Seventh Generation Console Wars

The war between consoles has been raging for as long as some of us can remember and although some battles are over and won, it looks a long way off ending entirely. But, what each war needs is someone to look through the positives and negatives of each contender, and as we reach the end of another console generation, I bravely step forward, pushing aside my own opinion to do just that. Though, if you do hear some uncomfortable truths about your favourite console during this article (which you undoubtedly will), please remember that shooting the messenger just makes you the bad guy. Thank you. Now let’s begin our dissection with the current highest seller…

Nintendo Wii


96.3 million units sold worldwide.

Pros

Ease of developer profits
Because of the incredible amount of Wiis that have been sold, developers are a lot more likely to sell their games with ease and receive a nice profit from them. I mean, how difficult is it to come across someone now who doesn’t own a Wii or doesn’t have a close friend or family member who owns one? That’s right, very. You can almost guarantee as a developer for the Wii that someone will buy your game and enjoy, even if it was created from a monkey’s alcohol-induced dream. Actually, especially if it’s created from that. It’s not just the amount of people who own this console that helps developers though; it’s also the console itself. Because the hardware is… quite simple, games are much cheaper to develop than they would be for the other consoles, meaning that you could create one without forking too much money from your pocket.

Introduces people to gaming
As the developers are more likely to get profits from the Wii, they’re also more likely to keep creating games for it, meaning that there’s literally something for everyone. The vast amount of party games alone allow you to gather people around a console that would otherwise have no clue about gaming, such as grandparents, aunts and even pets. Then, once they’ve had a good laugh with their family, these people are more likely to look into what the Wii has to offer, possibly picking up the more serious games and before you know it, Granny Mabel will be around your house bragging about her kill streak.

The size and sound
Now this isn’t usually the first thing someone thinks of when judging a console, yet it is an important factor. The idea that you can put your tiny little Wii into a corner, stacked on top of other things and still manage to balance ornaments on top of it is no doubt a satisfying one. You don’t have to organise you whole room in order to play the next Mario title and when it’s switched on, you can even forget it’s sat there. Sure, some times you’ll hear the disc whirring around, but compared to other consoles of this generation, it sounds healthy and a lot quieter, allowing you to enjoy the sound of your friends’ anguish rather than having to raise your voice over the plastic box of joy. Oh, and in some games, the controller works as a one-way telephone – isn’t that the coolest most pointless thing in the world?!

 

Cons

Underpowered
Although the Wii is easier for developers, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s because it’s very underpowered for its generation. By trying not to be the last console released, Nintendo ended up giving it a very rushed feeling and while the other contenders are still pushing their boundaries and creating excited gasps from fans, the Wii seems to have hit a brick wall. Despite this, many games are still very impressive to play, yet these tend to be first-party games (and even these don’t match the quality of the PS3 and Xbox 360), as Nintendo seem to be hiding the secret to unlocking the hardware from all the other developers. Therefore, with multiplatform games, many have to be shrunk down or changed completely for the Wii and the time spent doing so usually means that the developers give up slightly and release a fairly bad port.

Gamers got left behind
In trying to attract a much larger audience to the console, Nintendo often forget who made them this popular in the first place. It would be near impossible to walk into a store and not be faced by casual game after casual game in the Wii section. Now this may be heaven for some gamers, yet many others miss the fun, more hardcore games that older brother the Gamecube offered, and even when these are released, there’s always something niggling in the background, telling you that it’s been simplified so that you could play with both your Granddad and 2-year old sibling at the same time. However, recently Nintendo seem to have realised this and are desperately attempting to make it up to the old fans who gave up this generation, and we mean desperately. Still, better late than never… right?

Online? What online?
Oh come on, you all know it’s true. If you want to play alongside a friend you must first find one of the small handful of games that actually offer online play and then swap your string of numbers with a friend, numbers that mean nothing to either of you. But if you manage to forget that Nintendo have taken away your identity and assigned you to a number instead, then you’re ready to play. But what if your friend isn’t online? Because in reality, almost no-one plays online on their Wii, meaning that waiting times to join a party can be ridiculous, especially as the years go on. Even if you do find people to play with, there feels like a complete lack of community that other consoles offer in such simple ways. You’d be better just to admit that you have no friends who want to play with you.

 
 

Microsoft’s Xbox 360

67.6 million units sold worldwide.

Pros

Indie games
Although it was mentioned earlier that the Wii is much easier to develop for, for indie developers with a limited budget, this isn’t always the case. Most games created by these sorts of people are for the PC, as it’s cheaper to put out there. However, if these games then get noticed, a console release is the next sensible step and this is where the Xbox holds out a helping hand. In terms of porting games, it’s the easiest console to go for, as it’s the most similar to computers. Therefore, the Xbox Live Arcade is usually full of up and coming games, months before the other consoles if not exclusives for the Xbox.

Non-gaming features
Even the best of gamers need a break every now and then and Microsoft seem to understand this better than anyone. Just recently, they announced a bunch of new features that they’re adding to the console, allowing players to watch TV, catch up with all the best viral videos or discover a new talent in the music industry. Even before this announcement, the Xbox offered more extra content than the other consoles, meaning that when you’re finished with your game, there’s no need to turn off – unless you decide to get fresh air of course, but who needs that thing really? I mean, isn’t an open window good enough?

Socialisation
Once you’re online on the Xbox, you’re offered a much more social experience than any of the other consoles. Not only do more people strike up a conversation in game, but you can carry on talking to your friends when you leave the match. If you do decide to play another game together, invites can be sent and received with ease, words can be exchanged in writing or by voice chat, letting you shape how much you want to interact with others. Even inviting a group to talk and blocking out the ones that get on your nerves is simple, whereas on other consoles it seems too much of a fuss to even bother. Of course, more socialisation means more 12 year olds getting on your nerves, but at least they provide some entertainment.

