Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Favourite console maker
GameCentral readers reveal their favourites out of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo and whether they consider themselves loyal fans or not.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Xane, who asks whether you always buy consoles made by the same company or if you’re happy to switch loyalties as the situation demands.
Most people admitted they had a preference, but most also claimed they had no problem changing formats if they thought the grass was greener elsewhere. Although many suggested they would switch to Sega instantly if they re-entered the console business.
My favourite console manufacturer is Nintendo, and always will be.
I’ve had almost every Nintendo console, and different variations and versions which include hundreds of great, timeless classic games and franchises. Every Nintendo console has withstood the test of time and still works, unlike two PlayStation 3s, a PlayStation 4, and original Xbox consoles which packed up after a mere few years.
I had a time where I adopted Sony, after being left out with major franchises being omitted on the GameCube. I experienced those entries, PES, WWE SmackDown!, and GTA amongst classics like Okami, Ico , Bayonetta, Vanquish and Dishonored but came back full circle to Nintendo with the Switch. Back to where it all began after 27 years, which started with the original monochrome Game Boy.
Exclusives like Mario, The Legend Of Zelda, and Metroid are unparalleled and with unique and cutting edge innovations and controllers, they stand the test of time. I’ve even gone back and started buying retro games for my old Nintendo consoles again!
In the words of Carly Simon, ‘nobody does it better’.
Four generations deep
Whilst I like to think that I am open minded to consider any brand or console released, I’ve never taken to the Xbox brand at all. Sure, I bought an original Xbox and an Xbox 360 late in their respective generations, to catch up on a couple of exclusives, but I find very little reason to consider it as a primary choice. The PlayStation 4 does everything I would want it to, as a gaming and media box, as it offers a vast catalogue of games including Sony’s largely excellent first party games. Nintendo has an enduring magic and unpredictability and can relied on to create gaming experiences that are unique.
I will look forward to the new generation with interest, but it will take something truly unexpected from Microsoft to make me switch away from the PlayStation ecosystem that has been my gaming mainstay for four generations.
ProEvoSan78 (PSN ID)
PS: As a PS Vita owner I read about the rumoured PlayStation 5 proprietary memory cartridges with complete dread. This was a significant factor in the Vita being DOA and it would surely be a massive error for Sony to head down this, inevitably expensive, road again.
Over the years I’ve had a C16, C64, Mega Drive, SNES, Game Boy, Game Gear, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Dreamcast, Xbox 360, PC, and an Android phone. Thanks to a friend I also have access to a Wii U, PlayStation 4, and Switch.
Console loyalty is one of the strangest things as far as I’m concerned, at least when I first started gaming. I think I’ve mentioned purchase justification before and I do believe it is true to some extent for some people – they don’t want to think they made the wrong decision.
But gaming has changed, especially since the introduction of digital distribution. More so for consoles than PC. We no longer just buy the hardware, if we intend to use the online functionality we are also buying into an ecosystem – a walled garden. Fundamentally we invest in the ecosystem which the hardware supports. It’s no accident the PlayStation 5 is to support some form of backwards compatibility; imagine effectively losing access to all your previous digital purchases. Think about that if it were your smartphone. Not a great selling point, is it? The console now is incidental to the ecosystem the hardware manufacturer wants you to invest in.
Being a physical media consumer where possible I have yet to be fully invested in a console ecosystem. This generation has passed me by as a consumer, and I remain rather unimpressed by Microsoft and Sony’s offerings. Nintendo still does their Nintendo things thankfully. But the next generation I anticipate to be the same.
Personally, I’ve never been loyal to any brand of gaming hardware. Why should I, as a consumer, be invested in a piece of hardware beyond how reliable it is? And I do specifically mean the hardware. I’ve always followed the platform where my likely favourite games will be. Console brand loyalty in its simplest form? Not a chance.
I’ve owned consoles from most all the major players going back to the Master System (only a GameCube from Nintendo though) but the one I tend to stick with is the PlayStation. At least first in a new console generation anyway.
