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

Pretty compelling points, which I mostly agree with. My personally sum of the big three boils down to this though...

Nintendo has the best first-party titles in the industry. In terms of their impact, their longevity over more than 35 years, their evergreen nature, I could go on. Mario. Zelda, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Super Smash Bros., Kirby, Animal Crossing, Metroid, and others. Nintendo may indeed pull out of hardware at some point, but I think they'll make software until somehow their company could go under.

Sony is the best Jack-of-All-Trades. Capable hardware, multimedia, some killer first-party titles, a controller that's been more consistent for over 20 years than any of the other big three (though the DualShock 4 has shook things up somewhat with the touchpad, share, etc.).

Microsoft is the best at online and services in general. They invented a comprehensive online network, consistently support backwards compatibility (I get that the Xbox One wasn't BC at launch, but it's more than made up for it), Game Pass, Achievements (which Sony and Steam adopted), and the Xbox One S and X are multimedia juggernauts.

So...
Nintendo - Best First-Party Software
Sony - Best Jack-of-All-Trades
Microsoft - Best Online

Note that my assesment of Sony as the best all-arounder doesn't mean they have the best consoles every gen. It just means they do a terrific job with balancing first-party, third-party exclusives and multiplats, hardware capabilities, online, services, and the like.



Lifetime Sales Predictions 

PS4: 130 mil (was 100 million) Xbox One: 55 mil (was 50 mil) Switch: 110 million (was 73, then 96 million)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

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I can agree with most things here. I would disagree with the idea of Sony being hardware first/software last.

I think they took that approach the last generation and it killed them. This generation, they've been more focused on delivering a balance of all these things (hardware/software/services) which is why they are at the top of their game.

While Nintendo constantly focuses on innovations in both hardware and games and delivers unrivaled quality on a consistent basis, we can say the best that Sony has made still rivals them. Think Bloodborne, TLOU, Shadow of the Colossus remake, Spider-Man. And Sony is the only one focusing on VR adoption so innovation isn't too bad (although I think Sony plays it safer than the other big 2). They've also been receptive to dev's needs, indie and 2nd/3rd party alike so whatever they get for exclusives tends to be great stuff.

In terms of services, Microsoft is obviously king, because it's ecosystem inherently is about supporting Live and Steam to a certain extent (because PC gaming is basically Microsoft Windows gaming...just look at how little impact Apple or even Steam with their own Linux box have had on Windows gaming market). So Live mimicking what is going on with PC is pretty much the same philosophy the company has had since the OG Xbox, albeit more streamlined and less fleshed out.

But with PS4, we've seen plenty of services come into existence or become better to the point they can rival Xbox's. PSN is stable and safer than ever and offers plenty of great games for free like Live. It's gotten Twitch and social media functionality out of the box too. Sony's come far in this space.

So yeah, I think you make a lot of good points, but I don't think the hardware first/software last philosophy is the one Sony has taken. I think it's been all about balancing those two and the services, which is why Sony wins a 3rd out of 4 generations they've been in (and they did a killer comeback when they focused on the gamer's needs at the end of the PS3 life cycle).

But overall, I don't think any one company exceeds so much in any category this gen. A lot of great quality all around which is why the numbers aren't so skewed. Switch is outselling both on a monthly basis, but PS4 has the lion's share and isn't going anywhere soon. And Xbox is constantly in the background doing its thing and setting themselves up to support an ecosystem that is bigger than what Sony and Nintendo have in terms of gaming, even if it's mostly non-console gaming.



The_Liquid_Laser said:

I mostly agree with what you are saying, but I would say the SNES beat the Genesis "in spite of" superior hardware rather than "because of" superior hardware. 

In Japan, Nintendo had a huge software advantage over Sega, which is why they won Japan in spite of having more expensive hardware.  In the US, the Genesis had EA sports, which meant the SNES only had a minor software advantage over the Genesis.  The Genesis had a price advantage (being the weaker console), and so it and the SNES sold fairly close to one another because one had a slight software advantage and the other had a slight price advantage.  By the end of generation 4 both consoles became cheap enough that price became less of a factor, and it was at this point the SNES had better legs due to their software advantage.  So SNES won over the long haul, because Nintendo stayed competitive through software and eventually could make their console cheap enough, but the more expensive hardware put them at a disadvantage for much of generation 4.

Yeah. I was just pointing out that sometimes a system will beat another globally simply because of differences in consumer buying habits in different regions (as another example, the 360 dominated the PS3 in the U.S. while the PS3 soundly defeated the 360 in Europe and Japan), though I didn't get into much detail as to the why. The U.S. was insanely competitive because the Genesis had a competitive library appealing to American gamers' sensibilities and some very aggressive marketing that often directly attacked Nintendo. Meanwhile, Sega really didn't have anything going for them in Japan, where they simply didn't have the games or marketing needed to really make any inroads.