[[quoteright:250:[[{{Sega}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Nintendont.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:250: "[[Creator/MarxBrothers In case you haven't heard before,]] [[Film/DuckSoup I think they think we're going to war.]] [[ThisMeansWar I think they think we're going to war]]."]]
->''"Gamers like to fight each other over this admittedly trivial division because a) they're too young to care about politics, or b) they're old enough to understand politics, but giving a crap severely cuts into gaming time."''
-->-- '''El Santo''', ''The Webcomic Overlook''

Broadly speaking, the competition between electronics companies to increase their video game market share. Since new consoles are usually released within a year or so of each other, the systems are in direct competition with each other for the gamer's cash.

More specifically, though, the console wars refer to arguments (usually online) between gamers themselves as to the superiority of the various [[VideogameSystems systems]] and companies. The console wars for each generation usually begin a year or more before the systems in question are even released. Expect much flaming and quoting of sales figures, but don't hold your breath awaiting an explanation of why these battles are so fierce in the first place. Could you imagine if people got this worked up about toothpaste brands? [[note]]Actually, the reaction of the YouTubePoop community to Colgate censoring Dr. Rabbit YTP may very well be tending towards this.[[/note]]

[[FanDumb These debates can get very stupid.]] If you don't care about the matter, then just buy the system(s) whose games intrigue you the most, and don't worry about what anybody else thinks (the ComputerWars were arguably worse the ZXSpectrum vs. {{Commodore 64}} punch-up still rages in some quarters of the Internet, with the victor depending almost entirely on who you ask but they faded out in the early 1990s, when geeks made far less noise than today). If you're looking for any upcoming gaming deals, try reading a dedicated console blog or the websites of the companies who make the consoles, ''just stay away from any console "debates"'' -- your sanity will thank you for it.

There is a certain degree of reason in rooting for a particular console that isn't merely fanboyism. The greater the install base of your chosen console, the more likely it is to receive exclusives and technically superior originals rather than platform ports. There is also the psychological phenomenon called "post-purchase rationalization", where people who have sunk a large amount of money into a gaming machine want to feel as if their purchase was worth it (see also the SunkCostFallacy). Particularly in earlier generations, consoles were expensive enough that a middle-class income couldn't support two or three consoles and a library of games for each, so a gamer had to choose a machine and stick with it. By convincing others and reading supportive viewpoints, they reduce cognitive dissonance and avoid "buyer's remorse". This is why the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_(game_system) Phantom]] is obviously the best next-gen system and one belongs in your entertainment center today.

And if you really want to rile people up, you can throw in the bickering between [[PCVsConsole PC and console owners]]. You're sure to get [[FlameWar enough noise to]] [[InternetBackdraft drown out a jet engine]].

See also ComputerWars. For a game series that has fun with the concept [[WhatDoYouMeanItWasntMadeOnDrugs and runs on drugs with it]], see ''VideoGame/{{Neptunia}}''.


!!The Home Console Wars
[[folder: The First Generation: Pong, et al.]]
[[TheGoldenAgeOfVideoGames See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 1972-76.
* '''Sides''': ''VideoGame/{{Pong}}'' and glorified board games.
* '''Winner''': Odyssey

The infancy of the home video-gaming industry began with the MagnavoxOdyssey. This era is most famous for the arcade game "Pong" and its clones (both on and off of home consoles). What is not well known is that many other games also existed, such as ''VideoGame/ComputerSpace'', ''VideoGame/{{Breakout}}'', and even some LightGun games for the Odyssey. Granted, many of the games which existed in this era didn't make it to the consoles just yet, but there was indeed more than just ''Pong''.

What console games did exist were rudimentary, mostly because, until the end, the Odyssey was the only console. While revolutionary for its time, the console pretty much just used variable screen lights with one or two white squares on screen, and colored sheets to cover the screen and simulate board games. A pong clone was possible with one of the cartridges and a couple made use of the LightGun.

Towards the end, more advanced consoles started to show up, such as a failed sequel to the Odyssey (hint: it wasn't Odyssey 2). However, these are mostly forgotten.

[[folder:The Second Generation: Early 8-Bits]]
[[TheGoldenAgeOfVideoGames See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 1976-84.
* '''Sides''': ''{{Atari 2600}}''[=/=]''[[{{Atari 5200}} 5200]]'' vs. all comers, mainly ''{{Colecovision}}'', ''{{Intellivision}}'', ''Fairchild Channel F'', ''{{Odyssey 2}}'', ''Bally Astrocade'' and ''{{Vectrex}}''.
* '''Winner''': The Atari 2600 by a decent margin, mostly due to the 1983 crash taking out its primary competitors.

This generation was actually kicked off by Fairchild's Channel F console, the earliest example of what most of us would recognise as a console. While it enjoyed initial success, it suffered from a generally unimpressive games library, poor build quality and awkwardly designed controllers, ensuring that it was blown away the following year when Atari arrived on the scene. Fairchild later released a redesigned version of the system, but in a case of spectacularly poor timing released it a few weeks after the Intellivision hit the market, and so nobody noticed.

The console that virtually everyone associates with this generation is the Atari 2600. Initially developers just produced more ''Pong''-esque games for the system, meaning that it had a slow start, but Atari really got things going when they started porting their arcade hits to the 2600. The ports weren't perfect (in fact, a lot of them were flat out awful), but it showed what the system could do. Soon, other companies such as Activision started developing for the console, and it rapidly became a smash hit. Atari released a second console, the 5200, later in the generation, but got a lot of things (most notably the controller design) wrong, meaning that it never took off.

The first major competitor to Atari's dominance was the Intellivision by Mattel. Although it was somewhat more advanced than the 2600, it wasn't enough of an improvement for developers to abandon the more successful 2600. As a result, the Intellivision maintained generally solid sales, but never came close to challenging the 2600 for the market lead. A bigger challenge to the 2600's dominance came later with the Colecovision, which was technically far superior to any other system on the market and could boast near-perfect arcade conversions, an advantage exemplified when Atari shot themselves in the foot with the 2600's disastrous ''VideoGame/{{Pac-Man}}'' port. As this generation drew to a close Atari was getting its backside handed to it by the Colecovision, although the 2600's head start kept it well ahead in terms of the installed base.

Magnavox tried their hand again by releasing the Odyssey 2, a console that combined gaming with some rudimentary home computer functions. Unfortunately the system wasn't significantly better than the 2600 on the gaming side, and its computing features were badly underdeveloped. As a result, the system never took off, and Magnavox left the market. Another early competitor was the Bally Astrocade, which was one of the first ''and'' most advanced systems from this generation, but it was expensive and not backed properly by Bally, meaning that it remained a niche product. Probably the weakest of the major competitors was Emerson Radio's Arcadia 2001, which boasted abilities similar to the Intellivision, but suffered an awful game library and being released near the end of the generation, ensuring that it was blown into the stratosphere by the Colecovision.

The oddball from this generation's console lineup was the Vectrex, which featured a built-in screen and used monochrome [[VectorGame vector graphics]] rather than the traditional bitmap graphics used by the other systems. While it boasted some great titles and was the most technologically advanced system from this generation (with the possible exception of the Colecovision), consumers were generally unwilling to look past its monochrome graphics, and it launched too near the end of this generation to have had any real chance of success.

Ultimately, this war culminated in TheGreatVideoGameCrashOf1983, where the bottom fell out of the market. Atari ended up being the only company to fully survive the crash, once a takeover by Jack Tramiel had secured them financially; Mattel switched to handling distribution in Europe and South America for other console manufacturers, and the others either went out of business or left the market. Somehow, the 2600 managed to survive the decade, outlasting the more technologically advanced consoles of its generation. Ironically enough, the Crash actually ''helped'' the video game industry post-Crash, Creator/{{Nintendo}} dropped their line of arcade-machine boards in favor of the Nintendo Entertainment System, which made its debut several years later and single-handedly revived the market.

Speaking of which...

[[folder: The Third Generation: 8-Bits]]
[[{{The 8bit Era Of Console Video Games}} See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 1983-92.
* '''Sides''': ''NintendoEntertainmentSystem'' (NES, aka Famicom) vs. ''[[OtherSegaSystems Sega SG-1000]]'' & ''SegaMasterSystem'' vs. ''{{Atari 7800}}'', plus the ''{{MSX}}'' in Japan.
* '''Winner''': NES by a wide margin.

Probably the most [[CurbStompBattle lopsided]] console "war" in history. Nintendo took full advantage of being the company who restarted the American market, and locked all the major developers into exclusivity deals. This was later ruled illegal and Nintendo forced to stop the practice, but by that point the industry was moving onto the following generation. As it was, though, Nintendo's two main competitors launched too late to have any real chance of dethroning the juggernaut they had become, and even if the Big N had been better-behaved, it would likely have made very little difference as to the outcome of this war.

Sega's first console, the SG-1000, debuted in Japan the same ''day'' as the Famicom, but less than 100 games were released for the SG-1000 Mark I and Mark II. Sega upgraded and redesigned the SG-1000 Mark III, and branded it the Master System internationally. The Master System managed to cultivate a following of die-hard gamers who eschewed Nintendo, and was quite successful in smaller markets (most notably Brazil and some European countries), but the NES utterly dominated the most important markets of the time (the U.S. and Japan).

