A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are generally less powerful and customizable than personal computers, designed to have advanced graphics abilities but limited memory and storage space to keep the units affordable. While initial consoles were dedicated units with only a few games fixed into the electronic circuits of the system, most consoles since support the use of swappable game media, either through game cartridges, optical discs, or through digital distribution to internal storage.
There have been numerous home video game consoles since the first commercial unit, the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. Historically these consoles have been grouped into generations lasting each about six years based on common technical specifications. As of 2021, there have been nine console generations, with the current leading manufactures being Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo; past console manufacturers have included Atari, Fairchild, Intellivision Entertainment, Coleco, Sega, NEC, 3DO, and SNK.
A home video game console is a predesigned piece of electronic hardware that is meant to be placed at a fixed location at one's home, connected to a display like a television screen or computer monitor, and to an external power source, to play video games on using one or more video game controllers. This differs from a handheld game console which will have a built-in screen, controller buttons/features, and a power supply like a battery or battery pack.
Earlier home consoles were typically built from a selection of standard and highly customized integrated computer chips, packaged onto circuit boards and cases. Over time, home console design has converged to a degree with personal computers, using similar component and system design, including standardization with main computer chip architecture. Consoles remain as fixed systems, lacking the customization options that personal computer components have, and most consoles include customized components to maximize space and reduce power consumption to provide the best performance for game playing, while lowering costs with reduced storage and memory configurations.
Home video game consoles typically can play a multitude of games, offered either as game cartridges (or ROM cartridges), on optical media like CD-ROM or DVD, or obtained by digital distribution. Early consoles, also considered dedicated consoles, had games that were fixed in the electronic circuitry of the hardware. Some facets may be controlled by switching external controls on the console but the games could not be changed themselves.
Most home consoles require a separate game controller, and may support multiple controllers for multiplayer games. Some console games can only be played with special, unconventional game controllers, such as light guns for rail shooters and guitar controllers for music games. Some consoles also possess the ability to connect and interface with a particular handheld game system, which certain games can leverage to provide alternate control schemes, second screen gameplay elements, exclusive unlockable content or the ability to transfer certain game data.
The first commercial video game console was the Magnavox Odyssey, developed by Ralph H. Baer and first released commercially in 1972. It was shortly followed by the release of the home version of Pong by Atari Inc. in 1975 based on the arcade game. A number of clones of both systems rushed to fill the nascent home console market and the video game industry suffered a small recession in 1977 due to this.
The Fairchild Channel F, released in 1976, was the first console to use game cartridges, which was then used by the Atari VCS and several other consoles of the second generation and led to a second boom in the video game industry in the United States and around the globe. During this time, Atari Inc. had been sold to Warner Communications, and due to a change of leadership, several programmers left the company and founded Activision, becoming the first third-party developer. Activision's success led to a rush of new developers creating games without any publishing controls for these systems. The market became flooded with poor quality games, and combined with the rising popularity of the personal computer and the economic recession of the early 1980s, led to the video game crash of 1983 in the U.S. market. Nintendo, which had released its Famicom console in Japan that year, took several cautionary steps to limit game production to only licensed games, and was able to introduce the Famicom, rebranded as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 into the U.S. market. The NES helped to revive the console market and gave Nintendo dominance during the late 1980s.
Sega took advantage of the newfound U.S. growth to market its Sega Genesis against the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the early 1990s in the so-called "console wars" and emphasized the notion of "bits" as a major selling point for consumers. The consumer adoption of optical discs with larger storage capacity in the mid-1995 led many console manufactures to move away from cartridges to CD-ROMs and later to DVDs and other formats, with Sony's PlayStation line introducing even more features that gave it an advantage in the market; the PlayStation 2, released in 2000, remains the best-selling console to date with over 155 million units sold. Microsoft, fearing that the PlayStation 2 was threatening the competitive edge of the personal computer, entered the console space with its Xbox line in 2001. Internet connectivity had become commonplace by the mid-2000s, and nearly all home consoles supported digital distribution and online service offerings by the 2010s.
With Sony and Microsoft's dominance in hardware capabilities, most other major manufacturers have since dropped out of the hardware business, but maintain a presence in the game development and licensing space. Nintendo remains the only competitor having taken a blue ocean strategy by offering more original console concepts such as motion sensing in the Wii and the hybrid design of the Nintendo Switch.
