But in the wake of that event, Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Andrew House said something very interesting: He told the Guardian that it wasn’t competing consoles like the Xbox One S or looming Scorpio that drove the decision to release an upgraded version of the PS4. It was the PC.
“I saw some data that really influenced me,” House said. “It suggested that there’s a dip mid-console life cycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC, because that’s obviously where it’s to be had. We wanted to keep those people within our ecosystem by giving them the very best and very highest [performance quality]. So the net result of those thoughts was PlayStation 4 Pro—and, by and large, a graphical approach to game improvement.”
This is creating a new type of ‘console war’.
What many people thought was PlayStation vs. Xbox vs. Nintendo System
What is actually going on is more complicated due to PC.
Who owns the PC, dear reader? What is the operating system for PCs?
No. Try again.
“Microsoft. It is Windows!”
Very good, reader. Microsoft is PC Gaming for better or worse.
“But Mac gaming! Linux Gaming!”
So instead of PlayStation vs Xbox vs Nintendo, you have to throw PC in there. With PC, it all becomes more interesting and more relevant. Look at the Console Generations through PC Gaming’s eyes.
Where is PC Gaming? Oh, that’s right. PC Gaming doesn’t exist because PCs do not exist. During Generation One, Steve Jobs was working for Atari. Atari is the Mother of All.
Above: Steve Jobs worked at Atari. The main investor for Atari met Jobs via Atari. Woz, a huge fan of video games, designed the Apple computer to play games.
This is when the Apple II comes out. Woz made the Apple computer be in color so he could play video games on it. There really isn’t much to say for PC Gaming during the 1970s or early 1980s.
Electronic Arts rose to be the great publisher of PC gaming. As the black hole of the console crash took out Atari and other consoles, PC Gaming saw itself as inheritors of The New World of digital entertainment.
Above: Trip Hawkins would found EA.
Above: Archon was the first game EA published. The Paul Reiche III in the credits is the eventual designer of Star Control series and creator of Skylanders.
Above: EA would also publish M.U.L.E.
The NES Revolution that swept through America, from Japan, chilled the PC Gaming market. The NES games were so much better done than most of the computer games. In large part, this has to do with the Japanese craftsmanship that Western developers would later adopt. PC game companies were porting their games to the NES and seeing big sales. EA held out until the board of directors gave Trip Hawkins an ultimatum: either port EA’s games or you are removed as president. Trip Hawkins famously removed his shoe and hit it on the desk when he announced EA would port its games on the NES.
Above: Yamauchi put Nintendo on the map with the Famicom/NES
Before, PC Gaming has ports of arcade games and console games on the PC. PC would be the inevitable future for all! But with the popularity of the NES, that future seemed clouded as PC games began to be ported to the NES.
Above: PC Gaming’s great hits were being ported to the home consoles.
With Nintendo’s licensing, Trip Hawkins wanted a better deal. So he had EA backwards engineer the Sega Genesis and told Sega that either EA gets a good deal or EA would make the games without Sega’s permission. Sega relented.
So what was going on in PC Gaming? These are the DOS days.
This was also when Microsoft’s Windows was becoming more and more popular.
The NES scared many companies including Apple. Nintendo was able to attach a computer to the television in a third of American homes. While Nintendo and Sega battled it out during the 16-bit generation, Kutaragi of Sony developed the music chip for the Super Nintendo, and saw a different future for the console. Kutaragi saw a console that would take over the living room and co-opt PC Gaming.
Sony developed a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo. Yamauchi, realizing Sony’s true intentions, torpedoed the deal.
Above: Windows 95 marketed itself as ‘multitasking is here! OMG!’
Microsoft would later make Direct X for Windows 95. Direct X is the APIs (application programming interfaces) for game programming. While Windows 95 was spreading through computers like wildfire and PC growth was unreal, something happened Microsoft didn’t anticipate. Neither did Sega or Nintendo.
Sony released the PlayStation. While Sega and Nintendo consoles were generally arcade games at home, the PlayStation was co-opting PC Gaming.
As more developers were drawn to the PlayStation, this meant they were not using Direct X. Microsoft saw this as a big concern. Would the PlayStation completely co-opt PC gaming and hollow out the entertainment side of the PC?
Microsoft first tried teaming up with Sega for the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast didn’t last too long, and Sega was out of the console business.
As the PlayStation 2 was launching, Microsoft would launch its own game console called the X Box (i.e. Direct X box). This was a defensive strategy. X Box was to keep game developers using Microsoft’s tools. If anything, the Xbox hurt PC Gaming since so many games would be developed for the Xbox itself. Microsoft would engulf many game studios to do this.
Many began to make the mistake that the ‘Console War’ was about the boxes such as PS2 vs. Dreamcast vs. Xbox vs. Gamecube. The truth is that the war was over PC Gaming. PC Gaming was being absorbed by the PlayStation and Microsoft put out the Xbox in order to create a wall to stop it.
Above: If you watch any video, watch the above. Ed Fries reveals that the Xbox console was all about stopping Sony.
Kutaragi finally puts the pieces together to make the PlayStation 3 which would ‘take over the living room’. Microsoft makes the Xbox 360 to compete with the PlayStation 3 in every way possible. Of course, Nintendo makes the Wii which outsells both.
The Sony vs. Microsoft console war was never a war about console gaming but a war about PC gaming and PC entertainment.
Above: Jobs reveals iPhone.
The war to take over the living room was all about the TV. What no one expected was that the TV screen, itself, would be absorbed into the computer revolution. People didn’t change their TVs for HD TVs so much for the thin TVs that replaced the big bulky TVs as before. The technology that makes a TV was rapidly advancing and becoming cheaper.
As the screen became cheaper and was everywhere as represented by the smartphone, there was no more living room TV to ‘capture’. The Sony threat is largely removed. Kutaragi was gone. Games were becoming so expensive to make that they were ported everywhere anyway.
Microsoft is pulling the plug from its ‘defense strategy’ of the Xbox. Microsoft is currently trying to integrate the Xbox franchise into the PC. After all, if screens are everywhere, that means the PC is now more omnipresent than ever.
Sony is now on the defensive. The PS4 Pro, as you hear at the top, is a pure defense strategy against PC gaming. As the Xbox has shown, defense strategies tend to be very expensive and not worth it in the long run.
Sony being scared that the PlayStation 4 gamer will be absorbed into PC gaming and needs a PS4 Pro is extremely revealing. It tells us that Hardcore Gaming is nothing more than marketing a dumbed down PC gaming for consoles inside an envelope that they are ‘elite’.
This also might be one reason why the Game Industry wants PC Master Race term to be scrubbed from the Internet. PC Master Race infers that the console peasant is NOT elite and certainly not ‘hardcore gamer’. In real life, I taunt a twenty year old that he needs to give up his console toys and join the ‘master race’. “PC can play all the same games but much better. PC gaming has mods too!” And what can he say to that!? He just gets angry and jealous. The PS4 Pro is aimed at him to not buy a computer and to stay a console gamer.
Without the living room TV, what hope is there for the PlayStation franchise? PlayStation has no philosophy outside of the TV. I see Xbox being absorbed by PC Gaming, I see Nintendo doing its thing, and I see Sony confused and aimless. While Nintendo can go toys/arcadey, Microsoft can go PC, Sony has no space to play as the TV based console becomes extinct.