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Gaming consoles evolve along with fan preferences

Since the consoles of old were introduced, game systems have sparked harsh debate within the gaming community.

However, the days of revolutionary change have passed. Cartridges were traded for discs. Consoles shrank in size and grew in power. The introduction of the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has not been met with expectations of radically new gaming experiences, but with heated arguments about performance.

Sony and Microsoft have competed for decades with the PlayStation and Xbox franchises, fighting to put out the latest and greatest products in hopes of winning over one another’s customers. The PS3 came with a Blu-Ray player built in, the Xbox 360 upgraded to the 360-Elite and added the motion-activated Kinect.

Now the two companies are at war again with the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, but no one is fighting this crusade harder than the fans.

Countless charts and comparisons have appeared across the web, dividing the two consoles down to the very last detail. The PS4 performs at high-definition 1080p. The Xbox One has USB ports for external storage. The PS4 is $100 less. The Xbox One connects to WiFi.

There are vicious comments attached to nearly every article featuring either console. The hardware elitists, the loyalists and the trolls battle with words to defend their respective console’s honor, or simply to cause conflict.

However, the majority of consumers are not splitting these technical hairs. Not by a long shot.

What it really comes down to is familiarity, game preference and price. Someone who loves Xbox games is far more likely to buy the Xbox One. Someone who grew up with PlayStation is more likely to buy the PS4. Someone with no real preference either way may turn to PC gaming with Steam, which offers games from both and frequently at reduced cost.

The Internet crusaders are a very small minority of gaming consumers. The casual gamer is not scouring the web to find every minute difference between the two consoles, he or she is likely going to follow the same patterns they have in the past. Sony and Microsoft are targeting this larger community of casual gamers because neither has any radical new feature to offer.

Crusaders are splitting hairs because, in all honesty, the two systems are very similar to both each other and their predecessors. Neither company is going to switch from discs to cartridges, or from discs to significantly smaller discs. [I’m looking at you, Nintendo GameCube. I’d love to know who thought that would be a lasting trend].

It’s natural for one to fight for the franchise they love, and when there is little to actually fight over, the battle somehow intensifies. However, once the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One have been on the market for a while, the swords will be reluctantly sheathed. Casual gamers will miss the fight completely, and crusaders will become less fiery about the small differences between the two consoles.

A few months back, when Microsoft still insisted on its system of unsharable games, this was completely different. The difference between a physical disc and a downloaded file led to a huge backlash against Microsoft, so much the company changed the system completely. Now that both Xbox One and PS4 offer physical game copies, there isn’t a great deal to argue about.

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