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Which console will win 2012?

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Over the last couple of weeks, 2012's game-release schedule has begun to kick into high gear, with impressive titles in major franchises starting to roll onto store shelves at a steady clip. Even so, much of 2012 remains shrouded in a fog of mystery, so there's room for at least one more 2012 speculation article before we move on and focus on the concrete and tangible. And the early part of the year wouldn't be complete (at least not for us) without our annual guess at who'll come away as this year's console-war winner, based on what we know now.

Above: Four systems enter! And... four systems leave, actually, but one will be in a somewhat better market position when the dust clears and everyone starts speculating about 2013

To that end, we've gathered four of our keenest editors to represent each of our favorite gaming platforms, and to argue three reasons why each one will end this year as the victor. Then we'll pick a winner based on the strongest arguments. Ready? Let's start with...

XBOX 360

1. Halo 4

Argued by: Charlie Barratt, Senior Editor

This is not an impressive year for Microsoft exclusives… well, unless you’re impressed by Kinect. Other than seemingly dumbed-down versions of Fable and Star Wars for the motion peripheral, all that Xbox 360 owners have to make their PS3 friends jealous in 2012 are Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, ports of PC games (Minecraft, Witcher 2) and Halo 4.

Oh right. Halo 4 is Halo 4. In other words, more than enough to win the hearts, minds and incomes of gamers all by itself, especially considering the importance and potential of this particular entry. This isn’t just another prequel or spinoff like Reach or ODST; this is the return, after five years, of Master Chief and Cortana. A whole new trilogy. This isn’t just another sequel, either; now that 343 Industries has taken over development from Bungie, substantial changes to the series – redesigned characters, tighter storytelling, darker themes and a focus on more sandbox-like exploration – are promised. Even Halo haters have to be intrigued.

2. Early or exclusive downloadable content

As much as fanboys (and writers!) love to dissect the differences between the 360 and PS3, when it comes down to what actually matters – the games – there really isn’t that much to separate this generation’s two default consoles. Outside the handful of first-party flagship franchises, 90 percent of their libraries are identical. Call of Duty’s on both. Resident Evil’s on both. Skyrim’s on both.

Look a little closer, though, and you will find a small yet significant advantage for the Xbox. Call of Duty? Modern Warfare 3’s year-long schedule of DLC, including new maps, new modes and new Spec Ops missions, drops first on 360. Resident Evil? The hugely anticipated demo for Resident Evil 6 arrives on 360 two months earlier. Skyrim? The first two expansions, each of which is likely the size of many standalone games if Oblivion’s Shivering Isles is any indication, comes to Xbox 30 days before PS3 and PC.

Sure, these aren’t true exclusives, just head starts… but in a console war waged in an unforgivingly fast internet age, days and months might as well be years. And moving beyond the household names, who knows which downloadable game – Fez, Warp, Sine Mora, I Am Alive, Battleblock Theater, Diabolical Pitch, Retro City Rampage, Black Knight Story or South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, all timed or fully exclusive to XBLA – will be 2012’s Braid or Limbo.

3. Your 360 is now your TV, too

Okay, so I’ve run out of games to talk about already, but the Xbox 360’s real secret (weapon) to success in 2012 may come from another medium of entertainment altogether: Television.

Above: You know, television! That thing you watch Game of Thrones on

Microsoft has always marketed its console as more than just a game device with features like Zune, Netflix, Hulu and ESPN, but this year the company is making a much larger, possibly industry-shaping push in that direction. Soon you will be able to watch live cable programming on your 360, whether from Comcast Xfinity or AT&T U-Verse or your country’s particular provider. Soon you will be able to watch Game of Thrones and The Sopranos through the HBO Go app, or Family Guy and Glee through the Fox app. Soon, in addition to picking and choosing UFC matches, you will be able to pick and choose baseball games with MLB.tv.

The future of home entertainment is all-in-one systems with streaming capabilities and a la cart options. If Microsoft can lead that evolution, the Xbox 360 can win 2012.

Next page: Why Nintendo will win

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76 comments

  • HankVenture - February 25, 2012 10:20 a.m.

    I think the Xbox will be making the money this year. The Wiiu is another new invention by Nintendo but as we saw with the 3DS, that doesn't have the impact like it had with the Wii and I just had a friend tell me they found out about the other day. the Ps3 had too much crap happen to it last year for people to actually go and get a Ps3. I think the PC will gain a larger audience this year though and would beat everything if it wasn't soo expensive to get one. Personally I would rather play everything on PC but ill stay with my Xbox
  • Y2Ken - February 17, 2012 6:26 a.m.

    Hmm... I'm hoping for all the consoles to have a strong year, but for me I think this year's going to be a PC one. I'm finally planning to build my first proper gaming PC in the next couple of months and that'll let me try out all the features PC is offering which I can't get on home consoles. Not that I'll stop playing the others for one minute though. =)
  • yomansan - February 16, 2012 2:15 a.m.

