Posts about Gaming
[Video Games] The Xbox One: How Microsoft cost themselves an entire console generation with one bad announcement after another
Shout out to this recent video made by Stop Skeletons From Fighting for providing the reminder of this story and the writeup.
Console wars have always been a part of video games, going all the way back to the 90s with the feud between Sega and Nintendo. It makes sense from a tribalism perspective; consoles are hefty purchases so you need to be able to feel secure that you bought the right one, especially if you're a child as you may not have the funds to secure the competition unless your parents were exceedingly generous. Today's post focuses on one such entry into the console war, and how focusing on the wrong aspects cost its parent company the entire generation in terms of PR and public image. This is the story of the Xbox One.
In 2000, Microsoft would enter the console market race with the original heavy-enough-to-be-a-murder-weapon Xbox. While it would fail to beat its primary competition, Sony's Playstation 2, it would carve out a niche for itself in the Americas, helped by several successful exclusives like Halo Combat Evolved and Halo 2, fantasy RPG Fable, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Then again, going blow to blow with the PS2 is no small feat given it's the best selling console of all time as of writing at over a hundred and fifty five million units.
In 2005, Microsoft wound launch the Xbox 360 and this would be a much bigger blow against Sony. In fact, for much of this console generation (generally seen as the 7th generation, or Pokemon Sony and Microsoft) it was the common opinion that Microsoft had won. This was thanks to Sony's Playstation 3 being an overpriced beast of a machine that was way harder to develop for thanks to its processing techniques, while Nintendo had gone for a more casual gaming audience with the Nintendo Wii. Thanks to heavy hitter exclusives (some timed) like Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Halo 3, Mass Effect, Bioshock and Fable 2, the 360 quickly became the juggernaut console of the generation, in spite of having a disaster launch involving the console overheating itself to death with the infamous Red Ring of Death issue. Chances were, if you saw a show on TV with characters playing video games between 2006 and 2013, they were using an Xbox 360 controller or the console could be seen under their TV, like here in Breaking Bad where they play critically acclaimed masterpiece Sonic 2006.
While the 360 hit the ground running (overheating issues aside) with a variety of standout titles, 2010 would see a shift in Microsoft's fortune gaming wise. The company began to shift focus towards the Xbox being a cross-media platform that would allow you to watch television through it and house streaming apps such as Netflix and Crunchyroll. Additionally, the success of the Nintendo Wii prompted Microsoft to respond with its own motion controller application, the Kinect, which launched to mixed fanfare. Part of the problem with the Kinect, besides the software not working really well on the 360, had a poor games lineup and Microsoft hyper-focused on it for the remainder of the 360's lifecycle. Compared to how it started with a variety of impressive titles, the 360's exclusive lineup dried up like a well after 2010, with Halo Reach, Fable 3, Forza Horizon and Halo 4 being the last big exclusives for the platform (and those themselves run into the problem Microsoft have had until recent years where their exclusives can be summarized as "Gears, Halo and Forza").
What especially didn't help was that Sony pulled their heads out of their asses and staged a large redemption arc for the Playstation 3, launching a variety of exclusives and improving the console's price to make back lost ground. While Microsoft started strong and ended with a shrug, Sony started with a few good exclusives (Ratchet and Clank, MGS 4 and Resistance) and kept pumping out titles up to the bitter end (Infamous, The Last of Us and the Uncharted trilogy for example). In fact, Sony did eventually report that the PS3 had outsold the 360, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
In 2013, Sony would start the year by announcing the next generation of consoles, the Playstation 4. Nintendo would be a non-player this gen thanks to their entry, the Wii U, not being very good, so this was another generation where Microsoft and Sony would be the big players. Microsoft internally were pushing forward with their ideas from the end of the 360 era, focusing on multimedia entertainment services over the games part of the games console. Rumors and leaks went around that worried players, including a new initiative to have the console require a permanent online connection, and that Durango (the codename for the console) would have measures to try and kill used games by having each physical version of a game come with a one-time only code to permanently link it to your console. When Kotaku gained access to internal documents regarding Durango and the reception from players was frosty, Microsoft game director Adam Orth would set the standard for this era of Microsoft's responses to the backlash:
“Sorry, I don’t get the drama around having an ‘always on’ console. Every device now is ‘always on.’ That’s the world we live in. #DealWithIt.”
Adam would later leave Microsoft after these comments went viral.
The rest of the leaks about Microsoft's plans were also worrying, namely that every console would have Kinect hard-backed into it. While the projected price of $299 was a tantalizing prospect, players were unsure if the console would even be worth it in terms of exclusive games. While Microsoft had built up a powerful brand loyalty in the early 2000s, that well had dried up after three years of Kinect overshadowing over exclusive projects, and the news of Xbox going multimedia only further lessened excitement for the new console.
And then in May 2013, Microsoft would only make things worse for themselves when they actually announced the console.
