Where Switch, PS5 Rank Among the Best-Selling Video Game Consoles of All Time
Sony’s PlayStation 2 has long reigned as the best-selling video game console of all time. Despite its massive sales success, PlayStation 4 will end its run tens of millions of units away from the top spot. And while it, too, is still a long way from the top, Switch has maintained extraordinary sales momentum and is now approaching the lifetime sales total of PS4.
With Switch and PS4 having secured their spots among the all-time best-selling consoles, we set out to discover how the rest of Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft’s hardware stack up. Now after three quarters of 2022, we’ve expanded our original list to make room for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, as well as hardware from former console makers Sega and Atari.
So scroll down or click through the gallery below for our list of the 28 best-selling video game consoles of all time, with additional information on release dates, highest-rated games, and more.
(Some sales figures come straight from the hardware manufacturers, while others are estimated based on the most recently reported numbers and market analysis. Unofficial sales totals are marked with an asterisk (*). The highest-rated games, meanwhile, come from Metacritic.)
If you only care about the biggest sellers, here’s the TL;DR Top 5 Best-Selling Consoles list, in order. Scroll down for more details and breakdowns:
- PlayStation 2 (Sony) – 159 million*
- Nintendo DS (Nintendo) – 154.02 million
- Game Boy/Game Boy Color (Nintendo) – 118.69 million
- PlayStation 4 (Sony) – 117.2 million
- Nintendo Switch (Nintendo) – 114.33 million
28. Sega Dreamcast – 9.13 million*
*According to Sega’s 2001 annual report, lifetime sales for the console had hit 8.2 million by March 31, 2001 — the day Sega ended Dreamcast production. In the first half of the following fiscal year, the company reported it had sold an additional 130,000 units in Japan and 530,000 in the U.S, bringing the sales total up to 8.86 million. Remaining inventory for those two territories at the time, according to that same report, totaled 270,000 units. We know, thanks to Sega’s 2002 annual report, it eventually sold through all of that remaining inventory, bringing our sales total up to 9.13 million.
Now, the only figures missing are sales and inventory in Europe and Asia (outside of Japan) after March 31, 2001. However, we can seemingly discount Europe, as remaining European inventory was sold to Bigben Interactive around the time production ended. It’s unknown how many units were left in Asia, though it’s likely a fairly insignificant number considering it was the lowest performing of those four markets. As such, we’re sticking with the known total of 9.13 million.
27. Sega Saturn – 9.26 million*
*As of March 31, 1998, Saturn had sold 8.8 million units when it was discontinued in the U.S. That was the last official update from Sega, though the console would continue to be sold in Japan for another two years. 9.26 million is the final estimate given by research firm CESA. While we don’t have any official numbers to bridge that gap between 8.8 and 9.26 million, CESA’s Dreamcast estimate proved accurate (according to our math), and so we’re going to accept its Saturn total as the best available guess.
26. Wii U – 13.56 million
With 13.56 million units sold, according to official sales data, Wii U is Nintendo’s worst-selling console of all time by a wide margin. However, as former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé told CNN, the lessons learned from Wii U were crucial in propelling the Switch to success.
25. Sega Game Gear – 13.9 million*
*There are several Game Gear sales totals floating around the web: 10.62 million (from a data compilation on NeoGAF), 12 million (from late Sega executive Joe Miller), and “about” 14 million (from former Sega president Hideki Sato). Considering those three sources, we’ve opted to go with the company’s former president, assuming “about” means slightly less than 14 million.
24. PlayStation Vita – 14 million*
*Despite a dedicated fanbase, Sony’s follow-up to the PSP failed to gain a similar foothold in the handheld market, falling well short of its predecessor’s sales total. Sony stopped reporting sales figures for Vita fairly early on in its lifecycle, though estimates — from news outlets and industry analysts — put the total somewhere between 10 and 15 million. Gamesindustry.biz reported Vita “sold south of” 15 million units, yet ended its run “marginally ahead” of Wii U, leading us to our rough estimate of 14 million.
23. Xbox Series X|S – 17 million*
*Microsoft has continued its policy of not disclosing sales numbers this generation, making it impossible to know the exact sales total of Xbox Series X|S. However, according to an estimate from Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad, Microsoft had shipped over 12 million Series X|S consoles to retailers between its November 2020 launch and the end of 2021.
Microsoft announced it was the next-gen market leader in North America for 2022’s first two quarters (and globally for at least the first (via VGC)). Sony shipped 4.4 million PS5s from January–June 2022, according to its official numbers, and so we’re assuming Xbox Series X|S sales over that same period are slightly higher, perhaps in the ballpark of 5 million, leading to our estimate of 17 million units sold. (As noted, this is an estimate on top of an estimate; it’s not meant to represent an official sales figure but rather our best guess based on available data.)
