The Console Wars: What Are We Fighting For?I want you to go ahead and close your eyes for just a moment. Imagine this glorious and picturesque pastoral landscape. Just rolling hills of green grasses and wildflowers that crop up in little clusters while the wind sweeps over the knolls like a hand smooths over the lumps in down comforters.

The soft little sounds of birds chirping, crickets happily sawing their legs together, and your own breathing are the only things you can actually hear as you sit on a lovely worn wood platform with nothing on any side of you for thousands of miles. Absolute quiet and peace with a light canvas shade covering you and you have only two sources of entertainment other than the gorgeous scenery. Just two.

An Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3.

Even Paradise Doesn’t Come Without Choices

Upon the corner of this platform is a television, catty-cornered with a delicious surround sound system that connects to the other three posts on this lovely platform that you’re sitting upon in the middle of nowhere. A neat rack of games for both consoles rests on either side of the television stand with an assortment of anything you’d ever want to play. This is your fantasy, after all. Now, you’re also given this plush and overly-stuffed recliner with a steel bucket filled with ice and the beverages of your choice. This is your quiet place. I’ve set a perfect stage, right?

Nobody can see you. Nobody is watching. Nobody is listening and money is no issue if you decide to log in and download a game that you’ve always wanted to play but you were always assuming you were a turncoat if you danced over to the other side to try something out. Nobody is going to post troll photos to your Facebook and tell you that what you chose is wrong because of a litany of unintelligible reasoning.

It’s just you, the beauty of pastoral countryside, and absolute relaxation and freedom from the trappings of the console wars.

I Choose… Everything!

In my time through all of the various consoles through the years, I’ve listened to all of the diatribes displayed both in person through friends or even on the Internet and it never quite made sense to me. I tilted my head and would listen without prejudice because I had every console as a kid. I was lucky to not have had the problem of making excuses for why I didn’t have something. However, I found that so many of my younger friends were making excuses for why their parents didn’t buy a Sega Genesis instead of a Super Nintendo as if they were the true decision makers in their household. Excuses like, “Well, the Nintendo games are better quality.” or what game titles were available between the two consoles that would get rattled off as lazy answers. I’d get a duck-face with brows lifted from many of my male friends and they would just say something like, “Zelda, bro. Zelda.” as if that was enough of an answer.

Why did we not grow out of this? What if we had the resources to have all of these things and not be forced to choose? Why are we forced to choose? How come we don’t look at gaming as this expansive buffet where everyone can try a bit of everything, dump sushi, asparagus, and banana pudding onto one plate and then come back for seconds later if we want? Do we truly have to be so staunch?

My Anti-Snobbery Cause is as Just as Your Cause

Because of my upbringing where I was shown that all consoles were viable forms of entertainment, I never had that kind of snobbery in play when I bought or decided on these things as an adult. On the contrary, I welcomed it all because fun is fun. Who cares about the logistics? A friend, the other day, explained to me that she didn’t support Sony and the PlayStation products because she is a “hippie” and that made me laugh. She was under the impression that, because Microsoft is an American-based company, that the parts and hardware are not sourced from other countries. That, because a group of men pieced together Dell parts in order to see if they could come up with something to compete with Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 2, that it was a patriotic act.

So now America is in the party?

Forget that we have no problem with buying most of our products that are put together by dozens of underpaid workers overseas — because those guys were screwing Dell computers together and smacking an “X” on them. Nah, that’s apparently all you need to state that you buy Microsoft for patriotism. Supposedly, buying from Sony is supporting other economies? Are we forgetting the hundreds upon thousands of American jobs that Sony has open to developers and those working with marketing, research, and development? Perhaps we are. Perhaps people misunderstand that they have become their own blissfully unaware hype machines and that the only people that truly suffer — are the ones not playing video games for reasons that are, let’s be honest, unreasonable.

Taking One for the Team

Now there are the people who look at the Xbox 360 and they see that the multiplayer experience is quite expansive there. These are people who buy a game because they truly only see it as being something they will enjoy with other friends and those friends have a 360, as well. That’s how they get you, by the way. There have been plenty of times where I have looked at games and I have turned down a title that would be beautifully rendered on the PS3 but knew that the multiplayer experience would be lacking, so I chose a 360 copy. It was always one sacrifice for the other, but I knew that if it was just me playing the game, I would choose a PS3 copy.

