The video game industry is a competitive and lucrative entertainment sector, with billions of dollars at stake every year. The battle for supremacy among the major console manufacturers – Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft – has been raging for decades, and each new generation of hardware brings new challenges and opportunities.
Recently, the debate over which console is the best-selling of all time has been heating up, as Nintendo Switch surpassed PlayStation 4 in lifetime sales, PlayStation 5 became the fastest-selling console in U.S. history, and Xbox Series X|S showed strong growth in global markets.
But how do these current contenders compare to the legends of the past, such as PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy? Which console has sold the most units worldwide, and which one dominates in specific regions?
To answer these questions, we have compiled a comprehensive ranking of the 10 best-selling game consoles of all time, based on data from VGChartz, a website that tracks video game sales figures. We will also break down the sales performance of each console by region, including Europe, North America, Japan, and the rest of the world.
- Globally, PlayStation 2 (PS2) leads with 158.70 million units sold, trailed by Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch with 154.02 and 129.42 million units respectively. Sony and Nintendo dominate the market.
- These consoles owe their success to extensive game libraries, innovative features, and strong brands. Handheld consoles lead in global sales.
- In Europe, PlayStation 2 tops again with 55.28 million units, followed by Nintendo DS at 51.84 million. PlayStation brand holds significant sway.
- For North America, Nintendo DS leads with 57.92 million units, PlayStation 2 follows at 53.65 million. Nintendo Switch and Xbox 360 also perform strongly.
- The Nintendo DS tops sales with 32.99 million units in Japan. The market favors Nintendo and Sony consoles, with a particular preference for handhelds.
- In other regions, PlayStation 2 leads with 26.59 million units, showing a strong preference for the PlayStation brand.
Top 10 Best Selling Video Game Consoles Globally
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) tops the chart of the 10 best-selling video game consoles globally at 158.70 million units, followed by the Nintendo DS (DS) at 154.02 million units, and the Nintendo Switch (NS) at 129.42 million units.
The list comprises both handheld and home consoles, predominantly home consoles. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are the key players in the market, with Sony and Nintendo leading with four and five consoles in the top 10, respectively, while Microsoft has one, the Xbox 360.
The top 10 list includes four PlayStation consoles, three Nintendo consoles, one Xbox console, and one non-Nintendo handheld console. Sony leads as the most successful console manufacturer with over 465 million units sold worldwide. Nintendo dominates the handheld gaming market with an average of over 133 million units sold worldwide. Xbox, with only one console in the top 10, has sold less than 86 million units worldwide.
These consoles span several generations, from the fourth-generation Game Boy to the ninth-generation Nintendo Switch. The competition between Sony and Nintendo is evident, with both having multiple entries in the top 10. Microsoft, however, has a smaller market share with only one entry.
Each console in the top 10 has unique features contributing to its success. The PS2’s early launch, backward compatibility, DVD playback, online gaming, and extensive game library made it the best-selling console. The PS4, with its powerful hardware, user-friendly interface, robust online service, and impressive exclusive games, is the most successful console of its generation. The PS and the PS3 also sold well, introducing new technologies and features.
The Nintendo DS, with its innovative dual-screen design, touch-screen interface, stylus input, built-in microphone, and wide range of games, is the second best-selling console. The Switch, with its hybrid design and high-quality game lineup, is the third best-selling console. The Game Boy, with its simple, durable, affordable, and long-lasting design, and influential games like Tetris and Pokemon, is the fourth best-selling console.
The Xbox 360, the only Xbox console in the top 10, is the ninth best-selling console, thanks to its early launch, high-definition graphics, online gaming, wireless controller, hard drive, user-friendly dashboard, and successful online service, Xbox Live. The PSP, the only non-Nintendo handheld console in the top 10, is the tenth best-selling console, with its sleek and portable design, large and colorful screen, powerful processor, and multimedia capability.
The success of these consoles is often attributed to their robust game libraries, featuring many exclusive titles that have driven sales. Innovation also plays a crucial role in the success of these consoles. For instance, the Nintendo Switch’s hybrid design, functioning as both a home console and a handheld device, has contributed to its popularity. Similarly, the PlayStation 2’s DVD playback capability helped it become the best-selling console of all time.
