The gaming industry as a whole has grown quickly, with the amount of revenue that the gaming industry generates being more than the revenue generated by movies, books and TV shows combined. Games have penetrated deep into our culture, with as many as 75% of all households having at least one gamer in their household. These gamers tend to be around 35 years of age, who own a house and have at least one kid. This goes against the whole image of the gamer being a college-age person, living without a job in their parent’s basement.
A large section of these gamers plays on a console, whether it is a PlayStation, an Xbox, or a Nintendo system. These console gamers constitute a large amount of the total revenue that the industry generates. Today we will look at these console gamers, their consoles, and their games. We will explore what the industry is like, and then look at some weird facts you may not have known about the consoles and their games.
We will mainly be talking about the eighth generation of consoles, which are the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. This generation has lasted roughly 5 years, beginning at the end of 2014. The brand new generation of consoles is going to be coming out at the end of 2020, before which you can read this list to know how the last one went!
Press Start to Start
Let’s start this list off by looking through the quick menu of this list and pop off some fast facts.
- The NES, SNES, and Gameboy were all discontinued together in 2003.
- The PlayStation 1 only had 2 MB of RAM, the PlayStation 2 only had 32MB of RAM, the PlayStation 3 had 256 MB of RAM, and the PlayStation 4 had 8 GB of RAM.
- The PlayStation 2 was the first console to use DVDs.
- The Gameboy ran at a framerate of 60 FPS.
The Numbers Mason, What Do They Mean?!
While Mason may not have remembered what the numbers meant, we do. The numbers we refer to are obviously the statistics related to the console gaming industry in general. In this section, we will look at the financial statistics related to the industry, and then some numbers you may not expect.
1. The third-generation console, Sega Master System, is the longest selling console of all time:
The third generation of consoles were mainly 8-bit consoles with 4Hz CPUs and 8Kb of RAM and ROM. These technical specifics might seem like absolutely nothing compared to all the power and speed that modern consoles can boast of. Despite its power and speed being non – existent when putting up against current consoles, the Sega Master System is the longest selling console of all time. This console has been continuously sold since 1985 and is manufactured by the same manufacturer for 35 years. The primary market for this old console is the country of Brazil. Nearly 8 million Master Systems were sold 2016 in Brazil, with the number jumping higher in the following years. Keep in mind that the Master System saw two successors, which both failed. Experts suggest that this is because of the system’s low price, $225, and a wide variety of games, with new releases no less, which are readily available in Brazil.
2. Microsoft spent over $1.15 billion on fixing the red ring of death issues in the OG Xbox: Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s PlayStation 3 was the Xbox 360, which was released in 2005. The console was highly anticipated and suffered from a shortage of stocks in many regions of the world. This led to the design and manufacturing of the console to be rushed, which led to a host of issues. The most well-known of these issues was the famous Red Ring of Death (or RRoD). These issues plagued the first iteration of the Xbox 360, which was also the most famous iteration of the console. An unbelievably large number of Xbox’s suffered from the RRoD with some estimations stating that nearly 34% of all Xbox 360s died due to the RRoD. Microsoft, upon realizing the issue, issued a massive recall and replacement effort that cost the company nearly 1.15 billion dollars overall. The Xbox 360’s project leader stated that despite the enormous cost, they made the decision for the recall to protect the brand’s integrity. This move turned out to be the right one as the Xbox brand is valued at nearly 4.5 billion dollars today.
Bonus Fact: A popular, but not Microsoft endorsed, method for fixing the RRoD error was to wrap the console in a warm towel for 20 minutes, which would revive the console for around 3 to 4 hours, allowing files to be recovered.
(Source: Gamespot, Wikihow)
3. The PlayStation 2 is the most successful console till date, with over 156 million units sold: In the eternal argument between Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, the PlayStation’s supporters always tend to bring the PlayStation 2’s success as one of the significant reasons the former brand is better. This seventh-generation console enjoyed immense success. It saw a slew of games that, to this date, feature heavily in almost all ‘Best Games of All Times’ lists. The console was so popular that it sold nearly 156 million units worldwide, a feat that is yet to be bested. Even PlayStation’s big brother PlayStation 4 hasn’t achieved this milestone. As of 2020, the PlayStation 4 has managed to sell only 102.8 million units.