May 2013: The Announcement
The Xbox One announcement is something I believe should be taught in schools as an example of how not to reveal a new product. Like, this was bad enough that it was able to convince people to spite-buy the competition's product. Pretty much the one thing it did better than the PS4's own announcement was that.. Microsoft actually showed off the console, which Sony had not.
Otherwise, it was exactly as feared through leaks and looking at the direction Microsoft had been taking for several years. The announcement event opens with Don Mattrick, one of the senior vice presidents of the Xbox division, unveiling the console. It's worth mentioning as an aside that Mattrick had been one of the figureheads pushing for Kinect, so this console was basically Mattrick's baby project. But ironically, Mattrick had a history with Xbox prior to joining Microsoft after a career at EA- a history that involved him nearly killing the entire Xbox brand in the crib. Seamus Blackley, one of the founding fathers of the original Xbox project, was nearly denied a chance to present the console to Microsoft shareholders by Mattrick himself due to not thinking the console would do well.
The presentation continues with a lengthy segment about the new upgrades to Kinect, including that it's... always listening to you so that it can process a vocal command to turn on the Xbox One. Keep in mind that this was the same year as the NSA Hacks. Ten minutes into the conference, the Xbox One is finally shown playing media... and it's television. The Price is Right, to be exact. And this sets the scene for the console reveal- there's little to no actual games being shown, as Microsoft had gone all in on using Kinect and cell phone compatibility to make the Xbox One an entertainment hub. A really funny blowback to this came when as part of the conference, people watching the conference on their Xbox 360s would get signed out of the reveal due to the Kinect announcements activating their Kinects. At twenty-seven minutes into the conference, a game is finally shown!
By Electronic Arts, fresh off two consecutive years of being voted as the worst company in America. And it was just the sports games. Which meant that these wouldn't be titles exclusive to the Xbox One. Finally, half an hour into a conference about a console, does Phil Spencer, local saviour of humanity and man in need of a chiropractor after years of carrying the Xbox brand on his back, reveals some actual goddamn video games that are exclusive to the console. We get the obligatory Forza game, a trailer for Remedy's time thriller Quantum Break, and the promise of a whopping fifteen exclusive games coming to Xbox.
And then it's right back to television, including the announcement of a Halo television series with Steven Spielberg's production company attached (that is finally coming out next year?). The final ten minutes consist of a promo for that year's Call of Duty, the one with the dog and the advanced fish AI. The kicker? We don't even get a release date. It's just coming later that year.
To compare, Sony debuted the new game from Bungie, their first new game after leaving Microsoft to do independent. Microsoft debuted a new Call of Duty that included a runtime dedicated to hyping up the good boi doggy.
You know, it's really no shock looking back at teenage me, midway through high school, looking at the news for the Xbox One announcement between classes, and immediately going "Well, guess I'm going Sony this gen." I would later go on to buy a PS4 in 2014 alongside Assassin's Creed Unity and the Metro Redux collection.
The PR would not improve for Microsoft afterwards. Mattrick would opine on backwards compatibility (the ability to play older games on the new hardware, which Microsoft had included for the 360) for the Xbox One by quipping that "If you're backwards compatible, you're really backwards." The methods Xbox was using to control used games (including that if a second player tried to play a game, they would be given an option to pay a fee to unlock the game and get to install it for themselves) went viral as selling points against the now-derisively-named Xbone. The most Microsoft could say about it at the time was that if you signed into your profile on your friend's Xbox, there would be no fee to play your game on the friend's console. Kotaku would later confirm that the plan for the Xbox One would be that it would need to log into the internet at least once every 24 hours. Their final attempt at damage control would be a statement to Polygon that all of the above issues- the always online, used games DRM, etc- were all "potential scenarios."
On June 6th, Microsoft would release a definitive statement confirming the mandatory once-per-day login, and that none of your games would work offline if you didn't do the login. For a games console. But don't worry everyone- you can still access the TV functions and watch Blu Rays on the console. The one salvaging grace was that eventually, it was confirmed that you could turn off the Kinect if you didn't want to use its voice systems.
That would turn out to be relevant, as remember how I mentioned that the same year Microsoft were pushing a voice-based software that was always listening? The day before their E3 presentation, Edward Snowden came forward and revealed that the NSA were listening in on you. Oh, and then it came out a month that Microsft were complicit in the NSA schemes to do said spying.
E3 2013 was Microsoft's chance to appeal to the gamers again after leaving them in the cold with the initial announcement. It was largely OK, focused a lot on some of the big games coming soon and showed that the Xbone, for all its faults, could make some pretty games. Metal Gear Solid V, Dark Souls 2 and more were shown. What's more important is what wasn't shown, as Microsoft dodged around the issues that had plagued the console. There was very little open discussion in the panel about the always online connection, the used games, or Kinect being a new weapon of the government.
The price was released at least. 500 dollars/euro, a far cry from the projected 300 (in fact it was 200 dollars more than the most expensive version of the 360), and very similar to the price of the PS3, a price considered so insane not even a decade prior that it basically won Microsoft the console generation for the first half of it.
