Added the Nintendo Wii article below. Now all three are up, you have read the articles and all the arguments in this thread, has your opinion been changed?
Phil Iwaniuk wrote the PS3 article and is the Games Editor of Official PlayStation Magazine UK. Jon Hicks wrote the 360 article and is the editor of Official Xbox Magazine. Hugh Langley wrote the Nintendo article and is a staffer for TechRadar.
How the PlayStation 3 won the console war
FIGHTING TALK Despite its shaky start, Sony's seventh-gen powerhouse played a blinder
The PS3 definitely won the current generation. Definitely...
Now here's a true underdog story. PlayStation 3 launched in Europe some 14 months after Xbox 360 in March 2007, delayed by a shortage of diodes used in its Blu-Ray drive, of all things.
When it finally did arrive, it came with a considerably bigger price tag than Microsoft's offering, and was plagued by second-rate versions of cross-platform releases. The writing, it appeared, was on the wall: Xbox 360 was going to win this generation's console war.
But incredibly, Sony turned that less-than-desirable start to its advantage, and as we stand on the precipice between seventh and eighth generation consoles and take stock of the last six years, any fool can see PlayStation 3 ends the era victorious.
The PS3 has now outsold the Xbox 360
Numbers don't lie
Don't believe me? Here, have some numbers. Mattrick & co's box of tricks has sold 78.84 million units worldwide so far. Kutaragi's mean machine has sold 80.29 and counting.
In fact, PlayStation 3's still selling so well in its twilight that there's a genuine chance it can surpass the Wii's 100 million mark and enter the books as this generation's biggest seller hands down (let's be clear: no-one is buying Wiis anymore).
Those numbers are impressive enough at face value, but factor in Xbox 360's 14-month headstart and they illustrate a miraculous reversal of fortune for Ken's console. How it managed to keep shifting units while its competition was offering irresistibly beguiling titles like Kinectimals is some wonder.
The third iteration of the PS3 is a looker...
Yes, let's touch base with each console's respective games library, because it's here, particularly in first-party titles, that Sony really turned the tide over the past six years.
Microsoft started strongly with Halo 3, Gears of War and Dead Rising in its platform-exclusive ranks, and while Sony did have Resistance: Fall Of Man and Uncharted up its sleeve, you wouldn't say it had the edge in the early days.
Fast forward to present day, in which three stunning Uncharted games grace PS3's pastures, along with Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain and countless other first-party treasures. Xbox appeared to have a considerable ace up its sleeve with Kinect, and Peter Molyneux's Milo demo looked set to revolutionise gaming. The end result of all that tech: Kinectimals et al.
Sony's first-party releases this year alone include Naughty Dog's award-winning, critically beloved The Last Of Us, David Cage's ambitious and technically impressive Beyond: Two Souls, and Sony Santa Monica's gorgeous God of War: Ascension. They're just the big-hitters in a 13-strong lineup that also includes the likes of Puppeteer and a new Sly Cooper.
What exclusives have 360 owners had to console themselves with (apologies for the excellent pun) this year? Literally three games: Gears Of War: Judgement, State Of Decay and a re-release of Fable. If those aren't grounds to emphatically drop the metaphorical mic and leave this article, hands held aloft, I don't know what are.
Except I'm not done, because I haven't even begun to rile Xbox fanboys about having to pay a subscription fee for online gaming yet. Parting ways with £30 each year for the privilege of watching a Finnish tween teabag your Master Chief's corpse is a concept we'll never stop laughing at in the realm of PS3.
DualShock 3 is a great pad and that is a fact!
Your network sucks
The PlayStation network's had its problems and outages, but that's okay, because it's a service that costs you /nothing/, gives you multiplayer gaming, and an enormous online store filled with the latest releases, PS1 classics and indies.
There was that one extremely high-profile intrusion perpetrated by lovers of Lulz that we won't talk about or they'll DDoS my Quantum Leap fan fiction blog… But even in the midst of a Global PR nightmare, Sony came up trumps and gave you two free games from a list of four that included Infamous and LittleBigPlanet to say sorry. That, and 30 days of free membership to PlayStation Plus.
Yep, Sony has its own subscription service, and rather than holding a basic gaming right to ransom like Xbox 360's Gold membership, it showers you with free games and cloud saves. And let me stop you before you embarrass yourself by mentioning the free games you get with Gold membership, because I'm talking about games you'd actually want to play.
This month on PS Plus, Metal Gear Rising and Remember Me are the highlights of the instant game collection, replacing the likes of Far Cry 3 and Spec Ops: The Line in October. Over on Games With Gold this November? Iron Brigade and World Of Keflings. Both of which are usually priced at £6.75. You can go ahead and insert your Ferrero Rocher meme here, because truly you're being spoiled.
