wiips3xboxSony’s earnings report yesterday provided some of the final pieces of data to answer a question that goes back to 2005: Will the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii prevail in the video-game console wars?

Eight years later, it turns out the answer isn’t as clear as we might have hoped.

Nintendo raced out to an early lead with soaring Wii sales from 2007-9, and redefined the way we interact with video games, before stumbling in recent years and so far falling flat with the Wii U. But cumulative Wii sales, dating back to 2006, just passed the 100 million unit milestone — well ahead of the Xbox 360 and PS3 in total units sold.

Sony struggled out of the gate thanks largely to the higher price of the PS3, but has posted very solid results in recent years and quarters, winning what was essentially the final act of the 2012 holiday shopping season. The data is muddied by Sony’s decision to combine PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2 data for purposes of financial reporting in recent quarters, but the PS3 appears to have sold around 80 million units total, based on the data in our GeekWire spreadsheet.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has dominated the U.S. market for more than two years. On a worldwide basis, the Redmond company has sold 78.2 million Xbox 360s total, and did a nice job extending the life of the console with the release of the Kinect sensor.

At the same time, Microsoft had a head start over Sony and Nintendo, launching its console in 2005, and the company’s numbers also reflect replacements for people whose consoles were brought down by the infamous red ring of death.

Here’s our chart showing how the competition played out.


So who won? By different metrics, all three can claim some form of victory.

Now the industry is preparing for the launch of the PS4 and the Xbox One later this year. With the expansion of those consoles into entertainment machines, the competitors now include Apple, Google and many others. The real question this time isn’t who will win the game console wars, but who will win the living room.

Based on these results above, the answer will probably be debatable.

Update: Here’s the underlying data that was used for the chart above. (Thanks to Robert McLaws for the suggestion.)

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • Guest

    Seems odd to talk about who “won” without mentioning financial results.

    • Elliot Kotis

      Financial results:
      1. Microsoft earning profit
      2. Nintendo also earning
      3. Sony losing money
      MS and Nintendo won.

      • Guest

        And you assume this information with what statistics?

        • Elliot Kotis

          On the statistics that Sony only just got out of the red (red = not turning profit). Microsoft and Nintendo either were/are in the red in past gen.

          • Christopher Burgos

            Sony as a brand, not in regards to playstation fool. Most of those losses were from Vaio.

      • Devin Runyan

        Let’s see….Sony confirmed a profit this in Playstation while MS confirmed a loss (they average $1B loss a year from XB)


      • sinch1

        Microsoft was losing $88 dollars a console. Nintendo was gaining $74 dollars a console

  • Jason Farris
  • Jason Farris
    • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

      Is G4 still even alive? I heard it was getting shut down and rebranded…what a terrible mistake for Comcast.

    • DeShauna

      Shut up

    • Hunter

      “Wii sold the most units but had the lowest attach rate and the lowest
      utilization rate, meaning lots of people bought it, became bored
      quickly, and stopped buying games / stopped playing.”

      One does not simply get bored. I bought a Wii, (and ps3 and 360) and found myself playing more wii games more often than 360 or ps3. I did not have to buy as many games with the wii because I was content with it and not bored with it as quickly as the games with the other consoles (and I bought a lot of games for both of them). If you are basing a game on console on sales rather than content that fine, wii lost, I dont care. Im still playing Wii games even if I dont have a Wii U yet (And still having much more fun).

      • momo

        Agreed, when it comes to actual “fun” Nintendo wins.

        • anonimouse

          By fun I take it you mean games for kids. I agree!

          • Guest

            Actually they’re games for all ages. Don’t beleive me? I know more adults who play mario then I do that play games like COD. The cool thing about Nintendo is that you can be any age to enjoy their games. That being said i found the wii’s library lacking of good games

          • Crag

            Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 , Xenoblade Chronicles, Super Paper Mario, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Punch OUt, No More Heroes 1 and 2. The List goes on. These games were amazing.

          • kyle

            All I’m saying is the wii sold the most units and is the funnest and I have a ps3 and xbox one and a wiiu and I play more nintendo land than anything and i am 23

          • Zach

            Exactly, rehashes of old Nintendo games, bullshit.

