Worldwide Hardware Sales 2010

With Sony’s release of their Q3 FY10 earnings report on Thursday we now have data from the big three console manufacturers on their hardware sales last year. That means we can take a global look at how the consoles are performing at the checkout and with a bit of calculation present the lifetime sales figures to December 31 2010.

Going through all the numbers has taken longer than expected so we will dispense with any waffle and go straight to the first graph which shows worldwide sales of each console in each quarter of the calendar year 2010 (see note 1).  Throughout this post the numbers used are unit sales figures and not sales values.  Neither Nintendo or Sony split out sales of their respective handhelds into individual models so DS figures include the DS, DS Lite, DSi and DSi LL/XL and PSP figures include all models of the PSP including the PSPgo.


What are the key points to take away from that graph?  Unsurprisingly Nintendo’s DS outsold(see note 2) the other consoles every quarter.  Probably.  The PS3 comes close in the July to September quarter and may have even matched DS sales.  Unfortunately we cannot tell due to the imprecision in Sony’s numbers.  They report sales that quarter of 3.5 million PS3s in comparison to Nintendo’s 3.54 million DSs.  Rounding of Sony’s numbers mean they sold somewhere between 3.45 and 3.54 million PS3s making it likely it was outsold by the DS in that period but we cannot be sure.

Many people, including TSA’s favourite analyst, regularly write off the Wii and declare that unless Nintendo release a Wii HD immediately they are going to lose the “war”.  In fact Michael Pachter has recently gone as far as to say “I think Nintendo’s completely blown it with their second generation Wii strategy”.  So Nintendo’s unannounced successor to the Wii has already lost?  The Wii itself still seems to be doing okay though.  Its 8.74m sales in the final quarter, enough to comfortably beat the PS3 and 360, are less than the 11.31m it sold in the same period last year but it is still by some margin the biggest selling home console.

The PS3 opened up a quarterly sales lead over the 360 with the release of the PS3 Slim.  That has inevitably led to the 360’s lifetime sales lead slowly diminishing but more on that later.  For now the above graph shows how the release of the 360 S and Kinect have helped the 360 close that quarterly gap until in the final quarter of 2010 both the PS3 and 360 sold 6.3m units.  Microsoft must be ruing that reported console shortage at the end of December.

Now let’s take an alternative look at the same data to give us an idea of proportionally how important each quarter was to each console and a look at the total 2010 sales.

A run-down of total sales for 2010 from most to least is as follows: DS 19.49m, Wii 17.19m, PS3 14.4m, 360 12.1m, PSP 7.7m and PS2 6.9m.  The above graph makes it even clearer how important those final quarter sales were to the Wii’s total with just under 51% of its sales (8.74m) being made during that period.  The tail end of the year was even more important to the 360 though as 52% of its sales (the aforementioned 6.3m) were made during those three months.

What else can that dataset show us?  How about market share by units for the consoles in 2010.

Finally a look at the worldwide console units sales corporate pie for 2010:

Nintendo Regional 2010 Unit Sales

Nintendo, alone among the three console makers here, give a regional breakdown of their hardware sales which allows us to take a look at the importance of the different areas of the world to both their home and handheld console offerings.  Let’s look first at the DS.

The stand-out feature of that graph is the disproportionally high sales in the Americas in the final quarter.  Looking at the NPD figures for the period shows that it was November and December that were the two critical months.  American DS sales in November were given a massive boost by the launch of the special edition red Mario DSi XL.  That’s enough DS, what about the Wii?

Presumably the desire to have a red Wii to sit alongside the white and black ones was a significant contributing factor to the Wii’s similarly disproportional holiday sales gain everywhere but Japan.  The graph is strikingly similar to that for the DS with the exception of the Jul-Sep quarter and the proportionally lower sales in Japan.

Some other points worthy of note from the financial reports:

  • “We are enthusiastic about the consumer response to our holiday lineup of products, including the launch of Kinect. The 8 million units of Kinect sensors sold in just 60 days far exceeded our expectations,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft.
  • Nintendo: “Global sales units of Wii Balance Board bundled with Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus are more than 4.5m units this fiscal year [Apr-Dec 2010] and more than 34 million units on a life-to-date basis.
  • Nintendo’s top 5 DS titles for 2010: Pokémon Black/White 5.32m, New Super Mario Bros. 3.73m (26.21m life-to-date) Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver 3.32m (11.72m) Mario Kart DS 2.8m (20.7m) and Professor Layton and the Unwound Future 1.87m.
  • Nintendo’s top 5 Wii titles for 2010: Wii Sports 12.19m (75.66m)(bundling sure does help) Wii Sports Resort 10.21m (26.35m) New Super Mario Bros. Wii 6.58m (21.28m) Super Mario Galaxy 2 6.15m and Wii Fit Plus 5.09m (17.74m).