Six hours later, Playstation would release their showcase for the PS4. During it, they confirm to roaring applause that the PS4 will not have restrictions on used games, alongside confirming that the system would not involve any of the restrictions that Microsoft were imposing. And they included in it one of the most direct across-the-bow shots at Microsoft in their coverage of how used games would work on the platform. I can assure you as a gamer in 2013, this shit was hilarious and spelled the exact time of death for the Xbox One as a platform. In 22 seconds, Sony had just won the console generation before it even began.
Oh, it was also launching at a hundred bucks cheaper price than the Xbone. Every misstep Microsoft had made, every PR fire they had walked into, Sony capitalized on that and held the door open for every Xbox convert to wander in. You could not write this story without someone calling bullshit on how perfectly Sony striked. And all the while, Mattrick was just digging grave after grave for Xbox, including the now infamous:
"We have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360."
Xbox, go home, you're drunk.
The Grand Walkback
Microsoft finally sobered up and demanded a runback. On June 19th, not even two weeks after the E3 press conference, Microsoft walked back their used games policy. No more forced online connectivity, no more restrictions on used games, no more charging to play a game already owned. On July 1st, Mattrick also left Xbox to become CEO of Zynga. The kicker is that per insiders, Mattrick had not given heads up to anyone about this departure and Microsoft had no prepared replacement for his role. He swept in, destroyed the Xbox and its brand reputation, then bounced two months later. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stepped in for a short time then bounced that August as he was already one foot out the door after thirteen years at the company.
That August, Microsoft would also confirm that Kinect was not required and the console could turn off the sensor completely if you didn't desire it or you just didn't want Microsoft to be recording everything you said around your Xbox. I for one did not desire Microsoft sending a hitsquad after me for shit-talking Halo 5.
November finally comes and while neither console had a good lineup, the Xbox One is soundly defeated by the Playstation 4 and it would stay that way for seven years. Never once in the entire 8th Console Generation did the Xbone outsell the PS4. In June 2021, it was reported that the console's lifetime sales were around 50 million units; the PS4 was about to cross one hundred and sixteen million. More humiliatingly, the Nintendo Switch, launched three and a half years later in March 2017, had already outsold the Xbone with 88 million units pushed.
While they soundly lost the generation (not helped by most of the Xbox One exclusives just not being very good) and there was no walking that back, Microsoft were determined to avoid a repeat of the Xbone's disaster launch. In 2014, Phil Spencer was made head of the Xbox division and revisions of the Xbone would go out afterwards that cut down the price and permanently removed Kinect. In 2017, Kinect was formally pulled from production, bringing an end to the motion controller gimmick.
Under Spencer, many of the controversial choices made by Mattick would be removed- alongside that the Xbox One would receive an update to allow for limited backwards compatibility with select original Xbox and Xbox 360 titles (still waiting for them to port Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, please Xbox I'll buy a Kinect if you do that), Spencer went all in on games. Microsoft would buy a levy of companies to bolster their exclusive lineups including Elder Scrolls/Fallout producers Bethesda Softworks in 2020. Their new console, the Xbox Series X, has so far failed to catch up to the Playstation 5 in sales, but has marketed itself as far more pro-consumer when it comes to playing old games on the system, alongside their Game Pass subscription service being a huge financial boon to the company. Ironically thanks to the developer mode you can purchase for the Series consoles, it's actually possible to legally install an emulator and play older Playstation games, while Sony has had more of an exclusionist mindset on preserving their older games and nearly killed the PS3 digital store this past year.
Funnily enough, the Xbox One seems to have confirmed that the console generation has a weird cycle to it of the clear winners of the last gen having a huge moment of hubris that their competition exploits. Sony got too big for their britches with the PS3, only for Microsoft in turn to fall short and give the PS4 the crown.
Could the Series consoles finally be what gives Microsoft their first full win? Sony has the lead now but Microsoft is promising a packed generation for titles in the years to come. It is gonna depend on how those future exclusives line up, but at least for me, it got me back on Phil Spencer's bullshit as I bought a Series X this year. Game wise, while Sony has started with some big hits such as Ratchet and Clank, the Demon Souls remake and Miles Morales, Metacritic ratings show that Microsoft has three exclusives in the top 10 rated games of the year with a 90+ Metacritic rating in Microsoft Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2. Compared to how they were in 2013, the future is looking up for the Xbox team.
Hey guys, I'm in a bit of a conundrum here in making a decision for myself. I'm looking for a game console I can play at work, and it's come down to the Xbox Series X and the Nintendo Switch. Honestly would have chosen the PS5 but they're like finding a unicorn or a needle in a haystack, so that's out of the question.
So, a little bit of backstory for the reasons it came down to the Nintendo Switch and the Xbox Series X. I'm a firefighter and I'm at the Station for 48 hour shifts, after I'm finished with chores and stuff, I'm able to sit down and play games or do whatever. I'm a dedicated PC gamer, and mostly play that at home, so this console isn't really going to be used a ton outside of work. I've done a fair bit of research on the two, and I'm not entirely sure which one I should get or would be better for me.