          • sinch1

            Have you ever played a Nintendo game because if your a gamer you should be playing all types of games and if you only play CoD your not a gamer. and yes I play CoD and other great games

          • Dankoopa

            You mean like No more heroes and Madworld

    • sinch1

      The Wii sold 100M units in a 5 year span while Sony and Micro are still selling the PS3 and 360 and it’s 2015 and Nintendo is still on top of sales with the Wii.

  • Guest

    Xbox 360, clearly. Wii fizzled out with a poor attach rate and the PS3 only caught on in secondary countries such as in Europe and Asia.

    This comment does not reflect the opinion of any company.

    • Duh

      Secondary counties like Europe and Asia eh, mate? Leave it to a yank to think that the rest of the world is secondary. By the way, Europe and Asia are Continents you Idiot.

      • Me

        While I agree that he is an idiot and gives Americans a bad name, he didn’t call Europe and Asia countries. He said “…such as IN Europe and Asia.”

        • A smart American.

          Obviously you don’t know how to read…

          “…only caught on in secondary COUNTRIES such as in Europe and Asia.”

          • Bootstrap

            Please tell me you’re trolling and not that stupid. Your post even pointed out why Me’s response was correct. Yes, he left off the part about countries, but look what he capitalized. IN. He’s saying there are secondary countries that are IN Europe and Asia. Europe and Asia are made up of countries (whether they’re secondary or not is a different debate). Twat.

        • whatevs

          He doesn’t America a bad name… The OP’s intent was probably to say America is video console creators’ primary market because of consumerism, meaning other markets would be considered secondary markets. Just because anti-American haters are quickly butt hurt over a comment they don’t know how to process intelligently does not mean he is giving America a bad name. Have some pride in your country.

      • Anon

        He means secondary in the sense that the primary market for game consoles is in America. Chill out.

        • ermocrate

          Not really, Europe sales figures are the same of the Us, together they have the 62% of console market. So the “prominent market” only has a rough 31%… If we count countries well USA has the biggest market, is we count USA as a “sales area” is just as important as Europe…

      • Europe strikes again

        67 people that upvoted your reply are also like-minded ignorant European retards without half a brain to read and understand a comment without falling on tired and erroneous American stereotypes. Congrats for being in THAT majority! Btw this is why we find you secondart. Oh the irony.

    • JB

      Not only is this comment untrue it was written by an uneducated moron, clearly.

      This is the opinion of everyone with more than one brain cell.

    • DeShauna

      you probably searched this up before u wrote it

  • john

    Well it is more than obvious that this round was won by nintendo. Although i was a sony fan boy as ps1 and ps2 owner , i didnt buy neither ps3 nor xbox360 because they didnt provide anything new in the market. Wii though was innovative , it had its shortcomings but sales dont lie ,and it has the most worlwide ,so it is an obvious winner. I didnt like most of the the games very much ofcourse because they were childish but the fact that it, as ps2 did before also, opened the market for more people than the casual hardcore gamers, is the most important fact in my point of view. So wii > xbox360 > ps3 .

    • McLovin

      Didn’t get a 360 or a PS3? So you didn’t play any of the great games in the last 8 years? IF you seriously were fulfilled by the WIi then your opinion is void because you clearly aren’t a gamer. Which begs the question as to why you are even commenting on this article.

      • Sean

        …Maybe he plays pc…

      • john

        Well i got a ps3 4 motnhs ago. It was cheap, it is now thicker more polished and more beautiful. All games are cheaper and some of the best titles are being released as all gamers know at the end of a consoles lifecycle. The fact that the console is more powerful and the games are obviously better , has nothing to do with console wars. When the PS3 released was ugly and very expensive. Except the graphics nothing proved that we are advancing one generation, something that only nintedo understood by introducing the wii remote. As you have seen Sony tried to literally copy this idea with the move , something that MS didnt by introducing the cinnect. This and only should make you understand that sony was desperate to prove that its innovative and better. However according to what i have read till now PS4 will not make the same errors the PS3 did. I believe that PS4 will release an occulus rift version untill end of year and i will buy it next day with PS4 together ;) . Else i will wait to see what will happen , interactiveness is the future IMO

        • xKquick

          The PSMove was in development before the Wii was. And the PSEye has been around long before the Kinect. Sony made the first moves, not Nintendo or MS.