Approximate PS3 vs. 360 By Region In 2010

While there is no official breakdown of the PS3 and 360 figures into regional totals we can make an approximation using the figures from NPD and Media Create that we report on during the year.  In this table “Others” is the above ‘official’ totals minus the Media Create and NPD figures.

0.21m 6.76m 5.13m
1.70m 4.33m 8.37m

Be careful not to take the numbers in that table as gospel.  They give an indication of the proportion of sales of each console in broad regions and nothing more.  Mixing data from different sources is bound to have introduced some inaccuracy.

Worldwide Lifetime-To-Date Console Unit Sales

This is where we need you to ask your inner fanboy/girl to step away from the keyboard for the sake of all our sane readers.  Both Microsoft and Nintendo are kind enough to provide lifetime sales data in their financial reports.  Sony make things more difficult.  For the PS3 it is simple to calculate lifetime sales from the available Sony data.  The PS2(see note 3) and PSP(see note 4) took a bit more work, but I believe the numbers to be as accurate as any available.

For now then the PS2 remains the best-selling console though the DS will probably overtake it by the end of the summer assuming it still sells a reasonable number of consoles following the release of the 3DS in March.  The numbers are; PS2 149.7m, DS 144.59m, Wii 84.64m, PSP 67.1m, 360 50.9m and PS3 47.9m.

While the PS3 has closed the gap on the 360 to ‘just’ 3m as you have already seen in the above data for 2010 the 360 has seen a recent resurgence in sales.  It will be interesting to see whether the 360 can maintain that sales momentum into 2011 and maybe extend its lead or whether the same chart in a year’s time will have the 360 in last place in the home console race.


  1. I have used the calendar year so it all makes a little more sense to us humans.  Sony and Nintendo’s financial years run from April to March while Microsoft’s runs from July to June.  In addition Sony number their financial years for the year they start in while Nintendo and Microsoft number theirs for the year it ends in.  Hence the quarter that ran from October 1 2010 to December 31 2010 was known to Sony Q3 FY10, Nintendo as Q3 FY3/2011 and Microsoft as FY11 Q2.  See why I decided to stick with calendar years to make it simpler for you.
  2. In Nintendo’s report they quote “units shipped” figures whereas both Sony and Microsoft quote “unit sales”. I make no differentiation between those two terms here and leave arguments over what “shipped” and “sold” mean, as well as whether Sony and Microsoft count their sales the same way, for the fanboys to argue over.
  3. In a post on Eurogamer celebrating PS2’s 10th anniversary the PS2’s life-to-date sales “According to Sony’s latest figures” are given as 147.6m.  In the same article the “current” PS3 figures are given as 41.6m.  We know that that figure was Sony’s Q2 FY10 PS3 total.  So assuming that the “latest” PS2 figures are contemporary with the “current” PS3 figures that dates the PS2 figures to the same quarter.  Adding PS2 sales from the subsequent quarter gives the lifetime sales figure used above.
  4. At TGS in September Sony revealed lifetime PSP sales of 62m and lifetime PS3 sales of 38m.  Again we can use the PS3 figures to date those of the PSP.  In this case the PS3 figures date from Sony’s Q1 FY10 so assuming the PSP figure is from the same dataset it is simply a matter of adding the Q2 and Q3 figures to it to get the lifetime-to-date figure.  Due to the fact the 62m is probably more ’rounded’ (potentially being anywhere from 61.5 to 62.4m) than the other numbers used, the PSP’s lifetime figure above is probably a little less accurate than the others, but that additional inaccuracy is insufficient to affect its placing in the chart.

Please try not to be too partisan in the comments.  These numbers are presented for your information not to fan the flames.  I trust most of our readers to be sensible.  All sources, calculations and assumptions should be clear from the text but I will try to answer sensible questions in the comments if you have them.

Sources: Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft



  1. I’m glad to see the PS2 still doing really well despite it’s age. It’s living proof that graphics don’t make a game!

  2. What I really want to know is which DS sold the most?
    DS, DS Lite, DSi or DSi XL?
    My money’s on the lite, it’s what I see the most, but obviously that’s only a small fraction.
    So is that the secret to being the best selling console?
    Release four different versions, and hype them all to hell and back? (Although I do think the DSi was a worthwhile update, the others not so much.)

