James McCay

Apr 20, 2021

Since the 70s, gamers have been able to bring the fun of the arcade home. Over the years, many different video game consoles have been released by various brands, each vying to be a bigger success than the last.

Some are remembered fondly, but were eventually replaced by new and improved technology, while other gaming systems didn’t survive their respective generation’s console wars and faded into obscurity.

With the advent of the internet, a new way to play soon made its way to gaming consoles – online multiplayer.

These days almost every aspect of a video game involves an internet connection, from digital downloads and cloud-based data storage to gaming with others in real-time across the world.

Which gaming console is most popular by country for connecting online?

Currently, the big players in the console wars are Sony’s PlayStation, the Nintendo consoles and Microsoft’s Xbox. With the recent release of the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, this generation’s console wars show no sign of slowing down.1,2

We take a look at the popularity of these big three gaming console brands in recent years across specific countries that had some of the highest console sales, with the data showing how many gamers used their consoles to access the internet.

View the data for 2019’s console internet activity share below, with previous years’ data underneath.

2018

2017

Source: Console Operating System Market Share Worldwide. StatCounter, GlobalStats. July 2020.

Disclaimer: Older generation game consoles can’t access the internet, and thus aren’t represented in the data. However, all modern and current generation platforms can access the internet (and often need to for multiplayer modes, plus game and update downloads), so the above table is a handy indicator of the current state of the console wars.

Why is PlayStation so popular?

As shown by the data, PlayStation consoles are highly popular around the world in comparison to Xbox and Nintendo consoles. As of July 2020, PlayStation accounted for 63.39% of the console operating system market’s share of online activity. Xbox came in second for popularity with 36.6% of console gamers on Earth using the system.

Only in the USA and Mexico is the Xbox platform more popular for internet connectivity than PlayStation.

To be fair to Xbox fans, the first PlayStation was released in 1994, while the first Xbox only came out in 2001. By that time, the PlayStation 2 (or PS2 for short) was already popular among gamers, having been released a year earlier in 2000. The PS2 currently holds the sales record with almost 158 million units sold.3

Fun fact: PlayStation exclusive game coming to the big screen

The Uncharted franchise of videogames, one of PlayStation’s best-selling exclusive titles, is coming to the silver screen. Slated for release in 2021, the movie will star Tom Holland as protagonist Nathan Drake.4

Some other video game franchises that got a movie (whether or not it was any good) include:

Assassin’s Creed,
Mortal Kombat,
Super Mario Bros.,
Lara Croft,
Resident Evil,
Street Fighter,
Doom, and
Sonic the Hedgehog.

 

Furthermore, the PlayStation 4 is renowned for having access to a greater range of highly rated exclusive titles such as God of War, The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, Spider-Man, and the remastered Shadow of the Colossus.

In comparison, there are fewer exclusive Xbox One titles which were as commercially successful,5,6 though this does include pop culture behemoths like the Halo, Forza and Gears of War franchises. While the PlayStation platform may have more feathers in its cap, Xbox consoles have been known for having better backwards compatibility – meaning older games still work on newer tech (saving gamers the headache of having to buy a game twice).7 Though this is not a unique feature to the Xbox platform, it was renowned for it when the Xbox One replaced the Xbox 360.

What about Nintendo?

Nintendo consoles have been around longer than both Xbox and PlayStation, with their first gaming console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), coming out in 1983.

Their current console, the Nintendo Switch, is proving popular with gamers around the world. From release in 2017 to June 2020 over 60 million Switch consoles were sold.8 However, it currently has a smaller library of online multiplayer games compared to the PlayStation and Xbox. This means gamers don’t need to use the internet as much, and this is reflected in the data above.

The Power Glove: Nintendo’s early attempt at motion control

In 1990 Nintendo released a peripheral for the NES, the Power Glove – while a novel concept it didn’t sell well due to a lack of games that supported its functionality.

Furthermore, while the original Nintendo Wii was a smash hit with gamers when it came out in 2006, Nintendo’s follow-up console the Wii U was a commercial failure compared to the original. In an investor FAQ session at Nintendo’s 76th AGM, former president Tatsumi Kimishima admitted the company expected to sell close to 100 million units,9 comparable to the success of the first Nintendo Wii. However, the company only sold just over 13 million.10

Exclusive title sales: Another indicator of popularity?

Internet activity usage is one thing, but exclusive title sales can help provide another viewpoint to see which consoles are more popular in the global console wars.