Atari attempted a comeback with their 7800 a souped-up, backward-compatible version of the 2600; while the 7800 secured a decent third-place finish in this war, the damage Atari's reputation had taken ensured it never had much chance of challenging Nintendo or Sega, though one small consolation was that the 7800 at least outsold the Master System in North America.

[[folder: The Fourth Generation: The True 16-Bits (The Classic Battle)]]
[[{{The 16bit Era Of Console Video Games}} See here]] for more inforamtion.

* '''Duration''': 1987-96.
* '''Sides''': ''SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem'' (aka Super NES/SNES/Super Nintendo/Super Famicom) vs. ''SegaGenesis'' (aka Mega Drive) vs. ''NEC TurboGrafx16'' (aka [=TurboDuo=]/PC Engine) vs. ''{{Philips CD-i}}'' vs. ''Amstrad GX4000'' vs. ''NeoGeo'' Vs ''Super A'Can'' Vs ''CPS Changer''
* '''Winner''': Eventually, the SNES - but its competition with the Genesis was the closest so far.

This one marked down boundaries that are still followed to this day (boundaries that were arguably drawn by one of the actual companies "Genesis does what Ninten''don't''"). Fifteen years on, you'll still encounter long-time gamers who identify themselves as "SNES people" or "Genesis people".

The Genesis initially competed against the NES and, as is often forgotten, did so rather poorly the better graphics meant little against the juggernaut that was Nintendo at the time, and flawed arcade adaptations like ''VideoGame/AlteredBeast'' (the Genesis' original pack-in game) didn't compare well with the then-recent ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros3'', often considered one of the (if not '''the''') greatest games of all time. It wouldn't be until the Genesis found its KillerApp ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog'', released the same Summer as the SNES with its (comparatively) boring-looking ''VideoGame/SuperMarioWorld'', that Sega would give Nintendo a tenacious run for their money.

Though the Genesis would be extremely well-received in the UK, in the US and generally, in the long-term the later-released, powerful SNES won out, although it should be noted that the Genesis was out-selling the SNES for quite a while. The Genesis had a faster {{CPU}} ("Blast Processing" was what its commercials touted), but the SNES had the more advanced graphics hardware, even without the expansion chips which cartridges could provide. Sega struggled to remedy this through releasing a number of add-ons (the 32X, the Sega CD/Mega CD), which did little for gamers that the Genesis didn't already do.

Another important factor in the SNES' victory over the long term was its ''tremendous'' library of games especially in its native Japan, where the console released anime {{licensed game}}s at bargain prices. Whereas Sega catered mainly to a "hardcore" gamer market of young males, especially with sports or fighting games (with the SNES derided as the bloodless ''VideoGame/MortalKombat'' system), the SNES could simply saturate the market with games targeting ''every'' demographic, including the casual gamer that would make Nintendo such a success a decade later. The differences between these strategies began the first-ever CasualCompetitiveConflict in the home market -- while the SNES did become more successful in the end, it wasn't uncommon to be bullied for admitting that you owned one, especially if it was instead of the "cooler" Genesis. Much like the NES before them, and later the PS2, games were being released for the systems long after the next-generation systems like the PlayStation or N64 had condemned the systems to eventual obsolescence, with some still releasing new games as late as 2000.

Nintendo also got a huge boost late in the game when they tasked British developer Creator/{{Rare}} with reviving the then-dormant ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'' franchise. The result was ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'', which pioneered the use of pre-rendered 3D graphics in video games. It immediately became the fastest-selling game of its time, becoming the KillerApp of the SNES' later years and helping Nintendo win the war once and for all.

Another contender was the NEC TurboGrafx16 (aka PC-Engine). The system was very popular in Japan (outselling the NES and consistently ahead of the Mega Drive) but poor marketing, a bad pack-in game, and a lack of exports of some of the more popular titles condemned it to obscurity in North America.

Unlike the Genesis and the [=TurboGrafx-16=], the SNES had no CD drive peripheral, though one was planned. To make a [[UsefulNotes/{{SNES CDROM}} long story]] short, Nintendo broke deals with Sony and Philips. As part of the settlement, Philips won the right to make several Mario and Zelda games for its CD-i system. The CD-i had been originally sold as a multimedia system until Philips realized that only the games were actually selling. But the CD-i turned out to be poorly situated as a game console, since game developers had to deal with a slow, buggy interface and a controller that lagged badly and could only support two "functions", no matter the number of buttons. Nevertheless, the CD-i's limited success in kiosk and interactive-multimedia markets allowed it to stay in production until 1998. As for the CD-i's Mario and Zelda games, the less said about them here the better. As for Sony, it turned its half of the CD peripheral into an independent console, something called a "[=PlayStation=]." We'll get to that in a bit...

The real loser was the Amstrad [=GX4000=], a console based on the AmstradCPC computer line which had a library consisting mostly of overpriced ports of CPC games; it was only released in Europe, and lasted less than a year.

The oddball was the NeoGeo. Released in 1990 (the same year as the SNES), it was way more expensive than the other 16-bit consoles and was there so that fans with lots of money could play the exact same arcade game at home. Since SNK used the very same hardware in their arcade machines it made porting cheap, and thus new NeoGeo games continued to trickle out as late as ''2004''. The only true competitor for the NeoGeo, Creator/{{Capcom}}'s CPS Changer, had no third-party support and less than a dozen releases.

Another footnote could be added for the Super A'Can. It's games were largely [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WDwMsUC-rAU ripoffs of other games]] and it was never released in the USA.

[[folder:The Four-And-A-Halfth Generation: The False Start]]
* '''Duration''': 1993-96.
* '''Sides''': ''[[ThreeDOInteractiveMultiplayer 3DO]]'' vs. ''AtariJaguar'' vs. ''Pioneer [=LaserActive=]'' vs. ''{{Amiga}} [=CD32=]'' vs. ''FMTowns Marty'' vs. ''Memorex VIS'' vs. ''Nintendo VirtualBoy''.
* '''Winner''': Arguable; the 3DO sold the best, but the Virtual Boy was the only one whose parent company wasn't bankrupted or driven out of the market.

Several companies got the big idea to jump-start the next generation early...and failed due to the incredibly-high prices the new consoles commanded and/or boneheaded management ruining any chance of success. The SNES and Genesis thoroughly trounced all of them.

This stalled generation is the first one based on [=CD-ROM=] technology, and this isn't a coincidence. Optical disc technology had been around for a while, but it wasn't until the early 1990s that such discs were introduced for use in home computers. [=CD-ROMs=] worked fine for multimedia encyclopedias and such, but since most games of the day were 8 megabytes or less, developers had trouble imagining what to do with all that extra space. Computer manufacturers had pushed CD-ROM drives heavily, but the format didn't take off until the debut of a point-and-click adventure game called ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}''. ''Myst'''s lush graphics and free-roaming gameplay were a big hit, and players bought [=CD-ROM=] drives just so they could play it, just as ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' boosted sales of video cards several years before. Naturally, disc-based consoles followed shortly after. Early games were often uninspired clones of existing hits, layered heavily with FullMotionVideo and digitized actors to [[ShootTheMoney show off the new technology]].

The 3DO was an attempt by Trip Hawkins (Creator/ElectronicArts' founder) to create a standardized console format. Despite a great deal of hype, some pretty good games and decent support by third-party companies (most notably Electronic Arts), it was hindered by [[FullMotionVideo full-motion shovelware]] and a launch price of '''[[CrackIsCheaper $700]]''' which 3DO refused to reduce up until the superior 32-bit systems came out and killed the interest in it. 3DO eventually retooled itself as a software company that despite some successes (namely the ''VideoGame/ArmyMen'' series) was just as troubled as the system and eventually shuttered in 2003.

The [=LaserActive=] was a system based on the laserdisc format. It was arguably way ahead of its time, with FullMotionVideo capabilities far outstripping the Sega CD and Philips CD-i, and with graphics that at times even surpassed many fifth-generation offerings. It also had the capability of playing Genesis, Sega CD, and [=TurboGrafx=] games with optional (and ''expensive'') add-ons. However, it ran into the same problems the 3DO did a limited software selection and a staggering price of '''$1,300''' (and this was ''before'' the Sega/[=TurboGrafx=] add-ons).

The AtariJaguar was an infamous case of mismanagement and general corporate stupidity. Atari's claim of 64-bit power and an initial huge list of third-party support impressed the public, but any hopes of Atari taking back the industry were crushed by the Jaguar's infamously-complicated and buggy coding structure, and an initial wave of games that sucked and only looked slightly better than comparable 3D SNES games using the Super-FX chip. As a result, most of the third-party bailed out and sales were lackluster. Atari tried to counter the arrival of the newer 32-bit systems with an ill-thought-out CD add-on, but that didn't do anything and the Jaguar fell taking Atari with it.

