When talking about gaming products, we mean not only game consoles but a wide range of products, including large screen TVs, various peripherals, and even chairs. So we should understand that this field includes multiple directions, therefore, hundreds-thousands manufacturers and their offers. However, among them, the game consoles seem to develop more rapidly. There are different factors making this niche more attractive. But one thing is clear as the day, at the moment, all the latest game consoles are in short supply. So they are what people look for more in comparison to others.
We decided to compare various game consoles launched by different manufacturers. The goal behind this comparison is to understand which models stand out and why. Of course, one of the main features that can make each of them look more attractive when buying it is the life cycle. This is true for many other products. Also, once the new game console of a certain brand appears on the shelves, usually, the manufacturer discontinues production of its predecessor. But this doesn’t work always.
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Another indicator showing whether this or that game console is popular or not is the shipment number. Depending on them, the manufacturers run various business strategies, realize various marketing campaigns, etc. Well, let’s see which game consoles have the highest demand and why.
Note: For many numbers and other important data for our comparison article, we referred to Tiscali. In its turn, the media cooperated with VGChartz for more accurate data. All information in the article is valid as of May 27, 2022.
Number 1: PlayStation 2
Not in vain, the PlayStation 2 leads our list of best game consoles in the world. It has shipped over 157.68 million units worldwide. Though this product was out in 2000, the PlayStation 2 remained on the shelves until 2006. For game consoles niche, this is a long life cycle.
There are many factors making this game console truly outstanding. For instance, at that time, Sony was the new market leader. So it enjoyed unwavering support from developers. In addition, the hunger for DVD players was caused by the fact that people bought a lot of consoles as multimedia devices.
Due to a new processor called “Emotion Engine”, the company could win the hearts of many developers as well as players. In effect, users could play not only the old games but also the new titles such as God of War, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and others.
We should also mention that this game console was challenged by the first Xbox (24.65 million shipped) and GameCube (21.74 million shipped). However, none of them could make a tough competition to the PlayStation 2. Well, only in Japan, numbers of the Switch look better (23.18 million PS2 shipped compared to 24.84 million Switches sold). In this regard, we have to say that the second PlayStation remains the most popular home console in both Europe (55.28 million shipped) and the Americas (53.65 million shipped).
Number 2: PlayStation 4
Do not be surprised when seeing many Sony game consoles on our list. They really perform well and it’s logical they will occupy many positions on the list. As for the second position, it’s the PlayStation 4. During the 2013-2020 period, the company managed to sell over 117 million units.
Nevertheless, we should be honest and say that the success of this game console is directly related to the reasons that ruined the launch of the Xbox One. Apart from this, a major role was played by the return of customer confidence and enticing exclusivity during the PS3 series led by The Last of Us.
Another reason is the outstanding configuration of the PlayStation 4. In this sense, the latter put an emphasis on top technical processing, fine-tuned gameplay, a captivating world, and an engaging story.
According to the aforementioned VGchartz, the console maintains a significant lead over Switch (48.74 million vs. 28.30 million), in the United States Switch has already overtaken it (38.69 million PS4 vs. 39.49 million Switches), and in Japan, the situation was clear (9.40 million PS4 to 24.84 million Switches).
Number 3: Nintendo Switch
Nintendo’s game console appeared on the market in 2017. Since then, the company has managed to sell over 107.65 million units. This is an impressive number when taking into consideration the fierce competition in the field.
The Nintendo Switch wasn’t believed to succeed after the collapse of the Wii U (13.56 million units sold). But what the Japanese company did was s true mini-revolution. The Nintendo Switch replaced almost all previous game consoles of the company. In some sense, it collected all of its customers into one.
Although the Switch has not been launched to take the first place, it makes serious competition for other models.
By the way, at the end of last year, the president of the company Shintaro Furukawa mentioned that Switch is in the middle of its life cycle. So it means customers can still buy this game console for a few years. Moreover, there will be many interesting titles, such as the sequel to Zelda, Metroid Prime 4, and Bayonetta 3.
Number 4: PlayStation
The first-gen PlayStation was released in 1994 and it remained in the market until 2000. During this period, our protagonist managed to sell over 102.4 million units.
Sony entered the game market with a sensational product, namely the PSX. It was a 32-bit console allowing the players to insert black CDs and play a number of amazing titles.
