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, recently passing Wii and PS1 to become the fifth best-selling console of all time.
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 halfway through 2022, we’ve expanded our original list of 15 to 28, making 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) – 116.9 million
Nintendo Switch (Nintendo) – 111.08 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.)
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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. PlayStation 5 – 21.6 million
PlayStation 5 is another massive success for Sony, selling 21.6 million units by the end of June 2022, according to its official sales numbers (7.8 million during Sony’s fiscal year 2020, 11.4 during FY21, and 2.4 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.
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19. 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, its number of games sold per console is the highest for any Nintendo system at 9.59.
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.