Twitter DMer @pueblo786 asked “who is the all-time leader in the console wars?”. (Ok, he just asked which console should I buy right now but fuck it, I’m expounding). This question kinda sucks because it requires me to do some research, but ok fine I’ll do it. Not like I have anything else to do today at my actual job anyway. Well, the easy answer is probably Nintendo, but just for shits and giggles, let’s count it up. Also, no portables. Nintendo is by far the obvious winner with GameBoy and DS.
First Generation (1972-1983)
Yea, not a whole lot going on in this generation. Computers are expensive as fuck, Steve Jobs is still working out of his garage, and I mean look at this thing. Could you imaging coming home to this every night to play it? Sheesh. While there were definitely other consoles out by pioneers like Magnavox, the Atari Home Pong system has to take the win here. Ask anyone that knows anything about video games what the first game was, and 99% will say Pong. This was the pinnacle of gaming in the 70s, until arcade cabinets became prominent in the 80s.
Scoreboard (Atari 1)
Second Generation (1976-1992)
Why are the first and second generations of video game consoles overlapped so much? I have no fucking idea but that’s what Wikipedia has it set up as so I am rolling with it. Arcade games ruled this generation, as clearly seen in any 80s themed movie or show like Stranger Things. Kids used to flock to arcades with pockets full of quarters to play Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Dig-Dig, all competing for that coveted high score ranking. As for home consoles, the two giants at the time were still Magnavox and Atari. But there were many other players in the market, which caused the video game crash in the mid-80s. Believe it or not, my family used to have an Atari 2600, and I’ve played a bunch of the old games on the joystick and wheelball. While the Magnavox Odyssey was for sure an important piece in video game history, Atari once again won this generation.
Scoreboard: (Atari 2)
Third Generation (1983-2003)
Yea I’d just ignore that last year on each of the headings. I have zero clue why Wikipedia thinks that 2003 was the end of the third generation of gaming. They say that it was the year that 8 bit consoles became obsolete at this point, but we all know that happened much earlier. Nevertheless, this was the generation that Nintendo made its mark. Up to this point, they’d just been game developers, making arcade hits like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers. But when they released the NES, they put a stranglehold on the entire market. In fact, we owe everything to Nintendo, as the popularity of the NES saved the entire industry. As for the other players, Sega released its first console in this generations, and Atari was still prominent, but we all know in retrospective, this was Nintendo’s generation. No doubt.
Scoreboard (Atari 2, Nintendo 1)
Fourth Generation (1987-2004)
This was probably the beginning of what we would call the “console wars”. Yea Atari and Magnavox were technically competing in the 1st and 2nd generations, but gaming was so new back then and there were a TON of other players. But when the early 90s rolled around, the only two companies that mattered were Nintendo and Sega. On a technical level, the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were evenly matched; both were 16 bit systems with improved graphics and sound over their 8 bit counterparts, each had a flagship mascot in Mario and Sonic, and they both were widely popular in North America. But in the end, Sega shot themselves in the foot by moving on to the Saturn too quickly, causing the company to be without inventory or software to meet the demand. In turn, the SNES sold about 9 million more consoles worldwide than the Genesis, giving Nintendo another big win.
Scoreboard (Atari 2, Nintendo 2)
Fifth Generation (1993-2005)
The 5th generation is when one of today’s key players entered the marked. The Sony PlayStation debuted in 1995 in North America, cementing itself as Nintendo’s new #1 competitor. While Sega and Atari still hung around with the Jaguar and Saturn respectively, nothing came close to the N64 and PlayStation. The 3D capabilities of these two devices revolutionized the industry. For me, this is a kinda tough decision, because when I was a kid I used to prefer the PlayStation. But if you asked me now? It’s the N64 without a doubt. Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros. Leave me on a desert island with that package and I’m good.
Scoreboard (Nintendo 3, Atari 2)
Sixth Generation (1998-2013)
This is the hardest generation by far to score. First, let’s just throw the Sega Dreamcast out the window. Nice try Sega, but this is the year you no longer were a contender. The other 3 players though ushered us into a brand new era of “modern gaming”. Microsoft entered the market with the Xbox, which started slow but built momentum with Xbox Live and Halo. Nintendo put in another very solid entry with the Gamecube, but many including myself didn’t understand why they avoided a classic button layout, and the whole mini disk thing made no sense. While the other two companies put up a good fight, this generation belonged to Sony with the PS2. God of War, Uncharted, GTA, Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts; this was the year Sony’s exclusives started to overtake Nintendo’s. People who’d been playing since the lat 80s were looking for more mature themes to explore, and Sony played right into their hands. and it shows in the sales numbers; Sony almost double the consoles as Microsoft and Nintendo combined. As it stands today, the PlayStation 2 is still the best selling console of all time.
Scoreboard (Nintendo 3, Atari 2, Sony 1)
Seventh Generation (2005-2017)
Microsoft. Microsoft won the 7th gen.
There’s almost no contest in my mind between these three. I’ll give the PS3 the graphics edge; I’ve always thought that Sony owned Microsoft in this aspect. And the Wii was…weird. I’ve never desired to have a forearm workout while I played a video game, but it had some of the best selling titles of all time like Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros Brawl. Nothing really touched the Xbox 360 though, as it led the charge for online gaming. Sure, you basically were playing minesweeper when you bought a console because of the whole red ring of death thing, and they were the least sold console of all 3, but Halo 3 and Halo Reach push this console above the rest. All consoles this gen had great exclusives, but between Gears of War and Halo, the 360 owned the competitive scene.
Scoreboard (Nintendo 3, Atari 2, Sony 1, Microsoft 1)
Eight Generation (2012-now)
No one started the 8th generation hotter than Sony, and they’ve maintained that momentum over the lat 7 years. Nintendo took a shot with the Wii U and the giant oversized controller, and they flopped big time. You wanna know how bad they flopped? In the 2010s, when video gaming is one of the biggest industries in the world, Nintendo sold less Wii U’s than the Atari 2600, which came out when the market was flooded with competitors and home consoles were considered a luxury. That’s fucking baaaad. So this gen really has been a fight between Microsoft and Sony. Remember when Microsoft announced that you needed a constant internet connection to play the Xbox One and you had to buy a Kinect as well? Then remember when their opening sale price was $100 more than the PS4? Then remember when Sony made a better console for less money? Oh and remember that time when for 7 year Microsoft released one exclusive that actually mattered (Halo 5) while Sony released Uncharted 4, Bloodbourne, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, and Persona 5?
Yea, the PS4 won this gen by a landslide. So if you’re still late to the party and looking for a console to buy, I highly recommend the PS4 Pro.
Scoreboard (Nintendo 3, Atari 2, Sony 2, Microsoft 1)
So yes, Nintendo still is the best gaming company of all time at the moment, but Sony is hot on their heels. The next generation is going to be huge as Google is throwing their hat in the ring, Nintendo and Microsoft seem to be teaming up, cloud gaming is going to make its debut, and gaming consoles are finally catching up with PC in terms of processing power. Life will be good in 2020.