PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360: Who Wins?

PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360: Who Wins?

The online gaming community gets a high out of fighting in “console wars.” Going to war over a game system requires throwing one’s faith behind either Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft, and then energetically supporting every decision the company makes in regards to its console(s), no matter how boneheaded.

To date, no console manufacturer in the history of gaming has ever presented a medal of honor to any message board user who took up the lance for a particular system. In fact, Sony would like to see an end to discussions about how the PlayStation 3 needs to “beat” the Xbox 360 in terms of units sold. Profit is what matters.

“At the moment, I think we’re trying to just keep up with inventory and trying to move as many units as we can through the channel,” Scott McCarthy, the Playstation software senior brand manager told IndustryGamers. It’s also one of those things where, do we notice what Microsoft is doing? Obviously, they are our competition. But is it like we surpass Microsoft or we fail? No. Our goal is to be profitable and we’re going to achieve that this year and do even better next year.”

McCarthy says that Sony isn’t eying Microsoft, but it’s still taking occasional glances at another, less obvious rival: Nintendo. Nintendo’s games are not high-definition, and its critics sneer that the company has abandoned its core audience in favor of courting dollars from the growing casual market. Such criticisms are arguable (and indeed are turned over and over again in the aforementioned online console wars), but Nintendo has one inarguable talent: It knows how to make a profit on its systems. By contrast, Sony and Microsoft lose money on their consoles for years before they begin to see returns.

“[Profitability has] been Nintendo’s position for years,” McCarthy said. “We have a very aggressive plan this year. And when we’re profitable we’re happy. If we happen to close the gap with Microsoft in the meantime, then that’s good too.”

McCarthy’s stance on profits versus units sold is wise, but it also comes deep from the soul of a wounded company. Sony has come a long way from 2005, when former CEO Ken Kutaragi told PlayStation fans that they should “get a second job” to pay for the PlayStation 3. After tripping at the starting line (turns out people who work second jobs usually spend their paychecks on bills and food), Sony cut the price of the PS3, and the system has been playing a slow but steady game of catch-up to the Xbox 360 ever since. With the console’s powerful hardware and the Move’s motion-based control system, the PlayStation 3’s longevity is more robust than the older Xbox 360 and the less-powerful Wii. In other words, if any game company is in a position to talk about its profits instead of blustering over sales, it’s Sony.

With any luck, McCarthy’s words will inspire game communities to put away their weapons and engage in consistently mature discussions about the industry.

(Pause for laughter, applause.)

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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