Playstation

The Last of Us

Year: 2014
Sales: 20 million+ (as of October 2019)11

The Last of Us II

Year: 2020
Sales: 4 million+ (as of June 2020)12

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Year: 2016
Sales: 16 million+ (as of October 2019)13

Spider-man

Year: 2018
Sales: 13.2 million+ (as of August 2019)14

God of War

Year: 2018
Sales: 10 million+ (as of May 2019)15

Xbox

Halo 5: Guardians

Year: 2015
Sales: 6.6 million+ (as of May 2015)16

Halo 4

Year: 2012
Sales: 5 million+ (as of May 2012)17

Sea of Thieves

Year: 2018
Sales: 15 million+* (as of June 2012)18

Forza Horizon 4

Year: 2018
Sales: 15 million+ (as of May 2020)19

Gears of War 3

Year: 2011
Sales: 6 million+* (as of June 2012)20

Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Year: 2017
Sales: 26.74 million (as of June 2020)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Year: 2020
Sales: 22.4 million (as of June 2020)

Super Smash Bros: Ultimate

Year: 2018
Sales: 19.99 million (as of June 2020)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Year: 2017
Sales: 18.60 million (as of June 2020)

Super Mario Odyssey

Year: 2017
Sales: 18.06 million (as of June 2020)21

Disclaimer: This table includes games released before and after the three-year window our internet activity chart explores above, and these numbers are subject to change. Some exclusive titles became available on PC or other consoles at a later date.

* Player count, not sales figures.

As the sales figures go for console exclusives, Nintendo numbers take the cake, placing them above Xbox and most PlayStation titles. However, it’s hard to get clear stats on Xbox games, as the data above was taken shortly after the titles were released. Also, many of these games are available to play through Microsoft’s highly regarded Game Pass subscription service –  (where games don’t have to be purchased individually), so current numbers could even be higher. Besides Game Pass being known for offering good value for money, Microsoft has also made several exclusive Xbox titles available to PC gamers at release.

Shot down: Xbox 360 commercial banned

A TV commercial for the release of the Xbox 360 in 2005, which depicted a busy train station turning into a make-believe shoot-out with finger guns, never made it to mainstream television, but was aired at an Xbox launch event.

Still, with a whole new console generation on its way, there’s plenty for gamers of all stripes to enjoy, no matter the platform.

Protecting your consoles and home devices

From old-school gamers playing on retro consoles to those who seek the latest and greatest gaming tech, it’s important that you consider your electronic devices and other valuables when it comes to home and contents insurance. You can compare home and contents insurance in Australia for free in minutes using our Australian comparison service.

Sources

  1. PlayStation 5. PlayStation, Sony. 2020.
  2. The New Xbox Series X. Xbox, Microsoft. 2020.
  3. Top 10 best-selling videogame consoles. Mike Plant, Guinness World Records. 2018.
  4. Uncharted (2021). IMDb. 2020.
  5. Just How Badly Did The PS4 And Switch Outsell The Xbox One This Generation? Paul Tassi, Forbes. 2020.
  6. New Sales Figures Suggest PS4 Is Widening the Gap on Xbox One. Alistair Jones, Kotaku. 2020.
  7. 5 Reasons To Buy An Xbox One Instead Of A PlayStation 4 in 2019. Erik Kain
  8. Dedicated Video Games Sales Units. Nintendo. 2020.
  9. The 76th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders: Q & A. Nintendo. 2016.
  10. Dedicated Video Games Sales Units. Nintendo. 2020.
  11. The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 Reach Incredible Sales Milestones. Brianna Reeves, PlayStationLifeStyle. 2019.
  12.  Naughty Dog’s gripping follow-up is a hit with fans. Eric Lempel, PlayStation Blog. 2020.
  13. The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 Reach Incredible Sales Milestones. Brianna Reeves, PlayStationLifeStyle. 2019.
  14. Marvel’s Spider-Man Swings to a Whopping 13.2 Million Units Sold Worldwide. Brianna Reeves, PlayStationLifeStyle. 2019.
  15. God of War PS4 Sales Exceed 10 Million. Eddie Makuch, GameSpot. 2019.
  16. The new ‘Halo’ game is making Microsoft a ton of money. Ben Gilbert, Business Insider Australia. 2015.
  17. Microsoft ‘Halo 4’ sales hit $220 million on launch day. Malathi Nayak, Reuters. 2012.
  18. Sea of Thieves passes 15 million players since launch. Joel Neate, Rare Limited, Microsoft. 2020.
  19. Forza Horizon 4 reaches 10 million players. Rebekah Valentine, GamesIndustry.biz. 2019.
  20. Gears of War series sales hit 19 Milllion. Eddie Makuch, GamesSpot. 2012.
  21. Top Selling Title Sales Units. Nintendo. 2020.

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