The law of diminishing returns in the console arms race

The last week has been big news for both of the upcoming consoles from Microsoft and Sony with the former solidifying the specs of it’s upcoming system and the latter finally starting to reveal aspects of its own which previously had nothing to share apart from rumours in the Twittersphere and a logo. But now there’s specs for both the fanboys are out in force and the wars have started once again.

Right now, this looks like a great deal.

Technically both systems sound like a great deal for anyone whether or not one or the other is considered “the better console”. We’re talking machines with monster CPUs, a good amount of RAM (16GB) and graphics horsepower to handle resolutions up to 8K which put them very much ahead of a LOT of PCs at a similar price point. That should make everyone pretty happy too because the last time it felt consoles were at that level of power and value (to me) was at the launch of the 360. In theory both of these should be more than capable of producing good looking games in the years to come so why the rage?

According to the dictionary, the law of diminishing returns is “used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.”. For consoles and PCs that could be interpreted as the more powerful and capable these machines become the harder it’s going to be for them to stand apart and differentiate themselves from the competition. Soon it’s not going to matter what you play on if they’re all capable of producing photo realistic graphics. I think maybe that’s why the rage has shifted to a “we have X game and you don’t” mentality because unless you’re Digital Foundry it’s going to be hard to tell the difference between the same game on them all. But then something changes and it all goes apocalyptic because a PlayStation game is announced as coming to PC…

So might there be less and less for the extreme sides of the gaming community to fight over now to assert their perceived platform dominance, and are we going to see it go away? Probably not but it’s great that there’s so many outliers that appear to have less of this kind of negativity… I’ve not seen wars over VR headsets or mobile gaming platforms. If it remains though I won’t be surprised… after all, I’m Australian and grew up with the Ford v Holden rivalry and that makes all this console stuff look like a bunch of kids fighting over their favourite toys. 😉

Categories: Gaming, Opinion

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2 replies »

  1. I’m going to be “that guy,” and say that Nintendo had this figured out early. When gaming machines all just look like fancy PC’s, you have to do something unique to distinguish yourself from the crowd.

    Heck, you don’t even need a fancy gaming machine to play a lot of games nowadays. I play a lot of lower resolution indie games and only once in a blue moon play AAA games anymore. The time when gaming was an arms race is slowly coming to an end. But the fanboys just have yet to realize that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nintendo have done well to avoid the arms race and mark out their own territory which has kept them away from a lot of the nastiness and also find success. At least once in the past they tried to compete at a power level and it didn’t succeed as well as hoped (GameCube) so I think they have long memories too. 🙂

      Fanboys may not change but companies do and with Sony looking at multiplatform titles again (many of their studios had a history long before the PS1) it may make many quieter for a time… hopefully!

      Liked by 1 person

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