Who is Winning the Latest Round of the Console Battle?

Who is Winning the Latest Round of the Console Battle?

The gaming landscape is very different today from what it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Players have many more options when it comes to how they consume their favourite titles, with the traditional consoles being joined by smartphones, tablets, and virtual reality headsets. Players even have the ability to play casino games online, rather than in person. This activity is so popular that many online casinos vie for the business of bettors by providing offers and other promotions to new customers. These bonuses help to generate almost £6.5 billion being wagered online in the UK each year, accounting for almost two-thirds of the entire non-lottery-related gaming yield. 

Despite all these many different options and the clear demand for non-console forms of gaming, the dedicated machines created by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo continue to be far more synonymous with the activity as a whole than any other format. 

It’s easy to see why. In the UK alone, £1.13 billion was spent on gaming console hardware in 2021, accounting for roughly half of the entire hardware market which also includes computers, PC components, accessories and peripherals, and VR headsets.

With such a big pie on the table, it’s easy to see why the big three manufacturers — Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — are so keen to cut a sizable slice of it for themselves. But who currently has the biggest portion? 

The Console Wars

The console wars are by no means a new phenomenon. We are currently on the 9th generation of devices, following the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series S/X in late 2020. 

Hardware manufacturers have been battling for market supremacy for decades, though the main players in the fight have changed several times. Big names like Atari, SEGA, and Phillips have all seen varying levels of success over the years, but have all bowed out of the hardware market for gaming. 

In many ways, the console wars are similar to the cola wars in that they are a friendly but fierce fight between multiple companies who are looking to dominate a market. 

Rounds Seven and Eight

Sony had unparalleled success with its PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles. The company still holds the record for the most units shifted thanks to the PS2, though Microsoft was a late-comer to the party, having brought the original Xbox to market after Sony’s second machine.

So when the seventh generation went on sale, everyone expected the PS3 to trounce the Xbox 360. But due to technical reasons that made it harder for developers to create titles for Sony’s contender, and the fact that the 360 was cheaper, Microsoft took an early lead in round seven. 

By the end of the life of the PlayStation 3, Sony had closed the gap, achieving parity in terms of sales, but they’d had to work hard. Learning the lessons from this, they set out to do better with the PS4. 

And that they did. Microsoft made a few missteps in the opening moments of the eighth round with a focus on non-gaming content, the bundling of the Kinect, and DRM restrictions on second-hand titles. Meanwhile, Sony couldn’t put a foot wrong with their better architecture, great library, and lower price. 

The result was that Sony has sold more than twice as many PS4s than Microsoft has sold Xbox Ones. Score 2-1 to Sony. 

Round Nine

So with the ninth generation of consoles now more than two years old, we’re beginning to get a better picture of how this time round is shaping up. 

This time it’s a little closer, though the fact that Microsoft no longer reports unit sales makes it difficult to get an accurate figure. That said, Microsoft is believed to have managed more sell more than 20 million of its Xbox Series S and Series X machines, at least according to estimates. 

In comparison, as of late 2022, Sony has sold more than 25 million units of its PlayStation 5 console. This puts the Japanese company firmly in the lead and on course to take a third win against its American rival. 

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