With the Nintendo Switch recently becoming the fastest-selling video game console of all time in North America, we decided to take a look at which consoles have sold the most units. Video games have come a long way since the early days of dedicated Pong consoles and early arcade machines; the are now far more complex, with rich and engaging storylines, addictive gameplay, and ever-improving controls that give the player a growing sense of immersion. In essence, gaming has grown from a niche hobby for the youth of the 70s and 80s to a mainstream, $30 billion industry. Here are 25 of the best-selling consoles of all time, ranked by units sold worldwide.
Units Sold: 10 Million
Known as the PC Engine in Japan and originally released in 1987, the re-branded TurboGrafx was released in North America in 1989. The console was originally designed to compete with the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, but ended up right in the middle of the 16-bit console wars between the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis.
Unfortunately, the TurboGrafx-16 failed to find a foothold in North America due to stiff competition from the graphically superior and heavily marketed SNES and Genesis. While the PC Engine sold well in Japan, the TG-16 was a failure in North America selling somewhere around 4 million units.
24. Sega Master System
Units Sold: 10-13 Million
Part of the third generation of consoles, the Sega Master System was originally released in 1985 as the Sega Mark III in Japan. The Master System was released in North America in 1986 as a direct competitor to the Nintendo Entertainment System and was technically superior to Nintendo’s 8-bit console, but was unable to gain a significant foothold against Nintendo’s market share.
The Master System was substantially more popular in Europe and Brazil than North America and even Japan. Exact sales numbers are hard to pinpoint due to the immense popularity of the system in Brazil where they were still producing games into the 2000s, making it the longest-lasting console in history.
23. PlayStation Vita
Units Sold: 10-15 Million
The PlayStation Vita was Sony’s second foray into the handheld gaming space after releasing the PlayStation Portable in 2005. The Vita was released in North America in 2012, putting it in direct competition with the Nintendo 3DS during the eighth generation of video game consoles. The Vita was most notable for its technical prowess, with the ability to run games that were on par with experiences seen on the PlayStation 3.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t keep up with Nintendo’s 3DS due to its lack of compelling exclusive software. Although games looked and ran much better on the Vita than the 3DS, Nintendo had far more must-own titles. Couple the lack of games with the rise in popularity in mobile phone gaming and the PlayStation Vita ended up having lackluster sales over its lifespan, making it unlikely that we’ll see Sony back in the handheld market with a Vita successor.
22. Sega Game Gear
Units Sold: 10.62 Million
The Game Gear was released in 1991 as Sega’s answer to the extremely popular Nintendo Game Boy. The Game Gear was essentially a portable version of the Master System and set itself apart from the Game Boy by featuring a backlit, color screen. Unfortunately, the Game Gear’s screen didn’t exactly help its cause as it took six AA batteries to power the system, which only offered about 3-4 hours of play time compared to the Gameboy’s 15-30 hours on four AAs.
The Game Gear received mixed reviews, with high praise for its backlit color landscape screen and its superior processing power, but low marks for its bulky design and battery life. Despite its flaws, the Game Gear was able to outsell the like of the Atari Lynx and the NEC Turbo Express to the tune of 10.62 million units over its time on store shelves.
21. Wii U
Units Sold: 13.56 Million
Nintendo has had a long run of highly successful console releases over its storied history, but the Wii U was not one of them. The Wii U was Nintendo’s first console to feature HD visuals and the system’s now infamous controller included an embedded touchscreen which allowed gamers to play games portably within range of the console. Initially, the Wii U was met with a warm reception as the system was affordable compared to Sony and Microsoft’s offerings and powerful enough to offer HD versions ofNintendo’s most popular franchises.
Aside from the most hardcore Nintendo fans, the Wii U failed to achieve adoption from the general public, who were often confused by the branding and marketing of the system. The Wii U was also released with a poor launch lineup of games, but was unable to build a library of quality titles on the console. The system went on to sell 13,54 million consoles over its lifetime and while this may be considered a success by many company’s standards, it was undeniably a misstep for Nintendo.
