Video Game Console Wars: How Not to Be a Loser.

All week my timeline on Twitter has been filled with discussion about new video game Grand Theft Auto V and Apple’s new iOS 7 operating system for their portable devices.  People like hype trains, and it is a shame they do because the sheep/flock mentality is going to be upon us once again in a little over 2 months as the 2013 holiday season sees the release of the next generation of video game console systems, the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft X-Box One.

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The Sony PlayStation 4 comes with a hefty $399.99 USD price tag.  The Microsoft X-Box One comes with an even heftier $499.99 USD price tag.  For most people that’s more than an entire paycheck when you realize that the economy is still pretty much screwed right now – unless of course Obama starts giving all the poor people money to buy video game systems too.  We wouldn’t want to deprive people on welfare of “dat John Madd’n football” would we?  Most people in the upcoming console war are choosing the PS4, mainly because it’s cheaper and because Microsoft had initially announced some really awful features with the X-Box One, such as a camera which is always-on, a required Internet connection, and the controversial DRM policies which meant that you could not play a used game on any system other than the system it was registered on without paying full price for the title a second time.  Since then Microsoft has gone back on their unanimously-hated policies (but has still retained the more expensive price tag).  Some people out there are actually getting both systems and spending a whopping $900 to do so.  If you’re one of those people, you need to hit up the donate page here on LTS because I can barely afford $30/month WITH a job.  I have these pesky things called “bills” and “responsibilities” that get in the way, and with the prices of games and systems going up I’m not really about that “selling my kidneys to play videogames” lifestyle.

Selling your kidney to get a video game system?  I ain't about that life, son.

Selling your kidney to get a video game system?  I ain't about that life, son.

Back to my point:

If you are someone like me (I was going to say “a normal person like me” but that doesn’t apply because I am not normal) you’re looking at those price tags and wondering if the good people of Sony and Microsoft are on crack-cocaine.  Chances are however you are not like me, want to brag about getting a video game system the day it comes out, want to put a stupid hash-tag on Twitter and take a bunch of idiotic “selfies” (that is not a word by the way; my spell-check says so) of yourself standing next to the system.  You’re also going to probably wait in a long line at Best Buy for a week in a tent, and urinate/defecate into some sort of container and not shower.

"Occupy Gamestop" is in full effect:  complete with body odor, desperation, and virginity.

"Occupy Gamestop" is in full effect:  complete with body odor, desperation, and virginity.

The upside to this is you’ll probably miss Thanksgiving Dinner and let’s face it:  chances are you are fat and could afford to lose a few pounds.  However, you should probably lose that excess weight and do some serious cardio before you get to the store otherwise you might end up trampled by the other rabid gamers in a rush to get their new consoles.  There are actually several reported cases of this happening in department stores over the years, where the store becomes a scene from Battle Royale and somebody gets killed.  This is Darwinism at its finest.  People say death isn’t funny.  To them I say “when some fat guy gets trampled because he wanted to be the first to blow $399 on a system it is hilarious.  And good riddance to him!”  I’ve never understood the fascination with being the first kid on the block to get a new video game console for a number of reasons and my job with this article is to talk you out of it with some valid points that you’re too busy having an orgasm over “that new video game console smell” to have considered.  I’m going to bring them up, potentially crush your dreams, but also prevent you from making the same mistake your father did when he didn’t buy condoms that fateful night.

Point #1:  There aren’t many good games at launch for either system.

Let’s see what’s out there, eh?

Assassin’s Creed 4… which will also be available on the systems you already have:  The PlayStation 3, X-Box 360, and Wii-U.

Assassin’s Creed 4… which will also be available on the systems you already have:  The PlayStation 3, X-Box 360, and Wii-U.

Just Dance 2014… same deal:  it’s available on all the older systems.

Just Dance 2014… same deal:  it’s available on all the older systems.

Oh, look at that – all the EA Sports games… which (you guessed it) are available on all the older systems.

Oh, look at that – all the EA Sports games… which (you guessed it) are available on all the older systems.

And finally that “Call of Duty” game that is supposed to be so awesome because it “has a dog?”  That’s also going to be on the PS3 and 360.

And finally that “Call of Duty” game that is supposed to be so awesome because it “has a dog?”  That’s also going to be on the PS3 and 360.

Of course there are a few exclusive launch titles on the PS4 and X-Box One respectively but none of them are anything to write home about or that really would wow anyone.  

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The only game in my opinion that made me raise my eyebrows even slightly was the announcement of a “Killer Instinct” reboot and unless it has the Killer Instinct announcer yelling iconic lines like “C-C-C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!,” “M-M-M-MA-MA-MONSTER COMBO!” and a really dope soundtrack, it’s kind of a deal breaker and it still won’t exactly put my ass on the sidewalk outside a department store with a bunch of people who smell bad on November 22.  Ultimately every major title that will be out for these systems will also be available for the PS3 and X-Box 360 because of the fact that the systems are new and developers haven’t had the time and/or experience to make anything ground-breaking or interesting.  You’re paying for the same game with slightly improved graphics and polishing but ultimately you are paying for the same exact game.  Even if the launch titles actually wow you (which means you get excited for everything way too easily and should probably be medicated), they’ll be the first games that go bargain bin when price drops occur so why are you wasting your money?