It isn’t through some kind of misplaced loyalty though. It is simply because historically the games that interest me the most seem to be released on a Sony machine. I was a big Gran Turismo nerd back in the day and that pretty much sealed the deal for me.
I have bought other consoles as secondary consoles though. I had a GameCube many moons ago so I could play the Metal Gear Solid remaster and I bought an Xbox 360 to finally play Mass Effect and see what all the fuss about Halo was about.
So obviously I am currently leaning more towards the PlayStation 5. That doesn’t mean I won’t consider the next Xbox or whatever it is called. I will judge both and make my decision based on the games I want to play. However, the way Sony have handled first party titles this generation leaves Microsoft needing to really wow me to sway it.
Wait and see
Historically speaking I seem to be a bit of a Nintendoid. Starting with the SNES I’ve owned six Nintendo machines so far, including two dedicated portables. However, at some point I’ve also owned the last three home consoles from Sony, as well as a smattering of handhelds from Atari and Sega. But I’ve yet to buy any hardware made by Microsoft.
I’ve never felt like I’ve slavishly bought any console just because of who it was made by though. My hardware purchasing decisions have always been driven primarily by the games I wanted to play at that time, balanced with my financial circumstance. For instance, my PlayStation 2 was only a short term thing, bought right at the end of that console’s life, just so I could play Ico. It was then carefully recycled as a present for someone else.
I was too young to be in a financial position to buy my own consoles until the SNES/Mega Drive era. Once I was, it was, and largely always has been, Nintendo’s games that tempt me. However, I don’t think they’re infallible. I really didn’t like the N64, nor was I particularly keen on the Wii U. Likewise, the DS and 3DS did very little to tempt me.
The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/Wii era was the first point in my life where owning more than one console was something I could realistically contemplate. Once again, it was games that swung me towards the Wii (half an hour on Wii Sports Bowling was enough) but my HD console decision was a bit more involved.
I thought about getting an Xbox 360 for the Mass Effect series, but I always wavered as it seemed like too much outlay for just one game, especially in view of the frankly scandalous Red Ring of Death phenomenon. The fact that the only franchise Microsoft had that generation which tempted me came to PlayStation 3 in the end anyway, coupled to the Sony exclusives I wanted and the seemingly more versatile nature of Sony’s machine from the start (Blu-ray capabilities, HDMI as standard from day one, an optical out port for my surround sound system, ease of hard drive expansion) all seemed like real plus points and swung me towards Sony that generation.
For various reasons I came late to the current generation, but this time my choices were not a tough call for me at all. From the moment I saw it, I wanted a Switch, especially since Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe were effectively launch titles. It’s not the most powerful console ever, sure, but it’s the sexiest bit of kit Nintendo have ever put out and I love it.
Second console wise, after the disastrous Xbox One launch, Sony’s pre-Xbox One X processing power advantage, PlayStation VR being a thing and titles like God Of War, Bloodborne, Horizon Zero Dawn, WipEout Omega Collection, and Naughty Dog being exclusive developers, Microsoft never stood a chance with me. The only game they had I was ever even interested in, Ori And The Blind Forest, is now sitting on my Switch waiting for its turn.
Looking forward though, I’m getting twitchy about embracing the PlayStation 5 before I know everything about it. That proprietary memory cartridge story smells like a cynical cash grab of the worst kind for starters. I’m not a huge fan of the look of that dev kit hardware and if Microsoft do manage to create something special with Project Scarlet it’s not impossible that I might have my head turned.
I won’t lie, it’ll be an uphill struggle for them, but I’m not ruling it out at this stage. The good thing for me is that, as a late starter this generation, I’ve got such a huge game backlog I can happily sit back and wait to see who’s got the right stuff before I even have to think about where to go next.
