Retrospective: As Sony Clearly Wins This Generation's Console Wars, Let's Recall How It All Began

from the x-boned dept

In these modern times, it seems almost silly to say just how long ago 2013 feels. Six years is nearly an eternity in most respects these days, but when it comes to the video game industry, even an eternity feels like it falls short. I bring this up because 2013 is the year that both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One were released, kicking off the latest battle in a thirty year console war between Microsoft and Sony. Sony released a couple pieces of information over the past few weeks, both of which will be of interest to gamers. First, the Playstation 5 is on the way. Second, Sony released new lifetime shipping figures for the Playstation 4, noting that total shipments of the console are now over 102 million in total.

The PlayStation 5 might be on the horizon, but the PS4 continues its impressive run. As of September 30, Sony has shipped 102.8 million PlayStation 4 consoles, surpassing even the Nintendo Wii.

Sony announced the news in its most recent financial statements, revealing that 2.8 PlayStation 4s were moved in the last quarter. Twitter user ZhugeEX has been tracking the data, so you can see how the global console shipments stack up.

Well, it stacks up as the second best selling console of all time, actually. With what appears to be the crossing of the finish line in this generation’s console wars, with the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch well behind Sony’s numbers, it’s a decent time to look at what happened. Interestingly, a peek down memory land here at Techdirt provides some of the context in these numbers.

We’ll start with Nintendo. Many will point to the fact that Nintendo didn’t release a console at the same time as Microsoft and Sony. The Wii came out in 2006 and shipped 101 million units, while the Switch came out in 2017 and has shipped 36 million units. The Wii was an obvious success, but its numbers are spread across 5-7 additional years compared with the PS4. The Switch, meanwhile, has been successful as well, but nothing at the level of Sony’s current console. Much of this is explained by Nintendo’s consoles being slightly more in a niche market compared with Sony’s and Microsoft’s. But part of the reason for that is the decidedly closed off, walled garden, anti-consumer approach Nintendo has taken with its consoles and intellectual property.

The Xbox One comparison is more meaningful, however. Here we have a competing console released at roughly the same time, while sharing a similar catalog of games (save exclusives), and sporting similar console capabilities. What explains Sony shipping roughly 60 million more PS4s than Microsoft shipped Xbox Ones?

The rollout of Microsoft’s console, for starters. We did an entire series of posts on the Xbox rollout, even pre-release, and Microsoft’s proposals and subsequent walk-backs for online requirements to play purchased games, plans to limit the ability to play used games on the console at all, and the strange requirement that the Kinect be bought with it, despite the paltry sum of games that bothered to use the Kinect at all. This paragraph sums up the chaos, all of which occurred in the course of less than a year:

It’s been a relatively tough road for Microsoft’s Xbox One, even as it’s early in the console’s life. You should recall that the console was initially designed to require some degree of online connectivity to work; a plan that was subsequently walked back after consumers revolted. It was the same for proposed limitations on used games, which caused similar outrage. The console was also supposed to not be fully operational without the bundled Kinect engaged, but that plan was also scrapped because customers hated the idea. Left in place were consumers questioning why they had to pay for the Kinect device at all, given the paltry sum of games that actually utilized it. Well, the trend continues, now that Microsoft has announced in an absolutely tone-deaf blog post that there will now be an Xbox One offering that comes sans Kinect. The post, laughably, is entitled “Delivering More Choices for Fans.”

In the moment when a company was looking to hype its forthcoming console, this combination of “features” customers didn’t want and the chaos that ensued with all the walk-backs had many, many customers that might have been interested in the Xbox instead shrugging and buying a Sony PS4 instead. It was the combination of tone-deaf plans and anti-consumer features that gave the public a sour taste even before the console release. And, with such a significant percentage of console sales occurring in the initial release window, that’s a recipe for losing a console war.

It wasn’t the only reason of course. Competitor that Microsoft might be, it’s no secret that Sony is the dominant player. After all, 4 of the top 5 best selling consoles of all time are Sony products.