The Amiga [=CD32=] was a similar story: it was released ''a month before any third-party games came out for it'', had a gaming selection that largely consisted of ports of Amiga 1200 games, and continued Commodore's proud tradition of being unable to sell water to a dying man in a desert. It actually sold respectably well in Europe for a while, but even that soon dried up, and Commodore were soon defunct themselves. The only thing saving the [=CD32=] from bottom spot in this generation was the existence of the Memorex VIS, another multimedia system that barely had any games and sold a wimpy 10,000 units during its short lifetime.

Creator/{{Sega}} actually considered competing against this generation with the ''Neptune'', which ultimately saw release in the form of the 32X. Though the 32X was a Genesis add-on rather than a console, it failed like the rest. Sega also released a CD addon to the Genesis/Mega Drive; like the 3DO, the Sega CD and 32X both had a few good games (but not much), but they weren't enough to justify the cost, especially with the Saturn's release date approaching.

On the other side of the Pacific was an odd thing called the FM Towns Marty, which arguably was the ''first'' 32-bit CD-ROM-based console...but in a shining example of NoExportForYou, nobody outside of Japan ever heard of it. It was a console variant of the respectable FMTowns, an early Fujitsu attempt to create a multimedia-centered PC, and predating XBox by a full seven years it used a custom PC hardware centered around an AMD 386 variant. But unlike the desktop FM Towns machines it wasn't able to run DOS software, was plagued with compatibility problems, and was very expensive (72,000 Yen at release, about $700)...and proceeded to bomb.

Finally, let's take a moment to acknowledge a console that has gotten a lot of flak from AllOfTheOtherReindeer, partially for being a BlackSheep: the Virtual Boy. The first console to use 3D graphics as its gimmick, the Virtual Boy was ''not'' a handheld console despite its name it needed support from a flat surface to use correctly. It's also a classic example of [[GogglesDoSomethingUnusual Goggles Doing Something Unusual]], in that they blocked your peripheral vision and displayed graphics in monochrome black and red. Its 3D effects were quite good, but everything else about it...not so much. According to its creator, Creator/GunpeiYokoi, it was an ObviousBeta and should never have been released, but [[ExecutiveMeddling Executive Meddlers]] shoved it out the door early so that the N64 could take center stage with R&D. The Virtual Boy was released in 1995 and discontinued within a year, with only 22 games ever released (one of which was a ''Film/{{Waterworld}}'' tie-in that, appropriately, is widely considered the console's worst title).

[[folder: The Fifth Generation: The 32/64-bit era (aka The Leap To 3D)]]

[[{{The Fifth Generation Of Console Video Games}} See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 1994-2002.
* '''Sides''': ''[[NintendoSixtyFour Nintendo 64]]'' vs. ''SegaSaturn'' vs. ''Sony PlayStation'' vs. ''[[{{UsefulNotes/Pippin}} Apple Pippin]]'' vs. ''NEC PC-FX''.
* '''Winner''': [=PlayStation=] by a country mile and Nintendo and Sega [[{{UsefulNotes/SNESCDROM}} shooting themselves in the foot]].

Despite quality games such as ''VideoGame/SuperMario64'', ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', and ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'', Nintendo dropped out of the lead for the first time ever. This was partially because of their adherence to the old ROM cartridge format the limitations of which caused it to lose much of its third-party support, particularly Square and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' and partly because their bright and shiny family games didn't fit the new 3D, next-gen aesthetic. However, shrewd business decisions and pricing on Nintendo's part meant that while they lost market share, the company may have ended up comparably profitable to their competitors. The fact that their best-selling games were first/[[Creator/{{Rare}} second-]]party also helped. The N64 did come in second during the war, but its sales didn't even come close to the [=PlayStation's=].

Sony, meanwhile, recognized the increasing age bracket of console gamers and tapped into the influential twentysomething "big kid" market, legitimizing console gaming in the eyes of many and laying the foundation for the newcomer's market dominance. It should be worth noting that one of (if not the) greatest asset of the [=PlayStation=]'s victory was due to the fact that their games were released on {{CD}}s. Since at that time, [=CDs=] were widely available to the mass market as writable media containers, the [=PlayStation=] became the first console with a large-scale piracy problem. People would buy [=PlayStation=]s because they could pirate the games for it at less than one-tenth the games' retail price, whereas there was hardly any piracy on the other disk-based systems (and it goes without saying that it was way harder to copy an N64 cartridge).

You might expect that the developers shifting their focus away from Nintendo would choose its then-primary competitor Sega as a new platform, rather than new-kid-on-the-block Sony. However, the Saturn was a complex multi-processor design that was harder to program for, and it was less powerful than [=PlayStation=] when rendering in 3D. It was also crippled by creepy-as-fuck American television advertising, and a botched surprise launch in the US that caught third parties flat-footed and enraged retailers that weren't in on the secret, including Wal-Mart. Although it managed to grab some good market share in Japan, the dearth of game releases eventually led to its failure in other territories, where it was discontinued in 1998.

The Apple Pippin, released in conjunction with Bandai, was a weird mesh of computer and console sensibilities with all of the worst attributes of both too expensive for a console, too underpowered for a computer, and a software library that barely cracked two digits. It's mostly useful for filling out every tech site list of "Ten Worst Consoles" or "Five Apple Flops."

The NEC PC-FX was NEC's attempt to enter the 32-bit era early by rushing an old, outdated design out the door before its competitors in an attempt to keep the PC-Engine's fanbase. The result was completely underpowered in every respect except for decoding videos, and thus many releases for it were anime-themed {{FMV}} games, making it pretty much the Japanese equivalent of the CD-i. It sold less than 100,000 units and ended NEC's run as a console maker.

[[folder: The Sixth Generation: 3D Evolution]]
[[{{The Sixth Generation Of Console Video Games}} See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 1998-2006.
* '''Sides''': ''SegaDreamcast'' vs ''Sony PlayStation2'' vs. ''Nintendo {{GameCube}}'' vs. ''Microsoft {{Xbox}}'' vs. ''V-Smile''.
* '''Winner''': [=PlayStation=] 2 by two country miles.

Sega tried to get a head start, releasing its console in 1998 in Japan and 1999 in the US and Europe, but despite a number of fun peripherals, a free modem, four-player support built in, and a [[VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica (theoretically) exclusive]] ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' game, Sony's customer loyalty saw most gamers holding their cash for the [=PS2=]. While the Dreamcast did do better than widely given credit for (outselling the Saturn and managing sales that on average were roughly on par with the first Xbox), it wasn't enough to pull Sega out of the financial hole created by their blunders in the previous decade, resulting in them pulling out of the hardware market altogether before Nintendo and Microsoft's offerings were even released.

The [=PS2=], meanwhile, proceeded to grab up the majority of the market early on and hold it, despite being less powerful than the later [=GameCube=] and Xbox consoles. Once again, a factor outside of its game library helped the [=PS2=] achieve victory at the time of its launch, it was the cheapest DVD player on the market. The system has shown rather outrageous longevity as well, being manufactured and having titles released for it ''in 2013'', whereas the Xbox and [=GameCube=] had largely faded out by 2007. With nearly ''4000 games'', it has the largest library in console history. In the end, the [=PS2=] has sold nearly three times the ''combined'' sales total of its two main rivals, making this easily the biggest CurbStompBattle since the NES took on the Master System and Atari 7800. At 153.6 million sales, it is the most successful console of all time.

Despite a whole set of (theoretically) exclusive M-rated games from Capcom ''VideoGame/{{killer7}}'', ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil4'', a remake of [[VideoGame/ResidentEvil the original]] ''RE'' (followed by eventually the entire main series to that point), and [[VideoGame/ResidentEvil0 a prequel to it]] along with a few mature non-Capcom games such as ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'' and a ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'' remake, Nintendo was [[CasualCompetitiveConflict unable to shake off its uncool "kiddie" reputation]]. The [=GameCube=] also didn't play {{DVD}}s (unlike the [=PS2=] and Xbox) thanks to using smaller discs in an attempt to ward off piracy (which didn't work), and barely even put out an attempt to do something about online play (a lame adapter was only compatible with two ''VideoGame/PhantasyStar Online'' games released by Sega, and ''VideoGame/MarioKart: Double Dash!'' could only be played online via a local area network). Although it took second in Japan, the [=GameCube=] was third in Western markets and Australia. In fact, after a relatively strong first eighteen months, once it became obvious that Nintendo had released all their major franchise games for the system and had no plans for further ones (outside of the endless ''VideoGame/MarioParty'' games, and an occasional one such as ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' and ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime 2'') sales of the [=GameCube=] utterly imploded, meaning that for much of its life the console was humiliated to the point of being outsold by the ''original'' PlayStation in several markets. It wasn't a total loss, however, since Nintendo ended up the most profitable company of the Sixth Generation due to never treating the [=GameCube=] as a loss leader.

The Xbox entered the fray last and, despite initial skepticism, carved out a niche for itself thanks largely to KillerApp ''{{Halo}}'' and the XboxLive online system. In Japan, however, it barely made a dent and relied on Microsoft to back it up financially, as the company treated it as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader loss-leader]] rather than a source of revenue in its own right. One place where it became oddly popular was in the Linux community, who exploited its PC roots to create an early version of the modern-day Home Theatre PC.

