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Forums - Sales Discussion - The evolution of the console market over time

Since the subject of the Wii's demographics were brought up, while there was clearly a significant periphery demographic, I think there's good evidence to suggest that at least a slim majority of Wii owners were "core gamers."

According to a Nielsen survey from March 2012, 56% of households in the U.S. at the time owned a 7th-gen console. After crunching Census Bureau data and NPD numbers, I calculated a consoles-per-console-owning-household ratio of about 1.386-to-1. If we assume that 5% of 360 owners at the time also owned a PS3 (because there had to have been at least some households that owned both), that means that 62.2% of Wii owners were also PS3 and/or 360 owners. Of course, we don't know the true overlap between 360 and PS3 owners, but it's not likely a huge percentage. And if we assume that a large chunk of Wii owners were “core” gamers that are Nintendo fans that exclusively buy Nintendo consoles, that leaves even less room for Wii sales to be attributable to non-gamers.

There was another Nielsen study from February 2015 that also suggests a significant overlap between Wii owners and owners of PlayStation and Xbox systems. Nearly three-quarters of PS4 and XBO owners at the time having also owned a Wii. While that was very early in Gen 8, it still supports the idea that gamers were likely the primary audience for the Wii. Nearly a quarter of all Wii owners in the U.S. were early adopters of the PS4 & XBO. Even if the percent of PS4 & XBO owners that owned a Wii has dropped to only a third, that would still mean that nearly half of all them were also Wii owners at some point.

Finally, in a Dec. 2007 conference call, former Nintendo of America president and CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé stated that “the vast majority of these people who’ve purchased a system are, so far, active or ‘core’ players.” While that may have changed in the years afterward, the rest of the available data indicates that non-gamers were likely a minority of Wii owners.



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Shadow1980 said:

Since the subject of the Wii's demographics were brought up, while there was clearly a significant periphery demographic, I think there's good evidence to suggest that at least a slim majority of Wii owners were "core gamers."

According to a Nielsen survey from March 2012, 56% of households in the U.S. at the time owned a 7th-gen console. After crunching Census Bureau data and NPD numbers, I calculated a consoles-per-console-owning-household ratio of about 1.386-to-1. If we assume that 5% of 360 owners at the time also owned a PS3 (because there had to have been at least some households that owned both), that means that 62.2% of Wii owners were also PS3 and/or 360 owners. Of course, we don't know the true overlap between 360 and PS3 owners, but it's not likely a huge percentage. And if we assume that a large chunk of Wii owners were “core” gamers that are Nintendo fans that exclusively buy Nintendo consoles, that leaves even less room for Wii sales to be attributable to non-gamers.

There was another Nielsen study from February 2015 that also suggests a significant overlap between Wii owners and owners of PlayStation and Xbox systems. Nearly three-quarters of PS4 and XBO owners at the time having also owned a Wii. While that was very early in Gen 8, it still supports the idea that gamers were likely the primary audience for the Wii. Nearly a quarter of all Wii owners in the U.S. were early adopters of the PS4 & XBO. Even if the percent of PS4 & XBO owners that owned a Wii has dropped to only a third, that would still mean that nearly half of all them were also Wii owners at some point.

Finally, in a Dec. 2007 conference call, former Nintendo of America president and CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé stated that “the vast majority of these people who’ve purchased a system are, so far, active or ‘core’ players.” While that may have changed in the years afterward, the rest of the available data indicates that non-gamers were likely a minority of Wii owners.

I don't think these numbers work out, at least for our purposes.

The Nielson surveys are dealing with households, which is a bit different than what we're talking about. I'm pretty sure we all mean (at least I did) people who played games primarily on the Wii, since that's really what's relevant if we're trying to figure out what factors are driving the Switch's success. 

If we're using households, then a large amount of that ownership is going to be purely incidental. If a person is buying a Switch now, and they lived with their grandma during the Wii days who was one of those octogenarian Wii fans you hear so much about and they never played it themselves, then their Wii ownership didn't really factor into the Switch purchase. Household numbers don't give great insight into what kind of users are buying a console.   

And,, I'm not sure about these numbers anyway. If a console owning house generally had 1.38 consoles, That means that there have to be more single console owning houses than double dippers... right? Unless Wii owners are vastly overrepresented among double dipping households, then 62% can't be right.