In terms of average global sales, handheld consoles lead, followed by hybrid, home, and portable consoles, indicating a preference among gamers for portability and accessibility over power and features.
Top 10 Best Selling Video Game Consoles in Europe
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) leads the pack of the top 10 best-selling video game consoles in Europe as well. It boasts 55.28 million units sold, followed closely by the Nintendo DS (DS) at 51.84 million. This indicates a strong preference for these two consoles among European gamers, due to their extensive game libraries, innovative features, and brand reputation.
The PlayStation 4 (PS4) ranks third with 45.86 million units sold, suggesting that Sony’s PlayStation brand has a significant presence in the European market. This is further reinforced by the inclusion of PlayStation 3 (PS3), PlayStation (PS), and PlayStation Portable (PSP) in the top 10 list, demonstrating the brand’s enduring popularity and consistent performance.
Nintendo also has a strong showing, with four of its consoles making the top 10. The Nintendo DS (DS), Game Boy (GB), Nintendo Switch (NS), and Nintendo Wii (Wii) all feature prominently, indicating that Nintendo’s unique blend of innovative gameplay and family-friendly titles has resonated with European consumers.
Interestingly, the Nintendo Switch (NS) and Nintendo Wii (Wii) have almost identical sales figures, suggesting that these two consoles may appeal to similar demographics or gaming preferences.
The Xbox 360 (X360) is the only Microsoft console in the top 10, ranking at the bottom with 25.08 million units sold. This suggests that Microsoft’s gaming offerings may not be as popular in Europe compared to Sony’s PlayStation or Nintendo’s consoles.
Looking at generational shifts, both older and newer consoles are represented in the top 10. This suggests that while newer consoles like the PS4 and Nintendo Switch have made significant inroads, older consoles like the PS2, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy still hold considerable sway, possibly due to factors like nostalgia, game availability, or cost.
The video game console market in Europe is diverse, with a mix of handheld and home consoles represented in the top 10 best-selling list. The PlayStation 2 (PS2), a home console, leads the list, indicating a strong preference for home gaming experiences. However, the Nintendo DS, a handheld console, is a close second, suggesting that portable gaming also has a significant market in Europe.
Top 10 Best Selling Video Game Consoles in North America
In a surprising twist, the Nintendo DS (DS) leads as the best-selling video game console in North America. It has 57.92 million units sold, thanks to its features such as touchscreen controls and wireless online gaming. The PlayStation 2 (PS2) follows closely with 53.65 million units sold, benefiting from the strength of the PlayStation brand and backward compatibility.
The Nintendo Switch (NS) ranks third with 46.17 million units sold, and its hybrid design, allowing it to function as both a home console and a portable device, has contributed to its success. Popular exclusive titles like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” have also played a role in its strong performance.
The Nintendo Wii (Wii), which was sixth in Europe, and Xbox 360 (X360) follow closely at fourth and fifth, with 45.51 and 47.09 million units sold respectively. The Wii’s innovative motion controls appealed to non-traditional gamers, while the Xbox 360 introduced features like the Xbox Live online gaming service, setting the standard for online console gaming.
The Game Boy (GB), PlayStation (PS), Game Boy Advance (GBA), PlayStation 4 (PS4), and Xbox One (XOne) round out the top 10, with sales ranging from 32.97 to 43.18 million units. These consoles have each contributed to the evolution of gaming, offering unique features and game libraries that have attracted millions of players in North America.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, while not topping the list, introduced features like 4K gaming and VR support, pushing the boundaries of console gaming. As of 2023, these consoles are being phased out in favor of their successors, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Top 10 Best Selling Video Game Consoles in Japan
In Japan, the Nintendo DS is the best-selling console with 32.99 million units sold. Nintendo’s strong presence is evident as six of the top 10 consoles, including the Game Boy, Nintendo Switch, and others, are from the company, reflecting its ability to meet local tastes and preferences.
In contrast, Sony’s PlayStation consoles have a significant presence in the Japanese market, with three of the top 10 consoles being from the company: PlayStation (PS), PlayStation Portable (PSP), and PlayStation 2 (PS2). This demonstrates that Japanese gamers appreciate both home consoles and portable gaming devices, as evidenced by the success of the PSP.