On one hand, the Switch is cheaper than the Xbox Series X, but has less games and weaker hardware, resolution and FPS. But it also has Legend of Zelda and Pokemon games. On the other, the Xbox has stronger hardware, tons of games and backwards compatibility with older Xbox games and Xbox Game Pass, but is nearly 2x the cost of a Switch.
Maybe hearing some opinions will help me make up my mind?
Edit: After much deliberation, I initially settled on a Switch. However, when I went to the store to buy, I offhandedly joked with the cashier if they hid any Playstation 5s in the back. Turns out that they did, so I ended up getting a Playstation 5 instead. Probably for the best, I was thinking back to when I bought a 3DS for the same reason. Turns out I just liked the thought of playing Pokemon again, and wasn't much interested in actually doing it. Anyway, thanks for your opinions and help on making my mind up, I still appreciate it.
[Video Games] The Underdog Tale Of The 3DS: Nintendo’s Fight to Stay Above Water And the End Of the Handheld Console
As the gaming industry prepared to enter the eighth generation of consoles, Nintendo was eager to jump ahead of its competitors as sales waned for their old portable and home devices. The DS had wrangled over 150 million units sold by the end of its life span, blowing out its portable predecessors and to this day remaining the most successful Nintendo console and the second best selling system of all time. With the massive profits of their latest handheld, not to mention the Wii’s similar level of success, the company hoped to continue their domination on both fronts of the console war. In early 2010, Nintendo started off sprinting by announcing the 3DS, set to be unveiled at E3 that June and scheduled for release in 2011. With huge progress in portable technology and boasting much stronger graphics on top of new innovations, primarily its 3D technology, fans and critics were excited to discover what seemed to be the next evolution in handheld gaming.
Unfortunately, the 3DS would prove to be one of the last dedicated portable consoles and the end to Nintendo’s family of handhelds. Marred by a bad launch, spotty support, and lost amid an evolving landscape and the dominance of mobile gaming: the 3DS would spend the rest of its life fighting to prove itself in a quickly evaporating market while Nintendo struggled to stave massive financial losses.
A Three Dimensional Device
While not required, this serves as a sort of companion piece to my Vita write up. I suggest looking at that write up for extra context about the Vita and Sony’s own woes in portable gaming at the time if interested since I will be mentioning it here.
As already stated, the 3DS would be shown to the public at E3 in June 2010. There was already some controversy with such an early Spring announcement, with some arguing that the system would hurt the sales of the latest DS iteration still being sold. More importantly, and I promise not to beat a dead horse, mobile gaming had started taking off during the turn of the decade. About $800 million in revenue, or about 4% of the total gaming market in the US, came from titles that could be found on nearly every flagship phone. Not too shabby considering Clash of Clans and Candy Crush were still years away. Still, Nintendo was quick to assuage concerns with their bold new direction in gaming. Then CEO Satoru Iwata came out on stage, showcasing the system’s 3D capabilities and unveiling a plethora of first and third party titles. A revival of Kid Icarus, commitments to new titles from franchises like Kingdom Hearts and Metal Gear Solid, and tried and true money makers like Zelda and Kirby. The device itself included backwards compatibility with the DS, a joystick, a 3D slider to control the display, and stronger processing and graphics that could almost compete with the Gamecube.
There was certainly hype for the device, but as the world got closer to its early Spring 2011 release, more and more details came out that sparked heavy criticism. Mobile games, as always, were only getting more popular as it reached new consumers, and the $250 price point for the handheld console threw many consumers for a loop. That 3D display, while nice, wasn’t exactly perfect with the specific distance and angle needed to ensure it would work, and Nintendo even had to officially warn parents not to let young children use the effect for health concerns. Soon after launch, that concern would be raised once again as many gamers stated they were unable to use the 3D effect for long periods of time, citing eye strain and headaches. On top of all that, a lackluster list of launch titles further damaged hype, with Pilotwings and a bunch of third party ports being the most fans could look forward to during the launch window.
In spite of these issues, the 3DS would keep its launch date and receive overwhelmingly positive reviews, though the costly upfront price definitely soured some on the device. Overall though, with the support of fanatics and critics alike, Nintendo was projecting 4 million units total by the end of the fiscal year in April. While some were far more pessimistic, the company was hoping they could set the world on fire yet again.
A Failed Take Off
So, most people who followed the lifespan of the 3DS would probably tell you that it did pretty poorly at launch. While that would be true in the coming months, initial projections actually saw the 3DS perform far better than its predecessor during its initial release. Rolling out from late February to early March, the 3DS broke sales records in Japan for any system, and was becoming the fastest selling Nintendo console (and sometimes THE fastest selling console) in numerous territories including the US. Yet, these numbers would ultimately fall far short of the lofty four million devices Nintendo hoped would fly off shelves.