Microsoft had an open goal in the early days of this generation, and PlayStation 3 cunningly built a wall of fantastic first-party titles in front of that goal in the six years that followed.
It's been a miraculous turnaround for PlayStation 3, and Sony's carrying a tremendous amount of that momentum into generation eight, where it appears to have the same kind of advantage Xbox did back in December 2005. Hold it together, Kaz…
How the Xbox 360 won the console war
FIGHTING TALK Ignore the red ring of death, the Xbox is the real winner hereThe Xbox 360 definitely won the current gen. Definitely...
The PS3 didn't win the console war, the Xbox 360 did.
And in looking for proof of the Xbox 360's position as the defining console of the age, you can refer to no less an authority than President Barack Obama.
It was he who criticised Republican behaviour over the recent US government shutdown by saying "You don't get a chance to call your bank and say, 'I'm not going to pay my mortgage this month unless you throw in a new car and an Xbox.'"
This bit of partisan point-scoring represents the zenith of Microsoft's incredible success in the seventh console generation - the point at which even the President admitted that "Xbox" had became interchangeable with "games console"in the way that "Playstation" had at the turn of the century.
It was, and is, the device on which most self-described gamers play games.
The Xbox 360 is only slightly behind PS3 on sales
America led the way
This status is due in part to the console's incredible success in North America: it was the best-selling US console for more than two and a half years, with 32 uninterrupted months between the Wii's downfall in January 2011 to the PS3's GTA-powered boost last month. (It's a position it'll probably reclaim post-Xbox One, when the inevitable price cuts kick in.)
It enjoyed similar success in the UK, and while diehard Sony loyalists in Europe and Japan helped PlayStation 3 close the lead in terms of worldwide sales, Sony still can't claim to be the most influential.
Neither, of course, can Nintendo - the Wii did very well in its time in the sun, and still claims the sales trophy, but the sales collapse of first third-party software and, in the Wii U, Nintendo's own hardware, marks the Wiimote as more fad than fundamental change in the market.
Hardware faults are a thing of the past
No, it was the Xbox 360 that defined this generation in a way that no other console managed. It was on Xbox 360 that Gears of War made cover shooters the signature genre of the era (and, in Horde Mode, added a new standard to multiplayer gaming, alongside hoary stalwarts like Team Deathmatch).
In doing so, it established Unreal Engine as the de facto next-gen development platform, shaping the look and feel of everything from Mirror's Edge to Arkham Asylum.
It was on the Xbox 360 that we played those first intoxicating rounds of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's multiplayer beta - the other great defining gaming experience of the generation, and the first console game to build a gigantic, mass-market player base off online, rather than offline play.
It did so off the back of Xbox Live, which built on one of the few outright successes of the original Xbox to become what's still the most reliable, best-equipped console gaming service.
Xbox Live is the best multiplayer gaming platform
YOUR network sucks
At the launch of Xbox 360, console multiplayer was a new and uncertain frontier for people playing Project Gotham and Rainbow Six. Xbox Live and Call of Duty took it mainstream, to the point where it's become entirely normal to join your friends for a round of CoD, match of FIFA, or killing spree on GTA Online.
Sony's online service got there in the end, but it's signature achievement remains one of the world's biggest ever data breaches and the inability to support cross-game chat fives years after it became a standard feature.
Valve lifted them in their entirety for Steam, Sony rebranded them as Trophies, but neither challenged Microsoft's design. Similarly sincere flattery was extended to the Xbox 360's controller, with Nintendo mimicking it entirely for its "pro"gamepad.On Xbox 360, meanwhile, a far more successful Achievement flourished. The digital rewards that debuted with Microsoft's second console have become an industry standard.
Admittedly, Microsoft returned the favour with Kinect, but even that's a mark in the Xbox 360's favour: its motion sensor became the fastest-selling consumer electronic device in history, and Microsoft releasing it as a peripheral meant it did so without compromising the console's strengths in traditional "hardcore" gaming.
And what strengths they were. It was the Xbox 360 on which we first experienced the spectacular environmental storytelling of Bioshock, the vast universe of Mass Effect, and the huge open worlds of Dead Rising and Crackdown.