Comparing the Japanese market to Europe and North America, there are some notable differences. In Europe, the top-selling console is the PlayStation 2 (PS2), while in North America, it is the Nintendo DS (DS). This suggests that European and North American gamers have different preferences compared to Japanese gamers, with a stronger inclination towards Sony’s PlayStation consoles in Europe and a more balanced mix of Nintendo and other consoles in North America.
One similarity across all three regions is the success of the Nintendo Switch (NS), which ranks among the top-selling consoles in each market. This can be attributed to the console’s unique hybrid design, allowing for both home and portable gaming, as well as its strong lineup of games.
Another observation is that older consoles, such as the Game Boy (GB) and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), continue to have a strong presence in the Japanese market. This could be due to a combination of nostalgia and the enduring appeal of classic games.
In terms of market categories, handheld consoles are particularly popular in Japan, with four of the top 10 consoles being portable devices: Nintendo DS (DS), Game Boy (GB), PlayStation Portable (PSP), and Nintendo 3DS (3DS). This contrasts with Europe and North America, where handheld consoles are less prevalent in the top 10 lists. This difference may be attributed to the Japanese gaming culture, which places a higher emphasis on portable gaming due to factors such as long commutes and smaller living spaces.
Besides, the Japanese market shows a preference for consoles with a strong lineup of exclusive games, as seen with the success of Nintendo and PlayStation consoles. This is in contrast to the North American market, where consoles like the Xbox 360 (X360) and Xbox One (XOne) have a significant presence, despite having fewer exclusive titles.
Top 10 Best Selling Video Game Consoles in Rest of the World
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is the top-selling console in the rest of the world, with 26.59 million units sold. This is a testament to the enduring popularity of the PS2, which has a vast library of games and a strong brand presence. The PlayStation 4 (PS4) follows closely behind with 23.52 million units sold, indicating the continued strength of the PlayStation brand.
The PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation 3 (PS3) are the third and fourth best-selling consoles, respectively. This shows that handheld consoles and older generation consoles still have a significant market in the rest of the world. The Nintendo Switch (NS) is the fifth best-selling console, demonstrating the appeal of its hybrid design and unique gaming experiences.
The Xbox 360 (X360) is the sixth best-selling console, showing that Microsoft’s gaming platform also has a substantial presence in these markets. The Nintendo DS (DS) and Nintendo Wii (Wii) are the seventh and eighth best-selling consoles, respectively, indicating the popularity of Nintendo’s family-friendly games and innovative gameplay mechanics.
The Xbox One (XOne) and the original PlayStation (PS) round out the top 10, showing that both newer and older consoles have a place in the market. The presence of the original PlayStation, in particular, highlights the lasting impact of classic games and consoles.
In comparison to the other regions, the rest of the world shows a strong preference for PlayStation consoles, with four out of the top 10 being from this brand. This contrasts with Japan, where Nintendo consoles dominate, and North America and Europe, where there is a more balanced mix of PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox consoles.
The variations in console popularity can be attributed to several factors, including regional preferences for certain types of games, the availability and pricing of consoles, and brand loyalty. For example, the PlayStation brand may have a stronger presence in certain markets due to aggressive marketing and a wide selection of games that appeal to those audiences.
The video game industry is a fiercely competitive landscape where Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft battle for supremacy. The PlayStation 2 stands as the best-selling console globally, with Nintendo DS and Nintendo Switch following closely. The success of these consoles can be attributed to their extensive game libraries, innovative features, and strong brand reputations.
Regional preferences vary, with handheld consoles being particularly popular in Japan, while the PlayStation brand dominates Europe and other regions. As the industry continues to evolve, these consoles serve as benchmarks for future generations, showcasing the importance of innovation, game selection, and brand power in capturing the hearts of gamers worldwide.
The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is the best-selling video game console of all time, with 158.70 million units sold globally.
Sony and Nintendo are the key players in the video game console market, with Sony leading in terms of the number of units sold worldwide.
The success of a video game console is often attributed to its extensive game library, innovative features, and strong brand reputation.
The PlayStation 2 is the most popular console in Europe, with 55.28 million units sold.
In Japan, the Nintendo DS is the best-selling console, and there is a significant preference for handheld consoles.