[[folder: The Seventh Generation: The HD/Motion Control era]]
[[{{The Seventh Generation Of Console Video Games}} See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 2005 - November 22, 2013.
* '''Sides''': ''Sony's PlayStation3'' vs. ''Nintendo {{Wii}}'' vs. ''Microsoft {{Xbox 360}}'' vs. ''Zeebo'' vs. ''Hyperscan''
* '''Winner''': The Wii, by a few waggles.

Microsoft was last in, first out with the Xbox 360, gaining a comfortable head start thanks to an even more advanced version of the Xbox Live system (with a point-comparing gimmick which catches on fast) and HDTV compatibility. However a hefty price tag, limited backwards compatibility with original Xbox games, and complaints about machine malfunctions plagued the console's early days (and, in the case of the malfunctions, continued to hurt it). Surprisingly, however, Microsoft did gain traction as a console developer after negative publicity in the run-up to the [=PS3=] launch (specifically about Sony's hardware bottlenecks, poor viral marketing via fake blogs, and what was seen as the mistreatment of Sony's European customers) caused some waverers to jump to the 360. This was not helped by what was perceived to be Sony's decision to [[FollowTheLeader copy its competitors' unique selling points]] and the whopping [[CrackIsCheaper five-hundred and ninety-nine US dollars]] price tag of the [=PS3=], twice the starting prices of its predecessors. However, Sony's die-hard supporters, gathered through the [=PS1=] and [=PS2=] days, remained in droves, and reported excellent stock take-up in the first weekend of sales, through sales really didn't pick up until the eventual and inevitable price cut.

However, both the 360 and [=PS3=] lagged behind Nintendo's offering the Wii. Instead of trying to compete with cutting-edge hardware[[note]]the Wii is somewhat more powerful than the Xbox, it has a larger polygon count than the Xbox (Wii's 500 million polygons max and 410 million polygons in game play compare to the Xbox's 120 million polygons max but can only put out 15 million polygons at max in game play) but lacks the modern shaders that the Xbox uses, however when the Xbox only has 4 shader units, the Wii uses 24 TEV units to make up for it[[/note]], Nintendo debuted a unique two-part controller setup fitted with motion sensors and IR (pointer) input. Bolstered with games appealing to both traditional gamers (''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'', ''FireEmblem'') and the new "casual" market (''VideoGame/WiiSports''), the Wii catapulted to record-breaking success. This didn't go over too well with many of the "{{hardcore}}", who were [[AttentionWhore upset at no longer]] [[ItsPopularNowItSucks being the center of attention]]. Their most notable complaint was Nintendo's decision to focus on [[CashCowFranchise easy-profit games]] tailored for [[CasualCompetitiveConflict casuals]] the most glaring example being ''VideoGame/WiiPlay'', a minigame collection which sold 26 million units because it came with a free controller.

The Wii was unique amongst the competing players in that the console hardware was not a loss-leader; Nintendo made a profit for every console sold, whereas Microsoft and Sony relied on revenue from software to plug the gap. This is [[OlderThanTheyThink actually a return to prior trends]], as the idea of selling console hardware for a loss originated with the [=PS1=].

Whether the three systems were in competition with each other was a point of debate. Some dismissed the notion, claiming that the Wii targeted a different demographic than the 360 and [=PS3=], while others pointed out that they were all competing in the broader arena of "recreation time" with other forms of entertainment. One undisputed fact, however, is that [[http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=22291228&postcount=262 Microsoft and Sony had lost hundreds of millions]] on their consoles and Nintendo is the only company to have profited throughout the generation (for instance, Sony's losses on the [=PS3=] had eliminated all the profits from the [=PS1=] ''and'' [=PS2=]) and only in Summer 2010 had begun to turn a modest profit. This is seen as the main reason why Microsoft and Sony have [[FollowTheLeader released their own motion-control schemes]], in an attempt to grab some of the Wii market. (This made their "ItWillNeverCatchOn" claims about the Wii HilariousInHindsight.) The actual ''structure'' of this generation is a matter about which analysts will debate and argue (and, given the increasing size of the gaming market, it actually now ''has'' analysts!).

Meanwhile, far away from all this mess, a Brazilian company known as Tectoy released the Zeebo, their first original entry to the console market (they had previously been highly successful distributing Sega consoles in Brazil), which was specifically targeted at emerging markets such as Brazil, China, Russia, and India (except that no one had really heard about it outside of Brazil, which has import laws so ludicrous that having a local console seems to be the only realistic outcome) with its less powerful architecture and lower price point, but a wide variety of classic games from past console generations delivered through [[UsefulNotes/DigitalDistribution online downloads]]. The system also boasted infrared technology, similar to the Wii, on some games and has a very user-friendly controller. However, it failed horrendously in the markets it was launched in (India, Brazil and Mexico) and ceased production on September 30, 2011.

And then there was the Hyperscan, a kid system with cards to use with the games. A grand total of five games were released for it, and barely anyone even ''heard'' of it, let alone bought one.

'''The Standings''': For the first time since the 5th generation, Nintendo took first place for consoles sold, with just over 100 million as of June 2013 ([[http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/library/historical_data/pdf/consolidated_sales_e1306.pdf according to Nintendo reports]]). The [=PlayStation=] 3 and the Xbox 360 seem to be pretty dead even for second at around 76-78 million as of January 2013, with the [=PS3=]'s late resurgence and affordability helping to catch up to the Xbox's one-year headstart, while the Xbox has a strong user base in America making up for its lack of popularity in Europe (aside from the UK) and Japan (although those regions seem to be improving in Xbox's favor compared to last generation). Fourth place goes to Zeebo, and in fifth place is the discontinued Hyperscan.

The Wii was outselling both the Xbox 360 and [=PlayStation=] 3 ''combined'' for about the first four years of its lifespan. Eventually by 2011, the Wii's sales lead started to trail off, while the Xbox 360 received a boost from the massively successful Kinect add-on. While Sony's [=PlayStation=] Move has been more critically acclaimed in terms of games, it hasn't captured the public imagination as much as the others due to being seen (rightly or wrongly) as being just a more advanced version of the Wii's control scheme. This trend continued in 2012, with the Wii often outsold by its competition at a ratio of 4-1; as the WiiU approached, Nintendo's only major releases of the year were ''VideoGame/RhythmHeaven Fever'' and ''VideoGame/EpicMickey 2''. As of October 2013, the Wii officially ceased production in Japan (though not elsewhere) as Nintendo drove most of its focus on its next-gen console.

Microsoft and Sony, with the seventh generation all to themselves, were able to make up some lost ground. ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'', a KillerApp if ever there was one, came out just before [[UsefulNotes/ChristmasInAmerica Black Friday]] and Sony finished strong with titles like ''VideoGame/GodOfWar: Ascension'' and ''TheLastOfUs''. And consumer interest in the consoles did not diminish: the week of Black Friday, the X360 sold 750,000 units, outselling the WiiU and Wii ''combined''[[note]]400,000 and 300,000, respectively[[/note]], while the PS3 turned a respectable 525,000, beating both of them individually as well. As of the "official" end of this generation (IE, the launches of their successors, the [=PS4=] and [=XB1=]), the PS3 and X360 had managed almost 82 and 81 million sales respectively, with the Wii standing at over 100 million.

Despite Nintendo's changed priorities regarding the Wii's continued production, it's fairly unlikely that either console will be able to top Nintendo's sales figures, even with overtime technicalities on their side, and even less likely to top Nintendo's ''profits''. Sony in particular is in deep trouble: journalists have begun to note that [[http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/why-sony-and-the-playstation-brand-is-in-way-more-trouble-than-you-think Sony's missteps over the PS3's life]] [[http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-10-05-sonys-steep-learning-process have left them in a bad position]], though it remains to be seen how this will affect things in the next generation.

[[folder: The Eighth Generation (current)]]
[[TheEighthGenerationOfConsoleVideoGames See here]] for more information.

* '''Duration''': 2012-20XX.
* '''Sides''': ''Nintendo {{Wii U}}'' vs. ''Sony PlayStation4'' vs. ''Microsoft XboxOne'' vs. ''OUYA'' vs. Creator/ValveSoftware's ''[[{{Steam}} Steam Machines]]''
* '''Winner''': As of March 2014 the PlayStation4 has the highest number of sales at 7 million [[http://www.gamepur.com/news/14158-ps4-worldwide-sale-crosses-7-million-mark-thanks-infamous-second-son-report.html]]. The WiiU is behind at 5.8 million [[http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/library/historical_data/pdf/consolidated_sales_e1312.pdf]]. The XboxOne is trailing at 3.7 million [[http://www.microsoft.com/investor/EarningsAndFinancials/Earnings/PressReleaseAndWebcast/FY14/Q2/default.aspx]].

