I still don’t own a PS3 or Xbox 360, but that’s okay

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What matters is that I had fun

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Confession time.

With PS4 slated for the end of the year and the next Xbox like out around the same time, the curtain on the seventh home console generation is finally coming down. But while many of you are eagerly anticipating the new hardware, I’m only just now planning to jump on board with the HD incumbents. That’s right, I only own a Wii from the current console crop.

Clearly mine is not a common arrangement, as most if not all of my peers have been spreading multi-platform love. The consensus seems to be that the Wii has been the least “gamer-friendly” platform of the past few years and that you were missing out on the best the gen had to offer if you didn’t also own one of the others. I beg to differ.

My plan has always been to purchase a second console eventually — what better time to invest than at the tail end of a generation? I haven’t felt the need to yet because I’ve been perfectly satisfied thus far. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

[“Wii Kawaii” by Norman Thomas Glaves]

The fact that I’m putting all this down in writing ought to strike you as bizarre. If your closest gamer friend said that he only owned a PS3 or 360, you wouldn’t bat an eye. But if he said he only owned a Wii, you’d probably give him an earful about why he should branch out or upgrade to a far more capable machine. Hardly the kind of response anyone ought to expect in regards to hardware that has sold — or will if it hasn’t already — over 100 million units.

I’m not saying that everyone has to enjoy the Wii. I’m not ignorant to why many of you chose to supplement it with another platform, sell your launch unit back, or flat-out not buy one period. Maybe you were soured by some less-than-optimal motion implementations, maybe you had had enough of Mario and crew. Or perhaps when nearly all of the big third-party hitters failed to materialize, you packed your bags and took your business elsewhere.

What I can’t agree on is that the Wii didn’t have enough content to satisfy anyone who was willing to stick with the system. Just because BioShock, Assassin’s Creed, and so many other titles were absent, that doesn’t mean there weren’t still good games available. I strongly believe all game consoles are worth playing, even if it turns out not to be your favorite thing ever; for the major contenders in any generation, there will always be enough material to keep you occupied.

The big argument against single-console ownership is that you invariably miss out on promising titles only available on the competition. But hasn’t that always been the case? Who doesn’t have a backlog? There are Wii games I haven’t gotten around to yet. Same with the Genesis and NES. Hell, I’ve even got Neo Geo Pocket Color titles on my to-do list!

And that’s precisely why picking up a console at the end of its life is so alluring. Not only is there a vast library of attractively priced software to choose from, the hardware itself has also had time to mature. As consoles become more like specialized PCs, I’d rather wait until all the kinks in the system’s infrastructure have been ironed out.

That being said, you’re probably still wondering how I could stick with just a Wii for as long as I have. It all boils down to my personal gaming habits and philosophy.

Like many of you, I grew up with Nintendo. Nintendo has always been a provider of safe family entertainment, but none of us considered that a stigma back when we were fresh young gamers. However, whereas others’ tastes expanded or shifted towards more complex or “realistic” experiences, mine remained fairly static.

I feel much more at ease in the colorful fantasy worlds of my youth — incidentally, I spend the bulk of my television viewing on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. I’m entirely opposed to content with a harder edge, but usually such material makes me feel uncomfortable, especially when it comes to videogames. The more that games skew in an adult direction, the less likely they are to resonate with me.

I am very appreciative of Nintendo for its commitment to family-friendly entertainment; its first- and third-party software catalog continues to be a very persuasive draw for me. Not that such games don’t exist on Sony or Microsoft’s machines, but it’s clear that those two position their hardware to attract the seasoned consumer who prefer content that reflects his older tastes.

Above all, Nintendo is the last pure gaming company still manufacturing hardware. For all the faults of the Wii or any other Nintendo console, I know that Nintendo will always position its machines as game delivery platforms first and everything else second. Both Sony and Microsoft have stated that they want their consoles to be all-purpose media hubs, which makes me wonder if they’re only using games to leverage their other businesses.

