Last gen was so much fun because everyone was winning and everyone was losing. It made for some great discussions and it pushed everyone to make better products or be left behind.
Sony was offering free online, added trophies, and had price cut after price cut to overtake the Xbox 360. They created PS Move to get some of that sweet casual gamer money. They started giving away free* games with PS+ subscriptions and really stepped up their first party offerings.
Microsoft was adding feature on top of feature trying to stay ahead only for Sony to offer the same content soon after. They would offer a better version of their hardware to give gamers the same features that the PS4 had. They did all they could to get exclusive content (albeit temporarily) to give them the edge over Sony.
Nintendo was selling like crazy and dominating the "casual"market. They had a ton of third party support and released the phenomenal Wii Music onto the world.
The battle for the portable market was great as well. The PSP and DS both were must own hardware.
Not, the picture is much different. The PS4 can do no wrong. The 3DS handily stomped the PS Vita. Xbox is struggling for relevance. The WiiU died a sad slow death. The Switch has set the world on fire, though. More than anything, the discussion has become stagnant.
Iron sharpens iron. When the PS3 was behind, we got the best of Sony and Microsoft. Now it just doesn't have the same punch. I like a good fight. I miss the "good ol days".
The entire reason why last gen was so controversial on vgc is because both the xbox side and the ps side were claiming theirs to be the better company. This is pretty much fact, and I could write an essay on it if you'd like, but i could also save my time if people just accept this assumption.
A lot of discussion centered around "moves", what certain games meant for the playerbase, what deals would mean in the long run. The long and short of it is that half the discussion was about who would win the current gen, and the other half was about who would win the next gen. These two header topics then broke down into game preferences, features, first party development, etc etc.
IIRC most of the time, the discussion would occur around MS doing something, sony fans deriding the company decisions, or deriding the player base, and then vice versa. Near the end of the gen, there was a lot of talk about kinect and MS' overall strategy. Most criticism was directed at their choice to appeal to non-gamers, focus on home theater, and sequelitis. While the criticism at Sony was directed toward corporate chaos, mismanagement, and uninspired first party games.
To boil it all down, sony fans thought MS was an anti-consumer evil empire who didn't really understand gaming. MS fans thought sony was just a trash company, with bad leadership, and poor gaming options. In the end, at least to me, it looked like MS verified it's own criticism, and sony fixed theirs. This is what later would result in this current gen difference.
Nintendo fans just laughed at both.