  • MEmyselfandi

    ha ha ha ha love that fact that fanboys cant just be real and straight. Nintendo kicked ass and won fair and square lol. its almost like a world cup final where one team scores two own goals, which in turn give the other team the title you going to stand there and say oh but it was two own goals so it don’t matter. LOL will it does because it was two nil no matter how the goals came about the end score is the quintessential point WII-WON-NINTENDO WON, GET OVER IT LOL

    • The Overlord

      They may have sold more consoles but 1) Their console was always a fraction of the price and 2) I bet they didn’t sell more GAMES.

      • MrPk Mike Ballzy

        Wii won because it offered a continuous compatibility to previous generations. Plus there core target consumer is children. They have more meaningful games that withstand the passing of age. Passion is put in there games. Someone who playes Zelda will always remember Zelda. Same with Mario, pokemon, and there other games. Nintendo has always been on it when it comes to good games. Where as no one really plays modern warfare anymore or halo 1 or other games from Microsoft or Sony. Don’t get mewrong I prefer ps3 over Wii most because the control but the content is the life of a system and Sony nor Microsoft can offer that.

        • xKquick

          The likes of Final Fantasy, RE4, The Last Of Us, etc, would all like a word with you. Sony & MS puts out much more memorable experiences then Nintendo does. Nintendo really just puts out the same games over and over (Zelda, Pokemon, Mario.)

          • Tiina Kallio

            The Last of Us was truly a memorable experience and a masterpiece, but… i’m sorry. Wii still had more memorable games, like Xenoblade (the best video game of the entire generation).
            “Plus there core target consumer is children.”
            Then why was the console most successful among families and young women mostly… not ONLY children. Actually, i think the parents played the Wii while their kids were playing CoD and other crap like that… what can you expect? Kids have unrefined tastes what comes to entertainment.

  • Paladinrja

    Urgh nonsense. Answers not so clear now hmm? Now we’re fucking rewriting history?

  • Luis

    I read in other sources that Nintendo had by far the best finantial results of the 7° generation because it’s cheaper for Nintendo to manufacture their hardware.
    Maybe there are more games for PS3 and XBox 360 and that it’s a great adventage for the customers, but for the companies Nintendo won more money by far (and Sony lost money).
    Maybe XBox 360 or PS3 won making happy more people, but that’s diffcult to know.

    • JB

      Nintendo won more money during these years and are now out of the dance yet again- something they excel at- selling candy to the kiddies. Sony transcended their system from being just a game system to being more of an entertainment computer and they are about to unveil their new and improved version of that very desired concept. Sony is still here taking in money. XBox is too but for me there isn’t any two ways about which I prefer the PS3 slayed the XBox and I’ve yet to meet (go ahead and tell me all about how you are one, I’m thoroughly interested I assure you) anyone who had both and said they were a total XBox user at the end. I know several and they all ended up preferring the PS3. I’m sure Nintendo will pop back up with something for the kids and the grandparents to get all yippie about while the college kids are all neato about their XBox One too. I look forward to the PS4 as do many, many millions= Sony is in very nice shape.

      • thomas dority jr

        “PS3 SLAYED XBOX” PFFT….who was it that lost a good 3 weeks of their online??? who also was plagued by major hacks annually??? who sold less volume??? who PS3 thats who you sir need to wise up…and on top of that the PS4 is almost a clone of the UI of the latest 360 patch and now you pay 13-17 USD monthly for the same features…oh sorry…non features of PS3 PSN…seems sony really does know how to rip ppl off…now if anyone brings up the RRoD for the Xbox i forward you to the warranty on the back of the box and the ease of customer support over at microsoft…on top of that the PS3 even now still has the yellow light issue whereas the xbox almost completely fixed the RRoD a little late but still fixed…now the question is how much the ONE is going to outsell the PS4 because everywhere else west of NY it has out preordered PS4…Xbox Wins!!!!

