The Effects of HD Resolutions in the Console War

by Jeff Rivera

If you don’t own an HDTV set, you are actually in the majority. Many people find HDTV sets to be a bit too expensive for their budgets and a bit impractical. Knowing that most people out there will not own an HDTV by the time the Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Revolution are on the shelves, you might be asking yourself why it’s such a big deal that Nintendo has, for the time being, turned their backs on high-definition display support for their upcoming console.

Imagine you are walking into your local Best Buy store and it’s the holiday season. The entire store is decked out with attractive displays and cool product arrangements. Skipping the music and movie section you make your way directly to one of the busiest spots in the store, the videogame section. Displays with demos are set up running the current release of Madden Football, a Grand Theft Auto game, what appears to be a pretty nice looking fighter, and of course a children’s game or two.

You first gaze up at the PlayStation 3 display and notice how realistic it all looks before noticing that the 360 version is just as beautiful. Out of curiosity you turn the corner and check out the Revolution version and notice that it’s not quite as sharp as the competition. In fact, it’s blatantly obvious that it’s lagging behind by quite a fair margin. You take a few mental notes and check the bargain titles before heading over to buy your older sister a few CDs for Christmas.

A few days pass and your parents (or wife) start asking those questions that come around each holiday season. They know you want a new videogame console, but they’re a bit unsure which one you’ve had your eye on. Remembering how the games looked back at Best Buy you mention something about how the PS3 seemed pretty cool and that the Xbox 360 had quite a few good games out for it, but the Revolution really isn’t given much love.

Sure, the hardcore gamer supposedly chooses gameplay over graphics, but it’s the casual gamer’s dollar that drives the industry and funds the future development of titles. You might not have an HDTV, and you might not be planning to get one for some time, but you will be affected by Nintendo’s decision whether or not to support HD resolutions if you purchase a Revolution as your primary gaming console.

Casual gamers don’t buy based on what system has Mario or Zelda, they buy based on where they can get the most hyped games (Madden, GTA, Halo) and on which console will make those games look and play the best. Where there are increased console sales, there will be increased software development. If Nintendo hopes to retain support from major 3rd parties in the industry, like EA, Activision, Capcom, Konami, or Square Enix, they will have to sell consoles to more than just their hardcore followers. Nintendo is going to have to compete in the overall market, not just in the niche market. With each passing generation it seems that Nintendo is finding a new way to shoot themselves in the foot right out of the gates.

With the Nintendo 64, the cartridge format really hampered the amount of games the console would see while driving up game costs at the same time. With the GameCube Nintendo once again went with a inferior storage medium when compared to the competition while ignoring online play in a time when console gamers were just warming up to it. Hopefully Nintendo reconsiders the decision to omit HD resolution support from the Revolution; their ability to keep up in an increasingly more competitive console race may depend on it.