Competition is present in every form of business, but in the console space of the gaming industry that has been especially true. There have been casualties with companies like SEGA leaving the console business, but over the last decade and a half, the consistent players have been Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
Executives from these three companies would have you believe that they mostly stay focused on what they are doing versus what other companies are doing, however, it’s impossible to completely ignore your competition. Someone, who is quite familiar with the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo rivalries, can attest to looking at its competitors and even said Microsoft had a good idea of what each console holder would do next.
“I’d say a modest amount. We kept a keen eye on Sony’s hardware performance and watching both companies’ early attempts at online, but that was about it. There was enough history with both console companies that their next moves were fairly predictable,” Former Xbox head J Allard told NowGamer.
Microsoft and Sony have been quite similar when it comes to the consoles they released in 2013, and the resulting innovations and changes they have introduced. While not everything is exactly the same when it comes to Xbox and PlayStation, a lot of the moves each has made march to a similar beat.
It’s true that each company has the demographic that they aim for, and the one Microsoft and Sony aim for usually overlaps. For Nintendo, J Allard talked about the targets they expected from them whenever they decided to bring a new console to market.
“Nintendo leads each generation with content and adapts the controller uniquely to suit early titles with new mechanics. Because they focus on younger gamers, cost of the console is very important so their hardware is generally underpowered relative to the market. We correctly anticipated that online, again because of their young audience, would be a low priority for them,” J Allard said.
It’s widely known that Nintendo doesn’t do things the way Microsoft or Sony does, no matter if you are talking about their hardware or software. Sony and Microsoft have historically aligned on the same wavelengths and that continues to ring true with their current systems, the PS4 and Xbox One, respectively.
“We believed Sony would push their media format (Blu-ray) heavily, push the hardware to the limit and be difficult to program like all previous generations. We incorrectly guessed that they would buy up a bunch of online companies because of the critical shift from traditional media to digital distribution given that it was the next obvious format and so much of their overall business has been dependent on the shift to next generation media formats. Obviously, online is the ultimate and final format and it would have been very wise for them to make a major play there, but clearly they struggled with killing the sacred cow of physical media that had served them so well for a half-century,” J Allard said.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 has proven to be one of the top selling pieces of hardware last generation, and that is to despite a slow start which saw developers having a harder time adjusting to the PS3’s technology, compared to the PS4’s. J Allard talked about a particular emphasis that ended up using quite a lot of his team’s time.
“There were definitely factions within the team that did worry more about the competition and we spent a stupid amount of time on stuff like HD-DVD in response to the competition that just distracted us from our core beliefs. A new format for high-resolution movies was not important to us. Leading the charge in online gaming was – and the HD-DVD effort was a good example of how worrying about the competition can take you off your game,” J Allard said.