(Source: SA Gamer)
4. The PlayStation 2’s younger brother was the first console to sell over 100 million units: The PlayStation 1 was the first console that Sony released in their PlayStation line of products. This was a fifth-generation console and was competing with industry leaders like Nintendo and Sony, who had been making the console war for literal generations. Hence it was widely believed that Sony releasing their console was a mistake since they were up against veterans. However, owing to the fact that the PlayStation 1 had a CD ROM disc drive, it managed to be very successful, with tons of AAA developers making exclusive games for the platform. This catapulted the PlayStation 1 into the limelight like no console before it, making it the first console ever to sell over 100 million units. Buy the end of its lifetime the PlayStation had sold nearly 102.6 million total units. Even the PlayStation 4 barely managed to reach this height, as seen in the previous fact.
(Source: News Hub)
5. The console gaming industry is now worth well over $33.3 billion: As the popularity of gaming rises, as does the revenue that the industry brings in. Console gaming is a market that caters to the casual gaming audience, the kind of gamers who don’t want to invest thousands of dollars into a dedicated gaming PC. The overall gaming industry is worth nearly 130 billion dollars, of which the console manufacturers earn almost 33.3 billion dollars. It is much harder to pin the revenue that the game manufacturers make of off game sales, but the ballpark figure of 30 billion dollars has been made. The income earned by the console manufacturers is expected to rise to as much as 80.1 billion dollars by the end of 2021. This includes the expected revenue from the ninth generation of consoles, due to be released by the end of 2020.
(Source: Venture Beat)
6. Free games being in the most revenue for publishers, ironically: Free to Play games are all the rage right now in the gaming industry. These games include the likes of Destiny, DOTA 2, League of Legends, and the most famous one being Fortnite. The model of pricing that these games use depends on the gamers purchasing post game items. These are mainly cosmetic items which change nothing but the appearance of the player character, although there are some games which allow for gamers to buy weapons and other playable items. Free to Play games bring in nearly 13.7 billion dollars in revenue for consoles, with Fortnite, the industry leader, brining in nearly 2.5 billion dollars alone. This model has been blamed for a lot of issues surrounding the gaming industry in general, to the point where the European Union even banned loot boxes outright. This doesn’t prevent the Free to Play games from being incredibly popular, with DOTA 2 being the most financially successful game of all time, and Fortnite being the biggest game of all time with regards to its player base.
(Source: Tech Crunch)
7. There are an approximate 661.6 million console gamers in the world: To get an idea of how big the console gaming market is, understand the fact that there are nearly 662 million console gamers in the world. For some context, there are 331 million people living in the United States of America. That is the third biggest country by population in the world, with India coming in second with 1.3 billion residents. The total number of gamers in the world is expected to be around 2.5 billion, more than one – third of the entire human population. These gamers are divided between the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo camps. The PlayStation camp seems to be their most successful of them all, but Xbox Series X seems to be poised to take over.
8. The Nintendo Switch has outsold the Xbox One, claiming 25% of the console gaming market: Let’s take a look at the console gaming market share that the various major companies hold. Sony is the dominant leader in the market, with the PS4 holding 51% of the market, having sold 102.8 million units. The Nintendo Switch has been sold 50 million times, holding 25% of the console market, and has eclipsed the Xbox One, which has sold about 48 million units, and holds 24% of the market share. These statistics only refer to the eighth generation of consoles. If we take an overall look at the market, then the PlayStation holds 68% of the market, the Xbox has 31% and the Nintendo Switch holds 1% of the entire console market share.
9. 80% of all revenue for consoles comes from software sales: Software sales account for a large percentage of all revenue earned by console games manufacturers. These sales are in the form of digital downloads and add-on DLCs for physical games. According to industry reports, nearly 80% of al profits earned by games manufactures comes in the form of software sales, with as much as 53% of these profits being from after sale services, like DLCs and cosmetics. The kind of games that rely on after sale services are usually the Free to play kind, for example Fortnite.
(Source: Research and Markets)
How Console Peasants Make Themselves Happy (JK)
Now that we are familiar with the numbers behind the screens of console gaming let’s take a look at some fun facts that console peasants use to entertain themselves with. We kid of course, the console gaming industry, has become a strong contender for games in general, with some of the best-reviewed games on the decade being console exclusives, whether permanently or for its first few months. Here you will find some facts about consoles that you may not have known about.