20. Nintendo Switch
Units Sold: 17.79 Million
The Nintendo Switch has sold 17.79 million units at the time of this article and the console will no doubt rise up the rankings during the coming years. The Switch was released worldwide on March 3, 2017 and was immediately successful, surpassing Nintendo’s sales projections for both its launch window and entire first year on the market. The Nintendo Switch’s design takes aim at a wide demographic of consumers through its versatility and ability to be used at home on your TV or on the go.
The Nintendo Switch sold more units in one year than the Wii U sold over its entire lifespan, putting Nintendo back into the fold as a formidable hardware maker. With almost 18 million units sold in its early run, the Nintendo Switch is the fastest-selling console of all time in North America and has seen the release of two of the highest-rated games ever made in the form of Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
19. Nintendo GameCube
Units Sold: 21.74 Million
The Nintendo GameCube was released by Nintendo in Japan and North America in 2001 and Europe and Australia in 2002. This sixth generation console was the successor to the Nintendo 64 and competed with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox during its time on store shelves. The GameCube is the first Nintendo console to use optical discs for its software and in order to combat piracy, the proprietary discs were smaller than traditional CDs and DVDs. This, unfortunately, meant that the system was unable to play DVD movies or audio CDs, something that was offered by its direct competitors.
Reviews of the GameCube were mostly positive, with the console receiving praised for its controller, extensive third-party support, high-quality exclusive games, and its creative exterior design, which was often referred to as the “Lunch Box” due to its unique handle.The GameCube was a modest success financially as well, selling 21.74 million units worldwide before it was discontinued in 2007. As the years pass, it seems that the GameCube has maintained its popularity among Nintendo fans, as many classic games such as Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! are still being played today.
Units Sold: 24 Million
Released in 2001, the Xbox was Microsoft’s first foray into the console gaming market and was the first console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar in 1996. This sixth generation console faced an uphill battle, as it was in direct competition with the Nintendo GameCube and Sony’s most popular system ever, the PlayStation 2. The Xbox, being a Microsoft product was engineered with the PC in mind and featured a standard Intel Pentium III processor as well as a built-in hard disk, a first for video game consoles. The original Xbox also featured the best online experience in console history at the time, as Microsoft’s Xbox Live service connected gamers across the globe through the console’s integrated ethernet port.
The original Xbox was seen as a successful first step for Microsoft and went on to sell 24 million units. The console sold well in North America on the back of the popular Halo franchise that was exclusive to the Xbox. The system, however, failed to catch on in Japan; an issue that still plagues the Xbox brand to this day.
17. Atari 2600
Units Sold: 30 Million
Released on September 11, 1977, the Atari 2600 is credited with popularizing the use of games on cartridges instead of having the games built into individual console-like experiences as seen in the previous generation. The Atari 2600 was originally marketed as the Atari VCS but was renamed after the release of the Atari 5200. The 2600 was usually bundled with two joysticks and pack in game which was initially Combat and was later switched to the poorly designed Pac-Man port.
The console initially sold for $199 USD which is $804 after being adjusted for inflation – a huge financial investment for families in 1977. Despite the console’s hefty price tag, the 2600 was a vital part of the second generation of gaming and would go on to sell 30 million units over its lifespan, making Atari a household name.
16. Sega Genesis
Units Sold: 30.75 Million
The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is part of the 16-bit generation. The Genesis was Sega’s third console iteration and the follow-up to the Master System. Released as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, Sega changed the name to Genesis in its 1989 North American unveiling.
The release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System two years after the Genesis ignited a fierce battle for market share that has often been referred to as “the 16-bit console war” by journalists and enthusiasts. Despite being outsold 2:1 by the Super Nintendo, the Genesis found an audience with consumers due to its great games that featured quality arcade ports, as well as Sega’s iconic Sonic The Hedgehog series. With 30.75 million units sold worldwide, the Genesis/Mega Drive nearly tripled the sales of Sega’s previous console the Master System.