But there can be no doubt that Microsoft would have sold more units if not for its ill-fated, anti-consumer features, shoddy communication, and the fact that its chief competitor offered alternatives to both. With the PS5 on the way, you would assume Microsoft’s next console will be announced shortly as well. Hopefully the company has learned its lesson.

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Companies: microsoft, nintendo, sony

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Comments on “Retrospective: As Sony Clearly Wins This Generation's Console Wars, Let's Recall How It All Began”

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64 Comments
Gary (profile) says:

Features are over rated

One of the things I remember from the rollout is how Sony stripped out features for playing videos that were available on the PS3 to make users move to Sony services. The VUE didn’t work to well for them…

It seems the only way to innovate is to remove features that would be available on a general purpose machine and sell them back at a reasonable rate.

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Fine Day for Zombie Hunting says:

Sony is dominant because vigorously defends its property.

Credit copyright. — Of course, here at Pirate Central, that’s only BLAME copyright.

What is the purpose of this piece for any person not stuck at the mental age of thirteen who wastes their life playing video games, mostly pretending to kill people?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Sony is dominant because vigorously defends its property."

…and Microsoft and Nintendo don’t?

"What is the purpose of this piece for any person not stuck at the mental age of thirteen who wastes their life playing video games, mostly pretending to kill people?"

Seems like a more productive way to spend time than ranting endlessly on articles that you pretend don’t interest you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Sony is dominant because vigorously defends its property.

Not nearly as vigorously as Nintendo. And that hasn’t helped them beat either Microsoft or Sony.

any person not stuck at the mental age of thirteen who wastes their life playing video games, mostly pretending to kill people?

Congratulations, you just managed to insult the majority of the human race and imply that you are "mentally older" than all them. That statement alone proves you are actually "mentally younger" than the thirteen year olds you so disgustingly insulted and degraded. Get a real life.

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Anonymous Coward says:

You forgot the Wii U

The Wii U is a much more accurate comparison to the XBone and PS4 in terms of release dates, and it failed tremendously. The Switch came out two and a half years ago, it’s frankly dumb as hell to compare it to the sales numbers of a console that has been out for most of a decade.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You forgot the Wii U

To emphasize how asinine the comparison between the PS4 and Switch is, the Switch is America’s fastest selling console of all time – if it continues anywhere near the pace it’s going, it will handily outsell the PS4.

Source:
https://www.engadget.com/2018/12/18/nintendo-switch-fastest-selling-us-console/

Anonymous Coward says:

Computers

Yeah, as soon as those console makers decided to sell you a very specialized computer and call it a console, things got interesting again… … and by interesting again, I mean that I think it’s stupid that backwards compatibility is still not a prime requirement. (if I upgraded my computer and couldn’t play my old games, that would be frustrating… and I’m intentionally ignoring some of the WINtendo OS changes since 95 to 10)

Rekrul says:

People balked at Microsoft’s "you must be online" requirement, but if you think about it, today’s consoles are pretty much required to be online anyway. Sure you can buy a disc, put it in and play it, but unless you’re online you won’t have access to the 50GB+ of patches and the 50% of the game that’s only released as DLC.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And that’s why I used to wait for a Game of the year edition… not only do I get (most) of the patches, I get the dlc and all at a lower price because I didn’t want it day one…

The ability to patch a game post release is great except for it seems to have encouraged more companies to start off with a busted game with the promise of fixing it later…

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

And that’s why I used to wait for a Game of the year edition… not only do I get (most) of the patches, I get the dlc and all at a lower price because I didn’t want it day one…

Not every game gets a game of the year edition. Case in point: Burnout Paradise for the PS3. I’d buy a copy if it existed. Oh sure there’s the remastered edition for the PS4, but putting aside the fact that I don’t have a PS4, that’s also not a complete copy, since they’ve released patches for it. I don’t even think there’s a physical release of Remastered for Windows and even if there was, I’m sure you’d need to go online to satisfy the DRM.

The ability to patch a game post release is great except for it seems to have encouraged more companies to start off with a busted game with the promise of fixing it later…

I wouldn’t have a problem with patches for consoles if it was an option to download the patches with a computer, stick them on a flash drive/portable drive and put them on the console that way. Then you could back them up and save them in case you even got a new system and needed to reinstall them.

