoy it. Don’t attack someone or call them stupid because their expensive box for games is different than yours. Try talking to them about what they’ve been playing that you haven’t. Go to a friends house who has the box that you don’t, and see what all the fuss is about. Just be nice to one another. Let’s make this generation all about the games, and not about the war.
That’s enough of the hippy talk for now, I think I hear someone coming up the stairs…