By the end of April, Nintendo had only sold 3.6 million units. Still a lot, still way more than probably some critics were expecting, but the spectacular launch failed to create momentum and subsequent weeks saw cratering sales in comparison. It seemed that outside of the hardcore fanbase, very few saw much reason to buy another DS, especially at exuberant price. Even Satoru Iwata was open about the company’s disappointment:
[Iwata]: We originally expected that the value of 3D images without the need for special glasses would be automatically spread to some extent by many consumers experiencing the device by themselves and then playing with the pre-installed software like Nintendo 3DS Camera, AR Games and Face Raiders together with people around them...However, as a result of analysis of the situation after the launch, it has become clear that we need to do a lot more to convey the value to consumers.
Already, some were pointing out the big concerns many had for the handheld upon release, wondering how well it could sustain itself in a world where mobile games were quickly catching up to, and surpassing portable devices. Even ignoring whether or not the 3D and other novelties were ever a draw, especially for what Nintendo was asking for, the console also suffered from a nonexistent online service that wouldn’t fully launch until much later and would have to wait months for a killer app to release. Furthermore, the PS VIta (previously called the NGP) was unveiled earlier that year, and stole headlines with its powerful technology and graphics that rivaled home consoles such as the PS3. By Summer, things weren’t improving even as Nintendo US President Reggie Fils-Amie pointed out that the company was quickly addressing the device’s problems, namely the poor line up and network updates. Nintendo would also hype up many ambitious titles to be released throughout the year, ranging from an Ocarina of Time remake to a new Luigi’s Mansion, trying to fight back against sliding sales with countless new games.
Still, this was really only delaying the console’s slow decline. If Nintendo were to reverse course, the company needed to commit to massive changes in its operations and positioning of the handheld. The company would do just that in July when, less than six months after launch, Nintendo would slash the price of the console to $170 in what would be the start of Nintendo’s massive gamble to save the 3DS.
Identify, Innovate, Improve
This was unprecedented, especially for Nintendo. The company had cut the price of its new handheld by over 30%, taking massive losses on selling the device just to push it out the door. But this wasn’t just some desperate plea. Nintendo would immediately begin attempting to right the ship with a slew of announcements ranging from new system sellers to complete redesigns throughout the rest of the console’s life. And that started by immediately assuring buyers that Nintendo was not abandoning the 3DS.
Satoru Iwata would publish an open letter in Japanese to first adopters, apologizing for the huge price change and promising that this cut was necessary to save the system. Iwata promised that Nintendo would deliver on its promises, and offered up the Ambassador program as a form of apology and gesture of thanks for their support.
[Iwata]: If the software creators and those on the retail side are not confident that the Nintendo 3DS is a worthy successor to the DS and will achieve a similarly broad (user) base, it will be impossible for the 3DS to gain popularity, acquire a wide range of software, and eventually create the product cycle necessary for everyone to be satisfied with the system.
Those customers who purchased the 3DS at the very beginning are extremely important to us. We know that there is nothing we can do to completely make up for the feeling that you are being punished for buying the system early. Still, we would like to offer the following as a sign of our appreciation to you.
That aforementioned Ambassador Program was an ambitious attempt at “making up” the additional $80 fee early adopters took on, offering ten free preselected NES and Gameboy Advance games, or twenty games overall, that could be directly downloaded to the console. Whether or not this was enough to tide over the discontent early adopters may have felt for the sudden price cut, it was at least a peace offering as Nintendo raced to release new titles before the holidays. Profits were already falling massively from the days of the DS and Wii, and a stronger library was needed if Nintendo wanted to capitalize on this massive price cut.
Luckily, the 3DS did start picking up steam, posting over four million units in Japan alone by the end of 2011 as both Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land quickly became massive successes. The price cut certainly helped boost sales temporarily. Unfortunately, it was already too late to curb the massive hole in profits, and Nintendo had just posted significant losses in its Fall quarter. Though only the first loss the company suffered in three decades, weak 3DS sales on top of dwindling DS and Wii shipments firmly put Nintendo in the red, and the company would not recover for over four years.
In the meantime, the 3DS would slowly push against the tide with a plethora of new announcements in 2012. Mario titles continued to sell like hot cakes, long awaited announcements like Kid Icarus: Uprising finally dropped, and by the end of its first birthday the device had officially crossed 4.5 million units in the US, and nearly 15 million world wide. In June, the first of many redesigns was announced with the 3DS XL in June, featuring a much larger screen and other small improvements for $200- staying well clear of the system’s initial price woes. But again, by the end of the year the system was still contributing to massive losses, and Nintendo could only fight to stay above water as they waited for the release of the WiiU in November. If nothing else, the handheld certainly held its ground during the holiday season, even outpacing the DS when compared to the latter’s sales during its first two years on store shelves. Yet every step forward seemed to be met with two steps back.
