Your first question might be, “well why do I need a game console? I don’t want one/am a PC gamer”. But what you don’t understand, is the realm of possibility that unlocks if you do decide to get a console. Despite starting off with Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and transitioning to a PC gamer, I never really thought I would invest in a gaming console. With the advent of Steam and various other websites dedicated to finding when games are discounted, it’s a hard sell to want to justify the three hundred dollar initial investment for the console, and the sixty dollar price tag for following games. Being able to obtain games for a quarter or less of the retail price, and being able to play on hardware that surpasses what consoles are capable of, PC gaming is without a doubt, the apex of gaming to me.
So why do I own a Wii, a Wii U, a 3DS and a Playstation 4?
The simple answer to that, is console exclusives. You can’t get your Mario’s, your Halo’s, your Persona games, on PC. There’s a whole different environment that can be unlocked through console gaming. And games provided by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony each have something unique that they bring to the table, that no other competitor really has over one another. So how does one choose? It’s simpler than you’d think.
Let’s start with the most relatable, Nintendo. As I mentioned before, I grew up with Nintendo’s products, happily playing away at the Mario and Pokemon games without a care. But as everyone grows up, your values change, and suddenly they don’t really line up with Nintendo’s “family values”. You kind of start wanting to look elsewhere. But what does Nintendo do well? Well, Nintendo does “family values”, right. Almost all of their games focus around being able to play games in a family environment. Mario Kart, Mario Party, Wii Sports, Super Smash Bros., I could go on. The commonality with all these games is that anyone can pick them up and enjoy them. Great for entry-level gamers, like say your parents, grandparents, and younger audiences. In this sense, Nintendo has a pretty good market, because that kind of demographic is bigger than the amount of gamers who want something a little more serious than what Nintendo has to offer.
Moving over to Microsoft’s Xbox, this is an area where I’m not exactly fond of. Not entirely because of their reputation (I’m looking at you, EA), but because of the games they have to offer. Xbox is sort of the median between the three companies, where you get a sort of middle ground between gamers a little more serious than Nintendo’s audience, but not quite as much of a time investment as the RPGs that Sony has to offer, but that’s a matter of preference. I’m still familiar with what Xbox has to offer, which seems to fall into two categories: Sports games, and First-Person Shooter games (FPS). Not being a Sports or Shooting game fan, Microsoft immediately falls out of my strike zone, which is why I’m not too fond of them. But the nature of these two genres (games like Madden and Call of Duty) lends themselves to shorter game periods, with each game session/round lasting typically about thirty minutes per match. Makes it really easy to just have something more engaging in short bursts, which would appeal to people who don’t have a lot of time, but can still play without the investment of time. Microsoft also has one of the best multiplayer engagements, with their games often being the best at finding people around the world and matching you into a game. They also support voice chat, which lends itself to more toxic interactions. Something I’ll get into at a later date. My major gripe with Microsoft is that their games don’t have substantial enough depth to them to engage many demographics. Halo and Call of Duty never really spoke to me in the way that Shin Megami Tensei, The Witcher, or Nier games have.
Finally, onto my favorite, Sony’s Playstation. Sony manages to hit all of the things I’m looking for in one go, and does it spectacularly. Sony’s games typically fall under the Singleplayer RPG genre, and since Sony is a Japanese company, they have some of the best RPGs I could ever ask for. RPGs are sort of like an engrossing fantasy novel; sprawling worlds, engaging storytelling, lovable characters, and because it’s a game, gameplay that is engaging for hours. Games have taught me many things over the years. Made me think about my actions, question my morals, or taught me values I never thought I’d consider. This is something I’ve found that Microsoft (and at least most Nintendo games) have never achieved for me. With many games starting at twenty hours of gameplay to around a hundred, I’m definitely getting the bang for my buck here. It’s more of an investment of time, as you don’t read a book in thirty minutes and just be done. It’s something you enjoy over a long period of time, perhaps over a nice cup of tea. And because the RPG genre is so vast, it also encompasses many other genres such as the Shooter genre, so I’m not really missing out from Microsoft. But since these games seem to be rather intense or lengthy to some, it make come off as intimidating to newcomers. As interesting series as Dark Souls is, it may not serve as a very good introduction to gaming to newcomers.
As you can see, each of these companies and consoles achieve difficult goals in their unique way, but none of them capture the essence of what the other does best. As a person who looks at games from a design aspect, I find this very interesting regarding how one would be able to incorporate all these great aspects into one game, essentially making it approachable to all demographics while having substantial depth to them. Is this possible? It might not be. It is a really ambitious of a task, and you can’t possibly hope to please everyone. Especially if you’re trying to do this alone. But certainly these are some of the steps needed to be looked at, that would certainly lead to some great games being made.
So with all of my personal bias in mind, I probably haven’t swayed your decision in the slightest. You might be even more confused. But by defining broad scopes of focus like this, it becomes easier to narrow down what people are interested in, and how I should design games for people. What’s your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Farewell for now,
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