I’m not even sure you can do that with Windows games any more. With the way everything today seems to revolve around Steam and Origin, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that game patches can only be downloaded and installed by the game itself using the digital distribution DRM system.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"People balked at Microsoft’s "you must be online" requirement, but if you think about it, today’s consoles are pretty much required to be online anyway"

Not really. There’s a massive difference between Microsoft original "you must be online all the time to play even single player games, with an always-on microphone and camera plugged in" and "if you want the rest of this game, you must connect online once and then continue to enjoy offline if you wish. Remember, the original proposal was that you wouldn’t even be able to play DVDs if you weren’t online.

Anonymous Coward says:

Based on my limited observations

If I were to take the incredibly small sample set of consoles I have purchased I would see that early on, I had many many hardware failures on my ps2 compared to the rest, followed only by the xbox360… I did have a few nintendo’s fail, but never had an issue with Sega or Atari … … I didn’t have several of the other ‘less popular’ consoles (turbografix16, that philips magnavox cd based console, Atari’s Jaguar).
If I consider all that and look at the sales, it looks a lot like the consoles with higher failure rates sold more…. so, I’m not convinced that Sony really is the leader in sales if you don’t count purchases made to replace a broken console.

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bhull242 (profile) says:

Actually, the differing sales between the Switch and the PS4 have almost nothing to do with it being a niche product. It’s an unfair comparison because the PS4 was released years before the Switch was even announced. A fair comparison would be with the Nintendo console that was actually contemporaneous: the Wii U.

Anonymous Coward says:

The ps4 was more powerful than the xbox1 , it was 100 dollars cheaper,
without the kinect which increased the price of the xbox , and which most people did not like or buy any games for.
The ui interface for the xbox 1 was overly complex and hard to use ,
as it was partly designed for a console with the kinect ,
and then the kinect was dropped as most customers did not want it.
Sony marketing was great and simple , a great console for gamers,
at a good price,
The xbox was about sport,s ,tv, app,s , as much as games ,
eg use the kinect as a tv remote .
Its launch was a pr disaster ,
With no one saying do we need online drm, always on connection,
just to play a game .
Even a single player game would need online drm checks .
Since alot of people just want to play games they bought a ps4,
95 per cent of games are avaidable on the ps4 and the xbox.

crade (profile) says:

"4 of the top 5 best selling consoles of all time are Sony products"
This claim seems a bit dubious..

Most of the listings I can find in google all include handhelds.. If I look at wikipedia and exclude the handhelds the numbers seem to match this claim until you dig into the asterixes and find out that significantly more 360s were sold than ps3s and they just stopped reporting sales results much sooner than sony did

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

My original 360 is even still running (Elite 250Gb), the only issue was I needed to fix the DVD drive after it stopped opening properly after maybe a decade of use. The RROD was mainly due to a build issue that they fixed by the time I entered the game, I don’t believe it was an issue after I bought mine.

As with my Xbox One purchase, this is because I’m not an early adopter and waited 12+ months after the console’s release for them to get the issues ironed out (although those were political rather than technical). It’s a strategy that’s generally working for me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some Days I Wonder

What would the Xbox One have become if most (or even all) of their terrible ideas stayed? I also wonder what Microsoft’s long game was with forcing the Kinect down our throats. Did they plan to be pioneers of intrusive behaviour data harvesting? Was there a plan to sell more first party apps than games? Maybe they saw the Kinect as a rival to emergent smartphone technologies.

Microsoft’s entertainment division has had it’s ups-and-downs but there’s no way it was as simple as "Hey guys, let’s jack up our manufacturing costs for no net gains!".

Kevin (profile) says:

So in the 30-year console war apparently doesn’t involve Nintendo, but does involve an Xbox from the ’90s, and Sony is winning against the Switch because the PS4 has outsold the Switch to date, the fact that the PS4 had a four-year head start be damned. Sony’s announcement "in the last few weeks" that the PS5 is coming must be referring to a different product than the one that they very clearly said several months ago is on the horizon, and it’s really headscratching that Microsoft didn’t announce Project Scarlett for holiday 2020 at last E3. I do hope they catch up soon and announce theirs.

