Sales Numbers Easily Prove Why Console Gaming isn’t Dead

If you follow the gaming industry closely, there’s a lot of things you’re going to hear over and over again, including the “console wars”. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are always going to try to convince you that their product is the one to buy, and fans of each will vigorously (and sometimes aggressively) defend their console of choice. Another thing you’ll hear over and over is that home consoles are dying off. Consumers don’t have much interest in home consoles anymore, and that they’d rather play the smaller, compact experiences of mobile gaming. There are two questions that must be considered. First off, is mobile gaming effecting the home console market. Secondly, is the home console market really dying?

Ever since the release of the Game Boy in 1989, mobile gaming has been with us. The Game Boy revolutionized the gaming industry. Instead of having to sit in front of a television that plugged into the wall in a constant spot at all times, gamers could now take the experience on the go. As the years have progressed, mobile gaming has grown more and more sophisticated and now more than ever, people are mobile gaming. From all the variations of the Nintendo DS to smartphones, it’s almost impossible to meet anyone nowadays who doesn’t play mobile games one way or another, and the number of people that play mobile games is staggering. In the United States alone, there are over 100 million mobile gamers. There are two things that should blow your mind about this. One: that’s almost a third of the entire U.S population. Two: that’s just in the United States alone. In 2011, $12 billion was generated alone by mobile gaming. Everybody and their mother owns either an iPhone or an Android smartphone, and what’s one of the main uses of a smartphone? Downloading apps, of course. 93% of app downloaders who pay for an app, pay for a mobile gaming app. Ever heard of the Nintendo DS? They’ve only made seven versions of them. On December 31, 2013, Nintendo announced that its handheld portable (all models combined)  has sold 153.98 million units. The success of mobile gaming is truly incredible, but what is the reason for all this success?


First off, It’s mobile. People aren’t limited to a single room to play a game. Secondly, it’s cheap. Most of the applications on iPhone’s app store and Android’s market are either free or extremely cheap. Not only is mobile gaming cheap for consumers, but it’s cheap for developers as well. With mobile gaming, developers don’t need an excessive amount of resources or staff to make a game. The mobile gaming market is an absolute goldmine for developers. Another reason contributing to the success of mobile gaming is that players are able to experience a quality gaming experience in shorter,compact periods of time. All of this success is incredible, but is it causing the demand for home consoles to decrease?

Well lets take a look at the sales of home consoles throughout the years, starting with the PlayStation 2. The PlayStation 2 is the best-selling home console in history with 155 million units sold. In terms of competition, the PS2 didn’t have much, in terms of sales anyway, but in March of 2001, Microsoft waged war against Sony in the battle for the living room with the Xbox. The Xbox didn’t come anywhere near the PS2 in sales, but there were a couple of reasons for this. First, it came out over a year after the PS2, and secondly, it was the first of its kind and it didn’t have the reputation Sony had already built up with the original PlayStation. The original Xbox sold a total of 24 million consoles. Regardless of the PS2 outselling the Xbox, between the two, about 180 million home consoles were sold in that generation of gaming.

Fast forward to the next generation of gaming with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. As of last year, Both Sony and Microsoft reported that both the 360 and PS3 had sold over 80 million units each, adding up to about 160 million units between the two of them. One might immediately look at this and count it as evidence that mobile gaming has caused the total number of consoles to dwindle, but they’re are two things that should be kept in mind. First off, there’s the other powerhouse in this equation: Nintendo. In November of 2006, Nintendo released its own home console called the Wii to battle Microsoft and Sony in the war for the living room. How did it stack up against the competition? Last year the Wii became the second home console in history to reach 100 million units sold. The Wii served as a strong competitor to both the Xbox 360, and PS3. The second thing to keep in mind about Sony and Microsoft’s combined 160 million home consoles sold is that these numbers are not set in stone quite yet. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox are no longer being manufactured and games are no longer developed for them, either. The PS3 and Xbox 360 on the other hand, are still alive and well, and probably will be for another 2-3 years. With Sony and Microsoft just releasing the PS4 and Xbox One, the prices of both the PS3 and Xbox 360 will drop, and the games for them will only become cheaper as well.

