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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Hardware First, Software First, Services First: How The Big 3 Sell Their Brands, As I See It

I've been saying the same thing as the OP for along time.

MS see's themselves as a service provider. Their hardware + software, is there to sell you into their services. Dont care about selling hardware or software anymore, just want to lock people into subscriptions. Probably want to do away with hardware, and get you locked into streaming.

Nintendo see's themselves as a game dev. Their hardware is there to run their own games, and they potentially see other game devs as competition.
(ei. they dont want too much 3rd party support, okay with smaller indies being there though (they arnt real competition to nintendo own stuff)).

Sony see's themselves as a (hardware) platform provider, they want to sell you their hardware, and profit off of the cuts of selling games on their platform. The more good games, the better. So basically everyone is welcome, 3rd party games ect. They have the "classic traditional" viewpoint.

I also agree with the OP that they have very differnt visions, of what the console does, and where it goes in the future.

Last edited by JRPGfan - on 22 July 2019

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Farsala said:
MS isn't moving away from HW though. And they are the first of the big 3 to announce plans into new next gen HW, because they want their brand more focused on HW. Their actions over the last 10 years had a marked shift from providing good SW choices to a more HW focus, starting with the kinect. I would also include Accessories (kinect) and controllers in the HW category. They often provide interesting controller choices and even aired a commercial during Super Bowl 2019 about controllers and not SW, as is often the case with Sony and Nintendo commercials. We also always hear rumors about MS's focus on HW, for example "power of the cloud!" Sony makes a lot more SW deals than MS, as well as makes a lot more SW. MS's least focus is SW.

When the head of xbox says he doesnt care about hardware sales anymore.
When theres rumors of a streaming box (project lockheart).
When theres no console exclusives anymore (things going to pc as well).
When Xbox starts makeing PC exclusives, more so than Console exclusives.
When Xbox head, says they want Gamepass on other platforms.

It all starts to point to atleast a decreased focus on (their own) hardware.

Yes its too early to say, MS will do completely away with it.
However signs point to a future where that probably happends, going by current trend.

"We also always hear rumors about MS's focus on HW, for example "power of the cloud!"

Thats not a hardware focus (their own console sold to consumer).
Thats saying "you consumers dont need powerfull hardware, you can just stream it from a server"
To me thats the oppersite of HW focus by MS.... it points to moveing away from it.

Also WTF does controllers + kinect, have to do with MS staying console hardware focused?
Controllers are high profit margin products..... MS is just makeing a easy buck.
They will probably still make controllers, even if they decide to not make physical consoles anymore.

Though I suspect kinect isnt going to have any future going forwards.

Last edited by JRPGfan - on 22 July 2019

JRPGfan said:
Farsala said:
MS isn't moving away from HW though. And they are the first of the big 3 to announce plans into new next gen HW, because they want their brand more focused on HW. Their actions over the last 10 years had a marked shift from providing good SW choices to a more HW focus, starting with the kinect. I would also include Accessories (kinect) and controllers in the HW category. They often provide interesting controller choices and even aired a commercial during Super Bowl 2019 about controllers and not SW, as is often the case with Sony and Nintendo commercials. We also always hear rumors about MS's focus on HW, for example "power of the cloud!" Sony makes a lot more SW deals than MS, as well as makes a lot more SW. MS's least focus is SW.

When the head of xbox says he doesnt care about hardware sales anymore.
When theres rumors of a streaming box (project lockheart).
When theres no console exclusives anymore (things going to pc as well).
When Xbox starts makeing PC exclusives, more so than Console exclusives.
When Xbox head, says they want Gamepass on other platforms.

It all starts to point to atleast a decreased focus on (their own) hardware.

Yes its too early to say, MS will do completely away with it.
However signs point to a future where that probably happends, going by current trend.

"We also always hear rumors about MS's focus on HW, for example "power of the cloud!"

Thats not a hardware focus (their own console sold to consumer).
Thats saying "you consumers dont need powerfull hardware, you can just stream it from a server"
To me thats the oppersite of HW focus by MS.... it points to moveing away from it.

