Jason (psychosisx) wrote,

Console Specs Don't Matter.

The next generation of video game consoles (the Xbox One and the Playstation 4) is well behind us. Millions of people are enjoying their purchase, or purchases, and eagerly looking forward to what this new generation of gaming hardware has in store for us in the future.

There is, unfortunately, a darker side of this generational shift, which can be found in the dark bowels of the internet. It is a phenomenon known as the "console wars," which reaches a fever pitch well before the consoles being discussed are even released, and often starts before they're even officially announced. All over the internet people argue about how powerful each console is or isn't, going over the minutiae of the systems' specs with a fine-toothed comb, splitting every hair and being as pedantic as possible.

This particular generation is no different. If anything, those engaged in this "war" seem to have fine-tuned the process of arguing semantics and minutia down to an art form. They had to, seeing as how, outside of relatively minor differences, the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 are so identical in terms of hardware that they're practically the same machine. This is not to say that there are no differences to discuss, but said people would have you believe that these differences are far larger and more important than they actually are.

This argument over hardware specs and graphical capabilities is engaged in with such passion, as if this factor alone will decide the victor of this console generation. I can only assume that these people all have collective amnesia, or else they haven't been very observant of history. When discussing the possible success of a console, its hardware should be one of the last items on your list, because a console's power has never determined its success. Ever.

There has never been a single console generation where the system with the most power ended up becoming the dominant system for that generation. Not one. When you consider this, the argument about console specs and graphical capabilities is like a battle between mice over a bit of moldy cheese, yet each generation that's all people seem to talk about, despite its thorough and historically proven insignificance to the overall discussion.

A console becoming dominant based on its graphical capabilities has never happened before. It's an occurrence that is entirely without precedent. Last generation saw the PS3 playing catch-up to the Xbox 360, only recently managing to squeak ahead in sales by a tiny margin, and both those systems losing to the Wii. The generation before that saw the PS2 demolishing the far more powerful Xbox. Before that the PS1 did better than the N64. The original Gameboy, with its simple, black-and-white graphics crushed all competition so brutally that it was almost disturbing. The Nintendo DS far outpaced the PSP, and now the Nintendo 3DS is so thoroughly trouncing the PS Vita that it's almost painful to watch.

This is, of course, not to say that it's impossible for a powerful console to become the dominant one. What this data does prove, however, is that such a console becoming the dominant one would be nothing more than a coincidence. The system specs would not be the deciding factor by any means. Such a system would owe its success to its library of games, as well as the services is offers, and nothing more.

When it comes down to it, the majority of customers don't care about specs. That is why you will only find the argument about specs among the hardcore enthusiasts who inhabit gaming forums, or tech buffs on similar forums and blogs. It's an argument that only holds value and meaning to them, but which has no impact on the majority of consumers, who do not dedicate their lives to such things. No matter how big a deal enthusiasts make of it, they are, in effect, arguing over nothing.

History has proven that hardware does not sell consoles; good games do. People do not buy consoles because of their GPUs or ram, they buy consoles for the games on offer, as well as the services each console provides. That is the crucial difference, the determining factor of a console's success. To focus so intensely on the hardware and the graphics is completely missing the point, and serves no purpose other than to waste everyone's time.

So, which console is better? No one knows. No one can know. Anyone who claims to have a definitive answer for that question is either lying through his teeth or is speaking entirely out of personal bias. It's simply far too early to tell which console will prevail. The Xbox One's TV integration strategy may win it the support of the consumers, or the PS4 may manage to acquire a superior games library. The Wii U may see a massive spike in sales, as has happened to the Nintendo 3DS, and go on to outsell both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Unless you have a TARDIS stashed somewhere, it's impossible to know for certain what will happen in the coming years, and anyone who declares a victor this early is deluding themselves.

For now, I have only one bit of advice to give to prospective buyers: wait and see. If one or more of the current consoles has games that appeal to you, go ahead and buy it. If one or more of the consoles has an upcoming game (or games) that appeal to you, buy it. If, in the coming years, one or more of the consoles has some games released that you want to play, buy it. If one or more of the consoles has a feature that appeals to you, buy it. That's the only relevant advice on this subject, and everything else is just conjecture.

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