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Moreover, it supported playing games by up to 8 people. Of course, for this, you had to acquire corresponding accessories. Also, this was the time when developers were making 3D games. Therefore, the developers could better play with the emotions of players. Why we talk about this is because it was a key part of Sony’s strategy for the future. And we have to say it intended to bet on again and again.
Number 5: Wii
Though we call it a failed product, the sales of this game console exceeded 101.63 million units during 2006-2012. But honestly, there were many ulterior things and we still can’t understand how the Wii could compete with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 and survive. Look, the Nintendo Wii was not an HD gaming device. Just a reminder, at that time, all of its competitors were supporting HD. Anyway, the Japanese company decided to bet on originality, and in some sense, it didn’t miscalculate.
Probably, the main reason for its success was motion control. It was incredibly innovative and was able to captivate everyone. In addition to well-known classics, there were also interesting offshoots such as Dead Space: Extraction or the Resident Evil 4 port.
As for numbers, the Wii beat the PS3 in Japan (12.77 million units shipped) and the United States (45.51 million), while in Europe it sold over 33.88 million units.
The above five are the game consoles that managed to ship over 100 million units during their lifetime. Of course, the other models on the market performed well too. But their statistics fall below the 100-million mark.
For instance, the PlayStation 3 released in 2006 and sold until 2013 shipped 87.4 million units. It was not only much more expensive than the Xbox 360 but also featured the infamous CELL processor. But the manufacturer understood everything quickly and tried to fix the situation with exclusive titles such as The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots, God of War 3, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Killzone 2, etc.
The Xbox 360 was competing with the PlayStation 3. It was out in 2005 and remained on the market until 2013. During this period of time, the company sold over 88.54 million units. Though Microsoft’s game console was performing well in select markets, it wasn’t the product many customers had been waiting for. Anyway, in the United States, Microsoft shipped 49.11 million units, while Sony “only” 29.92 million PS3 units. In Japan, the Xbox 360 sold 1,6 million units.
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) ranked 8th. It’s a very old game console released back in 1983 and remained on the market until the late 1990s. However, those 7 years were enough to sell 61.91 million units. Yes, this is the same Famicom (“Family Computer”). In Japan, it shipped 19.35 million units, in the United States 33.49 million units, and in Europe 8.30 million units.
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9th, Xbox One appeared on the market in 2013 and was available for purchase until 2020. In total, it shipped 50.57 million units. This game console caused a lot of “bazaars”. The effort to sell the console as a multimedia device for the whole family, including “non-players”, did not meet with understanding. It wasn’t groundless. According to many people, Sony had decided to bring all unwise ideas into one. For instance, it was requiring an online connection and the Kinect motion sensor.
The Xbox has traditionally had trouble gaining ground in the Japanese market, and the Xbox One is the biggest loser so far. It sold only 114,831 Xbox One consoles here. For comparison: the PS4 so far reached 9.4 million and the Switch reached 24.84 million units. In the meantime, the number of Xbox One units sold on the local market surpassed the current Xbox Series X / S with 142,024 units sold.
The last model that entered the top 10 best-selling game consoles is the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) with 49.10 million shipped units. It was available for purchase from 1990 to 1996.
SNES (in Japan called Super Famicom) is one of the most popular game consoles in history. Due to more advanced hardware, the 16-bit console enabled not only better audiovisual processing, but also a more sophisticated game design. In addition, developers have often been able to circumvent hardware limitations in an interesting way, for example, the Star Fox from 1993 boasted polygonal graphics thanks to the skill of the creators and the Super FX chip located directly in the cartridge.
SNES sales were significantly affected by the arrival of the competing 16-bit Sega Mega Drive console (also known as Genesys).
In Japan, the SNES sold 17.17 million units, in the United States 22.88 million, and in Europe 8.15 million.
Obviously, sales of the game consoles grew in time. But we can see models that were performing in the 2000s. This means that if a company could design a truly good game console, it could sell well. Also, we saw that though the United States and Europe are two big markets for the manufacturers of game consoles, Japan shows what’s what. In this sense, it seems that Sony’s PlayStation series has almost no equals. But for the sake of justice, Microsoft is successfully fighting against the Japanese companies.
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