Was this article written in an alternate universe where Techdirt writers just tap on the predictive text buttons on their phones to generate articles?

One of this site’s recent articles made much out of some government agency or judge starting at their conclusion and working backwards to make their argument fit it. You clearly started at your conclusion (Switch is a walled garden [never mind the fact that it’s more open and has been more open than PS4 in terms of cross-console play, which is really the only thing you could possibly be referring to, not to mention working with Microsoft to bring Xbox exclusives to the platform]) and then literally rewrote history to make it fit your narrative.

(And just to make absolutely clear, nearly every single paragraph of your "story" has a factual error or typo in it, even beyond the incredibly lousy logic and hellbound determination to worship at the altar of Sony, as if they aren’t the company behind CD rootkits, the great PSN data breach of 2011, removal of the ability to install Linux on PS3s after advertising it as a feature, ditching of backwards compatibility in favor of reselling your old games to you, and steadfast refusal to allow cross-platform play for years.)

Kevin (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As far as dismissing a comparison to the Wii, Nintendo publishes sales numbers by fiscal year dating back to 1998. The "5-7 additional years" that the Wii had compared to PS4 amounted to about 7 million units. In its first six years on sale, it sold nearly 93 million. Yes, PS4 obviously outsold it at equivalent points in their histories, but you certainly couldn’t be blamed for coming away from the article thinking that the Wii’s 102 million sales were spread equally across 12-14 years, instead of about 93% being in the first six and being within spitting distance of PS4 during that time frame.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So in the 30-year console war apparently doesn’t involve Nintendo, but does involve an Xbox from the ’90s

This "30-year console war" would have started in 1989. Microsoft had the MSX, which was released in 1983 but not really a console (Xbox is only 18 years old), and Sony had a 3-year-old partnership with Nintendo to create the Play Station.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Uh okay…

30 year colsole war with MS – OG Xbox came out in 2001,
MS hasn’t announced their next gen console – Project Scarlet -> announced E3 2019,
4 of the top 5 best selling consoles of all time are Sony products – Wii and Xbox 360 are on that list, correct answer is 3 of the top 5,
Also comparing lifetime PS4 sales to lifetime Switch sales is misleading.

How is that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

30 year colsole war with MS – OG Xbox came out in 2001

What he said:

2013 is the year that both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One were released, kicking off the latest battle in a thirty year console war between Microsoft and Sony

This could have been worded better, admittedly, but it is technically a true statement. The reason why is because English is weird and you can also read this sentence as console wars have been going on for 30 years and the latest battle is between Microsoft and Sony. Not that Sony and Microsoft have been duking it out for 30 years.

So while badly worded, it is a true statement.

MS hasn’t announced their next gen console – Project Scarlet -> announced E3 2019,

But it has no official name. Project Scarlet is just the code name used internally at Microsoft and minimal details are known. Meanwhile Sony just recently announced that the next Playstation would officially be called "Playstation 5" and released additional details about it. Microsoft has not followed suit, yet. So again, technically true.

4 of the top 5 best selling consoles of all time are Sony products – Wii and Xbox 360 are on that list, correct answer is 3 of the top 5

They are on the list but the 360 is NOT in the top 5. The top 5 are, in order: Playstation 2, Playstation 4, Playstation, Wii, Playstation 3. The SIXTH best selling console is the Xbox 360. Categorically true statement.

Also comparing lifetime PS4 sales to lifetime Switch sales is misleading.

Perhaps misleading but not a false statement, so it doesn’t count. Though I would say it’s not entirely irrelevant as the Switch is selling faster than the PS4 so it could potentially outpace the PS4 at some point.

How is that?

Absolutely terrible.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

This could have been worded better, admittedly, but it is technically a true statement. The reason why is because English is weird and you can also read this sentence as console wars have been going on for 30 years and the latest battle is between Microsoft and Sony. Not that Sony and Microsoft have been duking it out for 30 years.