    You didn't include OnLive console... Sad...
  • Darkwun - February 15, 2012 7:58 a.m.

    not even gonna look through these comments to hear the inevitable Nntendo slagging! I love all the Companies (Hell, I even wanted an Atari Jaguar back n the day!) but it's Nintendo who gtthe most abuse, and I can almost guarantee that most of the derogitory comments about them here won't be addressing the valid points the article makes about them, butrather addressing their own issues with them and why they don't deserve to win!
  • fortheroflz - February 13, 2012 12:45 p.m.

    i hear some rummmors about the xbox 720 and ps4, and anyone help me conferm or deny that they are being made? btw. wii u, fucking rly?
  • Rowdie - February 13, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    Don't you have to define how you win before you declare a winner? Evidently not. Honestly how does a company win? Most hardware sold in number in $ in profit? Software? What core gamers will want the most? What the breath and width of gamers will want the most. Some kind of user satisfaction rating? Which fanbois will have the most ammunition to use in the comments section?
  • markshell - February 13, 2012 5 a.m.

    People still keep putting the 3DS and Vita on the same market but they are completely different systems. Vita will never sell as many units because it's targeted at a different audience, and a smaller one at that, so people shouldn't bother being so disappointed when that happens. It's a great system but too few actually care for it or what it can do.
  • LOZ4EVAH - February 12, 2012 9:36 p.m.

    Nintendo wins because it has exclusives (yes Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong games are separate). It has momentum with 3DS, and third party support. Well written. I liked how they defended each console with reasonable facts.
  • ZhugeLiang - February 13, 2012 12:42 p.m.

    When would a fact ever be unreasonable?
  • Limbo - February 12, 2012 9 p.m.

    This article captured each system's personality perfectly: Nintendo: Innovation and Nintendo games! It's unlike anything else! Microsoft: HALO!!!!1! Sony: Look at all the features! And it's free! PC: Everything is better on the PC. The PC has been doing what consoles wish they could do for years. Kidding aside, I'm hoping that Nintendo pulls through, only because I love Nintendo to death.
  • haxxoromg - February 12, 2012 8:26 p.m.

    i doubt nintendo is going to win, even with the wiiu. I dont think many 3rd party devs are going to take full advantage of the new system because of the profit they could be simultaneously making off xbox, pc, and ps3 owners, and nintendo exclusives are at this point only appealing to a certain number of fans: your average fps, rts, or rpg fan would much rather go with a pc or microsoft/sony console which already have stacked repertoires in those genres. Even if nintendo wins this year and enjoys one or two more as the technological top dog, they are going to eventually fall into the same situation they are in now: as sony and microsoft come out with new tech, the wiiu will become another outdated system with a slapped on, clunky gimmick. That is, of course, unless the wiiu is so amazing that microsoft and sony adopt the tablet controller
  • Krazee - February 12, 2012 6:41 p.m.

    I really don't think the Wii U will be much to call home about. Trying to play games with that gigantic controller in your hand will probably suck and if Nintendo wants to make your controller a tablet with the screen on it then why don't they just eliminate the console altogether? The first party games Nintendo releases are fun but I'm getting sick of seeing the same franchises over and over again. They never come up with anything new and with Nintendo consoles' consistently inferior hardware nobody wants to play the big third party games on Nintendo consoles. Chances are you will never play a Bethesda or Valve game on a Nintendo console. Oh, and for the record,I'm generally a Xbox 360 and PC gamer.
  • T0ky0j0nnybr4v0 - February 12, 2012 4:23 p.m.

    Nintendo had a tough year because the earthquake and the strong yen did't help, and the 3ds launch was lousy. Wii U will rule for these reasons. HD Nintendo console with enough guts to produce the likes of the Zelda demo. an App store- potentially anything you can do on a DS (or maybe even a tablet) and this list of games. some are reality, some are dreams. Aliens- Colonial Marines AC 3 (or HD collection) Arkham City Darksiders 2 Dirt Bully 2 Child of Eden brain training f zero fifa/ nba/ nhl lego LOTR pikmin UMVC 3 metroid starfox zelda DK mario okami 2 pushmo silent hill/ MGS/ ZOE RE6 orange box/ half life 3 smash bros
  • roboteye - February 12, 2012 1:42 p.m.

    It's either Sony or PC. Why did Nintendo win??? The 3DS is doing well, but the Wii got nothing this year till the WiiU comes out. And we still have no clue when that thing is coming out.
  • kiing8kong6 - February 12, 2012 1:29 p.m.

    Nintendo to win? What a cop out!
  • metalgatesolid - February 12, 2012 10:50 a.m.

    I would say the PC has always been strong. But I'm not a PC gamer. Im a Playstation fanboy...So Sony
  • AstroSteve - February 12, 2012 1:25 a.m.

    Winner Nintendo? I LOL'd. Yeah they have the Wii, which is a poor attempt at what it's supposed to do - The Xbox 360 Kinect does a better job because it senses your entire body. But now they have this new wannabe PC controller and they win? No thanks, anything Nintendo can do a PC can do better. And I play on Xbox 360 but I'm having my doubts.
  • ncurry2 - February 12, 2012 10:49 a.m.

    A PC can play brand new Zelda, Mario, Metroid, and Donkey Kong games? I'm sorry but when it comes down to it, Nintendo is the undisputed best developer in the world. And you're only going to get those games on a Nintendo system.
  • Nikku7 - February 11, 2012 10:50 p.m.

    Dear Nintendo, release the entire earthbound/mother collection on 3ds, then announce Mother 4/Earthbound 3 as a launch title for Wii U (or whatever it will be called) and you will win. (I wish)
  • FlameChucks76 - February 11, 2012 9:28 p.m.

    GamesRadar has opened a can of worms at this point. The best we can do is just sit back and watch as the comments fly around comparing companies and their respective gaming machines. Personally, since I own everything, and will soon own a Wii U, I win this year :)

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