15. Nintendo 64
Units Sold: 31.93 Million
Also known as the N64, the Nintendo 64 was Nintendo’s third entry into the video game console market. Released in September 1996 in North America, the console launched with just two games: Pilotwings 64 and the groundbreaking Super Mario 64. Despite the paltry launch lineup, gamers flocked to stores to pick up the console along with a copy of one of the greatest Mario games of all time. A direct successor to the Super Nintendo, the N64 is notable for being the last Nintendo system to rely solely on the use of cartridge-based games.
The N64 was applauded for its innovative design, which featured four controller ports on the front of the console, allowing for some excellent multiplayer experiences. While the console had a handful of great games, the majority of the system’s small library wasn’t on par with what was being offered on Sony’s PlayStation at the time. The Nintendo 64 was vastly outsold by the PlayStation, but still managed to move 31.93 million units over its lifetime.
14. Xbox One
Units Sold: 36 Million (estimated)
The Xbox One is Microsoft’s third console and the successor to the Xbox 360, which ceased production in 2016. The Xbox One received positive reviews for its clean lines, refined controller design, multimedia capabilities and voice navigation. Microsoft has released three Xbox One iterations since it entered the market in 2013, including the Xbox One S model and the high-end model Xbox One X. The console sold well in its first months and went head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 4 from the start.
Xbox One console sales are estimated to be around 36 million units at the time of writing this, while the PlayStation 4 has doubled that, coming in around 76 million units. It seems as though Microsoft has lost this round, but it doesn’t mean that the Xbox One isn’t a great console or a financial success in its own right for the software giant.
13. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Units Sold: 49.10 Million
The Super Nintendo is regarded by many as the greatest gaming console of all time. As the successor the Nintendo Entertainment System, the SNES was a part of the 16-bit console wars where it went toe-to-toe with the Sega Genesis. The SNES arrived in a pivotal period in gaming where 16-bit consoles made a major technical leap over the previous generation. The games looked better, sounded better, and were generally a better experience than games that were produced on 8-bit systems such as the NES.
The Super Nintendo was a major global success and when the dust settled, it was the best-selling console of the 16-bit era. The system went on to sell almost 50 million units over the course of the 1990s and continues to be popular among retro gamers and collectors alike.
12. Nintendo Entertainment System
Units Sold: 61.91 Million
Known as the Famicom in Japan, the Nintendo Entertainment System made its debut in North America in 1986. The NES is the 8-bit home console that single-handedly pulled the industry out of the hole created by the 1983 video game crash and went on to revolutionize the industry. The console’s name – the Nintendo Entertainment System – was created in order to distance the system from the word “video game” and Nintendo marketed it as a toy, as many retailers had become wary of stocking video games following the crash.
The system launch alongside 17 games, which are now referred to as the “Black Box” series and included classics like Duck Hunt, Excitebike, and Super Mario Bros. The NES was a massive success right out of the gate and the talk in schoolyards was once again dominated by video games. The Nintendo Entertainment System would go on to sell 61.91 million units during its lifetime and helped make Nintendo an pop culture icon that endures to this day.
11. Nintendo 3DS
Units Sold: 71.99 Million
Unveiled at E3 2010, the Nintendo 3DS is a dual-screen handheld gaming system capable of displaying stereoscopic 3D graphics without the use of 3D glasses. Launching in North America on March 27, 2011 with a retail price of $249.99 USD, the system was slow to catch on and by July had received an $80 price cut, angering early adopters. Despite the system’s hefty launch price, reception for the 3DS was immediately positive, with critics and consumers being impressed with the novelty of the 3D and its leap in power over the Nintendo DS.
Several revisions of the 3DS have hit the market since launch, offering larger screens, increased battery life, better stereoscopic 3D, a C-stick allowing for better camera control, and eventually a revision that removed the 3D effect completely. The Nintendo 3DS has sold 71.99 million units to date and continues to be offered by Nintendo as a cheaper alternative to the Nintendo Switch.