[“Console Guys?” by Mike Inel]

When the first PlayStation came out, I remember how my friends and I mocked it. CDs that could be scratched up so easily? Obscene loading times that were unheard of on cartridge-based platforms? Who does Sony take us for? And the hardware build quality was lower than what we were accustomed too — remember having to pull tricks like stacking books atop the loading tray or flipping the entire console upside-down just so it could read the disc?

But I couldn’t argue with that stellar library, thus my family eventually brought a PS1 into our house. I similarly waited a few years for picking up a PS2. Though I may not be a fan of Sony hardware itself, the I loved that the PlayStation brand hosted so many fun, quirky games. Nevertheless, Sony consoles had to prove themselves to me before I made the investment, which is why I never purchased them on day one unlike Nintendo consoles.

The PlayStation 3 rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. Not only was its price tag prohibitively high, it also seemed to be pulling away from the quirky Japanese-ness of its predecessors. Sony was pushing hard into Western-flavored territory with precisely the kinds of games that turned me off. And even after it built up a library that satisfied my interests, there were so many other issues related to its PC-like infrastructure that made me extremely wary.

And Xbox? Never considered it. The original Xbox was Microsoft’s first step into gaming and it showed — I had a PS2 and GC already, so why I should I care about this other guy here? Then Xbox 360 arrives and Microsoft goes a billion dollars in the hole dealing with the “red ring of death.” I’m frankly impressed by how many people had their 360s replaced multiple times and still stood by the damn thing. I want the stuff I buy to work, and I wouldn’t have put up with any of that nonsense. Eventually the “red ring” became less of a headache, but I still avoided the 360 for all the same reasons I was avoiding the PS3.

Xbox Live likewise doesn’t interest me. I don’t find online multiplayer all that attractive; having to pay for it is even less so. The most invested I’ve ever been in online gaming was during my first year of college with GunBound, which I gave up on after a couple of months because I was tired of deep-pocketed players buying their way to victory through the game’s real-money item shop.

So I stuck with my Wii and had a lot of fun. And because I focused on a single platform, I was able to give games a chance I probably would have ignored had something else on another machine caught my eye. Furthermore, my gaming habits have changed significantly since leaving college — I have a big burst gaming session after going weeks without playing anything, then I go dark again. Given how infrequently I would pick up the controller, it would have been fiscally irresponsible for me to pick up a second console and have to split my time between both.

I know I’ve missed out on some amazing games, but on the bright side, I also missed out on the $10 retail price hike, widespread hardware failures, far too frequent firmware updates, critical game-breaking bugs (excluding those in Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, both which I managed to avoid before I even knew they existed), season passes, on-disc DLC, day-one patches, user account hacks, etc. Every console has its own issues — the Wii certainly has plenty — but the fewer impediments to my enjoyment the better. Having purchased a Wii U on launch day and already experienced a small fraction of these problems firsthand, I’m glad I was able to avoid them for as long as I did.

But as I said in the beginning, I’m eventually going to pick up a second console. It will be a PS3, of course — the majority of 360 titles I’m interested in are multi-platform anyway. The hardware and software are at more affordable prices, the library is vast, and the firmware is more or less finalized. If ever I have questions or concerns, I can refer to more than six years of historical data in order to maximize my enjoyment and avoid any pitfalls that my friends have had to suffer. Sounds like the best plan!

No matter which platform I had chosen to support at the start of this generation, I know I would have found enough to entertain myself. I can’t say whether I would have had more fun had I gone with 360 or PS3, but there really is no way of knowing. Sure, I’ve been disappointed by some studios’ lack of support for the Wii, but you have to take the good with the bad. All that matters is that I am pleased with my decision and don’t regret it in the least.

When it comes to our gaming preferences, we are all unique. I hope that by sharing a bit of myself, we can gain a better understanding and appreciation for one another.

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