The Best-Selling Video Game Consoles of All Time
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Ranked: The Best-Selling Video Game Consoles of All Time

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Diagram showing the best-selling video games of all time

Ranked: The Best-Selling Video Game Consoles of All Time

In 1972, the first-ever commercially available home video game console hit the market—the Magnavox Odyssey. Players of the Odyssey had a choice between two built-in games that were stored directly in the device, and would use a joystick and dials as a controller.

Video game consoles have come a long way since then, and the console market has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry that’s expected to reach $72.67 billion in value by the end of 2022.

This graphic by Enrique Mendoza uses data from VGChartz to show the market leaders in the industry, by highlighting the top-selling video consoles of all time, as of May 8, 2022.

Nine Generations of Video Game Consoles

Before diving into the top-selling consoles, it’s worth taking a step back to touch on the evolution of home consoles to show how they’ve changed over the years.

We dug into the literature on the history of video game consoles, and found that most articles and blog posts on the topic cite nine different generations of devices.

Here’s a breakdown of each generation, and some of their most noteworthy systems:

1972: Gen One, Where it Began

Consoles in the first generation had pre-built games that were stored directly on the device. They include the Magnavox Odyssey and Atari’s Pong.

1976: Gen Two Emerges

In this generation, games were sold separately, rather than programmed into the device. Consoles of this gen include the Fairchild Channel F and the Atari 2600.

1983: Gen Three, the “8-bit Generation”

This era’s consoles typically had 8-bit processes which allowed for more advanced graphics for the time. A few notable consoles during this gen were ​​the Sega SG-1000 and the Nintendo Famicom, released outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

1987: Gen Four Elevates Handheld Gaming

Home consoles were released with 16-bit systems, meaning that audio and graphics improved even more in this era. But an arguably bigger moment for this gen was the emergence of the Nintendo Game Boy.

1993: The 3D Start of Gen Five

This generation saw the move away from pixels and towards 3D polygons. Some consoles like the Sony PlayStation started using CD-ROMs instead of cartridges, which stored more data at a cheaper cost and changed the industry.

1998: Gen Six and the Internet

At the start of this generation, the three major players in the console space were Sony, Sega, and Nintendo. By the end, Sega would be replaced with Microsoft as it launched the Xbox and helped popularize online console gaming.

2005: HD Graphics and Motion Controls of Gen Seven

On one side of the market, Microsoft and Sony were competing with high-definition graphics, faster processers, and different forms (Blu-rays or DVDs). But Nintendo’s motion-sensing Nintendo Wii arguably defined this generation, and the handheld Nintendo DS swept the market as well.

2012: Gen Eight’s Modern Consoles

Consoles of this era started having increased connectivity and processing power, with full HD an expectation. It was also an extremely long generation, starting with Nintendo’s unsuccessful Wii U and ending with the ultra-successful Nintendo Switch, widely considered the first hybrid console with three different ways to play: TV mode, handheld mode, or tabletop mode.

2020: Gen Nine and Beyond

So far, this generation has brought upgraded graphics (up to 8K resolution), larger games, and game-streaming capabilities. Devices in this gen include the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5, which both use solid state drives to increase speed and performance, while Nintendo has yet to introduce a 9th generation device.

The Best-Selling Game Consoles

The best-selling video game console of all time is Sony’s PlayStation 2 (PS2). More than 157 million systems have been sold around the world since its launch in March 2000.

RankConsoleManufacturerGlobal lifetime sales (millions)
1PlayStation 2 (PS2)Sony157.68
2Nintendo DS (DS)Nintendo154.90
3Game Boy (GB)Nintendo118.69
4PlayStation 4 (PS4)Sony116.97
5Nintendo Switch (NS)Nintendo107.21
6PlayStation (PS)Sony102.50
7Nintendo Wii (Wii)Nintendo101.64
8PlayStation 3 (PS3)Sony87.41
9Xbox 360 (X360)Microsoft85.8
10Game Boy Advance (GBA)Nintendo81.51
11PlayStation Portable (PSP)Sony81.09
12Nintendo 3DS (3DS)Nintendo75.95
13Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)Nintendo61.91
14Xbox One (XOne)Microsoft50.57
15Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)Nintendo49.10
16Nintendo 64 (N64)Nintendo32.93
17Sega Genesis (GEN)Sega29.54
18Atari 2600 (2600)Atari27.64
19Xbox (XB)Microsoft24.65
20GameCube (GC)Nintendo21.74
21PlayStation 5 (PS5)Sony19.32
22PlayStation Vita (PSV)Sony16.21
23Xbox Series X/S (XS)Microsoft14.32
24Nintendo Wii U (WiiU)Nintendo13.97
25GameGear (GG)Sega10.62
26Sega Saturn (SAT)Sega8.82
27Dreamcast (DC)Sega8.20
28Atari 7800 (7800)Atari4.30

Despite the fact the PS2’s been discontinued since 2013, no other gaming console has managed to top it—in fact, the next closest actively-sold consoles, the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, are each more than 40 million units behind.