 

Cons

Payment for online
Despite the online being very good, it comes at a cost unlike the other two consoles. Although the games you buy have online play built in, you can’t access them unless you pay Microsoft even more money, which seems a bit of a rip off, even if it is only a small amount of money for the most basic of privileges. It seems even worse now that half the world seem to have lost their money down the back of the sofa, is it really that much to ask to play games with overseas friends without having to dip into life savings? Get more local friends you say? Yeah, sure, of course it’s easy… ahem.

Amount of faults
I’m not saying that the other consoles don’t come with their fair share of faults, but for the majority of the 360’s life there’s seemed to be something wrong with it. Most notable is probably the red ring of death, which a ridiculous amount of old Xboxs suffered from, in possibly the worst time of the owner’s gaming life. However, it isn’t just this problem breaking hearts all over the world as the console also suffered from disc mutilation. Ouch.

It’s a step into the past
When the PlayStation shut its doors ready to welcome the heavily popular PlayStation 2, the world breathed a sigh of relief – multiple discs for a single game were finally a thing of the past. Until the 360 reared its ugly head. Because Microsoft kept the use of DVDs, some games just couldn’t fit all their wonderful content onto one disc, meaning that they had to come on two or three discs, which was a pain even when it was a common thing. Not only is it an annoyance, it also costs the developers more, which is never a positive sign for gamers and their bank accounts.

 
 

Sony’s PlayStation 3

65.8 million units sold worldwide.

Pros

The Power
What can I say? The PS3 has got the power (if you’ll excuse my lame pun). We’re constantly reminded that developers are nowhere near reaching the consoles limit yet and even now games run smoothly at an incredibly quality. It looks even more fantastic when you compare it to something that isn’t quite with the rest of the world in terms of power (I’m looking at you Nintendo). It was made to last many years, and it’s certainly living up to that at the moment.

Exclusives
Although there aren’t too many, the exclusives that the PS3 offers to gamers are a very high quality. Games such as Journey and Heavy Rain have grabbed numerous peoples’ attention, even if they’re not a fan of the Sony console. The innovative ideas and brand new gameplay aspects really show what the console is capable of and have also managed to take gaming to a brand new level outside of the greasy teenagers huddled in their basements. The fact that these games think outside the box presents the PS3 in a brand new, much more fascinating light.

Online
Much like the Xbox 360, online play is an incredibly popular aspect of the console, with thousands of people logging on, checking trophies and meeting people they’d never get the chance to otherwise. However, unlike the Xbox 360, these people don’t offer abuse about our mothers as often and the online is completely free. Sony understand that being able to play people from all over the world offers hours more entertainment to each game and therefore makes people more willing to purchase them so don’t ask for more money in order to do so. There’s still a split between rich and poor in PlayStation Plus (like a members-only section offering free and reduced price games), but this divide isn’t as extreme as it is on other consoles.

 

Cons

Installation
In order to reduce loading times in game, Sony and developers worked together in order to install almost every game onto the consoles hard drive before it can be played. Of course, with this becoming a success, everyone is happy with this feature achieving its purpose. Everyone except the gamers that is. Sure, with small games it’s fine to just sit and watch the bar fill up before playing, but when you’ve just pre-ordered the game of the year and you’re hovering around, watching the line crawl across your screen, it creates a whole new sort of rage. Furthermore, if you fill the PS3’s memory you’ll end up deleting some installed games before realising how much you really want to play it again, repeating the aggravating process. I can only sit and watch Old Snake smoking for so long Sony.

Physical design
Let’s face it, the phat PS3 is just plain ugly. It’s huge, bulky and loud. Even the slim version is an awkward shape – you can’t stack things on top of it like you can other consoles, meaning that you have to clear out a special area just for the one console. At least with the Xbox 360 and Wii you can trap it under books and ornaments, meaning that it can be shoved just about anywhere in your room with ease. There is absolutely no reason to make this console curved, it just lets other people compare it to a barbeque. Don’t believe me? Try putting your controller on top of your PS3 and shake the shelving a little bit, I bet you my cookies it fell off.

Backwards compatibility
Ignoring the consoles that did include this (even they came riddled with problems because of it, with both cost and performance) and you’re greeted with a problem. While the others of this generation allow you to put their older brothers in the loft and still play the games it came with, the PS3 allows nothing of the sort. Instead, it decides to skip a generation and lets you play PS1 games instead. Sure, their intentions were good – the PS2 was popular enough that everyone who wants one has it, therefore not needing another in their PS3 and the PS1 is so old that many people may have sold it on or broken it, meaning that they needed another way to play its much loved games. But it didn’t work as well as they hoped as I (as well as many others) still find it annoying having to switch consoles just to catch up on the Metal Gear Solid storyline. Though that in itself is a challenge.

 
So there we have it. Each console of this generation has things to celebrate and things you’d be much better forgetting about, but in reality it depends on the games you want to play. If a console lets you play and enjoy your favourite games, then by all means use it – if it doesn’t, we don’t need a war over it. But while people still insist on fighting for their favourite company, I must admit, I saved the best console until last. Okay, now you can shoot me.

Know any more cringe-worthy or winning aspects of this generation’s consoles? Let us know in the comments. I promise to put the gun away.

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Sian Bradley

Sian is a co-founder of Cubed Gamers, having been around since 2011. When she isn’t helping to manage the site, she’s exploring every nook and cranny in games to create guides you didn’t know you needed.

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