While generations have typically refreshed every 5-6 years, this does not seem to be the case for the current systems, necessitating new predictions of when new consoles will finally be released. None of the three console makers are in a rush to launch new systems the Nintendo Wii maintains its lead, and it's in Microsoft and Sony's best interests to keep selling their current systems and recoup the millions they've lost already. Another factor prolonging the life of seventh-generation consoles is widespread broadband access in American, Asian, and European homes; rather than roll out a new console to support better graphics or, in Sony's case, 3D games, the manufacturers can simply provide a firmware update for their customers to download. DigitalDistribution has also expanded the retrogaming and ExpansionPack market, providing all three consoles with enormous libraries of not only games and add-ons, but also movies, music, game trailers, and other fresh content. The late-2000's recession hasn't helped matters either; with little money consumers have to spend in the current economy, its far easier to buy (or in the case of developers, sell) more games for their current console(s) than start investing in a new console in addition to buying the games for it.

This generation will be met with a fair amount of competition from tangent industries. Cellular phones and handheld computers have advanced to the point of being able to play simple but graphically appealing games; this could cut into the casual market, as such games are cheap, can be played for a few minutes at a time, and--assuming the player already has a cell phone (which in this day and age is like assuming the player needs oxygen)--don't require additional hardware. Meanwhile, as consoles become more full-featured and offer non-gaming services, while PC services like {{Steam}} standardize the buying, installation, and customer support processes, the two camps will find themselves in closer competition for consumer dollars.

A number of rumors in 2009 about Microsoft kick-starting the 8th generation ended up being Sony and Microsoft jumping late onto the motion-control wagon with [=PlayStation=] Move and Kinect, respectively and most analysts are bullish on their chances of success. Microsoft has apparently reported that the Xbox 360 is only halfway through its lifespan, expecting it to last until 2015. Similarly, Sony has claimed that the PS3 will have a 10-year life cycle, lasting until somewhere around 2016.

So it was up to Nintendo to upset the applecart. They did, announcing the WiiU at E3 2011, with a release in Nov 18 (NA) and Dec 6 (JPN). It is back-compatible with all Wii games, controllers and accessories, but not Gamecube ones. The console itself looks like a downsized X360, but that's because all the excitement's in the controller, which is the lovechild of a Wiimote and an iPad in addition to rumble, motion control, and all the buttons and thumbsticks you'd expect, it's got a touch-screen (single-touch only), camera with video chat support, and can display both secondary outputs (non-important information) ''or'' be used to play the game directly while someone else uses the TV to, say, watch TV. However, it is ''not'' a portable; without a set-top box to think for it, the controller accomplishes little on its own. So far, response has been mixed; Nintendo stocks went down noticeably in the days following the announcement over doubts about the (relatively) astronomical cost of controllers, the revised market strategy (going high-tech in comparison to the Wii's {{everyman}} approach; initially focusing on games that will only support one uPad at a time, with others required to use Wiimotes), and the lack of innovation in comparison to the Wii. Just like the Wii, the WiiU caters heavily to families and "casuals", thanks to games such as ''VideoGame/NintendoLand''.

The U has had a mixed response from third-party developers. A number of them who had shunned Nintendo for the past couple of generations signed on in droves for the Wii U, and early reports indicated that the U's Development Kit was very user-friendly. However, several others have very publicly announced that they have no interest in developing for the console, turned off by the combination of lower specs and the "[=GamePad=]" controller.

For the longest time, information on future Sony and Microsoft consoles were limited to rumors from Kotaku, who reported on the "[=XBox=] 720" in [[http://kotaku.com/5879202/sources-the-next-xbox-will-play-blu+ray-may-not-play-used-games-and-will-introduce-kinect-2 January '12]] and the [[http://kotaku.com/5896996/the-next-playstation-is-called-orbis-sources-say-here-are-the-details/ PS4]], also called "Orbis," in March. Both sets of rumors suggested those systems would debut at E3 2013 and be released the following holiday season. Unexpectedly, however, both systems had earlier reveals: Sony held a press event on February 20 and Microsoft on May 21.

The PlayStation4 conference showcased some very promising footage: the next ''VideoGame/{{Killzone}}'' game; a new intellectual property "VideoGame/{{Knack}}" that looks to merge the gameplay styles of ''VideoGame/MegaManLegends'' and ''VideoGame/KatamariDamacy''; the astounding news that Creator/{{Bungie}} Studios' new MMO-FPS, ''VideoGame/{{Destiny}}'', will be available on the console; the [[HypeBacklash somewhat-less-exciting]] news that ''VideoGame/{{Diablo III}}'' will as well; and the [[ForegoneConclusion non-surprise]] that SquareEnix is working on a new ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' game (but surprising that it was the [[NeverLiveItDown infamously]] borderline-{{Vaporware}} ''Final Fantasy Versus XIII'', now ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXV''). It confirmed that the [=PS4=] controller will have a touch interface. It also confirmed a WildMassGuess concerning the [=PS4=]'s nickname, "Orbis": when placed alongside the Vita, you get the PretentiousLatinMotto for "circle of life", which was Sony's way of teasing that the Vita will be to the [=PS4=] what the Wii U's [=GamePad=] is to the U: a fully-functioning private screen. What did ''not'' make an appearance was the console itself, any hard technical specs about it (aside from 8 GB of RAM), its price or its release date. That information was delayed until E3 - the price point was established at $399, $100 cheaper than the [=XB1=]; the [[http://kotaku.com/the-ps4-has-a-500gb-hard-drive-and-other-misc-details-512521805 specs were released]]; and the console itself was put on display, free of any kind of DRM. It was released on November 15, 2013 in the US and November 29th 2013 for Europe.

Microsoft, a bit upstaged, nonetheless went public with the details of its XboxOne. The presentation featured the console, a slightly redesigned controller, new Kinect functions and details about launch games and some exclusives. One of the more interesting exclusives was an announcement that Creator/StevenSpielberg is helping them present a ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' television series exclusively for the device, which is being positioned as an all-in-''one'' entertainment center (hence the name), something that can do TV, movies, music, apps in addition to games. Open-minded analysts had suggested that Microsoft is actually hoping to compete with ''Apple'' and their promise to simplify your entertainment clutter with its ([[VaporWare as-yet-unreleased]]) [=iTV=] system. In this way, Microsoft can change their target demographic. Instead of marketing to "hardcore gamers", the [=XB1=] can be shown to "anyone who does multiple things--cable, Netflix, DVD, Blu-ray, Skype or [=FaceTime=], and... [[OutOfFocus oh yeah!]]: video games--on their television," a number that is ''much'' bigger. It was released a week after the [=PS4=], on November 22, marking the official beginning of TheEighthGenerationOfConsoleVideoGames.

While Microsoft's E3 press conference had an impressive line-up of games, in addition to ''CallOfDuty'', EA Sports titles and ''VideoGame/ForzaMotorsport'', includes the likes of ''Dead Rising3'', ''Quantum Break'', and ''Titanfall'', its very controversial {{DRM}} features had garnered much criticisms: the system would need to be connected to the internet once every 24 hours, and numerous restrictions regarding used games (though Microsoft is mostly leaving those restrictions up to the publishers). Additionally, the DRM would make sure that the system will not function if the system is moved to a country where the console isn't launched at all though the use of IP geofencing, effectively making import gaming impossible. Ultimately the enormous backlash led Microsoft to backpedal, with them [[http://kotaku.com/microsoft-is-removing-xbox-one-drm-514390310 announcing a removal of the policies]].

And then before either of those two consoles launched, Creator/ValveSoftware announced that they were going to take their {{Steam}} DigitalDistribution service and try to expand it from [=PCs=] to the living room. They'd do it in three parts: [=SteamOS=], an operating system optimized for use with TV screens; Steam Machines, a range of PC hardware optimized for gaming; and their own controller. Gamers can adopt any of the three if they so choose, and mod it all to their hearts' content.

Finally, we have Google's Android operating system, which is being used to run several new consoles. The [[http://www.ouya.tv/ Ouya]] and [[http://www.gamestick.tv/ GameStick]] are both funded by Website/{{Kickstarter}}. Of the two, the Ouya is older and has more announced features: it's mod- and root-friendly (some pre-orders will come ''pre-rooted''), it functions off the free-to-play models pioneered by ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' and ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' (i.e. BribingYourWayToVictory), and as of December 28 has started to ship its first consoles to developers. Both consoles are dirt-cheap at $99 and $79 respectively. All this seems too good to be true, and maybe it is: the Ouya, though it sold pretty well, has been hindered by slow third-party support and a controller that is ''plagued'' with issues; while the [=GameStick=] has been affected by similar problems and on top of that had suffered several launch delays throughout the year.

