Almost nobody has more high-level experience in the video game industry than Phil Harrison. He’s one of the few men to take multiple sides in the console wars – from 1992 to 2008, Harrison worked for Sony, eventually becoming boss of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and from 2012 to 2015 he was vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. So yeah, when this guy has something to say about the current state of home consoles, it’s probably worth listening to.
Harrison was recently interviewed by GameReactor at the GameLab Barcelona industry event. When asked about the current console scene, Harrison, surprisingly, seemed to be highest on the one player he hasn’t worked for.
“I think Sony has done a great job in making PlayStation 4 very popular. What I wonder about, and maybe worry about a little bit, is that (both Microsoft and Sony) are they growing the market? Are they building and investing in the content and broadening the experiences to bring in more players? It looks to me, from the public announcements at least, that they are increasingly going for the same kind of core, hardcore gamer. Whereas the Nintendo Switch, I think, really has the opportunity to play to a wider audience. It’s going to be really interesting how the market dynamics play out over the next three or four years in console.”
Aside from liking Nintendo’s strategy, it sounds like Harrison just personally prefers the Switch…
“I can only answer from my own experience. With two boys, eight and six, the Switch is definitely the console of choice in the house. My eldest son plays a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and together they play a lot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I think the Switch will continue to be the number one console in our house for a period of time.
But, my eldest son also plays FIFA and Forza, he is getting more and more into the more advanced console games. Still, the second screen ability of the Nintendo Switch is surprisingly useful; even though we’re lucky to have more than one TV in our house, there are many homes that don’t. I think that’s going to be a really major benefit for many, many people.”
Harrison makes some good points. Nintendo is really targeting that local multiplayer family experience with the Switch, which both Xbox One and PS4 have largely shunned this generation. I think Nintendo is going to tempt quite a few people who wouldn’t touch a Xbox or PlayStation to put down their iPads and try console gaming.