Within the home video game console market, the leading consoles have often been grouped into generations, consoles that were major competitors in the marketplace. There have been nine generations of consoles since the 1970s, with a new generation appearing about every five years in accordance with Moore's law.
List of home video game consolesEdit
There are more than 1000 home video game consoles known to exist, the vast majority of which were released during the first generation: only 100 home video game consoles were released between the second and current generation, 10 were canceled . This list is divided into console generations which are named based on the dominant console type of the era, though not all consoles of those eras are of the same type. Some eras are referred to based on how many bits a major console could process. The "128-bit era" (sixth generation) was the final era in which this practice was widespread.
This list only counts the first iteration of each console's hardware, because several systems have had slim, enhanced or other hardware revisions, but they aren't individually listed here. The list also includes unreleased systems. If a series of home video game consoles begins in a generation and lasts to another generation, it is listed in the generation the series began. This list does not claim to be complete.
This list does not include other types of video game consoles such as handheld game consoles, which are usually of lower computational power than home consoles due to their smaller size, microconsoles, which are usually low-cost Android-based devices that rely on downloading, retro style consoles, or dedicated consoles past the first generation, which have games built in and do not use any form of physical media. Consoles have been redesigned from time to time to improve their market appeal. Redesigned models are not listed on their own.
The list omits the more than 900 home video game consoles known to have been released in the first generation of video game consoles - those that were generally game consoles for a single dedicated game, such as home Pong consoles. Documented consoles of this generation can be found at list of first generation home video game consoles.
|Name||Release date||Manufacturer||Units sold||CPU||"Bits"|
|Fairchild Channel F||November 1976||Fairchild (U.S.)||ca. 250,000|
|RCA Studio II||January 1977||RCA (U.S.)||?|
|Bally Astrocade||April 1978||Midway (U.S.)|
|Atari 2600||September 11, 1977||Atari Inc. (U.S.)||ca. 30 million|
|APF-MP1000||January 1, 1978||APF (U.S.)||?|
|Champion 2711||1978||Unisonic (U.S.)|
|Interton VC 4000||Interton (Germany)|
|Palladium Tele-Cassetten Game||Palladium (Germany)|
|1292 Advanced Programmable Video System||Audiosonic|
|Magnavox Odyssey 2||December 1978||Magnavox (U.S.) / Philips (Netherlands)|
|APF Imagination Machine||1979||APF (U.S.)|
|Bandai Super Vision 8000||Bandai (Japan)|
|Intellivision||1980||Mattel Electronics (U.S.)||ca. 3 million|
|VTech CreatiVision||1981||VTech (Hong Kong)||?|
|Epoch Cassette Vision||July 30, 1981||Epoch (Japan)|
|Arcadia 2001 and its variants and clones||1982 (Arcadia 2001)||Emerson Radio (U.S.)|
|SHG Black Point||1982||Süddeutsche Elektro-Hausgeräte GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)|
|ColecoVision||August 1982||Coleco (U.S.)||ca. 2 million|
|Atari 5200||November 1982||Atari Inc. (U.S.)||ca. 1 million|