'''The Current Standings:'''\\
The WiiU established an early lead, since it had the generation all to itself for a year. But unlike the Wii, the U is being sold [[http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_22013695 at a loss]], and a non-negligible one at that: Nintendo originally claimed that they would need to sell just one game to break even on the console, but later retracted that statement and have yet to offer an alternative. It has also, unlike the Wii, started to falter in its post-holiday sales, with Nintendo posting its first-ever quarterly losses. In fact, the U's early monthly sales in 2013 have been so dismal that the X360 and PS3 ''have still outsold it'' until their sales picked up pace after the launch of the PS4 and XboxOne. Some speculators are still optimistic that excellent first-party games Nintendo is known for (such as ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros 4'', ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DWorld'', and ''VideoGame/MarioKart 8'') can turn things around; their belief is that the U still has a KillerApp or two up its sleeve. Others say that those will be little more than small bumps in the sales. They point too the U's inability to secure a substantial audience despite having a year all to itself, its alienation of third party publishers yet again, and its inability to recapture the casual market that made the Wii successful. ''Especially'' pessimistic speculators are already predicting the end of Nintendo's run as a first-party (i.e. console-making) contender. This is unlikely, though, as Nintendo's most profitable product last generation was not the Wii but rather the DS, and they can lean on their handheld department while regrouping for the ninth generation.

Microsoft, for their part, '''strongly''' divided games and non-gamers alike when they announced the Xbox One's {{DRM}} restrictions - some argued it was necessary to prevent piracy, while others said it was far too draconian and made the system look unattractive. The 500-dollar price tag, most expensive in the current generation by $100, didn't help either. Sony went the opposite route, promising not to use DRM or restricting sales of used games for the [=PS4=], which won them a lot of fans and even convinced some Microsoft fans to switch sides. Sony's press conference, which [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA lampooned]] the [=XB1's=] unpopular features in [[LargeHam unsubtle]] fashion, didn't hurt either. A little over a week later, Microsoft bit the bullet and repealed the DRM plans, at the same time also promising to rid the console of RegionCoding. While the move has garnered positive response, only time will tell if the move has came too late.

The [=PS4=], meanwhile, has continued to enjoy overwhelmingly popularity before its launch, with Sony recently saying they already have over two million units sold via preorder. Mixed with news that, according to devs, the system is 50% more powerful than the the XboxOne, all information about the [=PS4=] has been met extremely positively. Upon release, it completely shattered all records for day-one sales, selling over a million units in 24 hours despite launching only in North America, and adding another million within two-and-a-half weeks. Additionally, Sony is very aggressive with the launch of the PS4, launching it in as many countries as supplies would permit within a short period, compared to Microsoft's slower launch timetable (in which it launched first in the first world countries in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and in North America in 2013, but the first world countries of Asia will only be getting the console in 2014, and second and third world countries' launch dates around the world are still up in the air). The XB1 did about as well, and by the turn of 2014, Microsoft claimed to have sold 3 million consoles... though that's a bit of a slowdown next to Sony's 4 million. The WiiU officially slid into second place in March of 2014, when Sony announced they had sold 6 million consoles in 5 months, compared to the WiiU's 5.86 in 17.

Who knows what the mavericks will do to the battlefield. The Ouya has some pretty serious support behind it, being marketed as a dev- and indie-friendly console; but since beta and more recently official release, has only really been seen as mediocre at best by all accounts. Many believe that Sony's reveal of the similarly priced PS Vita TV, which can play certain Vita, PSP and PS1 titles, makes the Ouya completely irrelevant. The [=GameStick=] has ''no'' exclusive games announced at present, but there is a large market of casual gamers, brought into the hobby by the Wii, who might be excited for the chance to get the Android library on their TV at such low price.


!!The Portable Wars

[[folder: The Original (Third and Fourth Generations)]]
* '''Sides''': ''[[GameBoy Nintendo Game Boy]]'' vs. ''AtariLynx'' vs. ''[[GameGear Sega Game Gear]]'' vs. ''NEC [=TurboExpress=]'' (aka PC Engine) vs. ''Sega Nomad''.
* '''Winner''': Game Boy by [[VideoGame/{{Tetris}} four lines]].

Even when it came out, the Game Boy's chunky design and simple monochrome display made it look old-fashioned; at the same time, the Atari Lynx was wowing people with its "turn it upside down if you're left-handed" gimmick and full-colour display. But Nintendo's wide range of third-party developers and stranglehold on game shops saw it getting more shelf space. The Game Boy's greatest weakness was also its greatest strength; while the other handheld devices boasted color screens and more sophisticated graphics, Nintendo's device offered far better battery life, making it more easily portable. The Game Boy's KillerApp, ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'', was enormously popular among the adult market, becoming a frequent sight on busses and subways. Sega's Game Gear put up a better fight and also offered a colour screen and the option to watch TV on-the-go through a TV tuner with aerial, but it ate batteries for breakfast and, like its bigger brother the Genesis, fell before the might of Nintendo's juggernaut.

The [=TurboExpress=] also failed, despite being the most powerful handheld at that time, largely because it cost $299 on release. A late entry by Sega in the form of the Nomad, a handheld console that could play Genesis games, was a flop it came out the year ''after'' the first PlayStation console.

[[folder:The Intermediary Skirmish (Fifth Generation)]]
* '''Sides''': ''[[GameBoyColor Nintendo Game Boy Color]]'' vs. ''SNK NeoGeoPocket[=/=]Pocket Color'' vs. ''Tiger Electronics Game.Com/R-Zone'' vs. ''Bandai {{Wonderswan}}/Wonderswan Color''.
* '''Winner''': The Game Boy variants.

The cultural dominance of the Game Boy was immense, and continued to be bought by thousands for years after its initial release. But as the hardware aged, its competition saw a chance to strike. The Neo Geo Pocket and Game.Com were both attempts to knock the monochrome bleeper off its feet. But Nintendo had another trick up its sleeve; the original Game Boy was swapped out for the streamlined, bigger-screened Game Boy Pocket while a new, colour, backwards-compatible Game Boy was put on the market. Combined with the burgeoning ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' phenomenon, which was just beginning to make noise outside of Japan, the Game Boy kept its feet until it was relieved by its successor in 2001.

The Neo Geo Pocket Color was released to compete, and while its library of classic Neo Geo titles saw it gain a mild amount of success, it never managed to make any real headway against Nintendo's established brand name and backwards compatibility. Japan also saw the introduction of the hugely-popular Wonderswan, created by [[GunpeiYokoi the Game Boy's original designer]] as what was his final project before his tragic death, but it never made it outside Japan. The Game.com was easily the least successful handheld from this generation, boasting a touch screen and online features, but they were clumsily implemented and the overall hardware was badly underpowered (it actually had a similar CPU to the original Game Boy, but this wasn't especially impressive considering it came out ''eight years later''), consigning it to failure in the marketplace. Tiger Electronics would see a similar failure with the R-Zone, which managed to sell even worse than not only its Game.com, but also the VirtualBoy, which the R-Zone is generally a ShoddyKnockoffProduct of, and which had three equally disappointing different versions and graphics that can't even exceed the quality of those of the Virtual Boy.

When all was said and done, the Game Boy and its variants remain the single best-selling pure video game device ever made.

[[folder:Handheld Proliferation (Sixth Gen)]]
* '''Sides''': ''[[GameBoyAdvance Nintendo Game Boy Advance/Advance SP/Micro]]'' vs. ''Game Park [=GP32=]'' vs. ''Tapwave Zodiac'' vs. ''Nokia NGage/[=N-Gage=] QD'' vs. ''Bandai Wonderswan Crystal'' vs. ''Tiger Telematics {{Gizmondo}}''.
* '''Winner''': The GBA line. (Seeing a pattern here?)

The creation of the Game Boy Color was ultimately an admission that that iteration of the console had gone as far as it could go. In 2001, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance, effectively a portable Game Boy-compatible SNES. (Compare with humorous intent to the first Portable War's massive casualty Sega's Nomad, which played the original Genesis cartridges, doing away with porting/repurchasing games. Another instance of Sega's console curse good ideas, horrific timing.)

The GBA was built upon an idea that would have been seen as terrible if it hadn't worked out: the UpdatedRerelease, more so than any other console before it. If the GBA was essentially a portable SNES, so the logic goes, then there was a generation of children who had never played those games, and another that had would be willing to pay for nostalgia. With a launch line-up that included versions of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2'', ''VideoGame/{{F-Zero}}'', ''VideoGame/EarthwormJim'', and a 2D ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'', with ''VideoGame/MarioKart'', ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'', ''VideoGame/{{Kirby}}'' and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' soon to follow, a wave of players both old and new gave the device a warm reception. SNES developers found it easy to port their games, and even the best new franchises on the handheld (like ''VideoGame/WarioWare'', ''VideoGame/MarioVsDonkeyKong'' and ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga'') had a good dose of gaming nostalgia behind them.

The GBA was followed up two years later with the improved SP model, which had a smaller size and a clamshell style flip-up screen with sidelight. Later they released the Micro, which was smaller and hipper (at the cost of backward compatibility) and an updated SP, both with true backlighting.

Competition followed in various forms, including the N-Gage by phone company Nokia, which was capable of graphics approaching that of a [=PlayStation=] 1 but suffered from an uncomfortable grip and a ''vertical'' screen. Further, the first version not only required players to open it and remove the battery to change a game, but also made them look awkward while using it as an actual phone; these were fixed with the "QD" revision, but one wonders how the original ever made it past practical testing. Despite heavy promotion from Nokia, including N-Gage-only stores, it failed to capture the public's imagination. But it did better than the Palm OS-based Zodiac, which caused its owner company, Tapwave, to fold.