        • Atreyu4800

          13-17USD monthly? wtf are you talking about if you are referring to ps+ then you sir are wrong. ps+ is LESS than $5 per month which is about $50 per year compared to xbox golds $60 per year. and the people who brought down the psn for about a month also hacked the FBI a week before they hacked psn. so if they wanted to hack the xbox the very well could have, and the xbox 360 had over a 50% failure rate for the first few years skewing their sales numbers. while the ps3 had a failure rate around 10%. not only that but the number of ps4s preordered 2x that of the xbox one

        • The Overlord

          You’re kidding right? Even with the red ring of death boosting console sales and the late and over priced start the PS3 got. (and honestly the PS3 didn’t really kick into high gear till 2008-2009) They STILL sold more units than Xbox 360 did. The results are in this freaking article and you STILL say Microsoft sold more? Guess you don’t know how to read graphs.

          A good deal of the 360’s sales were made when they were the only game in town as far as HD gaming went. Their only competition was the PS2 and Gamecube. And while the yellow light happens, its happens at such an insignificant rate that it is a non-issue there is no comparison to the red ring. Learn to use facts son.

          Yes the Xbox had a minorly better online service, yes PS3 got hacked, but guess what? It was free and it didn’t matter. Everyone was compensated for their lost online play. Besides with PS3 it’s more about actually good single-player offline experiences not bro-gamer online multiplayer games like COD and Football.

          I own all three consoles, and the PS3 by far is the best console of the generation. Sales don’t lie though, Wii won it in console sales. PS3 won it in the area of most critically acclaimed exclusives while they were a middler range with console sales, selling more consoles that 360 but less than Wii. Then you have to take into account how faulty the 360 is with games itself scratching deep rings into them if it’s so much as nudged while in use. So yeah, gotta buy another copy, I haven’t seen how many GAME UNITS were sold by each company but I bet if the PS3 is under the 360 it’s just barely, and in the next year -2 years Sony & Microsoft promised to support the systems I bet any lead they may have will be lost. I have no doubt what so ever that the Wii sold the least games despite selling the most consoles though.

          PS3 really turned around a weak start with their overpriced hardware and shallow lineup of games. If they would have come out the gate that strong there would be nobody like you even laughably suggesting 360 is ahead. Question is, will Microsoft be able to pull off the same trick? Now the tables are turned, Microsoft has the Overpriced (not to mention effectively weaker hardware) system, and not a lot to be desired. Plus the fact they can turn those shitty policies around at any time as per their TOS. Only time will tell. This time

          Nintendo had the advantage of the early start, unfortunately they didn’t do as well with the Wii-U in getting a lead as Microsoft did with the 360. Too bad for them, but since their whole building around a gimmick thing is NOT going to work this time, they might find themselves in 3rd place 8th gen. Those casual and non gamers have moved on to smart phones and tablets and going back to not gaming at all. Sorry Nintendo, the new fad wont work this time.

        • MrPk Mike Ballzy

          Your retarded. Xbox lost. There content lost. There community sucks. The only way they make profit is by charging for online. Xbox fan boys hacked Sony and got arrested. Then Sony gave consumers free games and personally called the credit card companies and fixed the problem. I have never seen anyone get yellow light of death but I had three xboxs with red ring of death and Xbox tell me it’s not there problem. Sony’s system is better then Xbox. You guys would have lost more then half your market without buying early rights to games. Sony had the last of us that converted Xbox only fans to ps3 Xbox had no games and no content that converted ps3 fans. Oh and one last thing. PlayStation plus actually gives psn users hundreds of dollars in free games a year and updates systems well there turned off. Xbox live is s waste of money. Your system community and company isn’t worth shit.

          • MrPk Mike Ballzy

            Oh and Xboxs volume of sales also had to do with how often there systems broke and people believing that maybethe new one will be better. They all sucked.

    • Sean

      Nintendo also had good financial results because the major success that was the Nintendo DS.

  • NatT96™

    The Wii won and Nintendo made BILLIONS, but its popularity got taken because %63 of the people playing were casual gamers and the other percentage were core and fan based games. They depended too much on the casual players and the other console makers started engineering a massive load of side features onto their consoles to sway a more family media hub, but at the same time a nice library that core gamers enjoyed.