|Vectrex||November 1982||GCE/Milton Bradley Company (U.S.)||?|
|Compact Vision TV Boy||October 1983||Gakken (Japan)|
|Video Arcade System||Cancelled (supposed to be released in 1983)||Ultravision (U.S.)||0|
|Videopac+ G7400[a]||1983||Philips (Netherlands)||?||Intel 8048 @ 5.91 MHz||8-bit|
|My Vision||Nichibutsu (Japan)||?|
|Pyuuta Jr.||April 1983||Tomy (Japan)|
|Sega SG-1000||July 15, 1983||Sega (Japan)||ca. 2 million||Zilog Z80 @ 3.58 MHz|
|NES/Family Computer (Famicom)||July 15, 1983||Nintendo (Japan)||61.91 million||Ricoh 2A03 processor (MOS Technology 6502 core)||8-bit|
|PV-1000||October 1983||Casio (Japan)||?||Z80A clocked at 3.579 MHz||8-bit|
|Epoch Super Cassette Vision||July 17, 1984||Epoch (Japan)||400,000||NEC PD7801G|
|Bridge Companion||1985||BBC/Heber (UK)||?||Zilog Z80|
|Video Art||LJN (U.S.)||?|
|Zemmix||Daewoo Electronics (South Korea)||Zilog Z80||8-bit|
|Sega Mark III/Sega Master System||October 20, 1985||Sega (Japan), Tec Toy (Brazil)||ca. 13 million||Zilog Z80 @ 4 MHz|
|Family Computer Disk System[b]||February 21, 1986||Nintendo (Japan)||4.44 million||Ricoh 2A03 processor (MOS Technology 6502 core)|
|Videosmarts||1986||Connor Electronics (U.S.) (1986–1988), VTech (Hong Kong) (1989–1990)||?||?||?|
|Atari 7800||May 1986||Atari Corporation (U.S.)||8-bit|
|Atari XEGS||1987||Atari Corporation (U.S.)||ca. 2 million||MOS Technology 6502C|
|Video Challenger||Tomy/Bandai (Japan)||?||?|
|Action Max||Worlds of Wonder (U.S.)||HD401010||8-bit|
|View-Master Interactive Vision||1988||View-Master Ideal Group, Inc. (U.S.)||?|
|VTech Socrates||VTech (Hong Kong)||8-bit|
|Video Driver||October 1988||Sega (Japan)||?|
|Amstrad GX4000||September 1990||Amstrad (UK)||ca. 15,000||Zilog Z80 @ 4 MHz||8-bit|
|Commodore 64 Games System||December 1990||Commodore (Canada)||?||MOS Technology 8500 @ 0.985 MHz|
|RDI Halcyon[c]||cancelled (supposed to be released in January 1985)||RDI Video Systems (U.S.)||0 (<12 units are known to exist)||Zilog Z80||?|
|Control-Vision||cancelled (supposed to be released in 1989)||Digital Pictures & Hasbro (U.S.)||0||?||?|
|Кроха[d]||cancelled||SKB Kontur (СКБ Контур) (Russia)||0||K580VM80A 2 MHz||?|
|PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16||October 30, 1987||NEC (Japan)||ca. 10 million||Hudson Soft HuC6280||16-bit (8-bit CPU, 16-bit graphics)|
|Sega Genesis/Mega Drive||October 29, 1988||Sega (Japan)||35.25 million||Motorola 68000 @ 7.6 MHz, Zilog Z80 @ 3.58 MHz||16-bit (16/32 bit processor, 16 bit graphics)|
|TurboGrafx-CD/CD-ROM²||December 4, 1988||NEC (Japan)||?||?||16-bit (8-bit processor, 16-bit graphics)|
|PC Engine2/SuperGrafx||December 8, 1989||NEC (Japan)||Hudson Soft HuC6280||16-bit (8-bit CPU, 16-bit graphics)|
|Neo-Geo AES||April 26, 1990||SNK (Japan)||ca. 750,000||Motorola 68000 @ 12 MHz, Zilog Z80A @ 4 MHz||24-bit (16/32 bit processor, 24 bit graphics)|
|Super NES/Super Famicom||November 21, 1990||Nintendo (Japan)||49.1 million||Ricoh 5A22 @ 3.58 MHz||16-bit|
|Commodore CDTV||March 1991||Commodore (Canada)||?||Motorola 68000 @ 7 MHz||16-bit|
|CD-i||December 3, 1991||Various||ca. 1.5 million||Philips SCC68070 @ 15.5 MHz||16-bit (could be upgraded to 32-bit)|
|Sega CD/Mega CD||December 12, 1991||Sega (Japan)||2.24 million||Motorola 68000 @ 12.5 MHz||16-bit (16/32 bit processor, 16 bit graphics)|
|Memorex VIS||June 1992||Memorex/Tandy Corp (U.S.)||ca. 15,000||Intel 80286 @ 12 MHz||16-bit|
