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IGN: It’s Not a Console War, It’s a Content War

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

The notion of a “console war” is outdated, and has been for years now. What began as a silly rivalry between fans of different game systems secretly jealous of the games they couldn’t play has been a significant element fueling games community toxicity for 25 years. Because of that, one might think Microsoft’s bold intended acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion is cause for vitriol – no more Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles? – and proof that the conflict is still raging. In truth it’s the signal that it’s over, and the real fight has been revealed.

Activision Blizzard's largest game series is Call of Duty. Microsoft's acquisition nets them one of the most popular FPS' of all time, with annual releases that almost always top the charts. It also includes Call of Duty: Warzone, the incredibly popular free-to-play battle royale.

A classic Activision IP, Crash Bandicoot is once again a hot property thanks to its recent revival. The N. Sane Trilogy and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled remastered helped bring the series back, and the more recent Crash Bandicoot 4 has cemented it as an important Activision series.

While dormant for some time, Activision's Tony Hawk series resurfaced in 2020 with the release of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, a remaster of the first two games. Its success means that Tony Hawk could well be an important series for Xbox.

Similar to Crash Bandicoot, Spyro is another classic Activision series that was dormant for quite some years. The Reignited Trilogy remasters proved highly successful, though, opening the door for more Spyro. In addition, Activision also owns the Spyro spin-off franchise Skylanders.

Guitar Hero hasn't been seen since 2015's Guitar Hero Live, but there's still a community that adores the once-dominant music rhythm series. Any potential revival is now in Xbox's hands.

Activision Blizzard also owns King, the mobile developer behind Candy Crush. An absolute powerhouse in the mobile gaming space, the Candy Crush games are played by millions of people across the world.

Ultimately, nobody “won.” You could argue that perhaps all of us did, because the drive to secure increasingly impressive games pushed the capabilities of multiple generations of PlayStations and Xboxes, but there was never going to be an all-conquering singular console. The notion was always preposterous, and leaders like Microsoft’s Phil Spencer have been saying so for years. Back in 2018, Spencer called toxicity in gaming a threat, and noted in 2020 that “console tribalism” was “one of the worst things about our industry. “We’re in the entertainment business,” he said. “The biggest competitor we have is apathy over the products and services, games that we build.”

The staggering sum that Microsoft is paying for Activision Blizzard is the boldest signal yet that content is the future of gaming. Until recently Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo had focused on owning their entire console ecosystems. They make the boxes you play on, and they exert control over the games that get made for those boxes. The model dates back decades. Atari did it, Nintendo did it, Sega did it – because it worked.

Over the next few years, though, the box under your TV will become irrelevant. With faster networks and increasingly powerful technology, singular custom gaming hardware is already less important if you just want access to games. Sure, if you want the best possible experience they’ll still be consequential – just as Blu-Ray players can provide a better experience than streaming movies – but for the vast majority of people, all that matters is convenience and access. So, if any device – like your phone or tablet, or the TV in your living room – can provide access to a gigantic library of games through a built-in app with a subscription service like Game Pass, the most important thing is stuffing that service with lots and lots of really good games. We can cynically point at failures like Google’s atrocious Stadia user experience or Amazon’s half-assed Luna service as proof that this idea is “bad” – but underneath the layers of licensing bullshit and incomprehensible payment plans, the fundamental problem with both of those (and others) has been that the game selection sucks. Game Pass does not have that issue.

Microsoft has been setting the stage for all of this for years, and has been escalating its moves accordingly. The $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda parent ZeniMax back in September 2020 was arguably its first really big move, but it has been positioning things for a while. Spencer recently called subscription services "an inevitability" in response to news of Sony’s exploration of a Game Pass like service. The Activision Blizzard acquisition – regardless of the associated regulatory and management challenges – is about getting some of the most-played games in the world on Game Pass and the Xbox Cloud Gaming service. It’s about monthly subscription fees, not selling you an Xbox. If you’re playing Call of Duty on a PC or a smart TV or a PlayStation, it ultimately doesn’t matter to Microsoft as long as you’re paying it monthly for the privilege, as 25 million of us already are. As Spencer told Bloomberg, “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remain committed to that.”

The “content war” that lies ahead will no doubt see more consolidation, more mergers and acquisitions. While it’s unlikely we’ll see many deals as big as Activision Blizzard, it seems inevitable that some treasured brands will merge or get gobbled up. While some fans are speculating that Sony’s edge could be defined as being a boutique publisher that focuses only on the very best games (God of War, Horizon, Last of Us) a unique advantage that it has is its connection to the Japanese market – something Microsoft has never been able to crack. It seems feasible that if it is indeed serious about competing with Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming, rather than focus on charging for a small number of high quality games it would beef up its catalog with acquisitions. If you indulge a hypothetical scenario where Sony absorbs a Japanese publisher like Konami or Capcom you can see the possibilities. While this would be significant under the old “exclusive games sell consoles” model, it becomes even more so when you factor in back catalog exclusivity and the prospect of refreshing precious franchises on a paid service that runs on anything. Just as Disney+ uses Star Wars and Marvel to keep you paying monthly, the promise of rebooted Metal Gear, Silent Hill, Resident Evil or Dino Crisis games would do the same trick.