I enjoyed the Xbox 360 so much it wasn’t really even a question as to whether I would get the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, so yeah… back the wrong horse there really. It’s funny as up until that point I would’ve considered myself quite a loyal Xbox fan but once it became clear how bad the Xbox One and how Microsoft was basically sitting out the generation in order to be ready for the next one I have to say it’s left a bad taste in my mouth.
They now have to do a lot more to convince me to buy the Xbox Two, which means PlayStation 5 has kind of won by default. Which is pretty much how they won this generation too. Apparently the secret to success in big business is just to let the other guy make more mistakes than you, and make you look good in the process.
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I grew up on an Amiga A500. Over the years I got various tastes of consoles – Sega, Nintendo and PlayStation – always fun and tempting, but I could never justify the expense in my youth.
Then my brother bought the Xbox with Halo and Project Gotham Racing when it released, and between the hardware (e.g. hard drive allowing ripping of music CDs to listen to while driving in PGR) and those two fantastic IPs (please, please, please add Project Gotham Racing to Xbox One backwards compatibility, Microsoft!) and I was sufficiently wowed that I mentally committed myself to buying whatever the Xbox successor was.
Then the Xbox 360 launched (while the PlayStation 3 was horrendously late and expensive)… into an instant cloud of Red Ring of Death drama. I hit the brakes on my Xbox 360 purchase.
And what a pivotal moment that was. Desperate to enter the life of console gaming as I was now financially independent in my mid-20s, I particularly wanted to play some Star Wars games. I did some research and decided the best game for my tastes was Rogue Squadron II, on the Nintendo GameCube.
I duly found a used GameCube bundle for sale locally with Rogue Squadron, Clone Wars, and Bounty Hunter included. There it was, MY first console, the GameCube. The quirky design seemed an added point of interest, and the simplicity of the disc tray lid, coupled with that now iconic GameCube splash screen whenever you booted a disc, would become a source of strong and beloved nostalgia years later.
I didn’t maximise my GameCube purchase at the time (as much as I liked it, and have been making up for it since), but I happened upon a game that made a memorable impression on me: Mario Smash Football.
The only previous Mario game I really ever played was Super Mario Kart on the SNES at a few early 90s sleep-overs, and so didn’t have any understanding of Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom. But Smash Football, with its simple but fantastically fun gameplay, and gloriously pleasurable goal celebrations and replays, taught me that Nintendo understood what makes gaming fun, regardless of the kiddie image they seemed to have in that era.
Fast forward to today and I’m a Wii, Wii U, 3DS, Switch, Mini NES, and Mini SNES owner, with a collection of games that would make the teenage me, that yearned for such a thing only in my dreams, giddy with excitement.
I’ve also acquired a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, PlayStation VR, and Xbox One along the way, but I don’t value those nearly as highly. They don’t have the same pedigree and legacy in my eyes. And a game like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate really emphasises the value of pedigree and legacy. I feel a genuine attachment to those characters, even as they smash me about the screen mercilessly.
To me, Sony and Microsoft consoles are just electronic boxes that deliver the ‘typical’ 21st century console experience, whereas Nintendo hardware feels and plays so distinctively, and becomes iconic to me as time goes by. The GameCube, the Wii remote, the Wii U GamePad, the 3DS clamshell, the Switch Joy-Cons, all have burned their brand on my soul. And not only that, but Nintendo software just has an aura of specialness for me now. Mario Kart, Zelda, Kirby, and Smash will be with me forever now. There’s nothing special to me about PlayStation and Xbox. Xbox is pretty much just ‘the multi-platform’ brand; PlayStation is just the ‘cut scene heavy, cinematic; Let me get on with the game!’ brand.
In the future? I am not in favour of the, apparently inevitable, move to digital delivery of gaming content and streaming. Whoever maintains the option for me to own and control physical games I purchase will get my support. I suspect that Nintendo will maintain a stake in the physical market longer than anyone else, due to its interest in the portable and family-friendly markets, and given my experience over the last 15 years, I really hope that transpires because, despite some frustrating business decisions, etc. I do seem to have become a bit of a Nintendo fan.
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