One major factor for the PS2’s success was its built-in DVD player. At the time, DVD players were very expensive, and in many places a PS2 was a cheaper and effective alternative. It was also one of the first devices to be “backward compatible,” meaning users could play most of their PS1 games on the PS2. This meant players didn’t have to buy a whole new library of games when they made the switch to a PS2, and Sony could tap into its existing customer base.

But while Sony’s PS2 is the top-selling console on the list, Nintendo has more top-selling consoles on the list—almost half of the consoles on the list are manufactured by Nintendo (11), while only seven are made by Sony.

What Will it Take to Out-Sell the PS2?

As the PS4 has started taking a backseat to the PS5 in sales and promotion, the current most-likely contender for the best-selling console crown is the Nintendo Switch. Early in 2022, it was the fastest console to sell 100 million units.

With lots of hype around the possibilities of AR and VR, it’ll be interesting to see what new features come with the next generation of gaming consoles.

Will future devices ever beat the PS2’s record-breaking sales? Time will tell. But for now, the 22-year-old console continues to hold its well-earned spot at the top.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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iPhone Now Makes Up the Majority of U.S. Smartphones

Apple’s flagship device has captured a modest 16% of the global market, and Android dominates globally. Why do so many Americans keep buying iPhones?

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iPhone Now Makes Up the Majority of U.S. Smartphones

One of the most iconic tech moments of the 21st century is Steve Jobs, in his signature black turtleneck, holding up a small device: the iPhone. Since that introduction at the 2007 Macworld conference in San Francisco, iPhone has gone on to become a global phenomenon, with over 1.2 billion units now sold around the world.

Today, the smartphone market is a fiercely competitive space.

On a global scale, iPhone has carved out a respectable 16% of the smartphone market. In the U.S., however, the iPhone has managed to win the hearts and minds of more consumers. New data from Counterpoint Research via FT notes that iPhones now make up 50% of the overall installed user base* in the United States.

With a plethora of smartphone brands available to American consumers—and many at lower price points—what is it that makes this brand so popular?

ℹ️ “Installed user base” is a particularly interesting statistic because it doesn’t just track devices that are sold over a given period, it looks at all the devices that are still in use.

 

iPhone: The Apple of America’s Eye

Experts point to a number of reasons why Apple’s flagship device outperforms in the U.S. compared to other markets.

  • Apple has the highest brand loyalty of any major smartphone maker. 9 in 10 U.S. iPhone users plan to purchase an iPhone as their next device.
  • iPhones appear to depreciate at a slower rate than other devices
  • Broadly speaking, consumers in the U.S. have less price sensitivity than consumers in many other countries.
  • Apple has been vocal in their messaging about protecting user privacy and data, and that message appears to be resonating with consumers.

This last point is worth digging into in more detail.

Winning the Privacy War

Personal data protection and cybersecurity have become mainstream concerns in recent years, and Apple has made security a priority.

Of course, security breaches can and do occur, regardless of what device is being used. That said, a recent survey by Beyond Identity indicates that iPhone users were less likely to be victims of security breaches, and were more likely to recover data in the event of a breach.

Infographic showing survey data on security breaches and severity

The survey also points out that iPhone users were less likely to have sensitive data, such as images and videos, credit card information, passwords, and personal data compromised when breaches occurred.

These findings aside, Apple has also been bullish on branding its devices as safe and secure. The “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” campaign launched in 2019, and most recently, Apple has put the data broker industry in its crosshairs through a new series of ad spots.

Simply put: whether or not iPhone is more secure than other devices, Apple has used its marketing muscle to sway public opinion at a time when Americans are focused on privacy. And based on these latest installed user base numbers, that strategy appears to be paying off.

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Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies

Central bank digital currencies are coming, but progress varies greatly from country to country. View the infographic to learn more.

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Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies

Central banks around the world are getting involved in digital currencies, but some are further ahead than others.

In this map, we used data from the Atlantic Council’s Currency Tracker to visualize the state of each central banks’ digital currency effort.

Digital Currency – The Basics

Digital currencies have been around since the 1980s, but didn’t become widely popular until the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. Today, there are thousands of digital currencies in existence, also referred to as “cryptocurrencies”.

A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are based on a blockchain ledger. Blockchains can be either decentralized or centralized, but the most known cryptocurrencies today (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) tend to be decentralized in nature. This makes transfers and payments very difficult to trace because there is no single entity with full control.

Government-issued digital currencies, on the other hand, will be controlled by a central bank and are likely to be easily trackable. They would have the same value as the local cash currency, but instead issued digitally with no physical form.

Central Bank Digital Currencies Worldwide

105 countries are currently exploring centralized digital currencies. Together, they represent 95% of global GDP. The table below lists the data used in the infographic.