If this truly is the path ahead, just as we’ve seen on streaming services for movies and TV – the challenge for all game makers will be about visibility more than ever. How do you stand out against Call of Duty when the subscription service itself owns Call of Duty? For gamers, the challenge will echo that of other entertainment: how many services are we going to have to pay for every month?

The next few years will see the three dominant publishers -- Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo -- focus on being content and service providers more than hardware manufacturers, and we’ll undoubtedly see some hardware alliances with consumer electronics giants that ensure games are playable on TVs and other devices. This is just the beginning.
 

VFXVeteran

PlayStation Fanclub
100% this.

The console comparisons of power are just dumb. Content has always been king and we're seeing it right in front of our blinder glasses. Sony made a big power move by deciding to put their exclusives on PC. And now both companies are vying for content position. MS is ahead right now but the acquisitions, in my opinion, have just started. We'll see more in the future and the emphasis on the actual hardware itself will more than likely disappear after a generation or so.

If I were some gamers, I'd put the console hardware emphasis aside and figure out what games you like best and what platform you'd like to play them on. In this regard, the PC is definitely going to be the de facto "go to" platform for the best of both worlds.
 

Boneless

Member
Boring article for clicks that doesn't bring anything other than the completely obvious to the table. It has always been about content and hardware, "console war" simply encompasses that it's about the console, which includes the hardware AND the content available to said console.
 
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The ECO systems are completely dependent on the content games.
actually no , i changed my mind
BEING RICH is what matters most , you can buy
1=talent
2=hardware
3=software
4=crush every opposition in your path

so if you rich , then you KING
 

AmorousBiscuit

Gold Member
Content has always, and will always be king. The noise from fanboys echo that somewhat, but they drive the conversation to which box is superior and silly slap fights about power and aesthetics.

People will always be driven to where the best games are and it's no surprise that Microsoft are bolstering their content offerings in a bid to dethrone their competitors.
 

Clear

Member
My honest feeling throughout is that buying ABK is less about console content than the mobile and PC markets.

If you take Phil and the rest of the senior management at their word and conclude that they no longer consider Sony/Playstation as competition, then you need to at least consider from where they think their real competition is coming and what avenues for expansion they might take.

The obvious answer is PC and Mobile. These are the real new commercial battlefronts.
 

Nautilus

Member
Its funny how these same types of articles/opinions conveniently forget Nintendo and how it managed to remain relevant, more so than MS or Sony, without having to resort to different formats.

He is not wrong, but hes not entirely right either. I think the truth lies somewhere beyond the two models. Much like VR will eventually become something mainstream when it manages to fix its main problems, subscriptions will com to live alongside singular purchase of games. People will still purchase launch games individually, or big ass games that takes months to finish, as that makes more money to the publishers and makes more sense to own said game that you are going to spend months to finish(because believe me, Gamepass wont stay 10 dollars a month forever.And with Blizzard and Activision acquisicion, it might go up sooner than we all antecipate) than to keep paying monthly just for that game. In that sense, subs will be used mostly to play older games or try new franchises that you are new to.

Either way, singular digital purchases are here to stay, for the time being at least.
 

Blood Borne

Member
And then consumers will be paying a full game price to access these services per month to own nothing.
Agreed, but to play devil’s advocate, how is it any different to Netflix, seeing as you pay monthly subscription but don’t own any of the movies in Netflix.
 

Sanepar

Member
Agreed, but to play devil’s advocate, how is it any different to Netflix, seeing as you pay monthly subscription but don’t own any of the movies in Netflix.
Movies are not games. They are short even tv shows.

And on tv streaming u have 5 relevant players(netflix, apple, amazon, hbo and disney)

I don't think we gonna have that on games.
 

NahaNago

Member
The content is the main emphasis of the console war after the release of the console, like duh. You have exclusive content to convince folks to buy your console in order for them to also buy other games on that console.
 

Ezquimacore

Member
It went from war to massacre from where I'm standing.
I would agree. But from all the acquisitions from Ms there's not a single game outselling any Nintendo or Sony exclusive. Minecraft is the only profitable thing so far and you can play it everywhere... Still a waiting game from where I'm standing.
 

TrebleShot

Member
Ive been banging on about this for a while now, but ultimately its 100% where the industry is headed.
Whilst under the box TVs are nice, they will become ever more unneeded.

