Console war, is something changing?

January 6, 2016 · Filed Under News, Videogaming 
This entry is part of the series Console war

News - A succession of fresh, quality news, from inside and outside of the WebTwo years after the arrival of the eighth generation of home gaming consoles, the market situation and the endless speculations allow us to identify some firm points next to many uncertainties: Sony PlayStation 4 is still enjoying a seemingly unapproachable success, while Microsoft is trying to come out of its beaten-up boxer corner by playing the card of exclusive features - which in the end aren’t so exclusive, or at least not quite so. The uncertainties? They mostly apply to Nintendo, a company with an outlook that never seemed so frail.

The PS4 console officially reached the 30 million units sold milestone on November, and according to the latest numbers from VGChartz (updated to December 26, 2015) the Japanese machine is now in 35.3 million households with more than 50% of market share. Even Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox project, admitted that he isn’t so confident about the chance, for the Microsoft console, to reach and maybe overtake the competitor.

Anyway Sony has to deal with the troublesome position of PlayStation Vita, a portable console crushed by the Nintendo 3DS and forced to face the competition of mobile apps cheap&casual entertainment: right now the market doesn’t allow for a hardware upgrade, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida suggested, while the development of gaming contents is going on but with no AAA-level efforts. The Japanese corporation is ready to invest good money on the immersive experiences of PlayStation VR, an HMD helmet that will cost as much as a new console, while as for development access to an additional CPU core has been implemented with yet-to-evaluate performance benefits.

Xbox One will likely never reach the PS4 sales, therefore the second place in the eighth generation console war almost seems a done deal: the USA machine has now sold 19.2 million units (source: VGChartz), and Microsoft has completely changed the product interface with a new Windows 10-based OS and backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games based on software emulation - a feature initially regarded as impossible and that has been quickly copied by Sony with the emulation of PS2 games on PS4. Unlike Xbox One, however, in Sony’s case the original disks are useless and games must be purchased again as digital downloads.

Console Wars, p44

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Users that chose Wii U over competing consoles aren’t that many (12.4 millions according to VGChartz), but right now Nintendo is in a transition phase brought by outside causes as well: president Satoru Iwata prematurely passed away during the last summer, a tragic event followed by the respectful tribute of the entire gaming business and the appointment of Tatsumi Kimishima (formerly Managing Director and president of Nintendo of America) as new president of the corporation. Meanwhile there was the introduction of Miitomo, the first free-to-play smartphone app by Nintendo to be released on March 2016.

Shigeru Miyamoto tried to identify the reasons behind Wii U lack of success (expensive price tag, tablet competition etc.), but the truth is that except for Super Mario Maker and some remarkable future release (Star Fox Zero, Zelda: Twilight Princess HD) Nintendo’s energies are mostly focused on the already announced Project NX: the new console will not be “just” a console but a multi-device platform with a home machine and “at least” one portable unit, the rumors say, a hybrid with new-generation chips and maybe a controller completely covered by a touch screen. NX will be something unique and original, the new president Kimishima assured, and it will enter mass production by the end of the first quarter of 2016. The hope is, from Nintendo’s standpoint, that the updated versions of PS4 and Xbox One will not be out there too soon to cut oxygen off to NX.

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Series Navigation«Console war, Nintendo plays its cards
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