Also WTF does controllers + kinect, have to do with MS staying console hardware focused?
Controllers are high profit margin products..... MS is just makeing a easy buck.
They will probably still make controllers, even if they decide to not make physical consoles anymore.

Though I suspect kinect isnt going to have any future going forwards.

It is obvious that they are service focused first. All I am arguing is that they focus on HW>SW. At least right now they are. Servers are definitely hardware, so if they are focusing on cloud farms, then they are focusing on hardware. Correct me if I am wrong, but controllers and kinect are both hardware.



I feel like Software and Services are interchangeable as Sony's weakness, but only because they're both decently good to the same degree while being clearly behind Hardware. It's less about Sony having bad Services or Software and more about it not quite fitting in with the idea of having a glaring weakness within the three categories you've given.

Sony's weakness is hubris.



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I'm working so could only take a very quick read of this but I will tag and read it fully later however....

I could never agree that Microsofts focus hasn't been on hardware this generation, they've got the most variants of console X1, X1S, X1X and X1SAD the focus of all their commercials in the last 2 years has been that their hardware is the most powerful over the other 2 and while E3 did have a good portion of time spent on Gamepass and Xbox Live I still couldn't say that a company with the products that microsoft has in the market and the marketing of MS are putting Hardware as their least focused area.

Also Nintendo as software? They do great software but I think their focus has always been on hardware from making it unique, they've always put an emphasis on keeping some aspect of their hardware so different to the competition that it could never end up in a situation like the X1 where the PS4 does the same but better in terms of what the hardware in the system offers, even the WiiU tablet had some aspects to it which were unique enough that meant games designed around it couldn't be played elsewhere... just those games were either very rare or very bad.

Also each of these should be thought of like a Triangle... but not one where each point doesn't impact the other 2, if a company makes great games but has shit services and hardware, the games will go unplayed (WiiU) if a company makes great hardware but has no games then it wont sell either (ps3 early life) or if a company has good services but doesn't have hardware in homes then the services go to waste (X1).... therefore the only solution is for the 3 companies to combine their powers and bring the consoles and game divisions together to form a megazord of systems for next generation... only then will they be able to defeat Rita and Stadia who will have combined forces and taken over the moon base!



(I'm sorry if I misunderstood the OP, I didn't get to read all of it and the posts in this thread, I will do so later and alter or post to change what aspects of this post are based on misreading)



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I would think Microsoft as Services first, Software last (pretty ironic for a software company like Microsoft), and Sony Hardware first, Services last

You could also make the argument that Nintendo would be Software first, Hardware last, since they design their hardware around their software ideas, and not the other way around, and consider their gimmicks as kinds of services, like portability, for instance.



Bofferbrauer2 said:
I would think Microsoft as Services first, Software last (pretty ironic for a software company like Microsoft), and Sony Hardware first, Services last

You could also make the argument that Nintendo would be Software first, Hardware last, since they design their hardware around their software ideas, and not the other way around, and consider their gimmicks as kinds of services, like portability, for instance.

A handheld with 2 screens is a piece of hardware

A handheld with 3D is a piece of Hardware

Wii motes are hardware

Wii U Tablet is a piece of hardware

Switch being a console + portable is a hardware choice

Most of Nintendos efforts to remain relevant in gaming in the last 2 decades have been hardware related, not software or service, think about it, the same New Super Mario Bros game is still shifting millions of units, but firstly on the DS, then Wii, 3DS, Wii and now Switch, what changes the most is the hardware the game is enjoyed on, the software changes almost less than that, outside of the shift from SD to HD in the last 6 years.

Sony's services shouldn't be overlooked either, nor their focus on them, they were the ones that pushed ps+ being a service which offered free games each month and they bought ps2/3 titles to the PS4 using their PSnow service, which has then flowed from the playstation onto other platforms like the PC and certain android phones, they've also worked together with MS when it comes to putting together a cloud based gaming service for the future, so I would certainly not say they're ignoring services.... just that their hardware and software sides are both exceptionally good, I would think Sony have mastered the best balance between the 2 where Nintendo and MS definitely have one aspect of the 3 where they falter badly.