10. PlayStation 4
Units Sold: 76.5 Million
The PlayStation 4 is part of the powerful current generation of consoles that are producing some of the most immersive experiences in gaming history. The PS4 was released on November 15, 2013, and was the successor to Sony’s widely popular PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 4 was part of an “arms race” with the Xbox One and came out on top, as it was considered the more pro-consumer and more powerful console between the two at launch. Reception from critics, developers, and consumers were generally positive, as Sony was praised for listening to the concerns of fans and creating a platform that was easier for developers to create games for.
Since launch, the PlayStation 4 has seen two console revisions, the smaller “Slim” version featuring the original hardware and the “Pro” version with upgraded specs that allows 4K gameplay on select titles. By early 2018 the PS4 had sold 76.5 million units worldwide and shows no signs of slowing down, as the platform continues to release some fantastic exclusive titles such as God of War and Detroit: Become Human.
9. Game Boy Advance
Units Sold: 81.51 Million
Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance set the gaming world ablaze with anticipation when it was announced at E3 in June 2000. Released worldwide in 2001, the GBA was essentially a portable Super Nintendo on steroids. Competing against the likes of the Neo-Geo Pocket Color and the Nokia N-Gage, the Game Boy Advance easily dominated the handheld market in the early 2000s.
In early 2003, Nintendo released one of the greatest console revisions in gaming history when they launched the Game Boy Advance SP. The SP model featured a clamshell design, was half the size, included a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a front-lit screen. As of June 30th, 2010 the Game Boy Advance has sold 81.51 million worldwide; its successor, the Nintendo DS, was released in 2004 and featured the ability to play the GBA’s back catalog of software.
8. PlayStation Portable
Units Sold: 82 Million
The PlayStation Portable (PSP) was a handheld gaming system developed by Sony Computer Entertainment and released in North America in March 2005. The PSP went head-to-head with the Nintendo DS during the seventh console generation and was beaten handedly by Nintendo’s offering. Despite being crushed by the DS, the PSP was still extremely successful and offered graphics comparable to the previous generation’s home consoles. The PSP also allowed PlayStation fans to play a wide variety of Sony’s back catalog through various ports
The PSP was the only handheld console to use an optical disc format: the proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD). Like most consoles, the PSP received several revisions which made the handheld smaller and added higher quality displays. The PSP was discontinued in 2014 and has sold a staggering 82 million units in its lifetime, leading way to the release of the PlayStation Vita in 2012.
7. PlayStation 3
Units Sold: 83.8 Million
The PlayStation 3 is the third console in the PlayStation family and was released in November of 2006. The console launched at $499 USD and combined with a mediocre launch lineup of games, stumbled out of the gate. The PS3 faced direct competition in form of the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii as part of the seventh generation of consoles. It wasn’t until Sony’s first PS3 hardware revision the “Slim” hit the market that the console started to gain some traction and catch up to the Xbox 360. The Ps3 also launched some of Sony’s most popular franchises like the Uncharted series, The Last of Us, and Little Big Planet.
PS3 sales were also boosted by the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, which was one of the most affordable ways for consumers to play the newly introduced Blu-ray DVDs at the time. The PS3 sold an impressive 83.8 million units over its lifetime and although it was the least successful of the generation in terms of total units, it still lands at number seven all-time.
6. Xbox 360
Units Sold: 84 Million
Released in November of 2005, the Xbox 360 was Microsoft’s second console release and the successor to the company’s successful Xbox console. Competing with the likes of the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360 faced some stiff competition. The Xbox 360 featured an expanded version of its online infrastructure (Xbox Live) that was introduced with the original Xbox. Xbox Live allowed users to play games online, download games through the Xbox Live Arcade, as well as download demos.
The Xbox 360 was in short supply during its first few months on the market and combined with a the high failure rate, the Xbox 360 got off to a rough start. The Xbox 360 is now considered one of the greatest consoles of all time and featured one of the strongest libraries of games to date. The 360 would go on to sell 84 million consoles, just ahead of the PS3 and falling just short of the 101.63 million sold by the Nintendo Wii.