CountryStatusUse Case
NigeriaLaunchedRetail
The BahamasLaunchedRetail
JamaicaLaunchedRetail
AnguilaLaunchedRetail
Saint Kitts and NevisLaunchedRetail
Antigua and BarbudaLaunchedRetail
MontserratLaunchedRetail
DominicaLaunchedRetail
Saint LuciaLaunchedRetail
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesLaunchedRetail
GrenadaLaunchedRetail
SwedenPilotRetail
LithuaniaPilotRetail
UkrainePilotUndecided
KazakhstanPilotRetail
RussiaPilotRetail
ChinaPilotBoth
ThailandPilotBoth
Hong KongPilotBoth
South KoreaPilotRetail
Saudi ArabiaPilotWholesale
United Arab EmiratesPilotWholesale
SingaporePilotWholesale
MalaysiaPilotWholesale
South AfricaPilotBoth
CanadaDevelopmentBoth
BelizeDevelopmentUndecided
HaitiDevelopmentBoth
VenezuelaDevelopmentBoth
BrazilDevelopmentRetail
TurkeyDevelopmentRetail
IranDevelopmentRetail
BahrainDevelopmentWholesale
IndiaDevelopmentBoth
MauritiusDevelopmentBoth
BhutanDevelopmentBoth
CambodiaDevelopmentRetail
IndonesiaDevelopmentBoth
PalauDevelopmentBoth
AustraliaDevelopmentBoth
JapanDevelopmentBoth
SpainDevelopmentRetail
FranceDevelopmentBoth
NetherlandsDevelopmentRetail
SwitzerlandDevelopmentWholesale
ItalyDevelopmentUndecided
GermanyDevelopmentUndecided
EstoniaDevelopmentRetail
LebanonDevelopmentRetail
IsraelDevelopmentRetail
Euro AreaDevelopmentBoth
United StatesResearchRetail
MexicoResearchRetail
GuatemalaResearchUndecided
HondurasResearchUndecided
Trinidad andd TobagoResearchUndecided
ColombiaResearchUndecided
PeruResearchUndecided
ParaguayResearchUndecided
ChileResearchRetail
IcelandResearchRetail
UKResearchBoth
MoroccoResearchRetail
GhanaResearchRetail
NamibiaResearchUndecided
EswatiniResearchBoth
MadagastarResearchRetail
ZimbabweResearchUndecided
ZambiaResearchUndecided
TanzaniaResearchUndecided
RwandaResearchUndecided
UgandaResearchUndecided
KenyaResearchRetail
TunisiaResearchWholesale
OmanResearchUndecided
KuwaitResearchRetail
JordanResearchUndecided
GeorgiaResearchRetail
BelarusResearchUndecided
NorwayResearchRetail
Czech RepublichResearchUndecided
PakistanResearchRetail
NepalResearchUndecided
BangladeshResearchUndecided
MyanmarResearchUndecided
LaosResearchBoth
VietnamResearchUndecided
MacauResearchUndecided
TaiwanResearchBoth
PhilippinesResearchRetail
New ZealandResearchRetail
VanuatuResearchUndecided
FijiResearchUndecided
TongaResearchUndecided
PalestineResearchRetail
JordanResearchUndecided
AustriaResearchWholesale
HungaryResearchRetail
BermudaInactiveUndecided
Sint MaartenInactiveRetail
CuraçaoInactiveRetail
ArgentinaInactiveUndecided
UruguayInactiveRetail
DenmarkInactiveRetail
AzerbaijanInactiveUndecided
EgyptInactiveUndecided
North KoreaInactiveUndecided
FinlandInactiveRetail
EcuadorCancelledRetail
SenegalCancelledRetail

When aggregated, we can see that the majority of countries are in the research stage.

central bank digital currencies by status

We’ve also divided the map by region to make viewing easier.

Africa

Africa digital currencies

Asia

Asia digital currencies

Europe

Europe digital currencies

Middle East

Middle East digital currencies

South America

South America digital currencies

North America

North American digital currencies

What are the Benefits?

A major benefit of government-issued digital currencies is that they can improve access for underbanked people.

This is not a huge issue in developed countries like the U.S., but many people in developing nations have no access to banks and other financial services (hence the term underbanked). As the number of internet users continues to climb, digital currencies represent a sound solution.

To learn more about this topic, visit this article from Global Finance, which lists the world’s most underbanked countries in 2021.

The 9%

Just 9% of countries have launched a digital currency to date.

This includes Nigeria, which became the first African country to do so in October 2021. Half of the country’s 200 million population is believed to have no access to bank accounts.

Adoption of the eNaira (the digital version of the naira) has so far been relatively sluggish. The eNaira app has accumulated 700,000 downloads as of April 2022. That’s equal to 0.35% of the population, though not all of the downloads are users in Nigeria.

Conversely, 33.4 million Nigerians were reported to be trading or owning crypto assets, despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s attempts to restrict usage.

Status in the U.S.

America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, has not decided on whether it will implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Our key focus is on whether and how a CBDC could improve on an already safe and efficient U.S. domestic payments system.
– Federal Reserve

To learn more, check out the Federal Reserve’s January 2022 paper on the pros and cons of CBDCs.

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