Welcome, everyone, to the console wars. A few months ago, we asked you to choose your favorite console of all time, but a lot of people seemed to choose "Other", and we have never heard of that one. As such, thanks to some great work from our web development team, we're now setting up a tournament-style competition where you can choose which one is truly your favorite console of all time.
Here's how the tournament structure works: there will be three rounds, starting with six matches. The first round will feature home consoles from the second generation onward, as well as handheld consoles from the fourth generation and later. Matches in this round will pit two completely different generations against each other, with all the major consoles from each generation thrown into the mix. Two consoles from each matchup will proceed to the next round, and the final round will be a three-way fight.
For clarification, we're labeling the Nintendo Switch as part of the eighth-generation of home consoles, and we're excluding the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S from the tournament due to them being very recent, thus having a very small library of exclusive games, and also due to them being very hard to obtain ever since their launch.
Without further ado, let's begin the matchups. Starting with home consoles, we have the second and seventh generations pitted against each other. In terms of sales, Atari ruled the second generation with the Atari 2600, and many iconic franchises were represented for the first time on home consoles here, including its best-selling title, Pac-Man, a port of the original arcade game.
Meanwhile, the seventh-generation was when Microsoft's Xbox family really grew some hair on its chest and stood toe-to-toe against Sony. Nintendo led the market in terms of sales with the Wii, and kickstarted the trend of motion-controlled games this generation, which the other two companies followed with optional accessories.
2nd Generation vs. 7th Generation (Home)
Next up, we have the sixth generation of consoles facing off against the third generation. The third-generation home consoles are some of the most iconic, starring the Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom, in Japan) and the Sega Master System. Atari also released the 7800, but it failed to leave much of an impact due to a significantly delayed release and lack of iconic titles. Sales-wise, Nintendo dominated worldwide with 61.91 million units sold. Sega was in a distant second with 17.8 million, but many of those sales would come from Brazil in the following decades, where the company Tectoy continues to sell officially-licensed variations of the console.
On the other hand, the sixth generation is mostly known for Sony's domination with the PlayStation 2, having sold over 150 million units and becoming the best-selling console ever. Microsoft's Xbox made its debut this generation and made it to second place, even beating Nintendo's GameCube. Sega also had its last run at a full video game system with the Dreamcast, but finished in a distant last and eventually dropped out of the console race.
3rd Generation vs. 6th Generation (Home)
For our third match-up, we have the fourth generation facing off against the fifth generation of home consoles. The fourth generation, also known as the 16-bit era, is known to many as the golden era of videogames, and it was the first time there was real competition between consoles. Sega and Nintendo fought it out with the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive, in Europe) and SNES, with Sega debuting its most iconic franchise Sonic the Hedgehog, to rival Nintendo's Mario. In the end, Nintendo won the sales race with 49.1 million units sold. Other notable systems included the Turbografx-16 by NEC and the Neo Geo by SNK. Philips also had a hybrid console/media system with the CD-i, which surprisingly even had some licensed The Legend of Zelda games.
The fifth generation was when Sony made its debut in the console market following a failed partnership with Nintendo, and it made quite a splash. The PlayStation outshone every other console this generation with over 100 million units sold, the most for any console ever at the time. Nintendo refused to move to CDs with the rest of the industry, and the Nintendo 64 finished in a distant second with just 32.93 million units. Finally, Sega started to plummet this generation, with the Saturn selling 9.26 million units. Other notable systems include the 3DO, which was designed by The 3DO Company but manufactured by different entities over time, and the Atari Jaguar is only notable for being Atari's last home console.
4th Generation vs 5th Generation (Home)
Next, we have the eighth generation of home consoles facing off against the fifth-generation of handheld consoles. The eighth generation of home consoles is still fresh in our memories, featuring the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, and – debatably – the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo's Wii U was such a commercial failure that the company was very early to introduce a new system, so it's hard to define precisely what generation it should be a part of. It's widely considered to be a part of the same generation as the Wii U, however.
The definition for generations in handheld consoles is a bit muddy in regards to this era, but we're including the GameBoy Color, Sega Nomad, Neo Geo Pocket, and WonderSwan in the fifth generation. Sales-wise, the GameBoy Color appears to have been the most successful of the bunch, but Nintendo reports its sales figures together with the original GameBoy, so exact numbers aren't known. The Sega Nomad was essentially a portable version of the Sega Genesis, and it played the exact same games, but it didn't perform very well commercially.
8th Generation (Home) vs 5th Generation (Handheld)
Moving fully into the realm of handheld consoles, we have the eighth and fourth generations in this matchup. The fourth generation was when handheld gaming truly became a thing for most people, thanks in no small part to Nintendo's Game Boy, which brought series like Mario and Zelda on the go, but also marked the beginning of the Pokémon phenomenon. Sega also delved into handhelds for the first time with the Game Gear, and NEC brought the TurboGrafx-16 on the road with the TurboExpress. Atari made the Lynx in this generation, but like most of its hardware after the 7800, it didn't do well in terms of sales.
By the eighth generation, it's obvious that the number of competitors went down over the years. This battle boiled down between the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita, and between the two, the 3DS came out ahead in terms of sales. Of course, it features a lot of Nintendo's most popular franchises, and it had the unique gimmick of glasses-free 3D. Meanwhile, the Vita had some solid entries in Sony franchises like Uncharted and saw the birth of franchises like Gravity Rush. It was a popular platform for indie games, but it simply didn't drive enough sales to attract lots of heavy-hitting titles.
4th Generation vs 8th Generation (Handheld)
Finally, the last match-up features the sixth and seventh generations of handheld consoles. In the sixth generation of consoles, much fewer competitors made any sort of impact, and Nintendo pretty much stood alone at the top with the Game Boy Advance. Other consoles did release, like the Neo Geo Pocket Color and Nokia tried its hand at videogames with the N-Gage, which sold over three million units.
The seventh-generation had even fewer competitors, but with Sony coming into the picture, the competition was fiercer this time around. The Nintendo DS won in terms of sales, passing 150 million units and becoming the best-selling handheld console of all time. However, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) still sold 80 million units, and was overall a much more powerful system. The PSP also became the first notable example of an all-digital gaming console, with the PSP Go featuring no way to play physical copies of games, though at the time that didn't work in its favor.
6th Generation vs. 7th Generation (Handheld)
We included some more obscure pieces of hardware in some of these polls, but with the large number of devices that played extremely limited sets of games or that didn't sell well at all, it would be impossible to include all of them. These are either the best-selling pieces of hardware from each generation or they were made by notable companies in the industry.
Have you cast your votes yet? Through all of the polls above, you can determine which consoles make it to the next round, so be sure to vote for your favorites!