Perhaps the ultimate test to see if the home console market is dying, is the current release of the Xbox One and PS4. How did the two stack up against the launch of their predecessors? The PlayStation 3 launched in November of 2006. Sony expected to sell 6 million units by the end of the fiscal year ending in March of 2007. By the ending of March, the PS3 only sold a little over 3 million units. The biggest reason the PS3s sold so poorly at launch was because they were selling two different versions of the console at extremely high prices. A 20GB version (which is like, no space…at all)  was being sold at $499.99 and a 60GB version was being sold at $599.99. With these extremely high prices, it’s no wonder the PS3’s launch was horrific. Fast forward to November of 2013, and we have the PlayStation 4. This time around, Sony got smart and decided to drop the launch price to $399.99. The PS4 sold over 1 million units in just 24 hours after launching in North America, and at the beginning of this month, Sony announced that over 6 million PS4s have been sold worldwide.

How about that Xbox? The Xbox 360 launched in November of 2005 for $399.99 ( $100 less than the 20GB PS3). One year after its launch, it had only sold 1.4 million units worldwide. With the release of the Xbox One, Sony and Microsoft seemed to switch launch identities this time around. Instead of launching at $399.99 like the 360, the Xbox One launched at $499.99, due to the system’s inclusion of the upgraded Kinect. How bad has  the extra $100 slowed down the Xbox One? Barely. Like the PS4, the Xbox One sold over 1 million units in just 24 hours after launching in 13 markets around the world, and as of the beginning of this month, Microsoft announced that Xbox One has sold 4 million units worldwide. Obviously due to pricing, the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One, but not by a very wide margin. It is also important to note that the Xbox One has not yet been released to 26 other countries, and won’t be until September. Not only is there still a market for home console gaming, but the demand for it is increasing, not dying. However, with the overwhelming success of mobile gaming and how easy it is on consumer’s wallets, one has to wonder how in the world home console gaming is still able to thrive?


It all really comes down to a single word: Quality. At the end of the day, home console gaming will always produce a quality that is simply unmatched by mobile gaming. That isn’t to say that mobile gaming has no quality. Mobile game Infinity Blade wowed gamers with its stunning visuals and Rovio’s Angry Birds stole the hearts of literally billions with its colorful, cute visuals and clever level design. Mobile gaming has become so much more than simple puzzles and 8bit graphics, but it can never touch the quality of a home console. One might read this and think, “well duhh”, but that’s the point. Home console gaming is far more expensive than mobile gaming, but yet is still alive and well, and that’s because gamers will always want to experience the best possible way to game,and if saving month’s worth of paychecks and looking between the couch cushions for every last cent is what we have to do in order to do it, then we’ll do it. Watching Nathan Drake fight off enemies while being in a collapsing skyscraper or watching Kratos climb up the back of giant titan that is climbing Mount Olympus is an experience that mobile gaming simply can’t offer.

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  1. tgruver

    I would certainly agree that console gaming is far from dead. Rather, it’s looking towards a rebirth in a lot of ways it’s needed for ages. Mobile is to consoles what streaming is to the movie biz. Consoles have long been the theaters of the game experience, and it’s true that game sales period have been falling from what they were as profit’s gone up but the total amount of people playing seems like less and less. Big, blockbuster console experiences are always going to drive its crowds, but with games like Bioshock losing its creative team I simply don’t know if it’ll ever have the kind of variety and passion behind it that it once had. Console gaming will last, but I don’t know if it or anything else will be the same.

    • Patrick Garrison

      I think you make an awesome point about triple A titles driving the industry. That’s honestly what drove the bulk of this past generation. It was franchises rather than single games, but the console industry has still proved that it can pump out huge new IP’s that wow gamers. The Last of Us is a prime example. Not to mention, many new IP’s are coming out this generation. Gearbox has confirmed that they’re working on 2 new IP’s and Ready At Dawn has the Order, and last but not least, we’ve seen Titanfall, and Destiny is due out in September. I was VERY depressed when I heard Irrational Games closed, but developers haven’t lost their creativity yet. Especially with brand new hardware like the XOne and PS4. That’s all new playgrounds for developers to play on. Obviously Sony is trying to fill the mobile/console gaming gap with Playstation Now, and if Nintendo and Microsoft also adopted a similar idea, then I’d say console’s days are numbered. However, I highly doubt Playstation Now will run smoothly, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing fails, but we shall see!

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