We do know for certain, however, Xbox Series X|S remain the fastest-selling Xbox consoles of all time. (For context: Microsoft shipped 11.6 million Xbox 360s over the same time frame (via Reuters); Xbox One sales figures are unknown.)
The Best Games to Play on Xbox Series X|S
22. Sega Master System/Mark III – 20 million*
*According to a compilation on NeoGAF of available sales data, Master System sold 6.2 million units in Europe. In Brazil, its biggest market, sales reached over 8 million, bringing our total to 14.2 million. Estimates for sales in Japan and the U.S., meanwhile, generally sit around 2 million per territory. Accounting for another 2 million in remaining territories — such as Australia and South Korea, where the console reportedly sold fairly well —we arrive at our final estimate of 20 million.
21. Xbox – 21 million*
*While Microsoft hasn’t announced an official sales total for the original Xbox, an archived post from the official Xbox website states “more than 24 million Xbox consoles” had been sold as of May 2006. Total Xbox 360 sales at that time had just hit 3.3 million units, according to GamesIndustry.biz, leading us to our estimate of 21 million for the original system.
20. GameCube – 21.74 million
The GameCube ended its run with 21.74 million units sold, according to Nintendo’s official numbers, making it the company’s second-worst-selling console to date. However, with 208.57 million software units sold, the number of games sold per console is the highest for any Nintendo system at 9.59.
19. PlayStation 5 – 25 million
PlayStation 5 is another massive success for Sony, selling 25 million units by the end of September 2022, according to its official sales numbers (7.8 million during Sony’s fiscal year 2020, 11.4 during FY21, and 5.7 during FY22 so far). A persistent chip shortage has kept PS5 from matching the sales pace of its predecessor, PS4, which has gone on to sell over 100 million units and counting.
The Best PS5 Games
18. Atari 2600 – 30 million*
*The oldest console on this list, Atari 2600 sold an impressive 30 million units in its lifetime, according to an archived version of a press release from Atari partner AtGames. The 2600 is by far Atari’s most successful console, with none of its successors — 5200, 7800, and Jaguar — selling enough units to qualify for this list.
17. Nintendo 64 – 32.93 million
Nintendo’s third home console ended its run with just under 33 million units sold, according to official sales numbers from the company. N64 Software sales fell just shy of 225 million units, giving it the lowest number of games sold per system (6.83) for a Nintendo home console.
16. Sega Genesis/Mega Drive – 35 million*
*The sales total of Sega Genesis/Mega Drive is a topic of much debate among game historians. The actual figure is impossible to lock down given the lack of concrete data, but estimates generally range from 30 to 40 million units. Aforementioned Sega executive Joe Miller once said system sales were over 40 million, though that number is highly contested and seemingly contradicted by Sega’s available sales data. Compilations of that data — from internet researchers and professional research firms — show first-party console sales hit somewhere between 28 and 31 million units.
Add in estimated third-party console sales from companies such as TecToy in Brazil (where the console performed well into the 2010s) and Majesco in North America, and we arrive at our ballpark figure of 35 million — a number seemingly corroborated by a 2017 press release from Sega partner AtGames.
15. SNES/Super Famicom – 49.10 million
This sales figure comes directly from Nintendo. While the SNES fell short of its predecessor in terms of sales, the console is remembered fondly for its expansive library of high-quality games, including those listed above. 379 million units of software were sold for the system. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System — or Super Famicom as it’s known in Japan — often tops “best console” lists thanks to its massive third-party support and iconic single- and multiplayer games.
14. Xbox One – 50 million*
*Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox One sales in October 2015, opting to “look at engagement” as a “key metric for success,” according to a Microsoft spokesperson (via Variety). However, according to Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, Xbox One consoles combined to sell over 50 million units by the beginning of 2020. That number has certainly grown since, though likely not by a significant amount, as Microsoft ended Xbox One production later that year.
That 50 million estimate is supported by a Brazilian legal filing made by Microsoft in relation to its acquisition of Activision Blizzard (via Thurrott), which states Sony sold twice as many consoles as Microsoft during the PS4-Xbox One generation. We know PS4’s lifetime sales sit just north of 117 million, meaning Xbox One’s total is somewhere below 58.5 million. Even at that highest potential total, Xbox One would still place fourteenth on this list.
The Best Xbox One Games (Spring 2021 update)
13. NES/Famicom – 61.91 million
Nintendo’s official numbers put NES sales at over 61 million units. The most senior entry on this list, Nintendo’s first console went on to generate over 500 million units of software sales. The NES is often credited with bringing video games back from the dead after the video game crash that ended once dominant brands such as Atari.
