Sunday, July 17, 2011
"What Console Again?": The Multi-platform Console Distaster
It's a popular question when considering the purchase of a video game console; "which one should I get?" Unfortunately, this issue isn't made any easier by the overwhelming amount of systems available on the market today and the multiple versions that go along with it. The funny part is, or perhaps the irony in all of this, is the cold hard fact that there are really only four big companies competing for the top spot: Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and Apple. Although we like to try and deny it, Apple's mobile platform, iOS has spun off to become the most popular gaming platform with the most popular online gaming service. Likewise, Microsoft and Sony both have very popular online services, Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. Nintendo, on the other hand, doesn't yet have a main multiplayer social gaming service beyond online stores and wi-fi connection in-game. Yet somehow, each company either can't make up it's mind on hardware. The software story is fine, and all of it makes some sort of sense. But beyond the digital spectrum, the real one is a clusterfuck of products each with varying capabilities, prices and purposes. If this was a buying experience from Dell or Apple, it would make sense, but it's not and it doesn't.
Is the very example of a disastrous clusterfuck of problems with no solutions. Sony currently has two main products that control their product line, one which is portable and one which isn't. In terms of home consoles, the main product is the PS3, but for some stupid reason, the PS2 is still kicking, regardless of the fact that it's ten years old. It's time to shoot the dog and put her down, Sony. Enough is enough. We don't need the platform anymore. The PS3 on the other hand, is just fine and not an issue at all. Then we look at the mobile products. Sony currently sells two PSP's; the 3000, which still has the UMD drive and is arguably the largest portable console on the market and the PSPgo- a digital distribution based product based around true portability. But thats not all folks. Sony will be releasing yet another, super amazing handheld called the Playstation Vita or PSVita for short. However, they plan to continue to support and sell the PSP, confusing developers and holding back gamers from making decisions just because the PSP is worlds cheaper ($129 vs. $249) and looks pretty much the same. How can anybody make the right choice when there are two three totally different but connected product available? It's very hard to do.
Nintendo is one of the few companies that seemed to get it, but now they're about to screw things up again. Nintendo has two main "lines" of products in the mobile and home categories as well. But unfortunately, they have even more consoles in there. First, there's the DS line, which contains the original DS (retired), the DS Lite, the DSi and the 3DS. Currently, the DS Lite, DSi and 3DS are sold and will continue to ALL be sold for a very long time. If that isn't bad, the home consoles are about to get worse. Nintendo currently has the Wii and will be replacing it with a totally new Wii U, which is a super departure from it's predecessor. That makes five available products for users to go after, which can really get quite confusing for the end users. Unfortunately, it's not likely to improve either.
Microsoft is even better than Apple in terms of keeping out the clutter. The main and single Xbox product is the 360 which only has one update available which has successfully replaced the original and kept the idiots of the world from buying the older one- making decisions far easier. As of now, there don't look to be any updates in the future, as the product has the power of the fastest PCs available today, and then some. In fact, the platform may converge with Windows to become one united software platform- extending the life and use of the platform for users everywhere.
So, what console should you choose? I don't really know, but there are plenty of choices on the market today...