That’s stretching it quite a bit, but let’s look at that interpretation and see where we go. The console wars began between the Famicom/NES and the Sega Mark III/Sega Master System, which were released in…1983 and 1985. That’s 36 and 34 years ago, respectively. (And arguably, they actually started with the release of the SG-1000, which was in 1983.) So yeah, that’s still not 30 years, so the statement is still wrong. And as I said, that’s based on an interpretation of the sentence that isn’t exactly what people would get from reading it naturally. You have to really closely analyze it to even come up with that as a possible interpretation.

But it has no official name. Project Scarlet is just the code name used internally at Microsoft and minimal details are known. Meanwhile Sony just recently announced that the next Playstation would officially be called "Playstation 5" and released additional details about it. Microsoft has not followed suit, yet. So again, technically true.

It’s still kinda misleading. Strictly speaking, Microsoft has made an official announcement of its next console, even if it’s lacking in details. And BTW, was there ever any doubt that Sony’s next console was going to be called the PS5?

They are on the list but the 360 is NOT in the top 5. The top 5 are, in order: Playstation 2, Playstation 4, Playstation, Wii, Playstation 3. The SIXTH best selling console is the Xbox 360. Categorically true statement.

I think I understand the confusion here. The other guy was going by North American sales, where the 360 did better than the PS3, while you and Tim (presumably) were going by global sales.

Perhaps misleading but not a false statement, so it doesn’t count. Though I would say it’s not entirely irrelevant as the Switch is selling faster than the PS4 so it could potentially outpace the PS4 at some point.

You’re not wrong, but the unfairness of the statement is exacerbated by what he said next:

Much of this is explained by Nintendo’s consoles being slightly more in a niche market compared with Sony’s and Microsoft’s. But part of the reason for that is the decidedly closed off, walled garden, anti-consumer approach Nintendo has taken with its consoles and intellectual property.

That is, Tim is saying that part of the reason for the Switch’s lower sales is because of how Nintendo walls off its consoles and takes an anti-consumer approach in its intellectual property.

Now first of all, as far as the walled garden, anti-consumer approach with consoles, Nintendo is no worse than Sony, which is pretty much exactly the same in this area, and even worse when it comes to cross-platform play. It’s true that Nintendo is worse when it comes to intellectual property, but not with consoles.

Second, that does not explain why Nintendo’s consoles are in a more niche market. That has more to do with their philosophy when it comes to console design, which tends to be more experimental than Sony or Microsoft’s approaches.

Third, it completely ignores the elephant in the room: the Switch has been out for 3 years, has not been discontinued, and no successor has even been rumored or hinted at, while the PS4 was released 6 years ago. Since he’s not using anything close to an apples-to-apples comparison, there was no reason to mention the supposed “niche-market appeal” of the Switch or Nintendo’s walled garden, anti-consumer approach to anything.

Fourth, while he mentions the Wii—which was a console from the previous generation—and the Switch, he completely ignores the Wii U. Now, it sold badly for a variety of reasons, namely the GamePad, failing to market to the hardcore gamers at all, the influx of mobile games to appeal to the nontraditional gamer market, and confusion stemming from the name and the fact the Wii controllers were still a primary way to control the game. But the fact is that it makes no sense to completely ignore it.

For the record, I don’t approve of many of Nintendo’s practices, included how it enforces its IP. However, using the fact that the Switch hasn’t sold in 3 years what the PS4 has sold in 6 years to bring that up was completely beyond the pale, and it suggests that he was just trying to push his own agenda rather than comment on actual facts. He explicitly said that Nintendo’s practices that he dislikes are causing a discrepancy that only exists because he’s not making a fair comparison.

Absolutely terrible.

Well, let’s see. We have one statement that is either completely wrong or is both misleading and inaccurate. One statement is technically true, but not completely accurate either. One statement is true. And one statement is very misleading and is being used to push a narrative that, while not necessarily wrong, is not at all supported by the statement and is irrelevant to the article, while also leaving a glaring omission. Maybe they weren’t hitting it out of the park, but I’d say it wasn’t “absolutely terrible”, either.