10. The Famicom and SNES’s eject button did absolutely nothing: The Famicom was famous as being the only console to have a dedicated cartridge eject lever (a button in later iterations). The lever was believed to prevent the cartridge from getting corrupted and being removed prematurely. However, in an interview after the system’s second iteration, the Famicom’s creator Masayuki Uemura stated that the eject lever did absolutely nothing. Its only purpose was, to quote, “Making a satisfying click sound.” Masayuki said that he fled the console could entertain children even after the console has been powered off. This idea was adopted by the Super Famicom and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as well. This knowledge did not ever become common in the lifetime of these consoles, with small scale conflicts erupting in living rooms across the world. The issue of conflict was usually about whether or not the cartridge was broken after you pulled it out without ejecting, the answer to which, however, is no.
11. The first game to be played in space was….. Tetris and not space invaders sadly: Aleksandr Serebrov was a Russian cosmonaut and was one of the few cosmonauts who flew for both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation that followed it. Aleksandr Serebrov many missions for the ROSCOSMOS and flew over to four different space stations. However, he is most well known for being the first-ever human to play a video game in space. He took his Gameboy up to the space station on one of his visits and played the first video game in space. This man played a game in space, and it was NOT space invaders. It was Tetris. In space.
(Source: New York Times)
12. The PlayStation 1 controller was 10% bigger in the United States of America, to account for bigger hands: The PlayStation is originally a Japanese product, manufactured by Sony for the Japanese market, to compete with Nintendo.When the PlayStation become popular in Japan,Sony released for the American market as well, but with a minor redesign. The controller for the PS1 was made approximately 10% bigger. This was to account for the larger size of the average American hands. This design pattern wasn’t repeated for the later iterations of the PlayStation, nor was present in any of the other major consoles.
(Source: Electronic Gaming Monthly)
13. The PlayStation 2 enjoyed the longest life for any major console, 13 years to be precise: The PlayStation 2 is the most successful console of all time. This was reflected in its unusually long lifetime, which saw the PlayStation 2 getting new game releases as soon as a month before the release of the PlayStation 4. This added up to nearly 13 years, which is much less than the Sega Master System, but the PlayStation 2 saw games being developed by AAA publishers even by the end of its lifetime. According to most industry experts, this long life will never be replicated by any other console in the future, owing to the rapid shift in technology and the fact that gamers look forward to a hardware upgrade.
(Source: SA Gamer)
14. Since the SNES wasn’t powerful to emulate a Gameboy in software so it had the all of the hardware of the Gameboy in it: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was Nintendo’s first major console after the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which wasn’t a handheld. Nintendo had long since announced that the SNES would be able to play Gameboy game that came before and after the SNES’s release. To achieve this, they initially wanted to make the SNES emulate the Gameboy’s hardware via software. However, they found out that the SNES wasn’t powerful enough to achieve this, so instead of reneging on their promise, they include the entire hardware of a Gameboy in the system, without the screen and inputs. This allowed for the SNES to play all Gameboy games without needing to get more powerful hardware.
(Source: The Verge)
15. Nintendo Switch out-sold its predecessor in just 10 months: For years, Nintendo had fallen from grace, after the failure of its sixth and seventh-generation consoles, the Wii and the Wii U. These consoles saw Nintendo fall from the throne of the king of gaming console, and the PlayStation and Xbox take over as the reigning champions. After the release of Wii in 2006, it became a success and saw a multitude of AAA support. However, soon the publishers moved to the other two consoles, and the Wii was declared as a failure by the industry. Since then, Nintendo lost all markets as hardware manufacturers, and the utter failure of the Wii U just contributed to the decline. However, everything changed with the launch of Nintendo’s eight-generation console, the Switch. The switch outsold the Wii U within just 10 months. By the end of 2020, Nintendo has sold nearly 50 million Switches worldwide.
(Source: The Verge)
16. Apple wanted to become a gaming company, releasing a “premier” console, which failed: Apple has cemented its reputation in the tech world as the producer of premium hardware and software, which also cost a premium amount. However, when Apple tried the same approach with game consoles, by releasing the console named ‘The Pippin.’ The Pippin was the result of a partnership between Apple and Sega, the veteran console manufacturer. It was priced at a very high rate of $599, which was extremely high compared to the other consoles on the market, which were priced around the $399 range. This approach may have worked for Apple in the tech market but did not work in the console market. The Pippin was a horrible failure and was discontinued within months.
