For the last 15 years at least, the battle for console supremacy has been waged between Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Each brand has built its own loyal following, with gamers going to great lengths to explain to the rest of the world why their console of choice is the best. But who is truly winning the console war? Current sales are clearly a massive indicator of a product’s success, but which brands are best placed to meet the changing demands and habits of gamers in the short and long-term?
Nintendo is the oldest name out of the three where gaming is concerned, and they have succeeded in carving out a niche in recent years as a product for families and casual gamers; although the recent launch of their Switch console has blurred those lines.
The Switch has changed the way gamers interact with their hardware, offering the option to play on the go as a handheld, or dock at home to enjoy the games on a bigger screen. And, much like the Wii, the console has been a success.
Your new deserted island life awaits…
Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrives on Nintendo Switch on 20th March! pic.twitter.com/2rDZXHo2Qq
— Nintendo UK (@NintendoUK) February 25, 2020
Earlier this year, the Switch overtook the iconic Super Nintendo in overall sales and more than 52 million consoles have been sold in total since its launch in 2017. The breakthrough of the Switch has been a relief to Nintendo following the disastrous Wii-U, which failed to capitalize on the success of the original Wii.
Market analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes the Switch’s success has largely been down to Nintendo’s closer focus on digital revenue, which he says totaled around $1.5bn for 2019. He adds: “That is up by over 50% from 2018 and illustrates both a market trend with a shift to digital consumption and also the rapid evolution of this part of Nintendo’s business.”
The Japanese audio-visual giant exploded onto the gaming scene in 1994, with the launch of the PlayStation. The first mainstream console to run games from a compact disc, the PlayStation forever changed the wider world’s perception of video games.
The console was capable of playing audio CDs and looked much more like a serious entertainment product than predecessors manufactured by Sega and Nintendo. And through the PlayStation, Sony was able to capitalize on the growth of the mature gamer market.
Today, it is arguable that the more mature player has a much greater choice of leisure distractions than before. Even by the early 00s older gamers were used to being able to access a world of multimedia entertainment online, including online casino games, which offer a wealth of choice in terms of varied titles, that take inspiration from popular mainstream tropes and multimedia.
The fact that the general gaming demographic is getting older – and that the average gamer now typically has more disposable income – is great news for an industry that has truly boomed financially during the last 15 years. Due to the reputation of its brand, Sony is easily able to engage with the more discerning adult gamer.
The first ever E3 and Sony are showing off their first foray into gaming, SEGA had their presentation earlier and announced the SEGA Saturn at $399.
They intentionally drone on before asking Steve Race to come up to the stage for one of the most iconic PlayStation moments. pic.twitter.com/NX3mOHq7W1
— Retro Plaza (@Retro_Plaza) February 24, 2020
Another relative newcomer to the games industry is Microsoft, which entered the console wars with the Xbox, that went head to head with Sony’s Playstation 2. Microsoft also noted the changing demographics of the gaming market and saw the opportunity to build links between the games and their other computer products.
And though the company hasn’t really succeeded in integrating its services across laptops and consoles, it has succeeded in launching a line of consoles that are at the absolute forefront of the industry in terms of power.
The challenge for Microsoft, and Sony, for that matter, is to find ways to distinguish their own product from their rivals’. Because while Nintendo has succeeded in finding a niche, Microsoft and Sony’s business plans appear to be built around out-doing one another at precisely the same thing. But Nintendo often finds themselves in hot water in terms of product power. They can’t compete with Sony and Microsoft when it comes to the tech inside their console, and they often don’t want to.
With the new generation fast approaching, who will win the next phase of the console war? Time will tell…and you can be sure that this year’s E3 Expo will be very telling.