A Brief History of The Console Wars


Game consoles are in perpetual competition, and they have been for many years. Whether its Sega vs Nintendo, or Xbox vs Sony, today we’re looking at the console wars of years past and examining who won and what this can teach us about games. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the wars from 1983 onward.


The 8 Bit Wars

NES vs Sega Master System vs Atari 7800

The most easily won Console War, this one was topped by the might Nintendo with their first system, the mighty NES. Sega tried with the Master System and the SG-1000, but these consoles really only got ground in Brazil and Europe. Atari also attempted to break Nintendo’s reign with the 7800, but it went nowhere.

Winner: NES

The 16 Bit Battle

SNES vs Sega Genesis vs Turbografx 16 vs Phillips CDI vs Neo Geo

The most intense battle thus far. SNES and Genesis were locked in an intense duel for this generation, with the Turbografx and CDI eventually failing. The Neo Geo, however, was surprisingly successful, but mostly carved a specific niche in the market due to its high price. The SNES and Genesis were equal in sales for quite a while, having pretty much equal specs and great game libraries. Despite a close race, the SNES won over the Genesis eventually, mostly due to the Genesis adding useless add-ons like the 32X. In my opinion, these 2 consoles are essentially both excellent. While the SNES had better sound, the Genesis excelled in the area of graphics.

Winner: SNES

The 3D Bloodbath

Nintendo 64 vs Sega Saturn vs Sony PlayStation vs 3DO vs Atari Jaguar

The first generation to embrace 3D also brought several shake-ups. Sega had a high profile failure, Nintendo released the decent but rather flawed N64, and Atari came out with the underwhelming Jaguar, and the 3DO… well… it certainly existed. But the real winner here was newcomer Sony, trailblazing the industry with the PlayStation, a console that took the industry into a new frontier. Sony won this race, hands down.

Winner: Playstation

The Advanced Age

Nintendo Gamecube vs Sega Dreamcast vs Playstation 2 vs Xbox

This era saw the beginning of the modern age of video games, being the first war not to have any extraneous other companies. This was simply the best of the best, the battle that would determine the king of gaming. Companies were broken, alliances were formed, and this cut throat war brought us the Xbox, but at the cost of Sega leaving the race. Ultimately, the mighty PlayStation 2 won, becoming the most successful console of all time. Personally, I find these consoles to be some of the best brought onto the market. The Dreamcast was a fantastic system that brought us quirky and excellent games, and the Xbox gave us a more mature system that sold decently. The Gamecube was a weird, but solid console, but the PlayStation stole the crown with a huge library of games and strong hardware.

Winner: Playstation 2

The Casual Clash

Nintendo Wii vs PlayStation 3 vs Xbox 360

A renewed focus on family dynamics and the everyday market, this era was led by the Wii, a console that seemingly appealed to everyone. With innovative motion controls and an expansive Virtual Console of past games, the Wii was hugely popular. The PS3 stumbled at launch due to too much hubris, while the Xbox 360 suffered from lack of backward compatibility. However, eventually, the Wii fell out of focus, putting more emphasis on the 360, which gradually made a comeback. However, the Wii still trumped both in terms of sales.

Winner: Wii

The Current Confrontation

Nintendo Wii U vs PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One

The most recent war, this one sees Nintendo having its first major flop since the Virtual Boy with the disastrous launch of the Wii U. They doubled back with the Switch, but its too early to tell where this will fit in with the other consoles. Currently, the PlayStation 4 is in the lead, but again it’s too early to tell who will truly win.