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The Real Winner Of The Console Wars Isn’t a Console

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(photo: Notebookcheck.net)

With the new generation really starting in only a few days, the internet is ablaze about who is going to “win the console wars”. Gamers are spitting hellfire about which system is the best based purely on promised features and small reveals from the games press, developers, and of course the system manufacturers. The thing is, we won’t actually know who is going to win until probably years down the road. Hell, it’s hard to say who won the console wars of this current generation, and how exactly you would measure that. Is it by console sales? Cultural penetration? Games sales? Game exclusives? Average metactritic rating of the games?

No matter how you measure the success of consoles past present or future, there is already one winner for the next generation: AMD. This computer hardware company is typically considered a competitor for Nvidia in the graphics department. Ask a large group of PC gamers which of the two companies makes a better graphics card, and you’ll end up with a fair debate on your hand. ¬†Sure, one might have better raw power, but the other has more bang for the buck. And don’t even get them started on CrossFire vs. SLI.

What’s amazing, however, is how Nvidia allowed this entire console generation to slip through its fingers. Sure, they can still put up a decent battle in the PC graphics card battles, but they lost a lot of potential money by not fighting for their own cards in at least one of the major systems in the eighth generation. The WiiU, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One all include some flavor of an AMD GPU and CPU. Perhaps it’s this bundle (a discounted price wholesale on both bundled together) that sold each company on AMD’s console viability.

AMD’s dominance in the console market may be exactly what helps it recover lost stock prices. For a brief time, AMD’s stocks seemed to be on the rise, but took a sharp dip in July 2012. Nvidia, however, seems to have remained more or less pretty constant. In fact, it gained about .84% in value since January 2012 while AMD has lost about 40% of its value.

the real winner of hte console wards wasn't a console

Worth noting is the rise in AMD prices in late April, early May of 2013. This would be about the time in the lead up to the big reveals of the new consoles and by then word of AMD’s dominance may have been spreading. Perhaps the holiday season and the release of both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 will give AMD the boost it needs in profits to be financially competitive with Nvidia once more. At the very least, it may help AMD be less volatile in the stock market.

In the end, as Sean Hollister from The Verge noted, this is great for gamers on both consoles and the PC. Perhaps we’ll see games released on the PC the same day as on consoles (HAH! Like that would ever happen), or even better ports from the console to the PC and vice versa. With a decent amount of hardware made by the same manfacturer, development costs for multi-platform titles could be lower. That last point is just a guess however. I have no idea.

Whether this trickle-down effect from consoles to PC (let’s face it, devs really prioritized console gaming last generation) will actually help gamers, or be about as effective as real trickle-down economics remains to be seen. I could certainly mean better computer hardware as Nvidia fights to establish PC dominance (though to be fair its Tegra chip has given it a leg up in the mobile race) in order to keep its profit margins high.

No matter what, though, there is absolutely no denying: AMD won the console wars hands down. Now back to your regularly scheduled flame wars.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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