I have been an avid gamer for most of my life. When I look back to the days of commodore 64 and slightly forward to the times of the Super Nintendo and N64, the console market had very little competition. Sega and Nintendo dominated the market and what they had to offer was nothing short of futuristic dreams. Fast forward into the millennium we now have new giants of the console market forcing huge technological innovations and with separation of hardware and software markets, we have software giants like Activision constantly challenging hardware makers to deliver even more technological change in very short spaces. These notable large technological changes in combination with marketing gurus fueling consumer thirsts are bound to lead to interesting questions. One which normally dominates the 18-30 demographic is, “Which is better, XBOX or PlayStation?”
The PlayStation was the first modern console to hit the market and changed the way we perceived console gaming. It was quickly followed by the PlayStation 2, which sold close to a million copies on launch. The PlayStation 2 was equipped with the new DVD drive technology making it the all round entertainment machine. Sony was set to take the stage and dominate the console market. It was not until 2001 that Sony met its first challenge when Microsoft launched its Xbox console. The Xbox was a powerful machine that carried Intel’s 733 MHz Pentium 3 processor, a clear upgrade from the PS2’s 294 MHz emotion engine processor. The Intel-Microsoft partnership had paid off. It was clear Microsoft had gained penetration into the console gaming market but it was not until the arrival of high-speed broadband that the Xbox would show its true potential with the Xbox live system and online multiplayer gaming platform. The PlayStation eventually developed an online system but it was light years behind the Xbox live system, which was already registering close to a million subscribers. The Xbox still had a mountain to climb with less than a hundred game titles in the market for the platform and their very expensive price tags, consumers were not dropping their PlayStations anytime soon. PlayStation 2 sold 147 million copies worldwide in comparison to the 24 million plus copies of the Xbox.
It was not until 2005 that Microsoft will emerge the world leader in console gaming when it unveiled its Xbox 360 console. The Xbox 360 took advantage of almost every technological advancement in the millennium as far as computing went. The main features of the console included wireless internet, high definition multi media interface commonly referred to as HDMI, High definition DVD technology, the new Tri core Xenon processors, optical sound interface and best of all wireless controllers and headset making it the only console to go wireless. The online multiplayer came with its own revamp, an all improved Xbox market place provided all round media entertainment in music and video and a simpler graphical interface for online players.
The Xbox 360 appeared to be the dream machine. It was not until 2006 that Sony responded with its PlayStation 3 model utilising the new blue ray technology for discs and coming with an inbuilt blue ray player. It had now revamped its online multiplayer system making it a more stable platform. There was nothing new in comparison to the 360 in relation to processor and graphics speed, the PlayStation 3 however delivered on style and it looked like a console for your living room. The hefty price tag was not going to get it very far. By 2010 Microsoft had focused all its attention on improving the online experience by bringing on board, Facebook, twitter, Zune, Last FM and SKY on its platform an all in one media experience. By Christmas 2010, Microsoft had released a new-upgraded 360 console with a sleeker design and an inbuilt wireless card. Project Natal’s motion capture, no controller technology was also released in December. The Xbox had moved from a gaming console to a multimedia console. The PlayStation 3 by 2011 had sold 41 million copies. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 had sold 50 million plus copies. Unless Sony can come up with a response, the Xbox is set to be the dominant gaming console for 2011/2012.