As for the Gizmondo, the system quietly slipped under everyone's radar, despite being an early 3D-capable handheld, mostly thanks to its ludicrous pricing scheme: The base unit cost just over $200, but the system forced its players to sit through adverts before they could play their games, and the ad-free unit cost '''twice as much'''. The fact that the system's launch was overshadowed by the dealings with the Swedish Mafia of Stefan Erikson, the CEO of its manufacturer Tiger Telematics [[note]]not to be confused with Tiger Electronics[[/note]], didn't help much, and the system was quietly discontinued barely a year after its release. Furthermore, because of its failure (the Gizmondo sold only 25,000 units and became the worst-selling video game device ''ever''), Tiger Telematics filed for bankruptcy one year after the Gizmondo was released.

By far the most interesting of this generation, however, was the [=GP32=], a Korean [[GameMod homebrew]]-friendly handheld console with a 133 Mhz processor that was capable of [[{{Emulation}} emulating]] other consoles and computers and came with a tiny detachable keyboard. Although it was not released in America, it gained cult interest in the UK and Europe. The Bandai Swan Crystal was a follow-up to the Wonderswan Color but was not released outside Japan.

But for all intents and purposes, the GBA was virtually unchallenged in the portable market for five years.

A side note should be made of the Leapster, a handheld console that offers educational games for kids manufactured by Franchise/LeapFrog, and V-Tech's entry into the handheld market with the V-Smile Pocket, which is essentially a portable V-Smile with a built-in LCD display. It appeared that the Leapster, being the first in the market, enjoyed some popularity while the V-Smile Pocket fought but failed to impress parents.

[[folder:The Big One (Seventh Gen)]]
* '''Sides''': ''[[NintendoDS Nintendo DS/DS Lite/DSi]]'' vs. ''PlayStationPortable'' (aka PSP)/''PSP-Go'' vs. ''Game Park [=GP2X=]'' vs. {{iOS Games}} vs. AndroidGames.
* '''Winner''': Nintendo DS by several taps.

This generation saw Nintendo's first serious competition for the handheld spot since Sega launched its Game Gear in 1990. The PSP, Sony's first foray into the handheld market, was marketed with top-of-the-line technical power. The PSP has much more raw power and greater non-gaming functionality. However, the dual-screened DS chose to concentrate on pure gaming, appealing to casual gamers with the intuitive touch-screen, microphone, excellent battery life, and lots of games targeted toward really young children. This turned out to be a surprise for everyone who thought the odd little device was dead in the water.

Throughout this generation, Nintendo's position seemed unassailable Nintendo of Japan can't make 'em fast enough to keep up with demand in its home country. Meanwhile, the PSP has around 1/3 the total sales. This doesn't sound like much, until you factor in that it's still much more than the sales of either the 360 or [=PS3=], and has massive popularity in Japan. Having said that, much of the promised non-game functionality of the PSP was a dead end: one of the main selling points of the PSP, the ability for it to play movies from the UMD format, didn't really get anywhere due to a price point for the [=UMDs=] that compared unfavorably with {{DVD}} versions but lacked any [[DVDBonusContent bonus content]] and did not require squinting at that PSP screen, and unenthusiastic support from non-Sony movie companies. The latest version of the PSP, the PSP Go, removed UMD functionality entirely.

In addition, the PSP and its easy memory stick compatibility made it a haven for software pirates. Considering how much had been banked on the impressive back catalog of [=PlayStation=] hits to provide an easy series of releases, emulation definitely made Sony and third-party developers nervous. Eventually [[http://www.edge-online.com/features/third-parties-abandoning-psp the device would lose much]] of the third party support [[http://www.gamezone.com/editorials/sony-psp-failing-due-to-overreliance-on-third-party-developers it had counted on]], and presumably Sony's high-profile failed attempt to block piracy only made other developers more nervous.

In Fall 2008, Nintendo announced the [=DSi=], a third model of the DS. It no longer has GameBoyAdvance compatibility (and by extension, no support for the portable ''VideoGame/GuitarHero'' games, which use the GBA port for their guitar grip peripheral), but has a (not particularly impressive) built-in camera, and SD card reader to play media. It also has built-in wi-fi and an online shop for games, similar to {{WiiWare}}. Priced the same as the PSP, it was released worldwide as of April 5, 2009, [[http://www.gamespot.com/news/6207644.html selling over 600,000 units in its first two days.]]

In October of 2009, a '''fourth''' revision of the DS, the [=DSi=] XL (essentially the [=DSi=]'s "sister console") was announced worldwide and released in Japan. Rather than replace the current [=DSi=], the [=DSi=] LL/XL at first seems counter-productive it's ''larger'' (actually about the same size as the original DS), comes in subdued colors like dark brown and burgundy, and includes a larger pen-shaped stylus in addition to the typical Nintendo DS styli. The point seems to be an attempt to attract more of the casual market by having larger screens which are easier to see and easier to write with. And for people with big hands.

Sony's announcement (at E3 2009) and launch (on September 29) of the PSP Go stands in stark contrast. The Go does not have a physical slot for [=UMDs=] or other media, but instead plays downloaded titles. This resulted in heavy resistance from PSP owners, whose [=UMDs=] are not forward-compatible with the new system; and Sony never announced a way for you (personally) to convert your already-purchased games into DLC. Instead, they (Sony) are converting the PSP's back catalog into DLC, for use on PSP Go ''or'' PSP (which Sony is not discontinuing). A fair amount was available as of launch day, and every PSP title released thereafter was released in both physical and digital formats. But this didn't solve the problem of PSP adopters having to re-buy their old games if they want to play them on the new console. This is part of why the resistance to the Go is so fierce; some stores even refused to ''stock'' it initially. In the end, the PSP Go ceased production only two years after its release, perhaps the final big blow to end the generation's wars.

As for minor consoles, the [=GP2X=] is Game Park's follow-up to the [=GP32=] and offers a Linux-based open-source platform for techier console fans. Like a hacked PSP, it can be used to emulate various consoles and computers, including Genesis, Neo Geo, and Amiga. However, it remains a cult item on the periphery of the war. Think of it as a small, black, plastic Switzerland, if Switzerland's company went bankrupt in 2007 and the former employees got together to make a Switzerland that was even less relevant.

An odd twist of this generation is the invention of smartphones--Apple {{iProduct}}s, Android phones by Website/{{Google}}--which have become competitors in their own right. {{iOS Games}} and AndroidGames are download-only games and are popular among some gamers particularly for simple, low-cost games. Major third-party developers, such as Creator/{{Konami}}, Creator/{{Capcom}}, and {{Square}}, have all launched classic as well as new/exclusive titles in the App Store, proving that it's being taken seriously. Also, the App Store has brought many other budding companies to the surface, such as GameLoft. But it remains to be seen how big a presence this new market is in the Console Wars, because we can't measure their impact yet.

The first question one might ask is, "Why are we bothering to include these smartphones at all? People don't play games on them." In counter-argument, we offer a simple sales figure: ''VideoGame/AngryBirds'' has been downloaded a staggering ''[[http://www.edge-online.com/features/two-billion-downloads-were-just-getting-started-says-angry-birds-creator-rovio/ two billion times]]'' between its launch in December '09 and the quoted press release in January '14. The nearest competitor, ''VideoGame/{{Tetris}}'', does not offer any hard-and-fast figures, as only Game Boy and mobile phone sales have been tabulated; shareware, piracy and its gazillion {{Spinoff}}s are all unaccounted for. But the known sales total 135 million over the course of ''26 years'' of sales. So, although ''Tetris'' is almost certainly the most well-known video game in history, '''officially,''' ''Angry Birds'' is the most proliferate. And it's on smartphones. And it brings its own complications to the competition.
* One would think the easy way to figure out smartphones' market share is to do what we do for everybody else, which is count how many consoles Apple, Verizon, Google etc. have sold. That's kind of the problem: smartphones ''aren't'' consoles. When you buy a DS, you're buying it to play games. When you buy an iPhone, or an iPad, or an iPod Touch, you're buying it to do... what? Maybe you want to play games on it. Maybe you don't. Maybe you're a {{Serious Business}}man who'd ''never'' think of your 4G lifeline as something you could have fun with.
* It's easy to claim that smartphones aren't consoles, and, well, that's kind of true. While gaming consoles don't really have a standardized definition, we [[BlatantLies learned experts]] here at TVTropes are going with, "an electronic device that is designed ''primarily'' to play games," which smartphones obviously aren't. The problem is, this sidesteps the real issue. The simple fact is that most people don't want to carry around more than one electronic interactive device at a time, so smartphones compete with portable consoles in the greater arena of "pocket space" (and, more concretely, "leisure time"), even if they aren't consoles themselves.
* ''Angry Birds'' itself introduces complications, because that two-billion (!!!) figure is for all spinoffs of the game (six or seven, by now) across all operating systems. On iOS, you pay money for it... but on Android phones, it's free. The ''Tetris'' figures count only transactions where money has changed hands; Rovio, by their own admission, are glossing over that distinction. Add in the fact that people upgrade their phones much more frequently than they do their consoles, and must re-purchase or re-download their favorite software every time they do, and the figures start looking even more overblown.

