A war is happening, but not the war we all know. An online battle that has been going on for millennia. And also between millennials. But it’s a battle that not a lot of people even know exists. It bubbles under the surface of the web, tearing apart online families and piling up digital bodies. But my girlfriend has no idea.
As I prepare for the arduous task of finding something to watch on Netflix during a quiet night in with my girlfriend, I make a passing comment. “The Xbox One has Netflix and that built into it, much better than the PlayStation,” I say. I expect an “hmm-mmm” or a mumble about me always talking about bloody games.
“What’s the difference between all these consoles anyway?” she asks me, as I shake my head, and grab my flip chart ready to explain to her. “They are nothing like each other” I respond. I imagine this is how football fans feel when someone asks about the offside rule. She has opened up a can of worms.
The Xbox and the PlayStation, brainchildren of software giants Microsoft and Sony, are always battling each other for the top spot in the self-titled ‘Console Wars.’ Playstation drew first blood. With the release of the PlayStation 1 in 1994, the Japanese developers had outdone themselves; they had created a whole new generation of gaming platforms.
At the time, Microsoft had already been making huge gains in the desktop computer market, as well as creating all manner of hardware and software. But, being the shrewd multinational corporation it was, it saw an opportunity, but not before Sony released their second masterpiece in 2000, the PlayStation 2, a vast improvement on its predecessor. The Xbox was finally released in 2001, and Microsoft had finally caught up.
In 2005, Microsoft put themselves one step ahead with the Xbox 360. Sony found themselves playing catch-up a year later with the PS3; best known for being rubbish.
Each new console came with a raft of new features; more space on the disks; larger hard drives; higher RAM; faster frame rates. It was a period of gaming euphoria for console lovers.
“But you still haven’t told me the difference between them,” my girlfriend says, wearily, after listening to me for about 40 minutes.
“I’m getting there,” I grumble, disappointed in her lack of enthusiasm. She did start this, after all. She’s not even writing any of this down.
The ‘Console Wars’ raged for many years. Groups of die-hard fans formed communities around their favourite system, and battled it out on online forums, throwing insults around like digital monkey matter.
Then, in 2013, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were released. Hailed as the “next generation of console” they boasted huge advances on their older generations. They blew anything else on the market out of the water. They are still battling it out as we speak, but the differences between them? Well, there aren’t many. Sure, they have their own exclusive games; one may have slightly more power than the other, but the majority of the content released is the same for both. They both cost about the same and they essentially do the same thing. It’s like the difference between cheddar and Red Leicester.
“What about that other one though. It’s not a PlayStation or an Xbox?” My girlfriend interrupts. She is drinking wine now. At an impressive rate.
“Well, funny you should ask!”
She is, of course, talking about the warhorse that has been outdoing consoles since before they existed. The PC. PC’s have been doing what consoles do better than they ever could since the 70’s. With seemingly unlimited power levels, the ability to run software that consoles couldn’t even dream of and more features than you could shake a stick at, it’s not even a real contest.
I have owned both consoles and a PC in my time and can say, with confidence, that the PC is just simply better.
“So if the PC is better, why is everyone getting so worked up?”
She’s learning. I probably won’t need to give her the multiple-choice quiz at the end now. At the end of the day, it just comes down to personal preference; you buy what suits you.
The PC has more features, but a console is easier to pick up and play. It’s the difference between buying a car and trying to build one for yourself. Yeah, sure, you could buy all the bits and make it your own, or you could go and buy one ready made and save yourself a whole load of hassle.
“So it’s complicated,” I finish, feeling like I’ve taught her a valuable lesson on the intricacies of the gaming community.
She’s fallen asleep with her mouth open. I’ll fire up Netflix.