Luckily, 2013 would bring much better news. Another redesign was introduced called the 2DS, a cheap $120 iteration with no clamshell or 3D effect. Certainly a weird attempt at trying to cater to new audiences, but it made clear how unimportant the 3D effect that made the system revolutionary at the time was becoming. Regardless of whether this new iteration was successful or not, the device would actually begin gaining ground. The system would push over eleven million units in the US, and more importantly was seeing healthy software sales that climbed massively by the end of the year. The release of Pokemon X and Y certainly did some heavy lifting, but other smash successes like Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Link Between Worlds managed to pull in sizable audiences. Ardent fans and newspapers praised the system’s quick turn around when it came to the software, managing to create a solid lineup of games that may not have pulled people in droves, but at least kept them coming back for more. And obviously, the announcement of the latest Smash Bros. on both 3DS and WiiU created a lot of hype. While a successful lawsuit would force Nintendo to pay up royalties for each 3DS sold, the company was likely encouraged by the handheld’s continued survival, especially compared to the now floundering Vita and downward sliding WiiU.
The Underdog Success Story
After a quiet first half of 2014, during which Nintendo would continue to announce further losses as a result of both their consoles underperforming, the second half would see a reversal of fortunes as several newly anticipated titles would finally land. Smash Bros as well as Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire would lead the holiday charge, selling millions within a few weeks. On top of that, the New 3DS, yes that’s its name, was announced and released just before the beginning of next Spring. While the better processing and graphics wasn’t the biggest seller, it did help give the system a bit of a boost in early 2015, especially as it endured declining hardware sales despite Smash and Pokemon selling 15 million units combined within a few months.
All together, Nintendo’s strong IP and yearly revisions helped keep the 3DS alive, even if the company wasn’t seeing hardware fly off the shelves. Add in the successful launch of Amiibo (despite all the scarcity problems and other issues that faced these plastic figures), and Nintendo would finally see itself in the green after four years of losses. The company wasn’t in the clear, but it did find itself on stable footing, and that was likely enough to boost confidence and new projects as Nintendo was struck by yet another tragedy.
Just a few months after posting its first profit in years, Satoru Iwata would pass away. He had been president of Nintendo for over a decade, and oversaw the creation of the Wii and DS during his time running the company. The late creator certainly had massive missteps, even one glance at all the turmoil both his latest consoles were going through made that clear. But perhaps there’s something positive that could be found in him overseeing the company’s slow recuperation after half a decade of negativity and decline. He certainly sacrificed a lot to see it, the time he cut his own salary by 50 percent during the 3DS’ massive price cut remains one of the most well known stories about the man. But even if it would never set the world on fire, Iwata and many others at the company helped ensure the 3DS could find a place in a completely changed and hostile market. The system would continue to help the company turn a profit in the following years, and easily dominate the gaming scene in Japan until Nintendo could move on to new projects. That, at least, is commendable.
[Iwata]: On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.
An End To An Era
As the decade passed, Nintendo would slowly recuperate as it prepared to leave the eight generation behind early. The WiiU was not bouncing back, and while the 3DS made a decent recovery, the company couldn’t rely on a now four year old handheld to carry the business for a few more years. Nintendo was still having to cut forecasts year after year, and an abundance of highly successful games and other endeavors like Pokemon Go were doing serious heavy lifting to keep the company up and running through 2016. Before the end of the year, the gaming industry was already turning to rumors about the upcoming ”NX”.
The NX, soon to be revealed as the Nintendo Switch in October 2016, was set to release in March the following year and dominated headlines with its ambitious hybrid design as a portable and home console. It was clear Nintendo was ready to to move on from the DS and Wii, completely innovating once again to create another unique (and hopefully more successful) experience.
Luckily they succeeded. Unfortunately, this would also mean the end of the 3DS.
Within a few weeks, the Switch got off to a strong start, selling millions upon release and enjoying enormous success that Nintendo hadn’t seen in over a decade. While the Switch would become the new rockstar of the entertainment industry, outselling the lifetime sales of the WiiU in a year, the 3DS would continue to chug along in the background. The system was still hanging in there, enjoying sizable boosts during the holidays and pumping out several hits, but it was only a matter of time before it would get replaced. Even as the company repeatedly stated they would continue to support the system, and applauded as it hit 75 million units in late 2019, the Switch had already sold half that amount after a little over 2 years on the market. The 3DS had long since passed its time in the spotlight, and sooner or later Nintendo was going to have to pull all its resources to its newer, more successful system.
That’s probably why it came as no surprise when the system quietly ceased production in late 2020. Practically no major releases had hit the console in the past year, and with the Switch climbing rapidly in the market, there was clearly no reason to keep the nearly ten year old console around. Still at around 75 million units sold by the end of its lifespan, the 3DS was (and likely will remain) Nintendo’s worst performing handheld, not even passing the sales figures of the PSP or Gameboy Advance (both over 80 million) and well below the smash success of the original DS family. Yet it was also a home to countless beloved titles, many of which I haven’t mentioned here. It survived certain defeat, something that couldn’t be said for its most direct rival in the PS Vita, and eventually turned around to help Nintendo regain its former sales glory. It's a complicated legacy to be sure, but in all regards it's largely still a positive one.
