Back in high school I clearly remember the ongoing battle between Coke and Pepsi in what eventually became known as the Cola Wars. Coke was the established veteran on the soda circuit that marketed tradition as their biggest selling point. Pepsi on the other hand was a brash and bold contender to the throne who relied on appealing to consumers as a hipper, fresher, and next-generation choice for consumers.
I always found this very amusing especially around the Super Bowl when both sides would unleash their multimillion dollar ad campaigns. Personal preferences aside, Coke was and has remained the best-selling soft drink company in the world, and to me the notion of spending billions of dollars to remain firmly entrenched at number two seemed crazy to me. Of course I understand it’s all about increasing market share, public opinion, and countless other factors but if you were a fan of one drink over another note amount of add campaigns are likely to make you override your personal preferences.
So here we are in the new millennium, and Microsoft and Sony have become a high-tech version of Coke versus Pepsi. You have two gigantic corporations with billions of dollars in assets who battle it out with one another for supremacy in the console market. Both sides have very passionate supporters who take even the most perceived slights against their beloved console is an all-out declaration of war and often let their hearts and passion’s dictate their actions. It used to be said never discuss religion or politics as a fight was sure to ensue. As anyone who has ever written an opinion piece can tell you, writing about the pros or cons of any console is sure to unleash a torrent of debate and venom that rivals anything from the 2012 Presidential campaign.
If you are a fan of the PlayStation, you have likely Artie made up your mind at the PlayStation 4 is the console that you’re going to be getting at launch and the millions of dollars that Microsoft will spend on ad campaigns will likely do little to change your opinion. The same is true for supporters of the Xbox who have their reasons for supporting the console and regardless of what Sony says or produces all passionately support the latest offering from Microsoft. This is consumerism 101. Both Microsoft and Sony have spent enormous amounts of money grooming consumers to their products. Phrases such as brand awareness, customer loyalty, and customer retention are key aspects of their marketing strategies. If you love the PlayStation 3, then Sony is confident that she will be a purchaser of their new system just as Microsoft anticipates Xbox 360 supporters to be the ones to eagerly embrace their new offering.
It is the folks that are in the middle, the so-called battleground customers that are essential to both companies. The consumers who pick one console over the other, the consumer who normally doesn’t buy new consoles at launch, the more casual consumers who are content with their current gaming options, and others who are undecided are where the real focus will come.
Both sides will tout features, exclusive titles, the hipness, fun, and excitement of their systems. Both sides will spend enormous amounts of money on advertising to convince you to come on over to their side, and that failing to do so will leave you on the outside looking in.
To me it’s a clear-cut case of loyalties and priorities. I will be getting both systems but I have been on record as saying that the PlayStation 4 is the one that we will be getting first simply due to years of positive experiences with Sony products and numerous issues with the Xbox 360 prior to the release of the slim unit.
Now Nintendo of course is still a factor in this but to me they’re kind of like the RC Cola in the mix as the disappointment of the Wii U to date, has made them an afterthought for many in the battle for console supremacy until they make strides forward with their pending titles.
So in the end like so many things in our great country, it comes down to choice. Personal preferences and loyalties versus Madison Avenue and the high-powered marketing machines of both companies. Regardless of who comes out the vector when the final bell rings, I think the next generation console wars is going to be one epic ride.