It’s funny, but it’s hard to remember a time when every major console on the market was quite as desirable as modern consoles are now. Not since the peak of the PS2, Xbox, GameCube era have we seen every console fire on all cylinders quite like we’re seeing now.
At the end of the day, though, there is usually one console that stands tall above them all. As we near the end of 2018, let’s look at all three consoles to see which won the year.
The Argument For: The PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 has thrived thus far on the strength of its lineup, functionality, price, and the momentum of its own popularity. This year, the PlayStation 4 reminded everyone why it’s a winning formula.
The argument for the PlayStation 4 begins and ends with the strength of its exclusives. God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Spider-Man, and the Shadow of the Colossus remake all comfortably rank among the year’s best titles. It’s becoming clear at this point that you need to own a PS4 if you want to play every great game.
That’s not to say the PS4 didn’t succeed elsewhere. The PSVR remains the best overall VR system on the planet (and boasts some excellent games), PlayStation Now is slowly expanding into a full-fledged subscription service, and the PS4 finally supports cross-play with most popular titles.
While the PS4 Pro remains somewhat underwhelming, and Sony’s PS4 updates are still mostly for maintenance, Sony is doing a great job of keeping the PS4 in the winner’s lane by ensuring that it continues to be the source of truly special games. Considering that the medium is still all about good games, we’d call that a pretty big victory.
The Argument For: The Nintendo Switch
Fans wondered how Nintendo could possibly top the Switch’s incredible debut year. While there’s some debate as to whether they did, the Switch most certainly didn’t suffer through a sophomore slump.
Nintendo’s lineup of first-party games ranged from great (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), to good (Super Mario Party), to disappointing (Mario Tennis Aces), but for once, those games didn’t matter most. The Switch games that really mattered were the third party titles that filled the gaps between Nintendo releases.
It has been decades since Nintendo has attracted this kind of third-party support. However, the Switch remains this special kind of console that inspires people to wait on a game that isn’t yet on Switch just in case it happens to come out for Switch. It remains quite a phenomenon.
True, we’ve got some questions about Nintendo’s online service, but it’s clear that Nintendo is finally determined to learn from their biggest previous mistakes by expanding their service support and by encouraging developers everywhere to bring their best games to the Switch. There’s certainly no console that’s more exciting to own.
The Argument For: The Xbox One
We’re not going to lie: Xbox One doesn’t have the games that the PS4 does. It also lacks the novelty and versatility of the Nintendo Switch. Yet, there is a very, very strong case to be made for the Xbox One as the console of the year.
That’s because the Xbox One’s 2018 was a look into the best possible future for console gaming. Microsoft delivered on their promise to turn Game Pass into a must-have subscription service by delivering some of their biggest games of the year through the enticing program. It remains the best service of its kind.
What’s more impressive is that Microsoft remains committed to taking gaming to the cloud despite the many hurdles ahead of them. Even then, they can still boast the most powerful piece of console hardware on the market as well as a range of impressive gaming accessories that set new standards in creativity.
Recent deals essentially ensure that the games will come, but in 2018, Microsoft managed to turn the Xbox One into a very appealing console without much help from a console’s traditional biggest selling point.
The Winner: PlayStation 4
Look, at the end of the day, you need to play God of War, Spider-Man, all the great PS4 exclusives that have come before and all the great exclusives still to come. The Switch is an absolute joy, and we’re more excited for the future of Xbox than everyone else, but if you’re telling someone they can only own one console in 2018, the vote has to go to the PS4.