17. The gaming companies Sony and Nintendo tried and failed at a partnership: Sony and Nintendo were and still are a major force in gaming development. For most of the lifetimes of these companies, they have been competitors, with the PlayStation dethroning the Wii and the Switch dethroning the PS Vita. However, it may surprise you that these companies actually tried to make a partnership work. The first iteration of the PlayStation was in fact, created by Nintendo. It was called the Nintendo PlayStation and featured both a cartridge-based and a CD-based media. According to the partnership, Sony would have claimed all the money from CD sales, and Nintendo would only make money from royalties. The partnership failed incredibly quickly, with only 200 prototypes ever being produced.
18. The PS1 was the first major console to run CD ROM discs, making it the winner of the Fifth Generation: Before the massive popularity of CD ROM discs, the primary way for games to be stored and sold were cartridges. These cartridges only had about 12 MBs of space as compared to CD ROM discs having nearly 600 MBs of space. The massive boost in storage space meant that developers decided to develop for CD ROMS exclusively. The first major console which could run CD ROM discs was the PlayStation 1. This console was not as powerful as its counterparts among the Sega and Nintendo, but they only ran cartridges, which developers abandoned quickly. This made the PS1 the king of the gaming hardware throne. As we saw earlier, the PlayStation 1 was the first console to sell over 100 million units. Only two other consoles tried CD ROMs before the PlayStation 1, however without a major company like Sony backing them and creating first-party games, they failed quickly.
(Source: Old School Gamer Magazine)
19. Sega Saturn the first major console to enable online multiplayer games: Todays gaming market is saturated with huge scale multiplayer games, with thousands of players playing together. This wasn’t always the case. Fellow Kids, let me tell you about the games in our age. If we wanted to play with our friends, we had to physically, yes physically, go to that friend’s house, with our own feet, and use controllers on the same console. While this may seem like a social nightmare to you modern gamers of today, we had to physically interact with people if we wanted to play with them. This trend has been replaced by online multiplayer now, where one can play with anyone, anywhere across the globe instantly. This was first pioneered by Sega in their Sega Saturn console system, which had an additional piece of hardware, called the NetLink Internet Modem. This let users connect their consoles to other consoles, without the need for servers, which Sega didn’t have. This was the first time a major system let users do this, allowing cross console play. The Sega Saturn saw a lot of success after the launch of the NetLink.
20. Nokia’s failed handheld console, the N – Gage, was declared a commercial failure within months after its launch: Nokia has been a long-time phone manufacturer and hence has excelled in creating amazing handheld devices. In 2003, they decided to take this expertise and build a device called the N – Gage, which was a combination of a handheld console and a mobile phone. The system had a number pad on the right-hand side of the screen and a D Pad and other buttons on the left hand side. The console/mobile phone (Con-Phone? Mobsole?) was released to compete with the dominating success of Nintendo’s Gameboy. However, within just the few weeks of its release, the Gameboy outsold the N – Gage nearly 100 – 1. Within just 17 days of its release some major retailers like Radio Shack, Walmart, and GameStop started to offer large discounts for the Con-Phone. By the end of its commercial life, the Mobsole was declared a failure as it failed to meet even a third of the total projected units sold. This was attributed to many reasons, such as a small games library, a poor battery life, and an awkward shape which earned it the nickname ‘Taco-Phone’.
Having looked at consoles and figures about them, the only things left to examine are the various games that can be played on them. In this section we will look at some facts and figures about console games. Here you will find the revered names like Grand Theft Auto, Halo or even Duck Hunt!
21. Uncharted 4 was the best-selling PlayStation 4 game of all time with 16 million units sold: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the fourth installment in PlayStation’s long standing exclusive series which revolves around the fabled thief and treasure hunter Nathan Drake. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was released for the PlayStation 4 (quite aptly) following in the tradition of each Uncharted installment being released for each of the PlayStation consoles. When it comes to console exclusive titles, Uncharted 4 holds the honour of being the most successful PlayStation 4 game of all times, and the Uncharted Series as being one of the most successful series of console games. Naughty Dog, the publisher of the Uncharted games, sold nearly 16 million units of Uncharted 4 by the end of 2019.
