Shepherded to market in 1977 by visionary Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, and his head engineer Allan Alcorn, the Atari 2600 was the second home videogame console to use removable, programmable cartridges instead of being a dedicated machine like Atari's own Pong (The Fairchild F beat Atari to the punch by a year). The system was not an immediate success, though. It wasn't until 1979 when the videogame craze truly exploded did the 2600 begin its meteoric path. Atari was quick to license popular arcade games for the machine like Space Invaders, Missile Command, and Pac-Man, which also helped it become the dominant console in American living rooms. By 1982, the 2600 was a $2 billion business for Atari.
A very large majority of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One libraries are available on both platforms. Though both platforms have popular exclusive franchises, the PlayStation 4 (Pro or standard) sees more exclusive games each year. The PS4 also has access to a small number of less well-known indie games and niche titles, such as Japanese role-playing games, that the Xbox One does not.
^ Jump up to: a b 10–13 million, not including recent Brazil sales figures. Screen Digest wrote in a 1995 publication that the Master System's active installed user base in Western Europe peaked at 6.25 million in 1993. Those countries that peaked are France at 1.6 million, the United Kingdom at 1.35 million, Germany at 700 thousand, Spain at 550 thousand, the Netherlands at 200 thousand, and other Western European countries at 1.4 million. However, Belgium peaked in 1991 with 600 thousand, and Italy in 1992 with 400 thousand. Thus it is estimated approximately 6.8 million units were purchased in this part of Europe. 1 million were sold in Japan as of 1986. 2 million were sold in the United States. 8 million were sold by Tectoy in Brazil as of 2016.
Despite its comparably short lifespan, the SEGA Dreamcast was the first system in the sixth generation of video game consoles, which included the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. The Dreamcast first hit stores in 1998, over two years before the PS2 and three years before the GameCube and Xbox. Although the Dreamcast had sizable chronological leeway over its contemporaries, it was inevitably stifled by stiff competition and the advent of DVD technology. But before it met its untimely demise in 2001, the Dreamcast certainly left its mark on the console industry.
As the first high-definition game console ever introduced, the Xbox 360 represents a milestone in videogame hardware history. The Xbox 360 represents a first-time shift in standalone platforms to crisp, clean, high-definition graphics with advanced shading and physics effects. While these features were long-since a staple of PC gaming, they had never before been seen in the console market. Additionally, the Xbox 360 was also the first console to hit the market with an integrated wireless controller system. Although wireless controller solutions were present in previous game systems, wireless connectivity could only be achieved through external dongle attachments.
The third major handheld of the fourth generation was the Game Gear. It featured graphics capabilities roughly comparable to the Master System (better colours, but lower resolution), a ready made games library by using the "Master-Gear" adapter to play cartridges from the older console, and the opportunity to be converted into a portable TV using a cheap tuner adaptor, but it also suffered some of the same shortcomings as the Lynx. While it sold more than twenty times as many units as the Lynx, its bulky design - slightly larger than even the original Game Boy; relatively poor battery life - only a little better than the Lynx; and later arrival in the marketplace - competing for sales amongst the remaining buyers who didn't already have a Game Boy - hampered its overall popularity despite being more closely competitive to the Nintendo in terms of price and breadth of software library. Sega eventually retired the Game Gear in 1997, a year before Nintendo released the first examples of the Game Boy Color, to focus on the Nomad and non-portable console products. Other handheld consoles released during the fourth generation included the TurboExpress, a handheld version of the TurboGrafx-16 released by NEC in 1990, and the Game Boy Pocket, an improved model of the Game Boy released about two years before the debut of the Game Boy Color. While the TurboExpress was another early pioneer of color handheld gaming technology and had the added benefit of using the same game cartridges or 'HuCards' as the TurboGrafx16, it had even worse battery life than the Lynx and Game Gear - about three hours on six contemporary AA batteries - selling only 1.5 million units.
The first fifth-generation consoles were the Amiga CD32, 3DO and the Atari Jaguar. Although all three consoles were more powerful than the fourth generation systems, none of them would become serious threats to Sega or Nintendo. The 3DO initially generated a great deal of hype in part because of a licensing scheme where 3DO licensed the manufacturing of its console out to third parties, similar to VCR or DVD players. However, unlike its competitors who could sell their consoles at a loss, all 3DO manufacturers had to sell for profit. The Jaguar had three processors and no C libraries to help developers cope with it. Atari was ineffective at courting third parties and many of their first party games were poorly received. Many of the Jaguar's games used mainly the slowest (but most familiar) of the console's processors, resulting in titles that could easily have been released on the SNES or Genesis.
The Big N had even bigger plans for the once-codenamed 'Ultra 64,' including revolutionary control mechanisms, cutting-edge graphical processing power and an exclusive list of handpicked third-parties (known as the “Dream Team”), and it certainly started the system off with a bang. Not only did legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto unveil the N64 controller complete with the uber-sensitive analog stick and rumble pak, but he also showed off the genre-shaping platformer Super Mario 64, considered to this day to be one of the greatest and most important videogames ever made. And yet, even with a string of hits, some of them monumental, N64 never came close to matching rival PlayStation in popularity. In fact, Sony's disc-based platform outsold Nintendo's by a margin of more than three to one.
In 1983, Nintendo released the Family Computer (or Famicom) in Japan. The Famicom supported high-resolution sprites, larger color palettes, and tiled backgrounds. This allowed Famicom games to be longer and have more detailed graphics. Nintendo began attempts to bring their Famicom to the U.S. after the video game market had crashed. In the U.S., video games were seen as a fad that had already passed. To distinguish its product from older game consoles, Nintendo released their Famicom as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) which used a front-loading cartridge port similar to a VCR, included a plastic "robot" (R.O.B.), and was initially advertised as a toy. The NES was the highest selling console in the history of North America and revitalized the video game market. Mario of Super Mario Bros. became a global icon starting with his NES games. Nintendo took a somewhat unusual stance with third-party developers for its console. Nintendo contractually restricted third-party developers to three NES titles per year and forbade them from developing for other video game consoles. The practice ensured Nintendo's market dominance and prevented the flood of trash titles that had helped kill the Atari, but was ruled illegal late in the console's lifecycle.
All major gaming consoles give you an impressive mix of cross-platform and exclusive games, from Gears of War to Fifa 16. If you’re keen on multiplayer action, the Xbox offers you Xbox Live, allowing you to hook up online with the worldwide Xbox player community. Across all of our major gaming consoles, jaw-dropping graphics combine with substantial system memory so you can download and store games, videos, music and more for a complete home entertainment system.