In the 1990s, the console wars were in full swing. Nintendo and Sega, with their flagship consoles, were engaged in an arms race, each trying to outstrip the other with more powerful products, more engrossing games, to reach a growing army of gamers. In 2020, however, that landscape has changed. The big players of the console world, now Microsoft and Sony have joined Nintendo, are shifting their focus away from consoles and onto gamers, finding new models for achieving global gaming domination. We’ll take a look at how this landscape is changing, and why the console is becoming a second thought to these gaming giants.
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The Rise Of The Cloud
Naturally, technology is a driver of innovation in the gaming industry and the rise of the cloud has enabled gaming companies to move away from a hardware-centred model, diminishing the power of the console to drive the market. “Improved network speeds have meant that gamers can now play the game of their choice from anywhere, anytime,” says Thomas Ross, a journalist at Write My X and BritStudent. “Leveraging the cloud has created a fundamental shift in how gaming companies are able to reach their audience.”
A Shift To Subscription Models
The cloud has enabled a great shift. The words of Phil Spencer, the executive Vice President at Microsoft Gaming, were telling: “If somebody bought an original Xbox One from us on launch day, and they’re buying and playing games, I don’t need to sell them an S. I don’t need to sell them an X,” he claimed, indicating the shift from consoles to subscriptions being at the heart of the console war gone cold.
On traditional terms, PlayStation’s previous generation console, the PS4, outrstripped its Xbox competitor. However, whilst PlayStation were busy selling consoles, Microsoft were changing the rules of engagement. Microsoft’s model is now to accumulate as many players as possible, no matter the console they’re playing on. Huge leaps in network speeds have enabled gaming to take place more and more in an online environment, meaning isolated consoles are no longer the home of gaming – now, the web is where gamers meet and play.
This changed landscape means that Sony and Microsoft are increasingly making money from subscription models to their gaming worlds. By charging gamers a monthly fee, these brands are becoming increasingly economically independent from console sales, and relying more than ever on customer loyalty.
The Race For Loyalty
The race for loyalty between the titans of the gaming world has a big impact on what customers can expect from these brands. Microsoft has become more focussed than ever on producing great games and providing impeccable customer service to go with it. With a new “Play Anywhere” model, games published by Microsoft can now be played across PCs and Xboxs, as the customer pleases.
Meanwhile, Sony’s new flagship PS5 clearly appeals to a console market. ”Sony’s model for sales still relies on consoles as the driving force of gaming,” says Josefina Kelley, a game expert at 1day2write and Assignment Help, “so they’ve created the most appealing product on the market.” Nevertheless, Sony’s PlayStation Plus network offers gamers a subscription based service, accessing old games and an online world.
The Exclusivity Model
One way in which Sony has combated Microsoft’s shift to a subscription model is by doubling down on exclusivity, ensuring that there remains a market for their consoles. This was the model with the PS3 when the massive franchise Grand Theft Auto nearly became a PlayStation exclusive, and Microsoft were forced to splash out to stop it, and it continues into the present day. The PS5 will feature a number of exclusive games, from Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us to God of War from Santa Monica Studio.
For now, PlayStation exclusives mean that there’s a secure market share for PlayStation. But it remains to be seen if Xbox can draw in users with their cloud-based world of gaming.
The War Isn’t Over
In terms of conflict, it appears the theatre has shifted. Whilst Sony remains invested in a console-model, Micrsosoft are at the cutting edge, turning their focus away from the platform and onto the ephemeral world of the web. Gamers are at the heart of Microsoft’s strategy, whilst Sony may still be focussing on games.
Regina Wheeler is a technology writer at Dissertation writing service and Nextcoursework.com. She started her gaming career on the PlayStation 1 and still holds vintage consoles dear in her heart. More of her cutting edge work can be found at Write my dissertation.