Analysis: Why Does PlayStation Have a Better Reputation Than Xbox?

Over the years, it has become clear that PlayStation typically has a better reputation. But how did they earn it?

When I was a kid, it was Nintendo vs. Sega.

The arguments on the playground centered on SNES vs. Genesis and for the most part, the Nintendo crowd won out. They had the numbers and they had the revolutionary IPs (MarioZeldaMetroid, etc.). Games released for both systems were analyzed incessantly and perhaps rightfully so, because there were often much bigger differences than what we see between multiplats today.

Essentially, Nintendo was the rightful king while Sega was the usurper. Those who sided with the Genesis were seen as rebels while those who sailed under Nintendo's flag were confident they were on the side of good.

Today, with Nintendo occupying a somewhat different position, especially in regards to the current generation, it's Sony vs. Microsoft; PlayStation vs. Xbox.

PlayStation: For the true "Hardcore" Gamer...Xbox: For the Casuals who helped ruin the industry

Even if some die-hard PlayStation fans won't phrase it this way, it's what they believe. Well, some of them, at any rate. When compared to the Nintendo vs. Sega battle from yesteryear, there are obvious differences but at the same time, there is one similarity: One competitor clearly has a better reputation among the hardcore crowd.

But is it true? Is PlayStation worthy of this reputation? And why is the Xbox brand frowned upon by so many?

Thing is, one can make a legitimate argument that Xbox helped usher in the mainstream gamer. Firstly, it had Microsoft's branding, which in and of itself would appeal to a much wider demographic, as A. It was a domestic company (the industry had been dominated by Japanese manufacturers for two decades), and B. It was the company that launched Windows and subsequently, a whole new era of computer operating systems.

Secondly, Xbox boasted plenty of western-developed games right out of the gate. Bungie's Halo was sort of like a revelation: "Woah, a major new game system, made by a Western company, with its leading launch title created by a Western developer." You know, because so many of us had lived with Japanese influences for so long, we were suspicious...even though we were, of course, American.

Those Xboxes just kept breaking, dammit

I'm sure part of the explanation behind the reputation divide can be attributed to the horrendous reliability of the Xbox 360. At one point in its lifespan, retailers were reporting 30-35% defective rates, which is just unheard-of. Many contend that any sales numbers reported by Microsoft were seriously skewed, simply due to the number of people who purchased replacement 360s. The company did put a replacement system in place, but that didn't happen until almost four years into the console's lifespan. It's difficult to find someone who didn't go through at least 2 360s; many gamers went through more.

PlayStation had some issues at the start of each generation but in general, they were ironed out relatively quickly. Defective rates for the original PlayStation were a little higher, I think, but the PS2 was incredibly reliable (after a rocky start during which time vertical-standing systems were scratching discs), and the PS3 was also a very reliable machine. The "YLoD" issue wasn't a fraction as widespread as the "RRoD" epidemic, as the numbers indicate.

Consoles that don't last are exceedingly annoying, especially for the core gamer crowd.

Maybe it's not a PlayStation/Xbox thing; maybe it's a Sony/Microsoft thing

Perhaps this reputation split doesn't have as much to do with the consoles themselves, and more to do with the fact that Microsoft isn't exactly a well-loved company. There are many who simply refuse to buy their products out of principle. I'm not so sure there are a lot of consumers who have the same personal policy concerning Sony products.

Sony was also a well-liked and well-respected name in the world of electronics, long before the PlayStation arrived. Microsoft, while they obviously centered on computers, didn't have that electronic history. Combine it with a lot of questionable business practices over the years - and last year's highly controversial Xbox One unveiling, with policies that had to be rescinded after massive backlash - and you've got a company that scores low on popularity tests.

Lastly, if there is a PlayStation vs. Xbox snag, it's where the core gamers who back PlayStation accuse Xbox fans of not being "in-the-know," of buying Xbox because it's the only brand they know; in brief, of being casuals who aren't educated enough.

There's a lot to consider but in the end, this is a war that has no forseeable end...

Published May. 12th 2014
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