BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The field of gaming technology has come a long way since the first days of old-fashioned arcade machines. The industry that began with at-home devices solely capable of playing the likes of Pong and Asteroids has, in modern times, grown to encompass some of the most impressive advances in entertainment technology. From immersive open worlds with incredible graphics to virtual reality experiences, video games have evolved into not only a technically impressive medium, but an extremely profitable one as well. And one of the clearest examples of this can be seen in the sale of consoles — which is only increasing as time goes by.
While they were originally the only way to play video games in the comfort of one’s own home, consoles seem to have fallen to the wayside for many in terms of alternate ways of gaming. Arguably the largest competitor to physical gaming consoles is the rise of digital platforms like Steam or the Epic Games Store — systems that not only allow their users to purchase, download, and re-download any games they purchase on any computer, but also have a much lower barrier for game designers and independent teams to cross in order to be published. This constant adaptation means that players can see a steady stream of new games being released without needing to purchase new devices. But in recent years, the console industry has seen a major uptick in sales.
According to information gathered by Sportslens, the worldwide console gaming market grossed a total of $15.8 billion in 2019 — a number that was bolstered even further by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased the total gross to over $19 billion. Even after the epidemic, though, sales didn’t decline, and rose up to a gross of $20.3 billion last year. Furthermore, reports from Statista expect these figures to rise even further this year by an extra $870 million — an annual compound growth rate of 4.3%. While the site does predict that this growth will slow down over time, the expected value of the console market is set to reach a value of $22.8 billion by 2027.
In terms of which console companies are bringing in the largest amount of console sales, the discussion usually turns to the ‘Big Three’ companies — Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo (known for the Xbox, Playstation, and Switch, respectively). However, one towers over the others — Nintendo. The company behind many iconic family-friendly franchises also boasts over 50% of the total market share for in-home video game consoles (not including gaming PCs), and their latest device, the Nintendo Switch, is currently the second best-selling game console of all time behind the PlayStation 2. Between October and December of last year alone, 8.2 million Nintendo Switch consoles were sold — bringing the device’s lifetime unit sales to over 120 million in total.
While sales of gaming consoles have been booming worldwide, nowhere is their growth clearer than in the United States. The US is the largest market for console games, and this year, the data suggests that it is expected to gross over $7 billion in revenue. This is a tremendous increase when compared to the other largest markets — to the point where the U.S. console market’s revenue may be greater than the other top markets put together.
|Rank||Country||Estimated Gross Console Revenue (In U.S. Dollars)|
|1||United States||$7,000,000,000 ($7 Billion)|
|2||Japan||$2,300,000,000 (2.3 Billion)|
|3||United Kingdom||$2,000,000,000 ($2 Billion)|
|4||France||$1,300,000,000 ($1.3 Billion)|
|5||Germany||$940,000,000 ($940 Million)|
There are many reasons for Nintendo’s takeover of the console market, but it is notable that many of the company’s most popular games are only available on Nintendo consoles — meaning that purchasing a Switch (as well as paying an additional charge for internet access) is the only way to access and get the most out of newer entries in beloved franchises like Super Mario, Smash Bros., Pokemon, and The Legend of Zelda. While Sony and Microsoft often expand the reach of their games by offering them on platforms like Steam, this also means that many people interested in these games will not purchase a console to play them.
While PCs are currently still the go-to choice for many gamers, it’s clear that consoles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon — and only time will tell just how many more advances we can expect from them down the line. Until then, whether it’s an old-school NES or the latest Xbox model, feel free to plug in, insert your favorite game, and play away!