Point #2:  I see light… the light of death.

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When I purchased my X-Box 360 it was in the ass-end of 2007 which was almost 2 years after the system was initially released.  It is now 2013 and I have never had a malfunction or problem with my console.  People who purchased the system on release date were not so lucky.  The majority of those people had their system fail on them with a phenomenon known as the “Red Ring of Death” which is usually indicative of hard drive or optical drive failure.  It is the worst thing an X-Box user can see as it means their system is dead. 

Anything Microsoft can do, we can do better - including crash!

Anything Microsoft can do, we can do better - including crash!

Not to be outdone the initial console releases of the Sony Playstation 3 had a similar problem – a blinking YELLOW light of death would greet you along with a series of annoying beeps.  I personally went through 2 PS3 systems that both gave me “yellow light of death” within a year after minimal usage.  Needless to say Sony did not get my money a third time and probably won’t get my money again for a long time.  I remember going to various stores over the holiday season when the PlayStation 3 was released and looking at those gaudy displays that you find at retailers that are meant to “wow” you into getting a video game system.  Almost every display of the PlayStation 3 was frozen or broken.  And that is the quality you pay for on launch day.  Ultimately Sony and Microsoft are in a rush to meet purchase orders and product demands by the deadline of the release date specified.  This rush-job mentality causes many of these systems to be built faulty and this has been an issue that has plagued every rendition of Sony and Microsoft’s systems since day 1.  I’ve had to turn PS One systems upside down to get them to work right, and I’ve seen Microsoft X-Box systems that didn’t want to even turn on.  This is nothing new in the console market and this is what you subject yourself if you buy the systems early:  a dice roll to see how long the system lasts – and neither Microsoft nor Sony is known for having an A+ customer support staff not to mention you have no guarantee that the system won’t wait until you are “just out of warranty” to crash on you.  Either way those first few shipments of any video game system (excluding Nintendo who hardly ever has these problems) is known to be faulty.  

Point #3:  What are you REALLY getting for $400 (or $500) dollars?  And what can you REALLY get instead?

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For the price you pay for the console, you’re not really getting anything other than the unit and one controller.  A game for the console is going to cost you $59.99, and a second controller will cost you another $59.99.  No wonder people don’t play video games with their friends in real life anymore!  Nobody wants to spend that $60 on getting a second controller.  That’s a whopping $520 or $620 plus tax you’re spending.  With that kind of money you could actually invest in a much cheaper alternative:  have someone build you a high-end computer system.

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PC gaming is on the rise and a lot of that is due to the frequent, constant deals you find on Steam.  For about the same price you can spend on a console you can have a top of the line computer with a pretty nice graphics card and a lot of RAM.  The wonderful thing about computers is you can upgrade them at your leisure unlike console systems which experience slow-downs and limitations later in their lives (Skyrim, anyone?).  A computer has more use and functionality than just a console to the point most consoles are trying to do things like allow you Internet access, sort your music and videos, control your cable box, etc.  It would be fine and good to invest in the X-Box One and PS4 if they were “video game systems.”  They are not.  They are even marketed and billed as “multimedia systems” that “do everything” which is something that started back during Sony’s “It Only Does Everything” PS3 campaign.  I don’t NEED a console to “do everything” because the console that “does everything” is called a computer and I dare say that if the eggheads at Sony and Microsoft spent less time worrying about giving me achievements and trophies for watching television and more time making sure their consoles weren’t defective we’d have a much better gaming experience on their devices as a whole. 

In Closing – My Advice:

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My advice to anyone that is just dead-set on owning a system is that you should wait about 1 year to 18 months.  Even though Sony is projected to start off with a lead we don’t know what will happen within the next year to year-and-a-half; Microsoft could mount a comeback.  In a year’s time or so there will be either price drops, bundle packages, or a great deal of people who bought the system even though they didn’t have the money that now have to let it off cheap on the used market in desperation.  There will have been time to developers to get comfortable with the feel of the systems to develop games that are more than mediocre ports from the previous generation of consoles.  There will be an established market for you to better decide what is best for you in the long run, and you will have (hopefully) missed those 1st and 2nd shipments full of defective hardware.  You may think you want the system “now” but the bottom line is what you want is an “impulse buy” to brag about your purchases to a bunch of people on the Internet who really don’t care about you or your material possessions, unless of course you're one of those people who other people watch play video games on Twitch.TV (which is the most pointless thing ever by the way; I'd rather play the video game myself than watch some other guy play them - people are actually FAMOUS for doing this now?  The world is definitely in the toilet).  If you want to just have something to brag about, by all means make an ass of yourself and buy a new system.  A fool and his money are easily parted.  If you’re in it for the long-haul and trying to make a good investment (what smart, responsible people do), then take the time and have the patience to make a more educated purchase.  The PlayStation 4 launches Novmeber 15th.  The X-Box One launches November 22nd.  My birthday is November 27th.  If you really have that much extra money to throw away, do yourselves a favor and give me money for my birthday instead for having saved you time and trouble making an ass of yourself with piss-poor financial decisions.  Hopefully my birthday is better than Kirk Cameron’s.

SPOILER ALERT: It won't be.

SPOILER ALERT: It won't be.