    • Releasing 4 versions 1000/2000/3000/N1000 of the PSP hasn’t worked so well for Sony despite the hype. :)

      • True.
        Although I have to say, if I didn’t come here regularly, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the rereleases. None of those were worth it, although the PSP Go had the potential, it was hit by pricing issues, and neglible improvements with the 2000 and 3000.
        When my 1000 broke, I replaced it with a 2000. Other than some buttons had moved, and it was marginally lighter, there I didn’t notice a difference.
        The same difference was present in the DS Lite. Marketing wins again?

  3. It’s interesting that the sales of the PS2 still dwarf all consoles (although how does this compare to the PS3 and original Xbox – I suspect the PS2 has outsold them both by some cinsiderable margin). And yet there are very few new games for the PS2, which considering the potential user base/sales (although how many of these machines are still in use (or indeed usable)) these days is a factor; most people (if they are serious gamers) have probably moved on to the big three (Wii, PS3 and 360).

    However, in the handheld market the DS still blows away the competition – which must irk Sony and all the money they’ve put into promoting the PSP (I had a PSP 3000 but sold it as I hardly used it).

    Another interesting factor, though becoming less important, is the PC gaming market. As the PC world moves to laptops, desktop powerhouses are becoming less common, and as these (the desktop machines) are the very strengths (indeed, the pinacle) of the PC gaming market (as are the technically savvy users to upgrade them with faster video cards, processor overclocking and even SSD hard discs) the lack of simple Just Plug In And Go of a gaming PC (plus extensive copying (and copy protecting which just upsets legal purchasers of games while the hackers jsut play the games)) has driven gamers (me included) to the welcoming arms of the super console market (PS3 for me, but the Xbox is also a cracking (and powerful) machine).

    So, what next? The PSP2 will have a massive hill to climb; the PS3 and Xbox will continue slugging it out and the Wii will slowly decline and have to be replaced by something that is HD, as this is the way the market is going. Can’t wait for the PS4 and (say) an Xbox 1080…

    • Yup, and the fastest growing PC sector is the netbook, which probably struggle to play most games.
      As for the PS2, I don’t think it’s relevant anymore. Yes, it still sells, but not many.
      My fat PS2 still works, but I only ever (rarely) stick 3 discs in it: Resident Evil 4 (favourite game ever), Killzone (split-screen joy) and Burnout 3: Takedown (See Killzone reason. :) )

  4. Brilliant article Watchful :)

    A very very interesting read. Will be interesting to see if Sony close that gap or if Microsoft can extend it.

  5. Wow that is a lot of graphs.
    PS3 and 360 still going strong but Nintendo are practically monopolising the market despite releasing what some might call a last-generation console.
    Very glad to see the PS2 where it belongs and still selling around the same level as the PSP. It just goes to show how well Sony have done out of it, as well as gamers.

  6. Since when was the DS a console? Or the PSP for that matter. If you’re counting them, why haven’t you factored in the iPhone for example? That is a portable device that plays video games.

    Sorry if you mentioned that in the text, I just read the graphs ;)

    • They are handheld consoles, that still means that they are consoles!
      The iPhone isn’t a console, it is a phone that happens to be able to play games. That is why it isn’t factored in.

  7. While I’m sure you didn’t produce this just because of my request, I did request it, and you did product it. You’ve made me a very happy man :-) I really wanted to see this and you’ve clearly put a massive amount of work into it. Well done to you, I’m going to spend a long time looking at this info tonight, better response will come later. For now, really well done on your hard work!

    • I echo tony’s comments, thanks watchful for the data, it’s going to take some time to digest!

  8. Oh wow. That’s my bedtime reading sorted.

    • Snap! Well kinda. Scrolled down, went oooo at all the graphs and decided to leave it until after Top Gear. Looks interesting!

    • Is that a polite way of saying you think it’ll cure your insomnia? :)

      • Yes. Sorry but i was forced to say that by people who can’t be named.:P I would like the safe return of my PS3.;OP

        I think the reason the DS is selling so well is because there are so many types of model that were released. And that the Causal market is massive which has allowed Ninty
        to focus all of their efforts on them which they saw as a greater chance of succedding.

  9. Reading this, it’s really just dawned on me, what an utterly astonishing turnaround for Nintendo since the last generation. I doubt neither Sony nor Microsoft ever anticipated a resurgence like it. Remarkable really.

    Good stuff as usual, Watchful.

  10. I wonder what’s next for Nintendo in terms of home console. Both Sony and Microsoft have bested the Wii in terms of motion control, and the people who have a Wii already aren’t going to rush out to buy a Wii HD. The 3DS and DS will keep them afloat, but I don’t envy them in terms of producing an innovative new product.

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