Most people measure the console wars by hardware unit sales, but although those numbers can be indicative of a console's success, that's not where the real console war is taking place, independent design consultant Don Daglow said at GDC on Friday.
"The real war is the war on Wall Street," he said. That's where CEOs are judged, and those CEOs are expected to grow their business year after year, or else that stock price will flounder. "[The console war] is not driven by hardware innovation or even creativity," rather stock prices.
In order to grow year after year, companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo need to find out new ways to expand. This is already clear with the "It only does everything" PlayStation 3, and the multifunctional Xbox 360.
The real console war is also occurring in the living room, he said. "If you conquered the workplace and conquered the den, you stick your head into the living room," Daglow said, referring to Microsoft. Services like Netflix, Twitter and Facebook are evolving to become part of the increasingly important console business.
Daglow added that intellectual property battles are also part of the overall war. Companies are expected to create "franchises" today, not just individual games, and these series go head to head in a highly competitive market as game makers try to create the next hit.
But while Daglow said it's important for creative-minded game developers to also know the business side, he reminded attendees, "Never lose sight of why you're doing this. ... You have a privilege and rare opportunity that most people don't have."