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Which console will win 2012?

Sony

1. Vita is super-sexy

Argued by: Mikel Reparaz, Senior Editor

All right, so there’s no denying that the Vita has a lot of significant obstacles to overcome right out of the gate. The 3DS has bounced back from an anemic launch to become a strong contender. The stigma of the PSP’s assorted missteps is still fairly strong, and is routinely projected onto the Vita by pessimists. And the high cost of the Vita’s memory cards – not to mention the system itself – has already alienated a sizable chunk of its potential audience.

Forget all that for a moment. Taken on its own, the Vita is an undeniably badass piece of hardware, crammed to the gills with cool functionality and capable of better visuals than any other handheld. Its screen is beautiful, it (finally!) has two analog sticks, its games look near PS3-quality and it supports Trophies for your existing PSN account. Assuming it can negotiate the aforementioned hurdles and build up a solid library of games in its first year (and maybe drop its price at some point), the Vita will become a destination for experiences that simply aren’t possible on the 3DS, iPad or any other competitors. And if that happens, then this could be the first non-Nintendo handheld to not only rival the company’s dominance, but finally upset it.

2. The exclusives

Sony’s exclusive lineups have been getting stronger every year, and while we still don’t know everything about its plans for 2012, what we’ve seen so far is pretty exciting. Where Microsoft appears to be putting all its eggs in two baskets marked “Halo” and “Kinect,” Sony’s already starting a rollout of strong titles you won’t find anywhere else. 

Car-combat revival Twisted Metal is right around the corner, and Starhawk’s mix of third-person shooting, tower defense and transformable vehicles isn’t too far behind. Journey is jaw-droppingly pretty (especially by the standards of PSN games), Dust 514 will be the first-ever shooter to be tied to a PC MMO, and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time will finally bring back Sly’s long-neglected, somewhat morally ambiguous series of platformers, which was one of our favorites during the PS2 era. And that’s not even counting all the stuff that’s only going to exist on the PS Vita this year.

Then there’s the stuff that could arrive this year, although there’s no way to be sure at this point. The Last of Us, the new property from Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, could represent an interesting new take on the zombie-apocalypse genre, and The Last Guardian has been teasing us for years with the promise of beautiful visuals, innovative boy-and-his-monster gameplay and a potentially moving storyline. So yeah, Master Chief is great and all, but against a lineup like this, even Halo can’t win the fight singlehandedly.

3. The economy sucks

As unemployment rates climb and the economy continues to tank, gaming on the cheap is becoming increasingly important, and that’s an area where Sony is rapidly starting to outmaneuver Microsoft. Sure, the PS3 itself is expensive, but assuming you bought yours a few years ago, there’s a wealth of inexpensive downloadable games you can now download and delve into. Where Microsoft relegates indie games to their own dark channel, Sony elevates them to prominence. And while Microsoft has a decidedly strong stance against anything being free, Sony routinely hands out game downloads for nothing (well, more often than not it’s “nothing” plus the $50 you’ll pay for an annual PlayStation Plus subscription, but still).

Above: See this? It's free. Yes, free right now

It’s not just that PS3 is a more open platform for indie games, either. Free-to-play MMOs have become a huge trend on PCs, and the PS3 version of DC Universe Online became part of that trend last November, opening up hundreds of hours of gameplay to PSN users for the price of however much time they spend downloading it. If more free-to-play MMOs follow, the PS3 could be the best console with which to weather the recession.

Next page: Why the PC will win

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 :)

Showing 1-20 of 76 comments

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