(Source: PlayStation Lifestyle Net)
22. Halo 5: Guardians was the best-selling Xbox One game of all time with 8.72 million units sold: Halo is one of the most popular games on the planet, with many people having fond memories of driving Warthogs over their friends and then tea-bagging over their corpse. The series’ popularity comes from the fact that it used to be a Windows exclusive, which means it was available for Xbox and PC both. The Halo 5: Guardians is the latest installment in the revered Halo series and was released amidst must pomp and show. The fact that it was an Xbox One exclusive and not available on PC was not well received by gamers across the world. Despite this fact, the game broke the record for the most sold Xbox One game of all time, with more than 8.72 million units having been sold for the Xbox One. The game itself was badly reviewed by the critics and gamers alike, but still sold well due to having the name Halo in the title.
(Source: Research and Markets)
23. Overall the most successful game which was console exclusive was Wii Play for the Nintendo Wii, selling over 28 million units: The Nintendo Wii was Nintendo’s seventh generation console, which pioneered the adoption of motion control technology in game consoles. The Wii had a bunch of games of bundled with it, which utilized its motion control technology for playing a variety of games. One of these games was the Wii Play, which was a collection of 9 mini games, which included archery, golf, skeet shooting etc. These games were some of the first games that used motion control technology to its fullest extent, which skyrocketed its popularity among gamers. Wii Play ended its long lifetime after having sold nearly 28 million units. The games were extremely popular due to their simplicity and novelty.
24. The rarest console game of all time is the Nintendo World Championship Gold cartridge, selling for as much as $100,000: The Nintendo World Championship was Nintendo’s event where they were looking for ‘The Greatest NES Player of All Time’. To this effect, they sent out 40 teams, with a specially made cartridge containing single levels from the games in the championship. There winners of these tournaments were then invited to a bigger tournament, where the games were played on a Gold colored cartridge with the same levels. There were only 26 of these gold cartridges made, which were then given to the winners of the various games. These cartridges have since not been sold very many times, with the last time one selling for an astounding amount of money, $100,000 for the gold cartridge, and nearly $70,000 for the grey variant of the cartridge.
25. Ducks can only be hunted on a CRT monitor: Duck Hunt is one of the most well-recognized games of all time. It was one of the first video games ever sold which required a special peripheral to play the game. This peripheral was a gun with a working trigger attached to it, which the players had to shoot at the duck on the screen. The game would then register the gunshot and would only work if the gun was pointed accurately. One of the biggest gripes people had about the gun was the fact that the gun was VERY accurate. This was due to how the console registered the gunshot. The gun had a camera which would only register a change in color from white to black. When the gun’s trigger was pulled, the CRT screen would flash all black for one frame, with the ducks in white color. Then the screen would flash white for one frame with the ducks in black color. The gun’s camera would then register the change in the pixels and send the console a confirmation of the shot. The issue was that the gun would only register a change in a tiny area, only a few pixels wide. This feature would only work on CRT TVs, which used a cathode ray for every pixel.
(Source: Mary Sue)
26. Six of the top ten games of the decade are console exclusives: A lot of gamers consider consoles to be inferior to PCs when it comes to gaming. This propensity of gamers to disregard console games is so well known that the term for PC gamers is the “PC Master Race.” The phrase was coined by Yahtzee Croshaw of Zero Punctuation, who also coined the term Console Peasant. Despite the disdain that the console industry faces from the so-called master race, it produces amazing games, the likes of which aren’t seen on PC. In fact, of the top ten games in the last decade, according to Forbes, six of them were console exclusives, or first released on consoles. According to a large number of game reviewers, the best games of the decade seem to be God of War for the PS4, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U, or the Red Dead Redemption 2 for the PS4 and Xbox One, or even Grand Theft Auto V, which was originally released only for PS3 and PS4 but was ported to the PC.
Sources and References:
- Gamespot, Wikihow
- SA Gamer
- News Hub
- Venture Beat
- Tech Crunch
- Research and Markets
- New York Times
- Electronic Gaming Monthly
- SA Gamer
- The Verge
- The Verge
- Old School Gamer Magazine
- PlayStation Lifestyle Net
- Research and Markets
- Mary Sue
- How Choo