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Ganoncrotch said:

I'm working so could only take a very quick read of this but I will tag and read it fully later however....

I could never agree that Microsofts focus hasn't been on hardware this generation, they've got the most variants of console X1, X1S, X1X and X1SAD the focus of all their commercials in the last 2 years has been that their hardware is the most powerful over the other 2 and while E3 did have a good portion of time spent on Gamepass and Xbox Live I still couldn't say that a company with the products that microsoft has in the market and the marketing of MS are putting Hardware as their least focused area.

Also Nintendo as software? They do great software but I think their focus has always been on hardware from making it unique, they've always put an emphasis on keeping some aspect of their hardware so different to the competition that it could never end up in a situation like the X1 where the PS4 does the same but better in terms of what the hardware in the system offers, even the WiiU tablet had some aspects to it which were unique enough that meant games designed around it couldn't be played elsewhere... just those games were either very rare or very bad.

Also each of these should be thought of like a Triangle... but not one where each point doesn't impact the other 2, if a company makes great games but has shit services and hardware, the games will go unplayed (WiiU) if a company makes great hardware but has no games then it wont sell either (ps3 early life) or if a company has good services but doesn't have hardware in homes then the services go to waste (X1).... therefore the only solution is for the 3 companies to combine their powers and bring the consoles and game divisions together to form a megazord of systems for next generation... only then will they be able to defeat Rita and Stadia who will have combined forces and taken over the moon base!



(I'm sorry if I misunderstood the OP, I didn't get to read all of it and the posts in this thread, I will do so later and alter or post to change what aspects of this post are based on misreading)

Yes, Microsoft has a lot of hardware varients, but the focus of their brand isn't the hardware, it's the services. That's my point. Of the big three, Nintendo is the most neglectful of their "not focus" category as I defined them above, barely even trying with services, while the other two are a bit better balanced, I think, but I maintain that I'm spot on with the "X First" part. Microsoft definitely focuses their brand on their services more than the other two.

Nintendo with hardware though, think about it, yes their hardware is unique, but it's always unique in a way to enhance the software. The software comes first, the hardware comes second. It adapts to what software Nintendo wants to make. The Wii had motion controls because Nintendo wanted to make motion control games. Ever wonder what the fuck Nintendo was thinking not going HD sooner? They were WAY behind on the open world trend, because the Wii just couldn't do it, and when the Wii U came around, the first thing everyone thought about was HD open world Zelda. I still remember that Wii U tech demo with the giant spider in 2011 or so, we all thought it was part of the next Zelda. Sure a few people thought Zelda looked pretty in HD, but all anyone wanted to talk about was OMG OPEN WORLD ZELDA WHEN????? and I was right there with them. I remember reading an interview with either Aonuma or Miyamoto working on BotW before we knew anything about the game, talking about how the additional power the new console had allowed for more than just prettier graphics, it allowed them to design Zelda in new ways, so that you could approach puzzles and enemies from new angles. A lot of comparisons to Skyrim were made, and I got super excited for Zelda U (lol). But I also thought, "damn, what a Nintendo thing to say" because they didn't give a flying fuck about better graphics, and only made the Wii U HD because they'd finally begun to realize that with all that extra power came the possibility of new gameplay. Breath of the Wild was the culmination of Nintendo finally understanding what the additional power could do for their games, the first time they really figured out what it meant to make an open world game.

