The Content Wars Begin: Microsoft and Sony Join Forces

Updated: May 28, 2019

It took nearly 20 years, but Microsoft finally got the relationship with Sony that they initially sought out albeit in a different form. Initially, Microsoft wanted a friendly collaboration with Sony long before the XBOX was even a thought. In an article written by Luke Karmali of IGN back in 2013, he details the events leading up to the initial divide between Sony and Microsoft and that leading to the creation of the XBOX. Now it seems as though that divide has been closed. It was announced on May 16th 2019 that Microsoft and Sony will combine forces in terms of cloud gaming and content streaming. Microsoft's Phil Spencer tweeted the following. "Excited about the opportunities ahead with @Sony for us to pursue our mutual gaming ambitions and delight players around the world." This is pretty significant in the world of gaming to have these two giants joining forces. It is too early to know what this partnership means and what the full-extent of it will be. At this point we can only speculate to the range of how deep and far this will go. I don't think that this was a knee-jerk reaction to the unveiling of Google Stadia not too long ago. Truth be told, all these companies know what each other are doing. You wouldn't last long if you didn't. Microsoft and Sony knew that Google, Apple, and Amazon were going to cause a major-disruption in the gaming-industry and it would have been terminal to remain stagnant. The idea or concept of the "Console Wars" OVER. It has been over for quite some time. In my personal option, a new form of warfare has begun.

The Content Wars. It's no longer about having the most-powerful console on the market. In terms of gaming it's about who has the most games, who has the best variety of games, and who has the most accessibility of games. The video game industry is kind of late to the party on this. When you look at the success of content-streaming of movies, TV shows, and sports, the video game industry seems like the last domino to fall before content-streaming becomes universal. Some people are concerned about the fact that high-speed broadband is not accessible "everywhere" and that makes content-streaming a precarious-circumstance at best in gaming. Especially for games that require a quick-response interface like shooters and sports-sims. This is where the set-top box comes into play. That is why Microsoft and Sony are still making a XBOX 2 and PS5 respectively with powerful SoCs being developed by AMD which may be a variant of the Zen 2 processor with a Navi GPU using GDDR6 RAM. For people that want or need that elite-console experience that option will be available. For people that such things aren't all that serious to them, they can opt for content-streaming. Instead of having to purchase a $400-600 dollar-machine, I can use the phone, tablet, PC, lap-top, smart TV, or dongle that I already have and stream games off of that. Think about it. Games that appeal to casual-gamers are not usually graphically-intensive anyway so there would be virtually no lag issues with such games in a streaming-format. I don't think these companies would risk so much and expose themselves to this level if they did not feel cloud-gaming was not legit. Google, Apple, and Amazon caused a much-needed disruption in the gaming-industry. We all complained about how stale things had become and how a change was needed. Well, now things aren't so stale are they?! Speaking of stale, that brings me to my final point. Nintendo. Where do they stand in all of this? In a recent investor's meeting the current CEO of Nintendo - Shuntaro Furukawa stated that Nintendo has no plans to reveal any new hardware at E3. They have discussed cloud-gaming but they feel that it is not viable enough at this point for them to get involved. These are the same types of sentiments made by Nintendo management for years regarding online and HD-gaming. In both cases, here in 2019 Nintendo is still playing catch-up. They seem to be determined to stay in their comfort-zone. As an artist myself, I know how dangerous that can be. Having such a cavalier-attitude about the advancements in the gaming-industry has cost Nintendo and still is costing them. Some people will say.....

"Hey look. The Nintendo Switch is selling great. What are you complaining about?"

......To those people I retort by referring them to PS move and Kinect. What made the Nintendo Wii a monster was the fact that despite being basically an overclocked GameCube without HD capability, the motion-control gaming was not only an aspect that neither Microsoft or Sony were offering at the time, but a form of gaming the community by and large were not accustomed to. Most definitely casuals were not accustomed to it. There are a lot of core-gamers today that started off by being drawn in from being a non-gamer to a causal-gamer by the Wii. It was a phenomenon....................that is until Kinect happened.

Once Microsoft released Kinect, all those casuals that got into gaming because of the Wii ran over to Kinect. Microsoft fans that had a Wii for motion-control purposes dropped it in favor of Kinect. Sony fans that had a Wii for motion-control purposes dropped the Wii for PS Move. The Wii no longer had an edge because what differentiated it from the competition was no longer different, but now common. That is the dangerous and perilous situation that Nintendo finds itself in right now. What separates the Nintendo Switch from the XBOX One and PlayStation 4 is the portability-factor. What Google has already shown us with Stadia completely decimated that advantage for Nintendo. Now, "potenially" Microsoft AND Sony will be able to offer similar gaming-experiences to where not only can you take your games on the go, but you don't even need to use the same device. You can play the same game, pick up right where you left off, on any device with an internet connection. Anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Outside of playing 1st-party Nintendo games, where is the motivation of a person that owns nothing to go out and buy a Nintendo Switch? My advice to Nintendo is that if you haven't already you'd better be making plans to jump on the streaming bandwagon and I mean REAL soon. The train hasn't left the station yet, but the conductor is shouting "All aboard." Hopefully they are. There have been rumors of XBOX Live coming to the Nintendo Switch. Maybe they are waiting until their E3: Digital Event to share that information. Maybe Nintendo will announce some streaming plans at E3. They never did say that they wouldn't. In any event, as Jim Ross was fond of saying, "Business is fixing to pick up."

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