Also, this is hardly the worst case of Tim getting the facts wrong. In a previous article about Epic-exclusive games, he took one developer who tried to keep fans from freaking out about the switch and another who received heavy criticism and possible harassment for their decision and thought they were one and the same. This was a huge error, as it gave the impression that the calm, somewhat-pleading message from the former was still met with heavy backlash, of which there is no evidence. The backlash was actually against a dev who did not handle the announcement or the resulting backlash well at all. To this day, months later, there is still no correction to that article, despite the fact that the error is extremely obvious and prominent and makes a huge difference.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Also, this comment notes that the “4 out of 5 best-selling consoles” figures is problematic, too. Apparently, careful research shows that, for some reason, Microsoft stopped reporting sales figures for the XBox 360 well before Sony stopped doing so for the PS3. By the time Microsoft stopped reporting on the 360, more XBox 360s had been sold than PS3s. So it’s possible that the only reason the PS3 is ranked higher is because of a lack of data on sales for the end of their run.

Kevin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

> kicking off the latest battle in a thirty year console war between Microsoft and Sony

This could have been worded better, admittedly, but it is technically a true statement.

I would be willing to be money that if you asked 20 people, the majority do not parse that as anything other than a "thirty-year console war between Microsoft and Sony", of which this is "the latest battle". You have to really reach to even find the other meaning, and when 9/10 of the sentence is specifically about Microsoft and Sony and their two respective consoles, all listed with proper nouns, nobody thinks it should be read as anything but a war between Microsoft and Sony.

> MS hasn’t announced their next gen console – Project Scarlet -> announced E3 2019,
But it has no official name. Project Scarlet is just the code name used internally at Microsoft and minimal details are known. Meanwhile Sony just recently announced that the next Playstation would officially be called "Playstation 5" and released additional details about it. Microsoft has not followed suit, yet. So again, technically true.

So because it has no "official" name, it hasn’t been announced yet? That doesn’t even make any sense. CNET has an article comparing the known specs between the two, and while there are unknowns on both sides, on balance, about the same is known about the two consoles.

Microsoft will also be extremely surprised to learn that the announcement at their press conference at E3 last year of Project Scarlett resulted in them not actually announcing it. As will the rest of the world.

> Also comparing lifetime PS4 sales to lifetime Switch sales is misleading.
Perhaps misleading but not a false statement, so it doesn’t count. Though I would say it’s not entirely irrelevant as the Switch is selling faster than the PS4 so it could potentially outpace the PS4 at some point.

The exact statement is

The Switch, meanwhile, has been successful as well, but nothing at the level of Sony’s current console.

It does not say "nothing at the level of total unit sales of Sony’s current console." Switch has sold faster than PS4, therefore without any other context, the statement as listed is false.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Microsoft has done well in the long run, but they really deserved to lose like they did. Their proposal was atrocious and short-sighted, and I know at least one person who had pre-ordered an XBox One who switched to a PS4 during the launch announcement. The only reason I ended up owning an Xbox One myself was because I still prefer their achievement system to the trophy system, and I didn’t take the plunge until nearly 2 years after launch once most of the issues had been resolved.

But, they seem to have learned the correct lessons. A focus on backward compatibility, services and cross-platform have not only brought the console into respectability, it’s started forcing Sony to look at the same areas to compete. Next gen should be very interesting.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Generally, I like the points rather than the colours. But, largely it’s because I got involved with trueachievements.com where they weight the scores depending in difficulty and rarity and give stats on your personal collection, on top of community events. They have a PS version of the site but it seems forced in comparison, while I feel the XBox version adds value to games.

crade (profile) says:

"The Switch, meanwhile, has been successful as well, but nothing at the level of Sony’s current console"

I don’t think this is really supportable either.. switch sales numbers seem to be at least on par with PS4 most ways of looking at it. I suppose you could claim they have less "total units sold to date" but well.. thats a completely useless comparison in this case

A lot of assertions without references in this article!

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s even worse because he also ignores the Wii U completely (which would be forgivable due to its poor sales if he didn’t also mention the Wii, which came out a generation earlier), and then he says this:

Much of this is explained by Nintendo’s consoles being slightly more in a niche market compared with Sony’s and Microsoft’s. But part of the reason for that is the decidedly closed off, walled garden, anti-consumer approach Nintendo has taken with its consoles and intellectual property.

