Reaping The Benefits Of Competition…

I like to consider myself what I call, a gaming purist. Doesn’t matter what platform it may be on, as long as it is fun, I will play it. Whether it is on a console, handheld, phone or my PC. If none are available, chances are I will make a game or competition out of anything.

Anyone for hard drive hockey?

I am not what you would call a ‘fanboy’ but I will admit that currently my platforms of choice are my PS3 and PSP. I won’t go into detail why I prefer them currently, as this is not the topic this post. Instead I would like to take a moment to look at each of the three competing console manufacturers and see what I think would happen if the other two did not exist….Shall we take a look?

Lets start with good old Microsoft, an easy target. I think that if Sony and Nintendo were not around, we would probably end up licensing our consoles on an annual basis or each time there was a non-security related dashboard update.

We would have to shell out some extra cash in order to gain marginally upgraded functionality or a cosmetic overhaul that hides the usually obvious flaws. You know, dazzle the masses with pretty themes and lots of flashing lights.

“In this version the blades make this new sound when you move between them and when you turn on the Aero theme, that’s when things get really exciting.”

All being demonstrated of course by an over-age guy  with stupid tattoos… Oh yeah he’s gone.

We would probably not see any backwards compatibility as we know Microsoft doesn’t like supporting legacy software or hardware. The only reason they did any at all was because the competition was doing it. No competition, no longer an issue.

After we pay $60 for a game, we would probably not be able to enjoy user generated maps or we might even have to pay an additional fee to play it online, man that would be terrible… Oops… Um… Yeah… if the other two didn’t exist. Well hey, at least they wouldn’t have to buy exclusivity for titles (timed or not) because it wouldn’t matter.

 Can you imagine if Microsoft and Nintendo didn’t exist? Sony has always known what is best for the consumer. Well, at least they like to think so, and without the other two kids playing, I can only imagine. Do you think that the life-cycle of the PS1 and PS2 is long because of customer loyalty? No way, its about milking that cow until you have to put it down, then change it’s form a bit and make some steak. They are one of the few companies that can re-brandsomething fifty times and people will buy it. Well, them and Valve; how many versions of Half-Life are there?

You do have to admit though, they usually just tell you up front that you’re gonna need this new thing and the new PlayStation will be the only way to get said new piece of must-have equipment for a little while. At least without selling your first-born or crack on the street. Not to mention the new unit will have six models at launch and will carry a MSRP of $1000 for the basic SKU.

At the announcement of a new console, we will get a very long list of features promised but they wont tell us that these will not be available for years to come… Oh… Wait… Yeah, if the other two didn’t exist. Well look at the bright side: custom sound tracks and XMB access. We wouldn’t even have thought of such extravagant features by ourselves, and if we did, Kaz Hirai would wave his hand like a Jedi and say “XMB access? You don’t need in game XMB access.”

Nintendo? This one could go either way. Are they really the darling of the group or are they just acting darling because it further separates them from the other two? So if the other two didn’t exist, would we be playing Grand Theft Wario or would we be still playing fun little games like Wii Jacks and Wii pickup sticks?

I have a feeling that they are genuinely naive as they seem but suffer from the delusion that what they think is best for the consumer is actually best, instead of just asking or doing research. Without the other two in the way… look out.

Instead of making a new console, we would just get more peripherals…2021 is the year, and we are still using the Wii. Our living rooms will be filled with add-ons. Who knows maybe we will see Robbie the Robot again, maybe he will taunt you while you work out on the WiiFit.  Or items like a pair of WiiSox for the new track and field game. The new WiiSox will also come with a game; Nintendo has always been good at that. It may be “Learn to tie your shoes” or “Lets get dressed.” Who needs elaborate games when simple day-to-day things can be fun. I’m personally going down tomorrow to pre-order my copy of 52 Card Pickup, Wii Edition… gonna be hours of fun.

It could be worse right? We could be wearing a rubber suit or a full mo-cap outfit and jumping around like idiots in our living rooms or weighing ourselves… oh damn… yeah, if the other two didn’t exist.

So as you can see, we the consumers are fortunate that there are three consoles and the competition between them is what provides us with great experiences. More importantly, it keeps each one in check and costs relatively low. It is a good time to be a gamer and we are definitely reaping the benefits of competition.

Brian Ellis is co-host of the tech podcast Drunken Monkey Tech, an IT Professional, and more importantly, a Gaming Purist. He can be reached via email: brian@bagofmadbastards.com.

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