There’s an often-unspoken circle of trust in console gaming, at least outside of those people who can afford to buy every new model on its launch date and play it until the next generation hits the stands.
For the rest of us, it’s often a case of finding a favourite manufacturer, and sticking with them indefinitely.
So when a rival manufacturer brings out a console that you’re desperate to own, do you put your loyalty to one side, or do you trust in your current supplier to release something even better in the foreseeable future?
Perhaps the greatest example of where different manufacturers have led the market over a relatively short period of time is in handheld console gaming, a type of technology that was more or less invented by Nintendo with the release of the original GameBoy.
There were several attempts to topple them from the top of the market in the years that followed, but the best effort did not really come along until the Sony PlayStation Portable, or PSP.
In this device, the company had redefined handheld gaming, bringing the standard of portable devices to a level where consumers could cope with them being described as ‘games consoles’ in their own right, rather than being seen as the poor siblings of their desktop equivalents.
Soon though, the market flipped back the other way, and the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, with its miraculous-seeming glasses-free 3D graphics, might have been enough to convince you to sell your Sony PSP and switch your allegiance back to the fathers of handheld gaming, Nintendo.
The 3DS has not been without its problems, and its 3D effect is now said not to be suitable for small children – so with things still in a relative state of flux, the portable console segment could still switch again in the years to come.
Desktop Games Consoles
Just as the best handheld consoles have come from different manufacturers as the years have gone by, desktop consoles have also taken various different suppliers to the top of the market.
The PS2 was dominant for a decade, and Sony are still highly competitive thanks to the PS3, but Nintendo’s Wii carved a niche all of its own with its unparalleled appeal to casual gamers of all ages.
Microsoft are in with a good chance of taking the top spot if they can really bring together the next-generation features of the Xbox, where prototypes have suggested an incredibly immersive experience could be on the horizon.
However, with concerns about whether their future consoles will be able to work without a constant internet connection available, many gamers have suggested that they are unlikely to be willing to invest much loyalty into Microsoft in the immediate future.
The stage seems set for a truly game-changing console – like the PS2 or the Wii – to come along and truly win the hearts of the gaming community as a whole; the only question is, which manufacturer will make it?