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Console War?... Huh! What is it good for?


Last week, I confess, I had a bit of a low-key hissy fit about the war of Numbers we can expect as the run up to the release of the Xbox 720 and the PlayStation Orbis draws closer. The too-long-didn't-read of that rant was basically that comparing the tech specs of consoles against each other as if they matter is a pointless exercise and has no bearing on who will win this next console war. See the success of the Wii as but one example.

Since then, I've had thoughts about the console wars in general and it occurred to me that in this current era of gaming, having a console war would be really rather pointless.

Back in the 80s and 90s, when the concept of console or system wars first emerged, they were already full of artificial and overblown arguments, since the abilities of one didn't somehow negate the abilities of the other. As if the Megadrive's "Blast Processing" somehow made SNES games less fun somehow. It's like saying that because I'm really good at remembering superhero secret identities, somehow that makes Michael Jackson's music less dance worthy. It was stupid and trite.


However, there was one thing you could bring up in that era they did have some small sliver of merit to it. At that point in time you could make one very credible argument as to why you needed or a preferred the Commodore 64 over the ZX Spectrum or the SNES over the Megadrive. There were considerations like the ergonomics of the controllers or the fidelity of the visuals, yes, but most typically the argument over which system you chose could be summed up in the choice of games you preferred playing.

If you wanted to play Final Fantasy, it had to be a SNES. If you wanted to play Gunstar Heroes, it had to be Megadrive. If you wanted to play Day of the Tentacle, it had to be a PC. What you chose to play your games could and did have a significant bearing on what games you would be able to play. And even in those instances where a game found itself on multiple systems, more often than not, they were actually different games; sometimes obviously so, other times subtly so. Consider the variant versions of Contra or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Shadowrun or whatever.

The list of which games were exclusive was an incredibly lengthy one back in the day and that is a circumstance which no longer exists. So in a world where all games appear on all systems, where they look the same and play the same; what exactly then is the purpose of a console war? If a gaming console's most important advantage is the games that can be played on it and that advantage is no longer a factor, then there is no longer anything to fight about.

Image Credit: TheConsoleWarProject

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