Which begs the question of whether there was only a 5% overlap between 360 and PS3. Which sounds really sketchy to me. The two systems applied to a similar userbase. I get that they are somewhat redundant, but exclusives and the ability to play with friends who own other consoles would drive it to way higher than 5% imo. And the data we have, if accurate, seems to bear that out. As of 2009 according to NPD, 14% of Wii owners had a PS3 and 26% had an XBox 360. https://www.alistdaily.com/media/most-wii-owners-do-not-own-xbox-360-ps3/ So a maximum of 40% of Wii owners owned one of the other two systems. This number could have drifted up by 2012, but 60% would be really high.

The PS4 data is really suspect to me and wouldn't jive with a 5% PS360 crossover.

Unless I'm missing something, if you add it up you get to about 14 million 7th gen systems among the 6.3 millionish PS4 households in the US which didn't own a 7th gen console. This means either virtually all of them owned two consoles (or alternatively an offsetting number of people owned one and three respectively). That's pretty sus. Of course, these are early adopters though so they're bigger gamers. Still, that number seems crazy high. 

But if that number is even remotely accurate, then 5% can't even be close. If there were 5 million households that have a Wii, even if all of those households had a second console, then you're left with about 3.5 million PS3s and 360s among the 1.3 million or so non-Wii owning PS4 households. Even if all 1.3 million of those people owned both systems, there would still be be about 800K left over. Meaning we'd have to have 800K PSWii60 owners which would be about 12% of the PS4 households on their own.

These are early adopters so their habits are going to be different than the entire market, but they can't be THAT far off that a 5% overlap with PS3 and 360 would make sense. So, some figure here is off. 

And... according to Nielson the figured were very different in June of 14.

https://www.neoseeker.com/news/25445-sony-31-percent-of-new-playstation-4-owners-hopped-aboard-from-xbox-360-and-wii/

At that point, the number of non gen 7 owners was 17%. Of course, the number could go down over time, but you'd figure the earliest adopters would be the most likely to have been 7th gen gamers, so if anything we'd expect those numbers to be going up and not down. 

They also say that 31% of PS4 owners were Xbox 360 or Wii owners that did not own a PS3... If around 60% of PS4 owners in mid 2014 were PS3 owners, and 31% were 360 or Wii owners who did not have a PS3... Then together, that would make about 90%. About 10% of PS4 owners didn't have 7th gen systems... So... that means there would have to be zero crossover between PS3 and Wii/360 owners.

So I dunno. Either these numbers are off, or they're being reported wrong, or the terms are being used in unintuitive manner. 


I'd say the best evidence we have if we want to figure out the type of audience is buying which system, the best evidence we have is the games that they're buying, particularly when they're big enough that we're getting figures from the company.



RolStoppable said:

It used to be that the video game industry cloned Nintendo games, but eventually it branched off into making games that Nintendo didn't make while Nintendo still makes the same games they always did and therefore nowadays holds major stakes in entire genres and subgenres, because they are seemingly the only ones to grant high production values to certain types of games. For consoles themselves it's similar: It used to be that Nintendo's competitors were majorly interested in gobbling up Nintendo's spot in the market, but by now it's clear that the focus lies elsewhere which essentially cedes a large chunk of the console market entirely to Nintendo and I don't mean only the handheld market or the Japanese market, but also the essence of classic consoles in the global picture which is why Switch does well everywhere.

The video game industry still clones Nintendo games however it is the small independent developement studios that mostly do it instead of the big publishers

Why? Because almost every Nintendo IPs is a genre king which Nintendo locked down a lot of years ago.

You can't expect to match Nintendo by copy them and then throwing a lot of money at it hoping it flys off the shelves because people already recognize the Nintendo series as the real deal.

So it's the smaller guys which have lower costs and small expectation that pay homage to Nintendo the most nowadays.

Indie games are such a match made in heaven on Switch because a lot of them are directly inspired by classic gaming which Nintendo led in mindshare due to them having the strongest legacy in the business.



@RolStoppable
I understand what you are trying to describe however I find it to be flawed and misleading especially the grid because it's too rigid (think for example how Dreamcast had a sister arcade board which was the second most supported of all time only behind the Neo Geo MVS or how on Switch there are games like Divinity Original Sin II).
You described the difference, once very recognizable, between computer games, arcade games and video games and how video game consoles with time drifted more toward more time consuming and cinematic games over score based and arcade like experiences.
Nintendo clearly has a vision of video games that greatly differ from Sony and Microsoft (and all the big established publishers that sell Xboxes and PlayStations with their popular software) but that was always the case.
The entrance of developers with computer games background on consoles was favoured by Microsoft but was always bound to happen due to the inevitable rise in software engineering complexity.
Even today the multi platform development paradigm have more in common with computers and their multi configurations than the old consoles which required to develop each version around a specific hardware and the indie boom began on PC only to later expanded on consoles.

