The Best-Selling Video Game Consoles of All Time
The launch last fall of the Nintendo Wii U, Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement in February, and the impending announcement of the next Microsoft Xbox all mean that the next generation of home video game consoles is underway. As we wait to see exactly what this generation of gaming will bring, let’s put things in perspective by comparing the consoles that have come before.
In the following charts, we’ll look at the major home video game consoles of the last 30+ years (no handhelds). Figures reference the most recent data available and the data for consoles still available for sale are subject to change.
Consoles By Worldwide Sales
Looking at total worldwide sales, not only is the PlayStation 2 the best-selling console of all time, but Sony also takes three out of the top four spots, with Nintendo’s Wii in third and the PlayStation 3 barely beating the Xbox 360.
Consoles By Total Number of Titles
Sony’s PlayStation line also dominates all consoles in terms of the number of available titles, with the PlayStation 2 and original PlayStation safely beating the competition. Although backwards compatibility has been removed in the latest iterations of the the PlayStation 3, this chart makes it easy to understand why Sony and customers pushed hard for the feature in the original PS3 console. Readers should note that these game totals include downloadable games (such as the Xbox Live Arcade and WiiWare) in addition to retail titles.
Consoles By Launch Price
The Wii U was the first console of the next generation to launch, and it did so at $300. While many hope that the PS4 and next Xbox will share that price point, rumors suggest that these consoles will launch at or above $400. To put that price in perspective, here are the top consoles, ordered by launch date, with their original launch price. While many consoles on this list were available in different configurations at different pries, we decided to list the lowest generally available price. All prices are in U.S. dollars.
It’s clear that Nintendo has always been a price leader, even if that price sacrificed additional functionality in their consoles. Conversely, Sony has generally occupied higher price points, although the company’s products offered more than just a game console.
Both the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation 3 launched at the dawn of the DVD and Blu-ray formats, respectively. As a result, Sony made the decision to include optical disc video playback as part of each console. While costs for optical disc video players have since come down, at the time of each console’s launch many DVD and Blu-ray players were nearly as expensive as a corresponding PS2 or PS3. Both consoles therefore saw a significant number of sales to homes that would use them primarily as movie players, with gaming as an optional secondary function.
The chart above covers a 36-year stretch of history, from the Atari 2600’s launch in 1977 to the Wii U in late 2012. We therefore thought it would be interesting to take a final look at prices adjusted for inflation.
If $400 or $500 for a next generation console sounds like a lot of money, compare it to the ill-fated 3DO. Even at an inflation-adjusted cost of over $1,100, 5 million people still picked one up. Taking a look at a more recent product, while the PS3’s relatively high price proves that expensive consoles can succeed today, the trend clearly predicts that a price between $300 and $400 for Sony’s and Microsoft’s next offerings will be well-received.