The industry, for the most part, has been somewhat predictable since the Sony Playstation brand debuted right after the 16-bit era. Sony had essentially been holding the top spot for two generations. It wasn’t until the Xbox brand got an early jump on the competition in late 2005 and Nintendo chose to go the innovative and novel route that Sony faced anything remotely close to a challenge. Before 2006, most industry analysts and gamers alike thought it was impossible to sustain three major hardware brands simultaneously. Just like the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Intellivision, Odyssey, and others who came and went – the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit generations saw challengers come and go like Hudson/NEC, Amiga, Panasonic and many others. The only real name to stick it out since Atari was Nintendo. Along with Sony since the original Playstation, Nintendo managed to even outlast SEGA. So many thought we were back to just two.
The last-generation wasn’t exactly boring or bad in anyway thanks to great games and competition across the board on the PS2, GameCube and Xbox. But, things this generation are just so much better and that’s because the stakes are a lot higher. While the last generation of hardware introduced things like built-in hard drives, massive online gaming networks for consoles, and games that pushed the limits of what we thought consoles could do, this generation has continued to innovate with motion controls and more. The innovations we’re seeing today are working alongside improved features form the last-generation, like the aforementioned online gaming.
Sure gamers all have their favorites and finding out who has done the best job so far this generation all depends on who you ask. The Nintendo Wii shocked everyone and proved that no matter what happened last-gen, Nintendo will always find a way to stick around and be a competitor. And Sony has proven that even with a slow start, the right components and a solid game plan for the long haul will get you where you want to be in the end. Microsoft also surprised everyone by building a large following despite a shaky start with faulty hardware. Even with the now infamous RROD, the Xbox 360 has become a major player this generation and helped make the Xbox brand just as viable to the gaming public as anything Sony or Nintendo releases.
While there isn’t a clear winner just yet, it might be a good thing. In fact, that’s one of the best things about this generation. Somehow all three console manufacturers continue to sell and prove that the market is as varied as ever. Casual gamers have made their voices heard after finally being acknowledged by Nintendo. But the hardcore have also found homes with Microsoft and Sony. As we get closer to the Electronic and Entertainment Expo 2011, all three are attempting to blur the lines between hardcore and casual. Nintendo has big plans with their Project Café console. Microsoft and Sony have a bunch of new titles for their motion-controller add-ons. So no matter which console you prefer and regardless of the label or stereotype you’ve had placed on you, one thing is certain – this is the greatest generation in gaming history. We’re excited about the things to come in the future, but the consoles we’re playing right now have a lot of life left.