While the latter never took off as many hoped it might, it was the first time anybody could get their game on a console without a publisher's involvement, and foreshadowed the indie game-dev revolution of the present day.It was Xbox 360 that lead the way in digital distribution, starting with Zuma and stepping up to classics like Geometry Wars 2, Braid and Shadow Complex. Amid Sony's recent touting of its indie credentials, it's worth pointing out that Microsoft blazed a trail in digital distribution of smaller titles, and went so far as to open a completely homebrew route to market in the form of its Xbox Live Indie Games channel.
Ultimately, Xbox 360 ends what became the longest generation as the most influential console on the market - an incredible achievement when you consider Microsoft's first stab at console gaming: the original Xbox barely made a dent in the Playstation's armour, and ended its short life as the Halo-and-emulation box.
Xbox 360 passes the baton as the king of the hill - a position that puts all the more pressure on its successor, Xbox One.
How the Nintendo Wii won the console war
FIGHTING TALK With 100m+ sales, the Will is obviously the clear winner!
All hail the Nintendo Wii!
Did it have the graphical might to stand shoulder to shoulder with the PS3 and Xbox 360? Hell no. Did it have the hardcore library of the GameCube? Nope. Did it have a stupid name? Yeah, we sniggered.
And guys, it couldn't even play DVDs.
But the Wii won this generation by doing something much, much bigger: it got the whole world playing videogames.
It brought families together in the living room to share a round of virtual bowling, it got grandparents and grandkids going head to head for some Wii Tennis. It was Nintendo's plan from the start and it worked marvelously.
Like so many great ideas before it, the Wii had a tough time getting people to take it seriously at first. "What a funny name" and "Is that a NES controller?" But then it actually happened, and Nintendo set the living room ablaze, shaking up an industry that really needed it.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 were souped-up versions of their predecessors - Nintendo dared to be different. Perhaps the Wii should have clutched onto its development codename of "The Revolution." In an industry that was becoming more averse to risk taking, it truly was.
Who didn't enjoy playing the Wii at Christmas?
But perhaps the best evidence of the Wii's superiority was demonstrated in Microsoft and Sony's own clumsy responses with Kinect and Move respectively. Neither got it quite right at the time – they felt rushed and nowhere near as confident as Nintendo's own attempt to make motion-based gaming a thing.
What they did show was that the industry needed to react.
As for numbers, the others fall short on that too. The Wii has sold 100 million units to date. Sure, price has played a big part in that, but then that was all part of the big plan: maximum accessibility. And accessibility leads to numbers, which leads to developer support, and the Wii ended up enjoying a good balance of first party and third party titles.
Yes, it missed its fair share of big blockbusters along the way, but the sacrifice was worth it.
In the Wii mini, the legacy lives on...
The best game ever made?
Which brings me to another of the many jewels in the Wii crown: Super Mario Galaxy. Not only was it my favourite game of this generation, it's hands down my number one game of all time. I don't say that lightly.
After hammering through a number of heavy "must play" titles on my Xbox 360 and PS3, Mario Galaxy was a league above.
It was refreshing, sheer unadulterated fun for the sake of it, something that so many games have forgotten to be. It was the whole reason I fell in love with videogames as a kid. The controls felt fluid, the music was enchanting. Those gravity-shifting mechanics were pretty brilliant too.
But for all their "casualness", Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort were the juggernauts that helped Nintendo unravel its true master plan: to win the hearts of the non-gamers.It was also one big middle finger to anyone who thought Nintendo had lost its magic when it came to first party titles. But Galaxy is just one example of where the Wii shone in its exclusives. Skyward Sword, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Xenoblade Chronicles, and yes, Mario Galaxy 2. They were all system sellers.
It's what snuck the Wii into every living room, not so much as an alternative to the PS3 or Xbox 360, but an as well as. That's a huge success in my book.
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus Rift, recently told me he thought controllers were unintuitive "broken abstractions of how we actually interact with the world". The Wii wanted to solve that problem. It was much more than "waggle to win" as the naysayers joke – when executed well, that Wiimote could feel natural, intuitive and a whole world better.
A perfect example of this was when I first played an FPS using the Wii controller. Aiming with that remote felt so much more precise and fluid than anything I had used before; I couldn't believe how archaic the standard gamepad approach seemed when I returned to it.
So congratulations to the PS3 and Xbox 360. You acted out your parts in this generation, but you'll be remembered as little more than having slightly better engines than your predecessors. You played it too safe.
The unified console is unsustainable but the legacy of the motion control will persevere. That's testament enough to the Wii's success.
It's a shame the Wii U now sits in the shadow of its predecessor, but it never had a chance of hitting the highs of the Wii, did it? Then again, neither will the Xbox One or PS4. And even if the U does completely sink, Nintendo still has plenty of gold to sit on. It can thank its "Revolution" for that.