I’m sorry, but even taking the assertion that Nintendo has taken a “decidedly closed off, walled garden, anti-consumer approach…with its consoles and intellectual property“ (which admittedly isn’t completely inaccurate), he’s saying that that is the reason that the Switch has supposedly sold less than the PS4 and that Nintendo’s consoles are a fairly niche market. Of course, the former is just because he’s not making a remotely fair comparison, and the latter is largely because Nintendo tends to be more experimental in designing its consoles, video games, controllers, handhelds, and accessories. Though given how well the Switch and Wii have sold so far, their niches are pretty darn large.

bhull242 (profile) says:

List of problems with _this_ article by Tim Geigner

  • There was this incorrect figure:

revealing that 2.8 PlayStation 4s were moved in the last quarter.

In addition to being a really unimpressive number of sales for a quarter, who would buy 0.8 of a console? This was in a quote, so maybe the original had the same mistake, but you still should have caught this, Tim:

  • For some reason, you compared the Wii—a console from the previous generation—and the Switch—a handheld/console hybrid released three years ago, well after the PS4 was launched six years ago—while not even mentioning the Wii U, which was an HD console released around the same time as the PS4 and was actually supposed to compete with it. Yes, the Wii U did poorly, but comparing the Switch to the PS4, which is selling extremely well in Japan and North America but hasn’t been around long enough for its sales to reach the lifetime sales of the PS4 and which doesn’t quite compete with it the same way the Wii U and XBox One have, makes absolutely no sense. Plus, while the Wii U did very poorly, that doesn’t excuse completely ignoring it.

  • Then you mentioned Nintendo’s walled-garden approach to its IP. While true, that wasn’t the reason for the failure of the Wii U—which was largely because of the GamePad and some marketing mistakes—or the “lesser” success of the Switch—which is primarily because of the fact that the PS4 has been out for twice as long as the Switch. Unfortunately, most people who buy consoles don’t base their purchasing decisions on the publisher’s IP enforcement when it comes to fan games, emulators, or YouTube videos. Even if they do, it’s rarely determinative.
    Of course, this isn’t a significant issue with the article; the main problem is the context you mention it—an explanation for why the Switch hasn’t sold as many consoles over its 3-year lifespan as the PS4 has over its 6-year lifespan. Quite frankly, that is not a fair comparison, and there is no reason to believe that the way Nintendo enforces its IP had any significant role there compared to the timespan difference.

  • And I couldn’t forget this gem:

kicking off the latest battle in a thirty year console war between Microsoft and Sony.

In addition to missing the hyphen in “thirty-year”, that just isn’t even close to true. Thirty years ago was 1989. Sony wasn’t involved in making consoles until it released the original PlayStation in 1994 (25 years ago). While Microsoft’s MSX was released in 1983 (36 years ago) and was pretty popular as a video game platform (at least in Japan), no one would count that as a console. Its first true console, the original XBox, was released in 2001 (18 years ago). In other words, the console wars between Sony and Microsoft have only been going on for less than 20 years.

But let’s say you meant the console wars as a whole. Well, that would generally be considered to have started with the Famicom (NES outside of Japan), the Sega Master System (Sega Mark III in Japan), and the PC Engine (Turbografx-16 outside of Japan and France), though arguably it actually started earlier. The Famicom was released in 1983 in Japan, which is 36 years ago. The Sega Master System was released in Japan (as the Sega Mark III) in 1985, which is 34 years ago. The PC Engine was released in 1987, which is 32 years ago. (Incidentally, the Atari 7800, which was also part of the same generation, was released in 1986 (33 years ago); the Sega Mega Drive (aka Sega Genesis) was released in Japan in 1988 (31 years ago); and the SG-1000 (Sega’s first console) was released in 1983.) So even by that definition, the console wars have been going on for more than 30 years.