I am almost certain, Xbox game pass and whatever this Spartacus ends up being will be available in various forms across all devices.
Soon you will be able to play God Of War on your Xbox and Halo on your PS5 via their streaming service if not via a native download as long as you are super premium user of their service, ultimately it makes more money for the platform holders and no one misses out its a no brainer.

There will never be a "winner" and the platform wars will be about as relevant as Apple TV vs Amazon Prime vs Netflix vs Disney Plus.

Whilst many don't have the internet infrastructure to support game streaming, we aren't too far away from 5G being available most places and the platform holders won't worry too much about those who do not have access to speedy connections much like the big movie/tv streamers don't, it will scale with your connection.

You'll also probably be able to buy a native game streaming box to play offline, otherwise known as a PC for people who want native quality.

By the way, anyone skeptical of streaming, give cloud gaming on xbox a go, its extremely impressive.
 

Ogbert

Member
It always has been.

The reason why Nintendo can play in their own little field is because they have absolutely stellar IP. They don’t need anyone else. Sony IP’s are excellent but they are all unfortunately (from a financial point of view), in the same genre. MS lost its way when they let Bungie go and allowed Gears of War, the coolest console game going, to turn boring. Hence them now having to literally buy games.

It’s the games stupid.
 

Skifi28

Member
Even for those with a 1050 ti is a good time be a PC gamer. That thing can run breath of the wild at 4k.
I have a 1060. Not having a good time these past couple of years, recent games don't run well at all. Thank God MH rise can run on a calculator.
 

Skifi28

Member
I imagine is the 3g vram? Sharpening, image scaling and capping fps are your friends.
Nope, 6gb. It's just difficult to get anywhere near consistent 60fps unless you start dropping resolution like crazy which leads to horrible image quality. Need to find myself a 3060+, but it's not happening anytime soon.
 

Amiga

Member
It used to be a console war. It was about the 15%(aprox) cut of any sales on the platform and subs to play MP. MS lost that fight so they are switching the battlefield. renting out a bundle of popular content instead of selling it.

If MS one day builds a 50 million subscriber base. 17$ monthly would generate about 10 billion in steady annual revenue. if they manage to charge 50$ a month they would get 30 billion annually.
 

Hugare

Member
Boring article for clicks that doesn't bring anything other than the completely obvious to the table. It has always been about content and hardware, "console war" simply encompasses that it's about the console, which includes the hardware AND the content available to said console.
So obvious that you (and many others here) didnt get the point

It wasnt always only about content. "How many consoles sold" was the most important metric. Consoles were the only way to play some games. But not anymore, when games are also being released in other systems.

Even Nintendo is releasing games in other platforms (phones)

MS is releasing everything on anything that's able to support cloud gaming, and Sony is putting their games on PC.

Things have changed

Dont expect much from this topic tho, because of the usual "urr durr IGN sucks" monkeys
 
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Lunarorbit

Member
What a fucking stupid article. It's not the console wars you idiots!

It's the content wars.... which are being waged on consoles that are turning into exclusives machines after mega deals to steal content.... so it is the console wars.

Just cause you can write an article doesn't mean you should
 

Kacho

Member
The article says Nintendo is gonna get mixed up in this but I don't why they would. They distanced themselves from the Xbox/PlayStation war years ago and continue to do their own thing tucked away in a corner. They aren't reliant on the big third party pubs like PlayStation is.
 

Ogbert

Member
The article says Nintendo is gonna get mixed up in this but I don't why they would. They distanced themselves from the Xbox/PlayStation war years ago and continue to do their own thing tucked away in a corner. They aren't reliant on the big third party pubs like PlayStation is.
Yep.

Nintendo are fine. They will still do dumb stuff, as that’s what they do, but they’ve hit gold with the Switch.
 
Microsoft bought wildly successful content (past, present and future) and intellectual property.

In this case the users just so happen to come built in with it. In many ways it’s no different from the land grab going on in video streaming.

Content far outlives users. This is an IP race.
https://www.neogaf.com/threads/bloo...-titles-on-playstation.1627919/post-265392722

I had a similar take yesterday before seeing this piece.

I think where the author falls short is taking Microsoft at their word about XBOX exclusivity vs keeping content on PlayStation. He claims MS doesn’t care where the money is coming from.

In the longer term? Sure. MS knows that eventually gaming will be streamed to cheap black non descript boxes and hardware will stop mattering.

But if Bethesda and other acquisitions tells us anything it’s that MS is going to leverage exclusivity in the shorter term to squeeze competitors and make better deals for content on GamePass. Oh, and to dominate Sony until Last of Us is on GamePass.

The next version of COD is probably safe. With maps, modes, and free skins available to GamePass users both exclusively and timed. After that expect Microsoft to batten down the hatches. There’s no reason not to.