    Now Nintendo is back in that funk. The Wii U is an innovation, but the group they are aiming towards has dissolved right now. Doe sthe Wii U have any media apps that are useful…MiiVerse and Netflix anyone?(Were’s the video player, photo viewer, facebook app). Casual gamers crave this, I am a gamer and would care less, but, the console has no appealing games at the time, so um, now what can I do with it.

    • momo

      It would be nice if none of the consoles had Netflix or any of the TV apps and multimedia garbage.

  • DeShauna

    X box still suck crap because PS is a SONY console
    X box should just go cry in the corner and there moms should be dissapointed

    • Elkethus Degrace Lauzon

      sony fanboy are really mature….. lol

  • adam

    Wii won the battle by first place,Xbox second place and the last one Ps3 so Wii>Xbox>Ps3

    • momo

      Console sales mean nothing. Game units sold means everything. People withWii’s have 3-5 games. People with boxes have 100-200 games.

      • iamserious

        That is BS man. Check VGchartz. Nintendo sold more consoles AND more software than either MS or Sony.

  • BillyHoWCR

    Ask the share holders who won. They will tell you Xbox 360 profited while PS3 drew red lines. Wii… not sure how they fared over all.? As they made profit on systems but lost revenue earnings on game sales that were near dismal. .

    • Nanofuture

      Wii had a low software attach rate, but sheer quantity of hardware sold still led to the Wii selling more games than PS3 or 360. If your metric for winning is overall profit, it would go Wii > 360 > PS3. Wii was the cheapest to manufacture (sold above cost from day one) and sold the most software, PS3 was the most expensive to manufacture (sold below cost for the first three years or so) and sold the least software, and 360 was somewhere in between (with bonus revenue from Gold subscriptions).

      • Guest

        Quick research:
        360 341m+ game sales
        Wii 322M+ game sales
        PS3 203m+ game sales

        Who had the more software sales?

        • Nanofuture

          I’m not sure where you got those numbers, but they’re way off. The numbers from Nintendo’s latest financial report shows 872 million Wii game sales as of June 2013. I don’t have the actual numbers from PS3 or 360 right here, but current estimates are 766 million and 835 million respectively (with same source showing 903 million for Wii).

      • BillyHoWCR

        Looks like that is correct for the Wii…

        Wii / 852.12m global game sales
        Xbox 360 / 799.92m global game sales
        PS3 / 720.26m global game sales

        XBL sitting at about 46m active subscribers. $5 per month, so about a quarter of a billion dollars a month just on subscriptions not bad. (Note: this is exactly why Sony chose to get into the PSN pay plan.)

        EDIT: Though in “North America” Xbox 360 outsold Wii in game sales. Wii made up for it in global game sales.

        • Sean

          You also have to add the profit of the Nintendo DS which was giant and Nintendo then blew this generation away rather than just winning it

          • BillyHoWCR

            This is a console discussion. Nintendo DS is a handheld. If they were going to include everything then Sony would have their handhelds and VAIO. And Microsoft would also include their laptops and other gaming devices and sales towards them. Nintendo would be much weaker in comparison.

  • JamesGrattan

    A draw ? ……..

  • iamserious

    If the deciding factor is console sales and software sales then Nintendo won by a landslide with the Wii. PS3 and MS360 are tied for 2nd place BC MS sold more software but Sony sold more hardware.

    • BillyHoWCR

      Wii sold more software. (I know I was surprised to see that too… though their attach rate was smaller)

      Xbox 360 sold more software then PS3 while PS3 sold more hardware (globally) but PS3 lost money on hardware sold while Xbox 360 earned money on hardware sold. Thus Xbox 30 earned more over all then PS3.

      And on a side note. Everyone talks about number of games each system has.

      Wii = 2,753
      Xbox 360 = 3,477
      PS3 = 2,969

      Looks like Xbox 360 has more games too.

  • Xbox Is better

    I love how people say PSN is anything close to xbox live you obviously have some sort of debilitating mental disorder or you are just plain stupid play both “TRY” to look at it objectively then get back to us I rest my case ^^ Xbox will never die!

    • Fanboi #1684235

      PSN was fine until you stupid xbox fanbois started flooding the internet with how xbox live is better than psn because you pay for it and now I have to pay for psn for ps4 so I can get a couple of features I rarely(if ever) use.. Thanks.