Units Sold: 101.63 Million
The Nintendo Wii was a cultural phenomenon in the mid-2000s and even your most casual gaming fan had one. Coming off the modest success of the Nintendo GameCube, the Japanese company with deep roots in the toy industry decided to go in a different direction. The Nintendo Wii introduced the Wii Remote controller, allowing users to make gestures with their arms that would be translated into on-screen movements. All Nintendo Wii systems came bundled with Wii Sports, which was basically a tech demo for the system’s motion controls. Wii Sports turned out to be the best selling tool for the console, as it was a perfect proof of concept, easy to play, and fun for gamers of all ages and abilities.
The Nintendo Wii was also notable for introducing the Virtual Console, which allowed players to download a vast array of Nintendo’s library of classic games. The Nintendo Wii sold over 100 million consoles over its time in stores making it the highest selling console of the extremely competitive seventh generation that included the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Units Sold: 102.49 Million
Released on September 9, 1995 in North America, the PlayStation was the first console released by Sony Computer Entertainment. The CD-based console was up against the likes of the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn during it’s run in the mid to late 90s. The PlayStation launched at $299 with a decent lineup of games that included Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Air Combat, Philosoma, Ridge Racer, and Rayman. After a successful North American launch, Sony reported strong software sales and an attachment rate of 4:1 which is a testament to the quality of games released in the early months.
The PlayStation received a hardware revision in 2000 in the form of the PS One, a slimmer version of the original hardware. Fueled by some outstanding software featuring some excellent gameplay and graphics (for the time), the Sony PlayStation would eventually surpass the 100 million unit mark and kick-start the PlayStation brand.
3. Game Boy/Game Boy Color
Units Sold: 118.69 Million
The Game Boy was Nintendo’s 8-bit handheld released on the 100th anniversary of Nintendo in Japan on April 21, 1989, and in North America on July 31, 1989. The system retailed for $89.99 USD and featured a launch lineup of Super Mario Land, Alleyway, Baseball, Tennis, and Tetris. Early Game Boys were bundled with the addictive puzzle game Tetris, which became a cultural phenomenon in its own right. The handheld system received several revisions in the mid-late 90s including the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Light in Japan.
The Game Boy Color revision came shortly after and as its name suggests, allowed previous titles to be played in color. The system used slightly tweaked hardware and featured games that were exclusive to the Color model. Production of the Game Boy/Game Boy Color ceased in the early 2000s and before all was said and done sales had reached almost 120 million units.
2. Nintendo DS
Units Sold: 154.02 Million
The Nintendo DS, short for “Developers System” or “Dual Screen,” was released in North America on November 21, 2004. A major design departure from Nintendo’s Game Boy line, the DS resembled earlier Nintendo handhelds like the Game & Watch series of handheld LCD games. In terms of power and performance, the console was likened to the Nintendo 64 and featured several N64 ports like Super Mario 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. Prior to the system’s launch, the DS was marketed as the “third pillar” in Nintendo’s console lineup alongside the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. The ability to play GBA games on the Nintendo DS quickly made the Game Boy Advance obsolete.
In March of 2006, the Nintendo DS received hardware revision in the form of the Nintendo DS Lite which was slimmer, lighter and included a higher quality display. The Nintendo DS was a huge success for Nintendo and would go on to sell more than 150 million units worldwide, making it the highest selling handheld gaming system of all time.
1. PlayStation 2
Units Sold: 155 Million
We’ve finally hit the number one spot! The PlayStation 2 is the highest-selling video game console of all time with a grand total of 155 million units sold worldwide. The successor to Sony’s first console, the PlayStation, the PS2 was released on October 26, 2000 in North America and remained in production for 13 years, making it the longest-lasting console of all time as well. The PS2 features the most extensive library or games for any console and includes more than 3,874 titles across all regions.
The console received a hardware revision in 2004 that made the console 60% smaller while retaining the same functionality. The PS2 Slim revision was extremely popular and helped push sales into the mid-late 2000’s even though the PS3 was released in 2006. It seems like everyone has owned a PS2 at some point in their lives and it will remain to be seen whether another console will be able to hit the 150 million mark in coming years.