By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

Interesting idea.

Agree with all of the conclusion except this - "The overall market share of the Big Three in the console space would probably not be too dissimilar in Gens 6 & 7, but would probably be different in the current generation without the online-fueled factors that came into play prior to the launches of the PS4 & XBO in 2013".

Gen 6 I agree, but Gen 7 would probably have been quite a bit different. Xbox 360's market share in particular would have been lower, as some of its success in America and to a lesser extent Europe was clearly derived from it being ahead of the curve when it came to online gaming (especially with real life friends, which allowed Microsoft to quickly capture large groups of teens).

I actually think Kinect would have been more successful (though not enough to have offset the lost market share I speculated on in the previous sentence?), because in a pre-internet scenario I could see the gaming magazines and tv shows with their exclusive footage going quite OTT in how 'game-changing' it was going to be and really pushing it. It's a concept that sounds quite appealing, especially if you're not able to see video footage or experience its inadequacies for yourself. There would have been no gaff reals and internet memes surrounding its reveal; no parodies and piss-taking of the flaws, etc. Just a carefully groomed print and television media PR operation.

To some extent that applies to the Wii as well, which I could see performing slightly better in a non-internet world.

PS3 sales would probably have been broadly the same, but both it and the Wii's market share would be higher as a result of the Xbox 360's lower sales. Neither PS3 nor Wii really utilised online all that well, especially early on, when Sony's PSN service was also a lot more barebones than people remember; gaps between new PSN releases were lengthy, it lacked so many features XBL had, Sony seemed to scrabble around experimenting but with things that didn't take off (remember the digital magazine subscription, anyone?), and PSN was really playing catch up for several years. The only advantage it had was free online but by the time PSN had caught up to XBL even that was put behind a pay wall.


Interestingly I think it would also have impacted the handheld market too. PSV would've done even worse than it did - so much of what success it did have in the west after that first year came from digital downloads, especially PSN-released indie titles, cross-play, and the ease of access to information on Japanese releases for import. There wouldn't have been any of that in a world without the internet.

Could the lack of an internet have hurt the PSP and DS family too? From a pure hardware sales perspective didn't they sell more units thanks to the ease with which they were cracked and people were able to pirate any and all games for them? They basically became 'buy the platform and never buy a game for it' machines for a lot of people thanks to that. In a world without the internet, knowledge of that kind of thing would've been much less prevalent, so would hardware sales have actually been lower?


In a non-internet world this gen would have played out differently than it did, but if none of the companies had changed anything about their approaches then I think:

- Xbox One would have struggled even more than it did. The lacklustre first party output would have hurt it harder and earlier than it did.

- PS4 would have likely done just as well - most of the first party games that sell the hardware are primarily single player anyway and the mainstream third party stuff like FIFA, Madden, CoD (MoH before it) etc. were successes pre-internet, so lack of internet wouldn't actually hurt them in a world where there had never been internet.

- Switch. Hmm. Like many Ninty platforms it derives a lot of its appeal from local co-op and of course from Nintendo's titles. None of that would be any different in a non-internet world. What % of Switch's sales are contingent on the platform's online offerings? Probably close to zero, right? Although the Directs wouldn't be a thing in a non-internet world, and they do seem to be a great success for the company at getting word of its products out to a wide audience. Regardless of that I don't think it would have done worse, but it certainly may have done better.

- PC. Smaller, but definitely still a thing. Modern PC gaming is completely reliant on the internet, but I am old enough to remember the pre-internet days (fuck me, I feel old now) and there was a market without the internet, just a pretty niche one that was very much distinct from console gaming (even to the extent of those games being sold in entirely different stores).