The belief was that smartphones would be the death of portable gaming, and the fact the 3DS sold half as many units as its predecessor seemed to back up that notion. Yet what it also showed was there is a very large audience that values the in-depth experience offered by dedicated gaming portables. To some analysts, 75 million sales looked like trouble, but it also represented an audience that a company like Nintendo could build a sizable business around.
As I stated in my Vita write up, it's doubtful the 3DS would have a direct successor if it had sold even, say, 100 million units. Nintendo simply pinned too many hopes on the console to see a repeat of its older sibling’s success, and a timeline where the WiiU was still alive would require a bunch of assumptions and changes to the company’s identity. A few months before the 3DS ended production, mobile gaming revenue had climbed to heights that completely dwarfed the regular game industry. While the Switch has certainly taken many helpful lessons from the failures of both the 3DS and WiiU, it would be difficult to see a reason why Nintendo would invest once again in a dedicated handheld console. Especially as the Switch has long since passed the 3DS in lifetime sales.
Whatever qualifies as a “success” or “failure”, it's hard to say the 3DS became the system Nintendo truly wanted it to be as the handheld sought to justify its existence each passing year. The company did almost everything it possibly could to sell the device to a dwindling market it was initially too slow to realize was surpassing it: taking massive losses, producing countless titles, constantly cutting expectations, releasing constant redesigns to drum up hype. The 3D visuals Iwata and the company emphasized probably never really appealed to more than a niche audience. But the system is still beloved by many, sold plenty of units, far and away beat the Vita in a race that admittedly was a sideshow to the smartphone market, and has a plethora of games that are difficult to find anywhere else (though Nintendo definitely isn’t helping with that last part). 75 million units is a steep decline from the DS and Nintendo's old handhelds, but it was still far more than I expect people believed it could do in 2011. The system was an underdog through and through, and like the Vita, it’s found a sizable audience that still enjoys the device to this day and a massive list of games that helped keep Nintendo alive for the future.
Good afternoon r/hardwareswap.
First off, Happy Holidays.
For the past month or so I've obtained several game consoles. The objective has been to beat out scalpers or bots that buy these high-demand consoles and let people this holiday season have the chance to purchase them. I won't be seeking to profit on these sales. The goal is to see these consoles reach someone's home this holiday season as a Christmas present, or hey for yourself too!
Consoles For Sale:
* (2 Units) New Xbox Series X - Price: $575.61 + shipping >Price detailing: MSRP $500 + $39.18 (tax) + $31.43 (time/labor/transaction fee from my end) + $5 (fee correction) + shipping = $575.61 + shipping >One of the Xbox Series X is new open-box. I opened it just to inspect the console. It's still new and never been used (console, controller, and cables are still in packaging).
1x Xbox Series X to /u/iPodAddict181
1x Xbox Series X to /u/MayMay300
Just in time another order of an Xbox Series X I was fortunate to get a few days ago has arrived.
There's (1) additional Xbox Series X console that I'll be selecting for someone in the coming days.
Price - $575.61 + shipping
SOLD to /u/My-Roots
Timestamps of the additional Series X console seals has been added to the imgur link
* (2 Units) New Playstation 5 (Disc Edition) - Price: $575.61 + shipping >Price detailing: MSRP $500 + $39.18 (tax) + $31.43 (time/labor/transaction fee from my end) + $5 (fee correction)+ shipping = $575.61 + shipping Both Playstation 5 Consoles are brand new and sealed.
1x PS5 (Disc) to /u/MarcuuM_
1x PS5 (Disc) to /u/Iokathaz
(2 Units) New Nintendo Switch OLED (White) - Price: $405.04 + shipping
Price detailing: MSRP $350 + $28.87 (tax) + $21.17 (time/labor/transaction fee from my end) + $5 (fee correction) + shipping = $405.04 + shipping
Both Nintendo Switch OLED (White) consoles are brand new and sealed.
Forgot to mention, one must comment here before PM'ing and have a trade history.
I will avoid selling to resellers. I'll take my time with selling these consoles to proper buyers.
Another important note is that I've been receiving offers of $600 + shipping for the consoles. I'm flattered but I'll be sticking with the listed price for all buyers.
What I will do is enable buyers to donate more if they wish but this is separate of the console price and (obviously) optional.
PayPal Friends & Services even has a donation option in the invoice I believe, so I"ll be using that.
The proceeds of the donations will be used for toys and essential goods (blankets, food, clothing) I can purchase to donate in Holiday Food Drives.
(I'll be adding an imgur of the stuff I plan to purchase from the potential donations). Mods let me know if this okay to do if not I'll remove this option.
Thank you everyone for the support!
The consoles have to ship by December 15th or so for them to arrive in time for Christmas (or sooner).
About 1/2 of this sub is just people asking which they should buy and which is better despite having a search bar right at the top of the screen so I've decided to make this post for those too lazy to research.
