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Video Game Console Sales Sure Look Bleak (if you don't care about real numbers)

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Let's talk about video games for a second. As always, we have tech pundits talking about the end being neigh for video game consoles, which is why this article caught my eye. There is so much wrong with this article that it's almost too easy a target. Let's take things one at a time:

Microsoft’s follow-up console, the Xbox One, has not sold nearly as well as the 360. In 2008, less than three years after it was launched, the company said the 360 had sold over 19 million units worldwide. The Xbox One was released in 2013, and has sold about 10 million units in roughly the same amount of time as its predecessor.

They quote 10 million units as the current (April 2016) sales numbers for the Xbox One and say that is about half of the 19 million that the Xbox 360 sold at this point in its life. That sounds scary, but Microsoft officially sold 10 million Xbox Ones by November 2014. They have stopped reporting total sales since then, but one would presume they have sold at least a couple in the 17 months since. Current estimates had the Xbox One sales at about 19 million units as of January 2016.

It’s possible that Microsoft is discontinuing the decade-old Xbox 360 because it’s working on its follow-up to its current console, and doesn’t want to be selling three consoles simultaneously.

Name one other tech product that was released in 2005 and is still on the market. This is not a sign of trouble.

And you could make a strong case that a large portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo attracted for the Wii was almost entirely wiped out by mobile gaming. After all, the Wii was released in 2006—a year before the iPhone launched.

I certainly agree that the Wii was an outlier and it appealed to "non-gamers" the same way that smartphone games do today. It's important to note that the Wii U is also not as good a product as the Wii was and Nintendo did not market it well.

None of the top 10 most popular games consoles of all time have been released in the last 10 years

There have been 3 consoles released in the past 10 years and 2 of them have only been on sale for just over 2 years. The PlayStation 2, which is the highest selling home console of all time, was sold for 12 years. Also just a minor detail, but by the chart in this exact article, the PS4 is already the 9th best selling home console.

I'm all for discussing why game consoles' future may be challenging and what type of device will take their place, but let's at least pretend to care about real numbers. The people I see passing articles like this around would tear it apart if it was about Apple numbers, but they don't fact check it because it verifies a narrative they so badly want to be true.

The article only talks about Microsoft but what about Sony and Nintendo? Well, at this point in the PlayStation 3's life (28 months on the market) it had sold 22 million units. Meanwhile Sony reported they had sold 36 million PlayStation 4's in its first 25 months on the market. Sony has taken charge this generation, easily becoming the market leader.

Nintendo is the one company that has fallen far from it's previous sales numbers, as the Wii U has only sold 17 million units after 3 years. The Wii sold an amazing 67 million units in it's first 3 years.