|Sega Pico||June 26, 1993||Sega/Majesco Entertainment (Japan)||?||Motorola 68000 @ 7.6 MHz, Zilog Z80 @ 3.58 MHz|
|Pioneer LaserActive||August 20, 1993||Pioneer Corporation (Japan)|
|Neo-Geo CD[e]||September 9, 1994||SNK (Japan)||Motorola 68000 @ 12 MHz, Zilog Z80 @ 4 MHz|
|Sega 32X||November 21, 1994||Sega (Japan)||ca. 800,000||2 × SH-2 32-bit RISC @ 23 MHz||32-bit|
|Satellaview||April 23, 1995||Nintendo (Japan)||?||?||16-bit|
|Super A'Can||October 25, 1995||Funtech (Taiwan)||Motorola 68000 @ 10.738635 MHz|
|Konix Multisystem||cancelled (supposed to be released in August 1989)||Konix (UK)||0||?||16-bit|
|Atari Panther||cancelled (supposed to be released in 1991)||Atari Corporation (U.S.)||Motorola 68000||32-bit|
|WOWOW||cancelled (supposed to be released in 1992)||Taito (Japan)||?||?|
|SNES-CD||cancelled (development stopped in 1993)||Nintendo (Japan)||16-bit|
|FM Towns Marty||February 20, 1993||Fujitsu (Japan)||ca. 45,000||AMD 386SX at 16 MHz||32-bit|
|Amiga CD32||September 17, 1993||Commodore (Canada)||ca. 100,000||Motorola 68EC020@ 14.18 MHz (PAL) 14.32 MHz (NTSC)|
|3DO Interactive Multiplayer||October 4, 1993||Panasonic/Sanyo (Japan)/GoldStar (South Korea)||ca. 2 million||RISC CPU ARM60 based on ARM architecture @ 12.5 MHz|
|Atari Jaguar||November 23, 1993||Atari Corporation (U.S.)||ca. 250,000||Motorola 68000 @ 13.295 MHz, Custom 32-bit graphics RISC "Tom" @ 26.59 MHz, Custom 32-bit sound RISC "Jerry" @ 26.59 MHz||64-bit (64-bit graphics, 32-bit processor)|
|CPS Changer||1994||Capcom (Japan)||?||Motorola 68000 @ 10 MHz||16-bit|
|Playdia||September 23, 1994||Bandai (Japan)||Toshiba TMP87C800F||8-bit|
|Sega Saturn||November 22, 1994||Sega (Japan)||9.26 million||2× Hitachi SH-2 @ 28.6 MHz||32-bit|
|Sony PlayStation||December 3, 1994||Sony (Japan)||102.49 million||R3000 @ 33.8688 MHz||32-bit|
|PC-FX||December 23, 1994||NEC (Japan)||ca. 400,000||NEC V810||32-bit|
|Apple Bandai Pippin||March 28, 1995||Bandai (Japan)/Apple Inc. (U.S.)||ca. 42,000||PowerPC 603 RISC (66 MHz)|
|Atari Jaguar CD||September 21, 1995||Atari Corporation (U.S.)||?||?||64-bit (uses Jaguar processors)|
|Casio Loopy||October 19, 1995||Casio (Japan)||RISC SH-1 (SH7021)||32-bit|
|Nintendo 64||June 23, 1996||Nintendo (Japan)||32.93 million||NEC VR4300 @ 93.75 MHz||64-bit|
|Nintendo 64DD||December 1, 1999||ca. 15,000||?||64-bit (uses N64 processor)|
|Dreamcast||November 27, 1998||Sega (Japan)||9.13 million||Hitachi SH-4 32-bit RISC @ 200 MHz||128-bit (32-bit processor, 128-bit graphics)|
|Nuon||2000||VM Labs (U.S.)||ca. 25,000||Nuon MPE hybrid stack processor||128-bit (SIMD)|
|PlayStation 2||March 4, 2000||Sony (Japan)||155 million||Emotion Engine @ 294.912 MHz (launch), 299 MHz (newer models)||128-bit (SIMD)|
|Nintendo GameCube||November 14, 2001||Nintendo (Japan)||21.74 million||IBM PowerPC Gekko @ 486 MHz||128-bit (SIMD)|
|Xbox||November 15, 2001||Microsoft (U.S.)||ca. 24 million||Custom 733 MHz Intel Pentium III "Coppermine-based" processor|
|DVD Kids||2002||3-Plus (Iceland)||?||?||?|
|Xavix PORT||2004||SSD COMPANY LIMITED (Japan)||8-bit,16-bit and 32-bit (depending on game cartridge)|
|V.Smile||August 4, 2004||VTech (Hong Kong)||?||?||128-bit|
|Advanced Pico Beena||2005||Sega (Japan)||ca. 350,000||ARM7TDMI clocked at 81 MHz||?|
|V.Smile Baby Infant Development System||2006||VTech (Hong Kong)||?||?||128-bit|
