How to Lose a Console War

Dear Sony,

What the hell is wrong with you?

There’s a goddamn war erupting and I’m worried you haven’t loaded your artillery. Look, the old console wars are over. Tech specs are dead. Now the charm offensive is for gamers’ hearts. And the way you’re going about it, has me dangerously worried.

Your technical superiority won this generation’s ‘My 16-bit is bigger than your 8-bit’. But if the rumoured specs of Neo stack up badly against Xbox’s ‘most powerful console ever shipped’, you need to either rage-quit to the menu or embrace the battle ‘for the players’.

Don’t worry though, if you want to be a truly great games company, you need to crumble under the weight of your own hubris first: Atari did it. Sega did it. And you can do it too. This is a very special, once-in-a-generation gift: Defeat.

Here’s how to comprehensively lose that war…

Get arrogant

All leaders should let arrogance cloud their judgement if they’re to lose so spectacularly: Napoleon, Hitler, Don Mattrick at the E3 Xbox One reveal.

Xbox One Don Mattrick E3 2013 PlayStation 4 Sony Console War

This. Fucking. Guy.

You know that the console wars just make for good marketing. The sort of marketing that leads to 40 million units sold, and counting; marketing that results in fawning articles that are too irresistible to ignore.

Rest on your laurels. The original PlayStation and its sequel were literal game-changers. You kinda, sorta brought back Shenmue (for which I’ll always love you), suddenly The Last Guardian is a thing. You’ve done enough over the years, so definitely let the power go to your head. It’ll make it so much easier to ignore your fans when they cry out for new functions or telling you to up your PSN server game.

Believe your own hype – every kiss-ass word – and don’t try to build too much on your awesome success. Otherwise people might think you give a shit about more than just VR.

Go into lockdown

Three words: Full. System. Lockdown. You’ve got millions of users, and you need to control them with an iron grip. Hang a portrait of Pol Pot in your office for inspiration here.

Fuck freedom. Fuck choice.

Proving some men - and games companies - really are islands.

Proving some men – and games companies – really are islands.

If a major studio ever offers your fans a subscription-based games service, get your suede shoes grubby and boot those schmucks out the door. Better to try to lock PlayStation gamers into some horrific iTunes-style isolated eco-system dreamt up by a desperate Sony bean-counters.

EA taught Microsoft an ‘innovative’ lesson– make gamers feel like they’re getting something for free. Cynical customer care that works out well for all involved, giving gamers a choice to consume whatever it is consumers consume, however they want to consume it. Sure, it’s sleazy business, but I’ll suck it up.

Embarrassingly, that was one of your finest ideas this generation, changing the gaming landscape with PlayStation Plus (seriously, does anyone think Games with Gold would’ve existed without it?). Let’s pretend that didn’t happen. These days it’s all about restricting your disenfranchised fans in a closed system.

And don’t even think about full cross-platform gaming…

Ignore backwards compatibility

Speaking of closed systems, stick with you PlayStation Now. You’ll thank me when you’re waving the white flag. ‘Pay for a game you already own’ is a powerful message that only grows every time your enemies mention it on forums and online comment sections; whatever you do, do not attempt to counter this attack.

The opposition serves up a technological marvel – ignore it. Don’t act on it, like, at all. Instead, let your team subtlety point out that backwards compatibility hasn’t helped Xbox’s sales.

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Sony PlayStation 4 Console War

Just a figment of your fevered imagination, Sony.

Wilfully ignore what backwards compatibility is really all about.

It’s not really money; it’s pure marketing. It’s an exercise in public relations and building brand loyalty. And it’s a way the tech-heads way out reaching out to fans repulsed by suits like Mattrick, TV-TV-TV and the fact that you parked your tanks on the lawns of Xbox users with that beautifully aggressive ad slogan: For the players.

This brings us back to arrogance – just because your fans ask for it, doesn’t mean they want it. After all, it’s not like any other console has been backwards compatible it’s just fucking Xbox. Besides, you understand gamers pretty well: We’re not bothered about prices, and love spending our hard-earned cash on digital versions of physical media we already have in the back catalogue (or pile of shame).

Every time a BC title is released, even those niche arcade games about 3 people play, it’s another nail in your console coffin, reminding people of something that the market leader can’t offer them.

And if you’re intent on defeat, that could only be a good thing, right…?

Underestimate the competition

This is vital for defeat: Don’t change trajectory based on the competition. Don’t praise their ideas. In fact, don’t acknowledge their existence, at all, if you can help it.

Xbox One Microsoft Windows 10 Phil Spencer Battletoads Sony PlayStation 4 Console War

Who even is this guy?

If you can make it really obvious that Microsoft’s strategy to win over gamers has caught you completely off-guard, that’s even better. If you have any sort of strategy yourself, keep it quiet unless it features the letters V and R, in that order.

All Xbox’s Phil Spencer has is the look of a guy who’s played more than one video game after all (it’s cool, you stick with affable office bod Andrew House). Seriously, how much damage can a guy rocking a Battletoads t-shirt really do?

After all, the Xbox is literal shit. All those hagiographic articles you have framed in the downstairs toilet said so. And you can lose this war without any help from the other side, thank-you very much.





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2 thoughts on “How to Lose a Console War

  1. The power debate is meaningless to be honest as the scenario will change frequently. We can expect a PS5 with more than 6 tflops in 2019


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