The Great Console War

Characters representing PlayStation and Xbox fight, while a character representing Nintendo sleeps.

It's a war we've all heard of. No matter your age, you've participated in this messy brigade to some degree. By now you've probably picked your side and waged your own battles. It's turned family and friends against each other, but we're here to settle the score once and for all.

Which console is the most popular, and who will win the Great Console War?

The History

The console war has been going on long before the early 2000s when every middle school became a war zone with kids arguing over the dominance of the Xbox versus the Playstation. Before there was Xbox vs. Playstation, there was Sega vs. Nintendo. But as the years carried on, and Sega's release of the Dreamcast failed in Japan, the PlayStation came into view and dominated alongside Nintendo systems. Xbox became a competitive opponent in this war when it came out in the early 2000s.

While the original Playstation came out in December of 1994, the original Xbox didn't hit shelves until seven years later, in November 2001. In 2000 the Playstation 2 came out, and I'd argue that Xbox's release following this is where the console war most millenials remember really started. As the years continued on, Playstation and Xbox caught up to one another with releases of their next-generation consoles. The Xbox 360 came out in 2005, while the PlayStation 3 came out in 2006. This was followed by the release of both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 in 2013.

The Experiment

I wanted to take a new approach to studying the console war. I decided to see what celebrities think, and the best way I could think to figure out what they think was to see who they were following on Twitter. This may have been a millenial approach, but I believe that Twitter is a good representative of where a person's loyalties align regarding consoles, and it currently one of the largest social media platforms in the world. All of the gaming platforms I chose to examine have a substantial number of followers on Twitter, so I started following all the verified accounts I could find.

I started this project by following @PlayStation and @Xbox. However, after much deliberation I decided that leaving out the "PC master race" and the family-favorite Nintendo would be a crime, so I also followed @steam_games and @NintendoAmerica. Picking just one platform to follow for PC gaming, as there are many, many, many options, but Steam seemed to be the platform with the widest variety of games. Additionally, I chose to follow @NintendoAmerica rather than @Nintendo, because @Nintendo tweets in Japanese, and @NintendoAmerica had more followers.

@PlayStation with 13.8M+ followers. @xbox with 11.6M+ followers. @steam_games with 4.54M+ followers. @NintendoAmerica with 6.6M+ followers.

One of the exceptions I maintained throughout this process is that I would not follow the company's sub-twitters or mother-companies. So, for example, I would not follow @xboxse (Xbox's Swedish account) or @Microsoft, because these would skew my data, as the sub-companies and mother companies would likely be biased in their following. Through my research I found that most developers were unbiased in their following of other companies, so I chose to include Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, etc. developers in my data set. Something I wish I could have expanded my research into was sponsorship deals, to see if verified users following each platform had been sponsored by them to some degree, but with thousands of users to follow and examine there wasn't enough time in this project to observe the specifics of each relationship.

One of the difficulties of this project was that perhaps I didn't realize just how many verified Twitter users there are. Normal Twitter accounts have a follow-limit of 1,000 users a day, and 5,000 users overall. I managed to break the limit just a bit, by following 5,001 accounts, but there were still so many accounts I couldn't follow. I started unfollowing accounts that followed none of the platformers I was examining, but the process was still slow.

Unable to follow any more users at this time.

The Process

After following as many users as I could, I used one of Twitter's features to see "people you may know" who follow accounts as well. So, once I followed 5,000 accounts, I searched for @PlayStation, @Xbox, @steam_games, and @NintendoAmerica.

An image of @PlayStation's Twitter account, with a light blue arrow pointing to text that reads 'Followed by NieR:Automata and 199 others'.

As I discovered, Twitter only lists the first 200 "people you know" following each account. However, this was all still valuable information. Clicking the area I highlighted in the above photo takes one to the link, "followers you follow. This shows you a list of user you follow who also follow @PlayStation. I then followed this algorithim for each platformer.

A list of users who follow @PlayStation.

These lists were convenient, but I needed a way to check which users were following which paltformers, so I employed the help of DoesFollow.com, a website that tracks which users follow each other. This tool also told me whether or not the platformer had followed the user back, so I was able to user the "mutual" connection in Kumu for those cases, versus the "directed" connections.

@PlayStation with 13.8M+ followers.

I ran this test in four tabs (one for PlayStation, one for Xbox, one for Nintendo, and one for Steam) for over 300 users, checking to see who was following who. I did not run all 5,000 users I was following, but made my way down each list, adding users who followed any of the four to my Kumu diagram.

Obviously this process is still on-going, but I think wrapping it up here with currently 230 elements seems doable. I would like to expand on this in the future, as it is a very interesting process, it's just very time-consuming.

Below you may see my Kumu map with all this data. There is a legend in the bottom that identifies each element, and clicking each element will give you their description on Twitter and allow you to see their profile picture as of April 2017.

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