'''VERDICT:''' The DS sold 155 million consoles, becoming the second-best-selling console of all time (less than a million behind the [=PS2=]). It also brought in a much higher profit margin. However, the PSP has kept up with the [=PS3=] and X360, selling over 80 million consoles, becoming the best-selling not-in-first-place console in history and presenting a genuine challenge to Nintendo's handheld dominance. Nintendo may have won, but Sony can scarcely be said to have lost.

[[folder:The Here and Now (Eighth Gen)]]
* '''Sides''': ''{{Nintendo 3DS}}'' vs. ''Sony PlayStationVita'' vs. ''Android''/''[=iOS=]''/''Windows Phone'' (i.e., mobile devices)
* '''Winner''': At the moment, Nintendo 3DS

In March 2010, Nintendo announced plans to release the {{Nintendo 3DS}}. More details about the system were made available at the 2010 E3 trade show; features included a wider upper screen, which is capable of full, scalable, glasses-free 3D effects (similar to those seen in films like ''Film/{{Avatar}}''), an analog nub in place of the D-Pad (which is still present, but placed lower on the left side of the unit), and has graphics capabilities on par with the Wii, and sometimes the [=X360=] and [=PS3=]. (Let's put it this way: a new ''VideoGame/KidIcarus'' game with graphical fidelity surpassing ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBrosBrawl'' with a higher polygon count then ''Brawl'' 60 million polygons at E3-2010 and 96 million polygons in its final version compare to Brawl's 48 million polygons was highlighted at the event, while freaking '''''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3's''''' Demo at E3-2010 was looking as good as [[PlayStation3 ever]], but now in 3D was both used as a tech demo and promised by Creator/HideoKojima to be ported to the new console.) Other features include an expanded "sleep mode" which can accept communications between other 3DS units, regardless of what the 3DS was doing when it was put in sleep mode, and showcasing trailers for movies like ''Film/HowToTrainYourDragon'' or ''Disney/{{Tangled}}'' in full 3D, just like the theaters. It was released at the end of February 2011 in Japan and in March for the rest of the world, kick-starting the next generation of handhelds in the process. A 3DS XL saw release in 2012, quelling some complaints over a small screen and hand cramps.

Sony has now officially released one next-generation hardware platform, the PlayStationVita. The Vita sports dual analog sticks, a rear-mounted touch panel, a larger screen, 3G internet, and of course more power (rumors claim it's as powerful as the PS3, but with a refined design). Games include new entries in the ''VideoGame/{{Uncharted}}'', ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter'', ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'', and ''VideoGame/LittleBigPlanet'' franchises. And it's [[http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/01/ngp.ars gone back to cartridges.]] The Vita would be released in Japan in December of 2011, and to most of the rest of the world in February 2012. Every critic that got their hands on it liked it a lot, but [[CriticalDissonance few people are buying it]], due to its huge price tag.

Rumors of a [[FanNickname PlayStation Phone]] have circulated since 2006, but it was five years before Sony's Ericsson subsidiary confirmed that they were trying to revive the N-Gage idea. The Xperia Play is an Android-based phone with a slide-out gamepad, including a central touchpad in place of dual analog sticks. (Note that, while it is associated with the [=PlayStation=] brand, it is ''not'' a [=PlayStation=] console.) It was announced in an ad during the 2011 SuperBowl and finished its worldwide rollout in May of that year, and can not only play any games available to Android (IE ''VideoGame/AngryBirds'') but can access Sony-exclusive games through the "[=PlayStation=] Suite". Precisely what games ''that'' service offers is a question nobody can seem to answer, possibly because nobody wants to ''buy'' the darn thing; as such, claims that ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'', ''VideoGame/NeedForSpeed Hot Pursuit'', ''SplinterCellConviction'' and ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty: VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'' are available have gone unsubstantiated. By late July 2011, the American press had written the device off as a dud.

Finally, ''Nvidia'' of all people decided that they were going for a bite of the console market, announcing a device codenamed "[[http://shield.nvidia.com/ Project Shield]]" in the first week of 2013. Running Android architecture, it's not only a functional console in its own right, it plugs into your TV's HDMI port ''and'' lets you stream video games from your computer to the Shield, assuming you have a [=GeForce=] graphics card and the right software. Nvidia execs have announced that the console might be in consumer hands as soon as spring, though it actually took until the end of July.

As for other possible competitors:
* Phones, tablets, and smartphone based portable media players running [=iOS=], Android, and Windows Phone [=OSes=] are largely considered by mainstream press to be competitors against Nintendo and Sony. With a plethora of free and cheap games on devices you're already going to have, it's fairly easy to see why mainstream press suggested these were going to be the "Nintendo and Sony Killers". But so far neither Nintendo nor Sony has budged or wavered. Probably the biggest reason why dedicated handhelds are still going strong is that their competitors continually rely on touch controls, which isn't always the best control type to play with. (As a very simple example: [[NintendoEntertainmentSystem NES]] emulators exist for Android, but the D-pad and A & B buttons are simulated using the touchscreen, forcing you to block your own view to play.)
* The [=GP2X=]'s latest iteration(s) will also likely stick to the small black plastic Switzerland role like before. A similar fate probably awaits the Pandora an entirely open-source, homebrew handheld that uses basically the same hardware as [=iPod/iPhone=], but is actually an odd hybrid between the console and full-featured Linux-powered UMPC. It was actually the most powerful handheld on the market when it was first announced, but a series of a development and production delays pushed the production back for more than one year, allowing the release of [=iPhone 3G=], which uses basically the same hardware, and [=3DS=] announcement.
* Panasonic flirted with plans for a handheld called the Panasonic Jungle, but quickly changed their minds.
* Meanwhile, it seems that a smaller, separate war has erupted with in the "handheld targeted at kids" market, with V-Tech (the maker of the abovementioned V-Smile kiddie console) introducing the [=MobiGo=] after failing to get parents excited with the V-Smile Pocket, to compete with [=LeapFrog=]'s Leapster handheld consoles (which has just been recently refreshed with the Explorer series- the new Leapster is InNameOnly and is totally incompatible with software meant for older Leapster consoles). It appears that [=LeapFrog=] is still unshaken, with the Leapster name still being trusted more by parents. However, with tighter RegionCoding introduced into their app store recently, time will tell if they'll start slipping.

'''Current Standings:''' At the moment, Nintendo has a big lead. The [=3DS=] got off to a rocky start with not much in the way of software its first few months, the high point being an UpdatedRerelease of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' in June 2011. Soon afterward in August, Nintendo announced that they were slashing the system price by $70 (and offering 20 retro games - 10 from the {{NES}}, 10 from the GameBoyAdvance - to early adopters as an apology). Many took this to be a giant red flag as to the system's future, but in actuality it seems to have done the trick, as sales shot up to surpass the first-year numbers of the ''original'' DS. On top of that, the system is considered to have hit its stride in the holiday season thanks to system updates and true {{Killer App}}s like ''VideoGame/SuperMario3DLand'', ''VideoGame/MarioKart 7'', ''VideoGame/MonsterHunter 3 Ultimate'', and downloadable title ''VideoGame/{{Pushmo}}''. In March 2012, ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' was finally released, [[KillerApp which managed to please those who were dissatisfied with the Mario titles]]. ''Monster Hunter 4'', ''Shin Megami Tensei IV'', and ''VideoGame/BravelyDefaultFlyingFairy'' are only some examples of the major third party support the handheld is receiving. It may just be able to take the crown from the DS. And then [[KillerApp came]] ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY''...

The Xperia Play never received much attention, and drifted into obscurity before long. As of 2013, the Play may have been discontinued from the Xperia brand, but no one's sure because of the lack of press--that's how obscure it is. (Having said that, smartphones are typically considered obsolete within two years, sometimes even one, so this may just be a typical-life-cycle thing. Anyone thinking about releasing their ''own'' gaming phone might want to take notes.) The Nvidia Shield had a similar reception: it's obviously a cool idea, but at $300, it's not much of a steal. It ''does'' have access to the huge library of Android games, but only some of them are optimized for (read: "can use") its controller... and with the open-source Android OS as fragmented as it is, everyone and their mother making tweaks to it left and right, you can never guarantee that any given game will work on any given device.

The [=PlayStation=] Vita, while getting more press than the Play, is also struggling; by the end of 2013, it has sold around 7 million units, which is peanuts compared to the roughly over 41.5 million 3DS system models out at the same time. It was even initially outsold by the ''PSP'', which had continued to ship about 10,000 units a week. Early 2014 has seen the Vita begin posting much stronger and more consistent sales figures (particularly in Japan) due to price cuts, the launch of a new model with inbuilt memory (albeit an inferior screen), and a much stronger library of games being assembled. Overall sales are still only around half that of the 3DS, but it at least now has the chance of turning in a respectable performance, and should easily pass the Game Gear as the second most successful non-Nintendo handheld.