The State of the Multi-Billion Dollar Console Gaming Market
This article is published in collaboration with Visual Capitalist
by Aran Ali
With over 2.7 billion gamers worldwide in 2020, the video game industry is undergoing a renaissance. Billions of dollars are pouring in as transformations occur on multiple fronts, including in mobile, PC, and console gaming markets.
For gamers in the latter category, there comes a monumental time when the cycle flips the page to the next generation of consoles. We are now at that pivotal moment, with the Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 set to launch on November 10 and 12, 2020, respectively.
How will this generation of console games fare relative to past iterations, and which target demographics will be driving future sales?
There Can Only Be One
Xbox and Nintendo have put up a respectable fight, but the history of gaming console sales point to an extended era of PlayStation dominance.
In fact, PlayStation sits quite comfortably on the top of the podium, with the PS2 alone experiencing greater sales than both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One combined.
Over time, Sony has only widened the gap between themselves and the competition. The spread in unit sales between PS3 and Xbox 360 ended 1.6 million in favor of Sony. In the following product cycle, Sony achieved only further dominance, with the difference between PS4 and Xbox One sales now sitting at 63.7 million units.
Looking ahead, unit sale estimates for the PS5 range from 120-170 million and the new console is set to outperform Xbox again—in line with past trends.
Game Console Sales Galore
Gaming revenues have gone unscathed despite a pandemic, a retraction in economic activity, and the tightening of budgets for households in 2020. This trend could well be a result of video games growing as a form of stay-home entertainment.
On an annualized basis, global video game console revenues are to hit $51 billion in 2020 and reach past $60 billion in the next two years.
An Attractive Disconnect
It’s clear there is significant buzz around the new consoles, but here’s another perspective that highlights their allure to consumers.
Video games possess an attractive disconnect in that they are an entertainment cash cow for gaming companies, yet gaming products also happen to be a huge cost saver for the consumer relative to other platforms and devices.
The average cost per hour for gaming services is much cheaper than the cost of a book and even more competitive relative to the cost of entertainment giants Netflix and Spotify.
An Evolving Landscape
Consoles have transformed to being about much more than just gaming. They now take front and center in people’s homes as a centralized hub for all things entertainment. For both the Xbox One and PS4, half of all gamers use their consoles for non-gaming activity.
Another more notable form of transformation is the identity of the gamer itself. The classic portrayal of teenage boys engaged in Super Mario after school in their parents’ basement has all but dissipated.
In addition to older male users, there’s now a significant emergence in female gamers. In the U.S., women surpass men in both the 36-50 and 51-65 age cohorts. Furthermore, age demographics show a higher usage amongst men in the 36-50 age group, relative to the 10-20 cohort.
A Bright Future
There are reasons to expect the next generation of console gaming to be the greatest yet.
PlayStation has momentum on their side, and a slew of new gamers exist today that will continue to help transform the market.
With a more digitally connected world, this new era will see gamers that play and compete with one another from all four corners of the globe. For gamers, this will be a thrilling experience—and for companies, a potentially very lucrative one.
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