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. Great article, Greg. Everything seems to pan out how we expected but the fascinating thing, for me, is how the PS3 performed outside of the Christmas season (Q4) compared to the Wii and the 360. The Wii is a great Christmas gift and their fourth quarter sales reflect that. Add to this that the Xbox had Kinect and a Slim going into the festive period and once again, we see half of their annual sales notched up in one quarter.

    With that in mind, they should have left the PS3 trailing (when looking at proportions) but no, the PS3 had a supremely strong year with titles and I feel like 2011 is going to be equally incredible. With that in mind, it’s great to see that the PS3 is selling well off of the strength of its games, not just hardware additions.

  2. Go Sony :)

Comments are now closed for this post.