12. Nintendo 3DS – 75.94 million
This sales figure comes directly from Nintendo and is current as of December 31, 2020. It encompasses total sales for all systems within the 3DS family, which includes all variations of Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS. To date, the handheld family has generated 385 million units of software sales. The 3DS didn’t see a direct successor, effectively turning Nintendo from a console/handheld maker into a single-system-focused publisher.
11. Game Boy Advance – 81.51 million
This official sales figure comes directly from Nintendo. The company also notes software sales for the handheld closed at 377 million units. The Game Boy Advance line of devices included many different design iterations and form factors, the last of which was the Game Boy Micro in 2005. The top-selling model was the Game Boy Advance SP, with 43.57 million units sold. The Game Boy Micro only sold 2.42 million during its short run.
10. PlayStation Portable – 82 million*
*Sony last reported an official sales total for PSP in 2012, when it announced the handheld had sold 76 million units. The system would continue to be produced for an additional two years, during which time it’s unknown exactly how many units were sold. However, in an interview with former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden, former IGN editor Colin Moriarty noted 82 million PSPs were “in the wild,” though it’s unclear if that number was confirmed by Layden.
9. Xbox 360 – 85 million*
*In June 2014, Microsoft reported it had shipped 84 million Xbox 360s to retailers. While Microsoft stopped reporting specific sales figures in 2015, the system remained in production for nearly two years. During that two-year period, we can safely assume Microsoft converted that 84 million figure from sell-in to sell-through, while, conservatively estimating, moving an additional one million units. If accurate, that would place Xbox 360 in the eighth spot on the list of best-selling consoles.
8. PlayStation 3 – 87.5 million*
*As of March 31, 2017, PS3 had sold 87.4 million units, according to Sony. The system would remain in production through May of that same year. With that in mind, it’s likely PS3 ended its run with somewhere between 87 and 88 million units sold, leaving us with our conservative estimate of 87.5
7. Nintendo Wii – 101.63 million
According to official sales figures from Nintendo, Wii ended its run as the sixth-best-selling console of all time. With over 100 million systems sold, Wii generated 920 million units of software sales — the second most for any Nintendo console.
6. PlayStation – 102.4 million
According to Sony, the original PlayStation’s final sales total sits at 102.4 million, with over 960 million software units sold. This makes it the third-best-selling Sony console ever, as it’s since been surpassed by PlayStation 4.
5. Nintendo Switch – 114.33 million
By the end of 2021, Switch became the fastest home console to reach 100 million units sold and the best-selling Nintendo home console of all time. It recently passed the sales totals of Wii and the original PlayStation to enter the top five of this list, now sitting at over 114 million units sold. According to Nintendo, over 917 million software units have been sold for Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains the console’s best-selling game, with over 48 million copies sold. The Switch combines the console and handheld business lines Nintendo formerly supported with separate hardware and software.
At its current rate, Switch sales are likely to surpass those of PS4 sometime in 2023.
4. PlayStation 4 – 117.2 million
PlayStation 4 dominated the eighth generation of consoles. After shipping 1 million units during Sony’s fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, PS4 sales now sit at 117.2 million. The console holds the title of “fastest home console to reach 100 million unit sell in,” according to Niko Partners analyst Sony’s, beating PS2 to the milestone by two months. To date, more than a billion software units have been sold for the console.
3. Game Boy/Game Boy Color – 118.69 million
This sales figure comes directly from Nintendo and includes sales of both the original Game Boy and subsequent Game Boy Color. 501 million units of software were sold for the console — good for third on Nintendo’s all-time software list.
2. Nintendo DS – 154.02 million
This sales figure comes directly from Nintendo and encompasses total sales for all systems within the DS family, including the original model, DS Lite, and DSi. Nintendo DS is also the company’s best-performing system in terms of software sales, with nearly 950 million games sold.
1. PlayStation 2 – 159 million*
*PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling video game console of all time. Sony’s beloved system tops Nintendo DS by roughly 5 million units sold, while handily outselling every other console in existence. As of January 31, 2011, Sony had sold 150 million PS2s to retailers. While that was the last official total reported, the console would remain in production through early 2013. Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad (via ResetEra) noted sales climbed to 155.1 million through March 2012. Our grand total of 159 million was reached using Ahmad’s continued logic:
“In the fiscal year ending March 2013 a total of 16.5 million PS3 & PS2 units were shipped,” he wrote. “PS2 was still being shipped during this period so the info we’re missing is how many units were PS2 and how many were PS3. Using PS3’s 80m sell in announcements as a guide you can work backwards and ultimately work out that PS2 [sales from March 2012 through the end of its production] must have been close to 4m.”
Its software sales sit at a staggering 1.5 billion units, according to Sony.
Updated August 4, 2022 to reflect changes in Switch, PS5, Xbox Series, and other various console sales since the newest generation of consoles began.
Jordan is a freelance writer for IGN.
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