PlayStation vs. Xbox, Nintendo vs. Sega, Game Boy vs. Everyone -- Console Wars are a historical tradition among gamers, and GamePro is looking back at the five most important battles in the history of the gaming industry!
#5. Sony PlayStation vs. Nintendo 64 vs. Sega Saturn
Did the Sony PlayStation simply have a better lineup of games than Nintendo? Maybe. Should Sega have spent more time in the laboratory with the Sega Saturn instead of wasting three years building clunky add-ons to the Genesis? Probably. Was falling behind in the console race Nintendo's fault? Who knows? But by the end of 1999, everyone knew that the Sony PlayStation was the biggest of the bunch, and it had long since left everyone else in the dust.
Even though Nintendo was churning out smash hit after smash hit -- Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, GoldenEye 007, StarFox 64, and even Perfect Dark -- the PlayStation had a simple solution for hitting the Big N right between the eyes: the Compact Disc.
It turns out that abandoning the old cartridge-format for the CD made all the difference in Sony's first strike against Nintendo, as developers found the CD format a LOT easier to produce and distribute. Of course, it also helped that less honest gamers quickly figured out how to burn PS1 games on the cheap, which led to some wide-spread piracy. It didn't matter as far as Sony's newfound deathgrip on the video game market was concerned, though, selling million upon millions of copies with relatively little effort.
The Sony PlayStation happened to have plenty of good games under its belt, including a few little titles like Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear Solid, a dozen Tomb Raiders, Tekken, Gran Turismo -- and let's not forget Final Fantasy; Square Enix dumped Nintendo shortly after the SNES era (probably because they couldn't title the games in any intelligent order) and found a new audience with Sony's PS1.
It was like beating Michael Jordan in a slam dunk contest with a broken arm -- the PlayStation had killed Nintendo's home console dominance, and they wouldn't be letting go of it for a good 10 years.
The Victors: Sony, who proved that new technology and a fresh attitude could make a console the new King of the Hill.
The Casualties: NEO-GEO, the Atari Jaguar, and video game arcades in general finally had to give up the ghost, as the technology race suddenly got too narrow (and expensive) for anyone whose name wasn't Sony and Nintendo.
The Fallout: Beating Nintendo at their own game and outright maiming Sega's underpowered Saturn, Sony helped lay the groundwork for the next decade of gamer loyalty and subsequent console warfare.
#4. Nintendo DS vs. Sony PlayStation Portable
Everyone expected Sony's new, hand-size PlayStation to trounce Nintendo's weird looking dual-screen second cousin of the Game & Watch. It didn't happen. Today, Nintendo's required by Federal Law to hold their DS releases until weekends in Japan, since children will ditch school for days to pick up any Mario-, Zelda or Dragon Quest title. Heck, even Nintendogs sold millions of copies, and it looked plain silly sitting next to Animal Crossing, Tetris and Pokemon.
Of course, Sony didn't do itself any favors with the most horrible marketing blitz known to mankind. From jive-talking squirrels to sexy European models face-masking black people, Sony's ads for the PSP played out like a train wreck in bullet time. You couldn't make bad press like this if you shot the Pope and played the bongos with his head.
Also, UMDs never really picked up, and load times on most games were horrendous. That disc drive on the PSP sounded like trucks downshifting on raw gravel. Still, you have to give Sony credit for sticking to its less successful, socially awkward child. To this day, the PSP still commands a healthy market share in the portable gaming world, and downsized, slightly cheaper versions of God of War, Tekken and Metal Gear are nothing to sneeze at. Even games like LocoRoco and Patapon have their cult fan followings.
The Victors: Casual gamers, who picked up the DS and finally found out what all this video game nonsense was about.
The Casualties: Sony's brand image, which went from simply being weird in the PS2 era to just getting outright embarrassed in their desperation to outperform the Nintendo DS.
The Fallout: Sony's actively trying to reinvent the PSP for its nebulous demographic, while the DS is still printing money, with 100 Million sold today.