Video-game wars are nothing new

Debating if you should buy your kids a Microsoft Xbox One this holiday season? Or maybe you think the Sony PlayStation 4 is the better choice. If you’re struggling to figure out which video-game console is best, take some comfort in the fact that consumers have been weighing the pros and cons of home gaming systems for over three decades. As PCMag shows in a recent story, video-game makers have long fought for superiority and consumer dollars. The skirmish between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is simply the latest of these battles.

Quiet times

The PCMag story traces the history of console wars to the late 1970s. This is when the Atari 2600 exploded on the scene. The console didn’t feature nifty graphics. And its games tended to be simple point-and-shoot affairs. Even so the console dominated its time period. Its greatest challenger was probably Mattel’s Intellivision. But the Intellivision, despite better graphics, never really mounted a serious challenge to the 2600’s popularity.

Sega vs. Nintendo

The late ’80s and early ’90s featured a fairly nasty brawl between Nintendo and Sega. Nintendo had pretty much run the home video-game industry first with its NES video-game system and then its Super Nintendo. But as the PCMag story says, Sega was a spirited competitor with its Genesis home-gaming system. The era is remembered for Sega’s ad campaign of “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” The big argument? Sega said that it was the hipper, edgier system.

The modern age

The Microsoft vs. Sony battles started much earlier than today, hitting a high point from 2005 through 2012. Sony’s PS3 introduced Blu-ray but started at an amazingly high price point of $599. Microsoft took on the Sony with its Xbox 360, which it introduced just four years after the original Xbox. The big debate during this period? Which of the consoles was more powerful? Which had the better online network? And which one broke more often? Nintendo entered this battle with its first Wii, a system that hardcore gamers sneered at but which families and casual gamers loved, giving it to huge success.

Posted on: 12.27.13