Congratulations to Sony's marketing team and their partnering consultancy firms. Last night, the company showed flexibility uncommon to a business of its size, announcing the PlayStation will be $100 less than the Xbox One and will not have its rival's anti-consumer licensing policy.
In short, Sony maintained the status quo, and was rewarded with one of the loudest and longest rounds of applause I've heard at a video game press conference that didn't end with everyone getting something for free.
The elated reaction called to mind the winning blow of a gladiatorial fight. How fitting that Sony held its press conference at the USC Memorial Sports Arena and Coliseum complex.
How fitting the conference was held at a Coliseum.
Console gaming, you see, is a blood sport that began nearly two decades ago when Sega and Nintendo fought to the death with blunt marketing jargon like "Blast Processing" and "Mode 7." To this day, the playground scrimmage can be re-ignited with a simple mention of the video game adaptation of Aladdin on your social media platform of choice. Hate goes deep.
But please, let's consider not behaving like a crowd of Romans begging for a public gutting. Because, I assure you, we have nothing to gain from someone delivering a killing blow.
In fact, the reality is there can't be a total knockout this generation. Sony and Microsoft are too big to fall.
The companies are too big to fall.
Twenty years ago, Sega and Nintendo were kings of a growing but still diminutive puddle. While the game market has grown, it's now dominated by two leaders of the infinitely larger electronics market. Sony and Microsoft are giant hell beasts, and their gaming consoles are merely limbs. If the console takes a beating, either company has a tremendous supply of wealth, talent, corporate partnerships and announced projects that will guarantee its success in some capacity.
Neither Sony or Microsoft are willing to surrender the living room, whether we like it or not. That's good in some perverse way. That's why we saw Sony announce a lower price and a different licensing policy (here's where I add an asterisk). Because they need to compete. And in turn, we will almost certainly see Microsoft make a move to win the consumer's favor, back and forth, back and forth.
There's one other thing that's changed since the 1990s: Us.
So, as this week goes on, try not to think about winners and losers. Both companies have a lot to offer. Some good. Some bad. Besides, we can all agree: Nintendo lost.
I kid. Old habits die hard.