Gaming is big business. A long time ago, it crawled away from the world of pale teens hiding indoors and moved into the world of grown ups. Those awkward teens flourished and became normal people, with normal lives, who have a small cupboard upstairs where they're allowed to go every now and then to shout at new teens playing games half way around the world.
Gaming isn't for a targeted niche anymore, it has spread into mainstream culture and millions of varying global currencies can easily be lost by a poor performance at E3 (probably an over exaggeration but this bit needed drama).
From the overwhelming online response last night, one thing was made clear. People want a PS4. Sony have come out all guns blazing, undermining Microsoft wherever possible, with a cheaper console, better hardware, more freedom and functionality. They walked out with their feathers on show and strutted. You can almost imagine Sony sitting back as Microsoft unveiled the details of Xbox One and gleefully turning to all those assembled, cackling manically and slaughtering their tributes to the gods of old in preparation for their own announcement. Sony knew they were about to take the lead in the forthcoming console battle.
Twitter was alive with who wants what and what's better than who and where... well you get the idea. Untrue to form, Sony have come out brandishing their scars from the last next-gen releases as a badge of honour. As if to say "hey, we won't make those mistakes again" (it's not the toughest thing to say). Whilst Microsoft have seemingly adopted a God complex stood on high throwing digital faecal matter into the faces of their followers as they scream uncontrollably "you will eat what I give you!"
From first glance, Sony seem to have listened to what their current and potential audiences want to see in new hardware if they are going to pay out the hefty price tags. The debate on the ability to play borrowed or second hand games reflects this perfectly, with Sony saying yes and Microsoft saying RESTRICTION. What Sony seem to have got right, is the focus on this being a games console opposed to Microsoft's ideals of it becoming a home hub/omnipotent house brain. Therefore the PS4 appeals more to early adopters.
However, until we see the consoles can we actually say what the superior model is? Sure from what we've seen the PS4 is slicker, faster and packing more power, but the Xbox One demands you to feed it blood every 24 hours so it can grow and understand the Earth before it lays waste to mankind... E3 is all about hype and noise, flashing your new toys and getting people fired up into hysterics. Like the monolith at the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey, us mere monkeys will sit beneath it and worship. The problem here is that we have two almost identical looking monoliths and a lot of noise coming out of one of them.
Right now it's all very much my Dad is harder than your Dad (I hope that term translates outside of where I grew up). The gaming world thrives on rivalry. Look at the big Nintendo vs Sega wars in the nineties, where most of Japan was wiped out by a hailstorm of turtle shells and live hedgehogs in an attempt to shift units. Sure thousands died and hedgehogs were massacred, but the drama and rivalry fuelled sales for both parties. Microsoft and Sony's latest clash of heads is nothing new; it creates debate and creates sales.
Lets just hope, hype aside, these consoles can deliver. In an age where graphics are getting hard to improve on and gameplay is making leaps and bounds every year, this new hardware better have something to justify the purchase beyond the argument of "Oooo shiny". They need to start showing off what they can actually do and not what they can do on paper. For me, the crying shame is that neither of the consoles unveiled software that will be able to get into John Malkovich's head and take him for a walk in the early hours of the morning, or perhaps set him going from coast to coast whilst you step out for eggs.
There's a lot riding on both models for both companies involved. A misjudgement in a console can and has sealed the end aka Sega's Dreamcast. If Xbox and PS4 don't nail their pitch, they're one step away from doing a Nintendo - becoming comfortably nestled in its own niche to slipping from its great heights of success to an ageing eccentric who dresses in bright colours and is content mesmerising children and families with its quirky array of gimmicks (Mario Kart and Zelda do look fantastic I won't lie - I like those gimmicks).
Regardless of where the money goes and which console takes superiority, there is a good chance these are the last two giants in the world of console gaming. With clouds and streaming becoming more commonplace, we may in fact be forgetting that the true longevity of these consoles could come from who adapts to the new trends and the way we consume games.
We've come a long way since those early NES's and Mastersystem's found a place in our homes, sucking children into the TV during electrical storms. Regardless of which console you pledge allegiance to, let's hope that these new behemoths can give future games new power and capacity, to offer even more immersive and breathtaking gameplay until the day comes when we can immortalise ourselves in a hive of online consciousness, existing only as binary.
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