At any rate, based on context, you were specifically talking about console wars between Sony and Microsoft, so the above analysis doesn’t actually matter. By any stretch, this statement is clearly incorrect.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: List of problems with _this_ article by Tim Geigner

Oh, also, crade noticed another issue, specifically with this claim:

4 of the top 5 best selling consoles of all time are Sony products

To this, crade says

This claim seems a bit dubious..
Most of the listings I can find in google all include handhelds.. If I look at wikipedia and exclude the handhelds the numbers seem to match this claim until you dig into the asterixes and find out that significantly more 360s were sold than ps3s and they just stopped reporting sales results much sooner than sony did

So yeah. That’s another problem. It seems that we simply don’t know for sure if the PS3 actually outsold the 360.

And seriously, you make a lot of claims about sales numbers without references.

bhull242 (profile) says:

List of problems with _this_ article by Tim Geigner

  • There was this incorrect figure:

revealing that 2.8 PlayStation 4s were moved in the last quarter.

In addition to being a really unimpressive number of sales for a quarter, who would buy 0.8 of a console? This was in a quote, so maybe the original had the same mistake, but you still should have caught this, Tim:

  • For some reason, you compared the Wii—a console from the previous generation—and the Switch—a handheld/console hybrid released three years ago, well after the PS4 was launched six years ago—while not even mentioning the Wii U, which was an HD console released around the same time as the PS4 and was actually supposed to compete with it. Yes, the Wii U did poorly, but comparing the Switch to the PS4, which is selling extremely well in Japan and North America but hasn’t been around long enough for its sales to reach the lifetime sales of the PS4 and which doesn’t quite compete with it the same way the Wii U and XBox One have, makes absolutely no sense. Plus, while the Wii U did very poorly, that doesn’t excuse completely ignoring it.

  • Then you mentioned Nintendo’s walled-garden approach to its IP. While true, that wasn’t the reason for the failure of the Wii U—which was largely because of the GamePad and some marketing mistakes—or the “lesser” success of the Switch—which is primarily because of the fact that the PS4 has been out for twice as long as the Switch. Unfortunately, most people who buy consoles don’t base their purchasing decisions on the publisher’s IP enforcement when it comes to fan games, emulators, or YouTube videos. Even if they do, it’s rarely determinative.
    Of course, this isn’t a significant issue with the article; the main problem is the context you mention it—an explanation for why the Switch hasn’t sold as many consoles over its 3-year lifespan as the PS4 has over its 6-year lifespan. Quite frankly, that is not a fair comparison, and there is no reason to believe that the way Nintendo enforces its IP had any significant role there compared to the timespan difference.

  • And I couldn’t forget this gem:

kicking off the latest battle in a thirty year console war between Microsoft and Sony.

In addition to missing the hyphen in “thirty-year”, that just isn’t even close to true. Thirty years ago was 1989. Sony wasn’t involved in making consoles until it released the original PlayStation in 1994 (25 years ago). While Microsoft’s MSX was released in 1983 (36 years ago) and was pretty popular as a video game platform (at least in Japan), no one would count that as a console. Its first true console, the original XBox, was released in 2001 (18 years ago). In other words, the console wars between Sony and Microsoft have only been going on for less than 20 years.

But let’s say you meant the console wars as a whole. Well, that would generally be considered to have started with the Famicom (NES outside of Japan), the Sega Master System (Sega Mark III in Japan), and the PC Engine (Turbografx-16 outside of Japan and France), though arguably it actually started earlier. The Famicom was released in 1983 in Japan, which is 36 years ago. The Sega Master System was released in Japan (as the Sega Mark III) in 1985, which is 34 years ago. The PC Engine was released in 1987, which is 32 years ago. (Incidentally, the Atari 7800, which was also part of the same generation, was released in 1986 (33 years ago); the Sega Mega Drive (aka Sega Genesis) was released in Japan in 1988 (31 years ago); and the SG-1000 (Sega’s first console) was released in 1983.) So even by that definition, the console wars have been going on for more than 30 years.

At any rate, based on context, you were specifically talking about console wars between Sony and Microsoft, so the above analysis doesn’t actually matter. By any stretch, this statement is clearly incorrect.

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