The last time they truly cared about power was back in the 4th and 5th generation, when the new power allowed them to do all sorts of new things. Yoshi was meant to be in the original Super Mario Bros., but had to wait until World because the NES couldn't handle it, the SNES could. Then in the 5th gen, the new power allowed them to create whole new genres, 3D just expanded the possibilities that much. With the 6th gen, though, the Gamecube didn't let them do a lot of new things. It let them have more characters on screen, so they made Pikmin, with 100 little characters following Olimar. It let them make Smash Bros. a lot more fast paced. Not much else though, feeling the burn of the diminishing returns, and seeing Sony do better with worse but better respected hardware, they lost faith in better tech allowing for better gameplay, and invested in inventing all new tech. That is how much software matters to them over hardware, they will literally invent new technology if they think that is the only way to take a new step in gaming. Notice how they've been with VR? They jumped on early, excited by the possibilities for gaming, got burned, and never touched it again until very recently, because it enhanced their Labo game. I guarantee you that as the tech around VR becomes better, eventually Nintendo will see the software possibilities for new gameplay with VR, and they'll be all over it. It takes them a while to see these things because they rarely look outside their window, but eventually we will get Metroid Prime VR because Nintendo will see how cool it is to feel like you're in Samus' suit. Nintendo does very cool things with hardware, but they make those decisions based on what it will let them do with their software.

You might argue that with Wii U, the tail wagged the dog, and Nintendo made new hardware without knowing what to do with it, just thinking they'd make something new, but this doesn't mean they let hardware make software decisions, rather it just means they got ahead of themselves, imagining software possibilities that just didn't really exist. We got Splatoon and Mario Maker, and Nintendo Land I guess, nothing else, because Nintendo jumped on a new idea thinking it would take them a lot further than it did. That's the big weakness of their strategy, it relies so heavily on creativity, which is a renewable, but not altogether reliable resource.

I agree about the triangle. That's kind of what I was getting at, that in that triangle, each company focuses the most on one corner, and the least on another corner, but all three are needed. Nintendo was just the most unbalanced of the big three with the Wii U, while Sony was the most balanced with the PS4, to the point that it was kind of a tough call saying it was software that was their least focus. With Xbox One, Microsoft's problem was that they had a vision for the future, but rather than sell people on it, they designed the hardware so as to shove that future down people's throats. They have no vision with all their hardware variants except to make as many avenues and options as possible for people to get to their services, which are the really money maker and the real drive behind the Microsoft brand. How else do you explain Microsoft even considering selling Xbox Live on Switch? How else do you explain them being the first of the big three to try to do a Stadia like experience with XCloud? They're just like, "what do you want? Hardware wise, what do you want? Powerful? Crazy Powerful? No hardware at all? Oh come on you want the Switch?! Look man, just buy Xbox Live!" That's why I say Microsoft is hardware last despite the options and the high end hardware.



Bofferbrauer2 said:
I would think Microsoft as Services first, Software last (pretty ironic for a software company like Microsoft), and Sony Hardware first, Services last

You could also make the argument that Nintendo would be Software first, Hardware last, since they design their hardware around their software ideas, and not the other way around, and consider their gimmicks as kinds of services, like portability, for instance.

See my first response to Ganon where I explain why I put Microsoft as hardware last. Basically they have no coherent vision for the hardware aspect for their brand beyond getting people onto their services. Meanwhile while they definitely have had shitty first party offerings, they do make efforts to make their console seem like the place where everything is available, and first, with efforts to support indies that really bore fruit, and frequent moneyhatting of temporary exclusives of AAAs. And now they're buying up tons of studios, so they have some idea what they want to do with software. Nintendo's hardware has some thought put into it, serves a purpose, while their services are just tacked on, so they're definitely services last.

Ganoncrotch said:
Bofferbrauer2 said:
I would think Microsoft as Services first, Software last (pretty ironic for a software company like Microsoft), and Sony Hardware first, Services last

You could also make the argument that Nintendo would be Software first, Hardware last, since they design their hardware around their software ideas, and not the other way around, and consider their gimmicks as kinds of services, like portability, for instance.

A handheld with 2 screens is a piece of hardware

A handheld with 3D is a piece of Hardware

Wii motes are hardware

Wii U Tablet is a piece of hardware

Switch being a console + portable is a hardware choice

Most of Nintendos efforts to remain relevant in gaming in the last 2 decades have been hardware related, not software or service, think about it, the same New Super Mario Bros game is still shifting millions of units, but firstly on the DS, then Wii, 3DS, Wii and now Switch, what changes the most is the hardware the game is enjoyed on, the software changes almost less than that, outside of the shift from SD to HD in the last 6 years.