Honestly, I’ve been won over by the Sony brand name, but I can still appreciate what is coming out of Microsoft for its gaming divisions. To me, Sony has been this full and capable entertainment brand that has been proving that it has big hopes and dreams for what it can accomplish and sometimes it even extends its own reach. I watched the company have all of these ideas that were ahead of their time and it never fully scrapped them, but it would put them in the hopper and let them blend in with future technology it was coming out with. Not many know about the Sony Mylo, but it was a smaller, consumer-friendly version of what the PS Vita and what our smartphones are like today. This was six years ago. The project never picked up steam and the product was shelved and discontinued, but they kept the technology on hold.

Nobody’s Perfect…

When the PlayStation Network was down due to security faults stemming from online hacking, Xbox loyalists took to the Internet and bragged about how their network had never gone down. Their network is Xbox Live, a feature you pay for in order to play online games with your friends, watch Netflix and Hulu Plus (features you already have to pay separate subscriptions for), and listen to their music system with. Boasting this, Sony fans were having to counter with the fact that, yes, they may have been hacked and offline for several weeks, but that Sony wasn’t making them pay for content they were already paying for and that making people pay for multiplayer is a severely crippling mechanic in the social gaming universe. Sony bleeds money to stop its players from bleeding money needlessly because that is money that could go into buying its products.

Bring in PlayStation Plus, a subscription service that you could adopt if you wanted to have discounts on games on the Sony Entertainment Network Store (PSN Store) and that announces new titles every month that are given to its subscribers for free. Such a service would offer cloud storage and transfer, discounts, and free games but not revoke video or music applications if you are no longer a PlayStation Plus member. That, well, that’s why Sony fans weren’t horribly derailed after the debacle. I know it’s why I wasn’t. Even without PlayStation Plus, I had a healthy understanding of what my PS3 offered me and that was the freedom for it to be anything I truly wanted. I could store music, movies, and photos all on that hard drive and have access to them whenever I wanted. If I downloaded something to watch on my PS3, I didn’t have to worry about an Internet connection not allowing me to do so (a fault with Xbox 360 is that, if you want to watch something off of a thumb drive or any other media, you have to have an Internet connection supposedly for codecs), and I never felt limited.

…Not Even Your Favorite Brand

That’s not to say that the Xbox 360 doesn’t have its own ample, bursting features that are well worth it. Microsoft was keen on finding some amazing game studios that offer games you can only get on an Xbox starting from Halo to games like Fable and Gears of War and other very heavy titles with massive followings. To be honest, Halo and Fable are what made me stick with my Xbox as long as I did and it wasn’t until the console fell apart on me (it had been my third) that I decided to trade every Xbox item I had in and completely adopt the Sony lifestyle.

I know, however, that it all came down to hardware, money, and logistics. It was not about taking a stand for something that was unreasonable and uneducated, but it was because I did not have the money to keep replacing a faulty console, pay for an additional subscription service, just to access my other subscription services, or to buy two copies of games because I’d prefer the experience on the PS3, but my friends all have 360s. I have never, ever (knock on wood) had a PS3 die and, in fact, I usually would replace them to upgrade them because of need for space. All of my PS3s have lived on and everyone gets a shelf in my room. All of my consoles, even my Nintendos, Xbox, and PlayStations all sit together on my shelf beneath my television. Everyone gets a chance. Nobody gets counted out, but I am an adult and I let realistic factors determine what I spend my hard earned money on.

Forsooth, I’m a Fan of Fun

So go back to that pastoral and dreamy landscape I painted for you and remember what I said about money being no object, nobody can find you and give you hell for it, and you have any game at your disposal and all the time in the world to enjoy yourself and your games where you can remember that entertainment is entertainment. We don’t need to be mad about it, and we don’t need to defend a company staunchly.

We can just enjoy ourselves. Let’s try that, shall we?

How do you feel about the console wars and do you think it’s all taken too seriously? What are the reasons you choose the console or platform that you choose?

Image: Public domain with adaptations by the author