|L600||cancelled (development stopped in April 2001)||Indrema||0||x86 @ 600 MHz||32-bit|
|Panasonic M2||cancelled (supposed to be released in 1997)||Panasonic (Japan)||Dual PowerPC 602 Processors @ 66 MHz||64-bit (dual 32-bit)|
|Game Wave Family Entertainment System||October 2005||ZAPiT (Canada)||ca. 70,000||?|
|Xbox 360||November 22, 2005||Microsoft (U.S.)||ca. 85.8 million||Big-endian architecture 3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Xenon|
|V.Flash||September 2006||VTech (Hong Kong)||?|
|HyperScan||October 23, 2006||Mattel (U.S.)|
|PlayStation 3||November 11, 2006||Sony (Japan)||86.9 million||3.2 GHz Cell Broadband Engine with 1 PPE & 7 SPEs|
|Wii||November 19, 2006||Nintendo (Japan)||101.63 million(as of December 31, 2016)||PowerPC 750-based IBM PowerPC "Broadway" @ 729 MHz; 2.9 GFLOPS|
|Zeebo||May 25, 2009||Zeebo Inc. (U.S.) / TecToy (Brazil)||?||ARM11 / QDSP-5 in Qualcomm MSM SoC running at 528 MHz|
|Phantom||cancelled (supposed to be released in September 2005)||Phantom (U.S.)||0||?|
|Wii U||November 18, 2012||Nintendo (Japan)||13.56 million||PowerPC 750-based 1.24 GHz Tri-Core IBM PowerPC "Espresso"|
|PlayStation 4||November 15, 2013||Sony (Japan)||115.9 million||Semi-custom 8-core AMD x86-64 Jaguar 1.6 GHz CPU (integrated into APU)|
|Xbox One||November 22, 2013||Microsoft (U.S.)||ca. 41 million[f]||Custom 1.75 GHz AMD 8-core APU (2 quad-core Jaguar modules)|
|Nintendo Switch[g]||March 3, 2017||Nintendo (Japan)||92.87 million||Octa-core (4×ARM Cortex-A57 & 4×ARM Cortex-A53) @ 1.020 GHz|
|Xbox Series X/S||November 10, 2020||Microsoft (U.S.)||ca. 8 million[f]|
|PlayStation 5||November 12, 2020||Sony (Japan)||13.4 million||Custom 8-core AMD Zen 2, variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz|
- The Videopac+ G7400 was planned to be released in America as the Odyssey³ Command Center, with a different case design, but it never occurred, although some prototypes exist.
- Add-on to Famicom - Japan only.
- Although fully developed, functional, and with 2 games ready, the few Halcyon units that exist were handmade for investors of the company to try out the product, it is not believed that it ever went into full production or entered the market at all. Less than 12 main control units (Halcyon 200LD, the console itself) are known to exist, but more Halcyon branded Laserdisc players (LD-700, made by Pioneer) exist.
- The Кроха (Read as "Krokha", meaning "Baby") was a Soviet console that was ready to launch in 1990, but production halted, only one game was made, and the approximately 200 consoles were given out to employees of the factory that manufactured it.
- SNK created the Neo Geo CD as a much cheaper alternative to the AES, lowering the price of games considerably, from ~300$ to ~50$ . It's essentially an AES console with a media format change from cartridges to CDs, placing it in the fourth generation.
- Starting with Microsoft's fiscal quarter ending June 2014 (Q4), the company stopped divulging individual platform sales in their fiscal reports and subsequent Xbox sales are based on industry estimates.
- The Nintendo Switch was released during this period, but has been referred to as a hybrid video game console, combining features of home and handheld systems. This is why the Switch appears in both the list of home video game consoles and the list of handheld game consoles.
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