Bit Wars vs. Resolution Wars

Today Rotten Rye takes us down nostlagia road with the Bit Wars of old, and how they relate to the resolution wars of our current generation of consoles

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Many of us can think back to the “good old days of gam­ing” and see those ear­ly years as a nostalgia-filled time of ex­plo­ration. But sad­ly, there’s one oth­er thing that has been a part of this amaz­ing hob­by since al­most the be­gin­ning. I speak, of course, of the dread­ed con­sole wars. Ah, yes; many a gamer has lost their life to this sense­less vi­o­lence… OK so maybe not, but that doesn’t change the fact that con­sole wars are a thing. A stu­pid thing, but a thing none the less.

Some might ask them­selves, What is the cause of the con­sole wars? The sim­plest an­swer I can give is mar­ket­ing. And the peo­ple that get so caught up in the hype of own­ing a new con­sole that they will say any­thing to de­fend their pur­chase. Which isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a bad thing. Especially when you just spent a few hun­dred dol­lars to own one. Most peo­ple are al­ways go­ing tell them­selves that their sys­tem is bet­ter so they don’t think they brought the wrong one.

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That’s how things were as far back as I can re­mem­ber. I’m sure most of you re­mem­ber “Sega does what Nintendon’t”. That mar­ket­ing tagline stuck with con­sumers. Same goes for “Blast Processing”. Now it’s true that the Sega Genesis had a faster proces­sor, but it was trumped by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in al­most every oth­er way, even though both con­soles were 16 Bit sys­tems. Fans of both Nintendo and Sega were loy­al. They waved their flags high in sup­port of their fa­vorite company.

I, too, am guilty of this; I grew up play­ing a Sega Genesis. I would de­fend Sega on the play­ground, and even quote their mar­ket­ing taglines to friends. We’d waste our en­tire re­cess ar­gu­ing about which con­sole was bet­ter. “This game looks bet­ter on the Genesis,” “This one looks bet­ter on the SNES! ”Sonic’s bet­ter than Mario be­cause he’s faster.” Yeah, I know, stu­pid thing to fall back on. Even I knew that Mario was the bet­ter game.

But most of the ar­gu­ments came from how a game looked on one con­sole op­posed to the oth­er. Genesis was bet­ter at mak­ing games with dark­er tones of col­or, where­as the SNES was bet­ter at mak­ing col­or­ful worlds that would ig­nite your imag­i­na­tion. They both had their strong suits and a strong line up of ex­clu­sive games. But what we were de­fend­ing were pur­chas­es, sim­ple as that.

Nowadays the bat­tle­field looks very sim­i­lar, ex­cept for a few things:

  1. Many of us that grew up dur­ing the Bit Wars know mar­ket­ing when we see or hear it.
  2. It’s no longer about Bits, but Resolution.
  3. Nintendo has ef­fec­tive­ly be­come “that con­sole you own be­cause the games they de­vel­op are solid”.
  4. Oh and no more Sega console.

Instead, it’s Microsoft and Sony that have peo­ple wav­ing flags of hon­or. You’ve got Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) and its “Greatness Awaits” ads on one side, and Microsoft’s Xbox One and their “Best Place to Play” ads on the oth­er. But most peo­ples’ ar­gu­ments this time around are about res­o­lu­tion and fram­er­ate. Will this game be in 1080p here? Will it be in 1080p there? Will it be run­ning in 60 FPS?

A lot of us that grew up dur­ing the bit wars don’t re­al­ly both­er with con­sole wars any­more. Or we try to not get as caught up. But to be hon­est, con­sole wars have a place in the in­dus­try, and some­times, when you see it nowa­days, it’s hap­pen­ing more like a de­bate. People have their talk­ing points and their op­pos­ing ar­gu­ments. But it’s more about price and pow­er now, and less about mar­ket­ing taglines.

Some of the ar­gu­ments are about res­o­lu­tion. I can agree with most cas­es of this ar­gu­ment. For in­stance, if you’re gonna spend 80+ hours in a game, most of the time you’re gonna want it to look the best it can. Now some of you may say, “buy a PC if you want it to look the great­est,” and you’re ab­solute­ly cor­rect. A PC with the cor­rect specs would do just that.

However, not every­one knows how to build or up­grade a PC. Which is why con­soles are so pop­u­lar to be­gin with. You buy the sys­tem, and the games just work. No wor­ry­ing whether or not the game will run. No wor­ry­ing whether or not you have to up­grade a com­po­nent. And no wor­ry­ing about play­ing with the set­tings to fix the res­o­lu­tion, just to have it crash on you min­utes later.


Image Via
Image Via

But at the end of the day, res­o­lu­tion is just a lux­u­ry. At least, that’s the way I feel about it. I don’t think that the dif­fer­ence be­tween 1080p and 720p is gonna stop you from hav­ing fun. After all, game­play is king, and as long as the game’s fun to play, then you’re gonna have fun no mat­ter what. And isn’t that what’s tru­ly im­por­tant? Does it re­al­ly mat­ter where some­one choos­es to game? I think we’re all gamers no mat­ter where we choose to en­joy our hobby.

What do you think? What are some of your fa­vorite con­soles, and fa­vorite con­sole mar­ket­ing gim­micks? Share your thoughts be­low or on Twitter by talk­ing to me @rottenryeHD and the site over @supernerdland!

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Rotten Rye stream(ed) The Weekly Grind every Satuarday Evening, as well as has up­com­ing gam­ing re­lat­ed projects to come! Unabashed Juggalo. And yes, he knows how mag­nets work.

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