Sony's services shouldn't be overlooked either, nor their focus on them, they were the ones that pushed ps+ being a service which offered free games each month and they bought ps2/3 titles to the PS4 using their PSnow service, which has then flowed from the playstation onto other platforms like the PC and certain android phones, they've also worked together with MS when it comes to putting together a cloud based gaming service for the future, so I would certainly not say they're ignoring services.... just that their hardware and software sides are both exceptionally good, I would think Sony have mastered the best balance between the 2 where Nintendo and MS definitely have one aspect of the 3 where they falter badly.

Nintendo's decisions to remain relevant were decisions that affected hardware, but always as a way to make hardware that can accomodate the software they want to attract customers with. They added two screen for the gameplay it allowed, to realize their software vision. 3D did a lot less for them, but they certainly tried to do something with it. It's a similar case to what I explained in my last post that they had an idea that they thought would get them farther than it actually did. But they don't give a shit about services at all, because they don't really see how it affects gameplay. They're the kings of local couch co-op after all, what do they need online for? That's their logic there, hence why they're services last.

Sony definitely has the best balance, and it was hard for me to make a call on software vs. services being their least focus, but I said software because Sony caught on very quick the importance of services and has never had weak services, but the early PS3 wasn't the only time they had no games. Vita being another glaring example, but as a certain VGChartz article writer would have you know, that eventually fixed itself. Even PS4 had very little to be all that excited about for the first year or two, now it's positively swimming with amazing titles. Every Playstation is like that, as far back as I can remember. It's why I always wait to get one. Nintendo supports the fuck out of their consoles right out of the gate and through to the end...unless they run out of ideas, then they can't, and no one supports them. Sony puts hardware first, doesn't really neglect software all that much per se, but for them software is something that builds insane momentum over a generation, largely from their strategy of selling as many damn Playstations as they can.

Just a note, even making the Switch a hybrid was a software decision, as it was meant both to allow players to play any game of any genre in a portable or home console experience as they pleased, as well as to allow them to make games with both a portable audience and a home console audience at the same time, and therefore make more games overall.



I'd like to remind everybody that the way I'm speaking of all this isn't just in the objective facts about each companies products, but also in the subjective way that they sell their offerings, their brand, their vision for their products and services and their brands as a whole. Yes, that means a certain amount of actual investment in powerful technology or lots of new IPs or new services, but the path they get there by is based on a philosophy that centers around one of the three categories being the focus by which they sell the rest.

Sony makes software and services, but they sell them by selling the console, and their software and services crush the competition only when their hardware's momentum is at its peak, because the entire strategy is centered on getting that hardware investment and just building the software development ecosystem around it. You all take this for granted, because it's so straightforward, but I'd argue that while this affects all three to some degree, Sony organizes their whole strategy around it, does it better than anyone, and you see it in their results.

Microsoft makes software and hardware, but they're just trying to get you to buy their service. Like I said before, why else would any hardware company even consider selling their service on another console? It's mad, mad I tell you! Unless the service is the entire point. They have some of the best hardware, but they also have lower end hardware, and are developing no-hardware options. The hardware isn't the point for them, it's getting you to buy their services that is the point. Software is a necessary evil so that you have something to do on the service. Hardware...might not even be necessary, actually, so they make hardware for people that want it, but if they could get by without it, they would.

Nintendo makes hardware and has services too, but as Reggie, kicker of ass and taker of names says, they're about making games. It's completely fair to say that people buy Nintendo consoles to play Nintendo games, because let's face it, they do. Nintendo would love for everything to be on their console, so they too make an effort to get indies there, but the important part for them is the quality of the software. It's been this way for them since the beginning, reviving an industry when people lost faith in the hardware due to bad software with fucking Super Mario Bros. Then again with the Nintendo seal of quality, immersing their brand as best they could in the idea that if software is on Nintendo, it's good software. Hardware changes are at the whim of the software, advancements don't come unless Nintendo sees how it affects the software. And services? What does that have to do with software? Until Nintendo sees how it enhances gameplay possibilities, their services will never get much focus, and they're just starting to see now.