Let's go over hardware first:
|CPU||Custom AMD 8-core Zen 2 @ 3.8Ghz||Custom AMD 8-core Zen 2 @ 3.5Ghz|
|Memory||16Gb GDDR6||16GB GDDR6 + 512MB GDDR4 (background tasks)|
|Storage||1TB SSD + Pcie SSD storage up to 2TB||825GB SSD + Pcie SSD Storage or external HDD|
|Display resolutions||720p - 8k||720p - 8k|
|Graphics||Custom AMD Radeon RDNA 2 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz, 12.16 TFLOPS||Custom AMD RDNA 2 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz 10.3 TFLOPS|
|Backwards compatibility||All Xbox One games and some X360||All PS4 and PSVR|
The verdict is: the Xbox is slightly more powerful on paper. However, the differences really are minimal in practice. As you can see, they are hardware wise basically the same exact things. The Xbox cpu is clocked a little higher, the PS5 has a little more memory and the Xbox has a little more graphical power.
As someone who works in a game store as a repair technician, I've taken apart, fixed and tested dozens of these. I can tell you that in games they perform more or less identically. Neither is "better" hardware wise. They are for all intents and purposes the same console.
So how do you decide which to buy? First of all ask yourself if you really want to drop $400 - $600 on a game console. If you can and want to, the real difference is the exclusives. Check which games are on what console. Xbox Game pass is considered to be one of the best deals in gaming since it also covers games on Windows as well. $14.99 a month, though Playstation Plus Ultimate gives a similar service (no pc) at only $10 a month.
As someone who has replaced over 100 hdmi ports on both of these, I can tell you that the PS5 is far easier to service. But I like the Xbox controller better. If I did want one of these, I'd probably go Xbox myself, but the PS5 is far more popular.
(URL moved to bottom)
Games are optimized for controllers.
Some gamers swear by the keyboard and mouse, but it's clear that video games were meant to be played with a controller. There's a reason why the most influential video game product — the Nintendo Entertainment System — was a console with a controller. If the keyboard and mouse were really superior, wouldn't one of the eight generations of consoles have come with those instead of gamepads?
Consoles are built for relaxation.
Want to play games on your TV from your couch? That's what consoles are for. Sure, you can hook a PC up to a TV, but don't pretend like that process is particularly streamlined. Even PCs with HDMI ports need to get relocated from the desk to the living room, and that's a hassle you'll never have to deal with when it comes to consoles.
Console gaming equals easy online multiplayer.
Two words: console exclusives.
Want to play the latest Mario game? You'd better have a Nintendo console. The same goes for Uncharted on Sony's PlayStation consoles and almost every installment of the Halo franchise on Microsoft's Xbox consoles. If you're PC-only, you're pretty much out of luck. You can only emulate so many console classics, and they'll probably be buggy as hell. What Drives You?
Why do you think consoles are better than PCs? If you're interested in a good laugh, check out Josh Smith's hilarious "5 Reasons PC Gaming is Better Than Console Gaming" article.
You realise you can use a controller on PC.
You can use controllers and build a desktop pc that is very small... Heck even a laptop certainly. You sayin' console gamers dont need to move their precious HDMI cable and plug them in as well?!?! ARE YOU LAZY?
You are you saying you dont like choices? You can do them ALL on STEAM with EASE. WITHOUT swapping DISCS.
Automatic Updates? doesnt Steam do that for me? ROFL.
5. Console Exclusives??? you KIDDING? I bet when he mention ours? you'll ignore it and say thats stupid it isnt AAA... T_T FYI IF you justify your console for a few game because of; LOOK WAHT I GOT VS you GOT; you gotta re-evaluate the purpose of getting your machine....
3. Maybe people like choices? You know consoles do have hackers as well?
I think these articles are clickbaits and are in the attempt of media brainwashing.
(Wow the author left out Exclusives and Automatic Updates... wow...) Its like they think PC exclusives are another skill due to consoles having cinematic storytelling.
COOL he acknowledges his oppenent author's fault; "Rubin's totally misguided article"
URL : http://wdc.com/ventito/gaming/ideas/5-reasons-pc-gaming-is-better-than-console-gaming
Hey there, Everybody!
As you can tell by the title (and after plenty of internal discussion and reading comments on the sub) we want to propose an extension of the standard "Rule #1" of the sub for the two latest console releases:
All general gaming conversations must revolve around playing, reviewing, recommending, or discussing titles and/or platforms that were released (v1.0+) at least 6 months ago.
Even though we are just about at the 6 month mark for these consoles, demand is still very high (while supply still very low). We believe for this reason allowing PS5/Series X posts to start flooding into the sub would go against our main mission; avoiding hype and over saturation of new releases (which has always applied to consoles as well as games)
However, as we always have for the almost 10 years the sub has been in existence, we want the community to voice their opinion and have say in this. So please, think this over, vote, and voice your approval or disapproval in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and for keeping this place the awesome community it is!!