The Minecraft comparisons are misguided. COD has no educational value and the demographic skews a lot older. There are other differences that make the exclusivity decision a lot easier for MS (community difference, Minecraft is a youth gateway to other MS software/products and paints their perception, the COD dev problems on the last few titles, etc). So tightening things down and focusing on one platform makes too much sense.

Remember, this is the company that brought us our first monopoly since Ma Bell. Things changed, sure. But the DNA is still there.
 
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Boring article for clicks that doesn't bring anything other than the completely obvious to the table. It has always been about content and hardware, "console war" simply encompasses that it's about the console, which includes the hardware AND the content available to said console.
The article just stated that it’s not about the hardware at all.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
If I were some gamers, I'd put the console hardware emphasis aside and figure out what games you like best and what platform you'd like to play them on. In this regard, the PC is definitely going to be the de facto "go to" platform for the best of both worlds.

If it weren't for the prices, I'd probably look that way. However, with even a 3060ti being about $900 that makes it rough. If the cards ever get back to MSRP, I can see a lot of people going that way if they can get everything in one place.
 

fart town usa

Gold Member
Funny thing about content wars is how it can also be applied to the trash journalism that IGN and all the other major websites provide.

I'm sure that relation never entered their minds though.

Tom Cruise Laughing GIF by JustViral
 
It's a good time to be a PC player is all I'll say.

So far yes it has been.
I am beginning to think though, due to the rising gpu costs that this will come to an halt sooner then later.
Hopefully the prices will drop again in some months/year but I'm not sure yet.
They might actually keep those prices artifically high just to lure more customers on their cloud gaming services.

If and once they've managed to move a huge enough crowed towards that gaming on your own device (your device is performing the computational neccessary tasks) won't be supported anymore ( probably due to "security" reasons marketing words of preventing cheating and hacking).
Thats when those companys will keep owning everything and you will need to accept all their capitalistic wet dreams/conditions if you wanna play AAA Games.

At least thats my dystopian vision coming towards us.
Hope I'm wrong though, also quite relieved because I also enjoy playing lots of indie games which will hopefully even then still be a thing.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
And then consumers will be paying a full game price to access these services per month to own nothing.
I payed a full game price ($60) last year to play about 30 games through Gamepass. If I for some reason would want to own the games I can buy them at a reduced price. If I could add Playstation Pass and Nintendo Pass and end up paying 3 full game price per year I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. It’s still cheaper than what I previously payed for games on just one platform a slow year.

So I really don’t see any negative sides. I get to play more games for less money. What’s not to like?
 

sainraja

Member
My honest feeling throughout is that buying ABK is less about console content than the mobile and PC markets.

If you take Phil and the rest of the senior management at their word and conclude that they no longer consider Sony/Playstation as competition, then you need to at least consider from where they think their real competition is coming and what avenues for expansion they might take.

The obvious answer is PC and Mobile. These are the real new commercial battlefronts.
Mobile I can understand but PC I am not sure....as a consumer you still have to invest a lot in it to get the most out of it.

I just want it to evolve in to a full on actual war. When are Microsoft going to commission an Aircraft Supercarrier to lay waste to Sony HQ?
Now now, you shouldn't share your fan(***)'ish dream so openly. :D

https://www.neogaf.com/threads/bloo...-titles-on-playstation.1627919/post-265392722

I had a similar take yesterday before seeing this piece.

I think where the author falls short is taking Microsoft at their word about XBOX exclusivity vs keeping content on PlayStation. He claims MS doesn’t care where the money is coming from.

In the longer term? Sure. MS knows that eventually gaming will be streamed to cheap black non descript boxes and hardware will stop mattering.

But if Bethesda and other acquisitions tells us anything it’s that MS is going to leverage exclusivity in the shorter term to squeeze competitors and make better deals for content on GamePass. Oh, and to dominate Sony until Last of Us is on GamePass.

The next version of COD is probably safe. With maps, modes, and free skins available to GamePass users both exclusively and timed. After that expect Microsoft to batten down the hatches. There’s no reason not to.

The Minecraft comparisons are misguided. COD has no educational value and the demographic skews a lot older. There are other differences that make the exclusivity decision a lot easier for MS (community difference, Minecraft is a youth gateway to other MS software/products and paints their perception, the COD dev problems on the last few titles, etc). So tightening things down and focusing on one platform makes too much sense.

Remember, this is the company that brought us our first monopoly since Ma Bell. Things changed, sure. But the DNA is still there.
You make some good points but how that ends up playing out is entirely dependent on what happens in the next few years and how strong their competition is/remains but it is a fairly easy guess to think that MS will use the content they now have to their advantage, to favor their ecosystem over their competitors. I am thinking there is more than meets the eye and it's possible that MS might do something that surprises everybody but that remains to be seen or they got wind that Apple/Google/Amazon/Tencent are also up to something.
 
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