      • mrericdude

        No your failed PSN is the cause for the pay. You have crappy security on your PSN and when they have issues like the big one a couple years ago, they have to pay people to fix those issues. Having you PS fanboys pay for it will give it better security. You sure are a more on.

        • Adam Herriage-Todaro

          First of all this console wars is retarded. Like they said at the end its what you preferred. If you liked old classic games then you should get the wii. If you liked online gaming it would be xbox. if you like watching movies and offline games like single player games it would be PS3. PS3’s blue-ray can only kick in for offline so movies and offline games because it uses a lot of cpu. the cpu on the xbox 360 is better but the gpu is not but since the cpu is what dominates everything online the xbox 360 can work less with the gpu. since the gpu is better on the ps3 and can’t signal all of it’s graphics through it’s cells on the cpu when you go online the blue-ray is not there. the xbox 360 also wins on the online gaming because you are able to chat with friends and play your game while your friends aren’t even in the same game with you. or even playing a game. So like i said it depends on the person. And yes PSN had to make people pay for online because it wasn’t able to keep up with the online experience that xbox 360. with gold account you are able to download 2 free games every month and they are good games too like assassins creed 3 halo 3 exc. And since you pay for gold account you get new map packs on your games before they come out for PS3. An he is also right they needed people to pay for PSN because of all the security issues PS3 had. on top of all that they were losing more money then making money by having a free PSN.

          • mrericdude

            Glad to see somebody respond with common sense. I am no fanboy of Xbox but it is retarded to blame Xbox for Playstation now charging for PSN.

      • BillyHoWCR

        Likely the fact Sony noticed that Microsoft was earning a quarter of a billion dollars per month on XBL subscriptions alone.

  • Pier

    PS3 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hunter Thames

    http://tinyurl.com/kerh8w6 Im just going too leave this here. The only reason consoles like the Xbox 360 had more sells. Is PURELY because of how much the actual console was hyped in various media. Everytime you see a character in a movie playing a videogame Its always on the Xbox 360. Ive even seen it in Videogames.

  • Justin McQuillen

    Wii won, bitches.

  • avi

    everything written here is wrong xbox 360 sold 150 million,ps 3 sold 140 million and wii sold less than 100 million

  • david

    1. PS3 :D
    2. Wii :)
    3. Xbox 360 :(

  • Xcraft

    Duh the wii won
    Wii was the first console to master motion controls had great games and was a commercial success

  • yomann

    The wiis cheap as fuck, sells more units. Nothin more to it. The games on the wii are shit compared to the n64 and GameCube games. I mean come on name one classic wii game cuz most of them are shitty continuations of older series. (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Smash Bros, etc.) Nothing new came with Wii other than active sport games. The controllers were annoying, not original and every game I played I would use a GameCube controller. Online play was shit. I consider it a family console cuz whenever you play it it’s with a bunch of people. The PS3 had the most single player games and free online play which helped boost their sales significantly but I’d say it was a better DVD player than it was console lol. I always liked the smoothness of the PS3 from the main screen to browsing on Netflix. Game wise Xbox 360 had the best games out of the consoles that you wouldn’t put down and the online community was enormous compared to the wii. But I didn’t like how Xbox 360 was always trying to hustle kids for money with constant dlcs and live to pay for. All games were good in their own way Wii= family games, wiisports PS3= Video streaming, great Single player games, Xbox 360= Online gaming, Halo and Gears and if greens your favorite color lol

    • yomann

      Plus wii was popular in asia. Nobody plays Xbox in Asia and if they do play shooters they grab a ps3. Not bashing any game company this was mostly opinionated but the way I see it Nintendos last dominant run was the n64. Ps3 had the best design. And Xbox 360 had the games for the future. I honestly think the gamecube was ten times better than the wii(better smash bros, better Mario kart, better sonic games, better controller, etc). Ain’t nobody like that stupid nunchuck looking controller unless we playing wii bowling. I really have to say Xbox wins that generation. PS2 was the last and n64 before that. Ps4 number one right now but we’ll see what happens with the new gears and halo bouta lift off.

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.