If I had to broadly categorize the console space in the last two decades I would use parameters like third-party driven model vs first-party driven model and de facto standard vs custom functionality (if one look at it closely would see that the latter depend on the former).
This classification encompass well the difference between PlayStation/Xbox and Nintendo.
Though one might say that with Microsoft recent push toward platform agnostic digital services, even the duality between PS and XB is at odds.




Endymion said:

@RolStoppable
I understand what you are trying to describe however I find it to be flawed and misleading especially the grid because it's too rigid (think for example how Dreamcast had a sister arcade board which was the second most supported of all time only behind the Neo Geo MVS or how on Switch there are games like Divinity Original Sin II).
You described the difference, once very recognizable, between computer games, arcade games and video games and how video game consoles with time drifted more toward more time consuming and cinematic games over score based and arcade like experiences.
Nintendo clearly has a vision of video games that greatly differ from Sony and Microsoft (and all the big established publishers that sell Xboxes and PlayStations with their popular software) but that was always the case.
The entrance of developers with computer games background on consoles was favoured by Microsoft but was always bound to happen due to the inevitable rise in software engineering complexity.
Even today the multi platform development paradigm have more in common with computers and their multi configurations than the old consoles which required to develop each version around a specific hardware and the indie boom began on PC only to later expanded on consoles.

If I had to broadly categorize the console space in the last two decades I would use parameters like third-party driven model vs first-party driven model and de facto standard vs custom functionality (if one look at it closely would see that the latter depend on the former).
This classification encompass well the difference between PlayStation/Xbox and Nintendo.
Though one might say that with Microsoft recent push toward platform agnostic digital services, even the duality between PS and XB is at odds.

A refined version of this idea would have more columns to create the necessary additional nuances. In general, it would be true that consoles moved more to the right side over time with a pretty big horizontal gap between Nintendo and Sony/Microsoft after the GameCube era, the exception being the Wii U. If the grid had, say, nine columns with the one in the middle being the balanced one, then the consoles in the current version's second column from the 6th generation onwards would be mostly placed in the third or fourth column of a revised grid. The addition of handheld consoles would complete the picture.

One reason why I wanted to make this is because it illustrates what you quoted in another post. There's a notable difference in the approaches of Nintendo and Sony/Microsoft, but unlike the conventional wisdom which suggests that Nintendo carved out a niche for themselves because they can't compete, it actually shows that Nintendo stayed true to their roots while it's the other two manufacturers, especially Sony, who changed course. The addition of handhelds would strengthen this point, because there it clearly showed that it's Sony who can't compete with Nintendo, not the other way around.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Shipments

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RolStoppable said:

One reason why I wanted to make this is because it illustrates what you quoted in another post. There's a notable difference in the approaches of Nintendo and Sony/Microsoft, but unlike the conventional wisdom which suggests that Nintendo carved out a niche for themselves because they can't compete, it actually shows that Nintendo stayed true to their roots while it's the other two manufacturers, especially Sony, who changed course. The addition of handhelds would strengthen this point, because there it clearly showed that it's Sony who can't compete with Nintendo, not the other way around.

Well yes, who don't know Nintendo have a hard time to grasp that uniqueness/dokuso was always part of Nintendo's path to success. Funny anecdote: when subordinates showed to Hiroshi Yamauchi their latest products in development he would always ask them why they thought people would buy it when commercialized. If they answered because the product was marginally better than the one from competitors Yamauchi would throw a fit of anger because he always demanded to their subordinates to come up with something unique and desirable. He knew that the company would make more money and the success be more durable if they created new uncontested space instead of stupidly compete with others for what was already established.

A console like Wii is more in tune with Nintendo's DNA than a console like GC (which tried to ape PlayStation). In early '00s Nintendo didn't retreat, on the contrary they leveraged the company core strengths.

As for Sony/PlayStation changing I disagree with you.

I mean Sony, just like Nintendo, had to adapt to modern times, therefore changes happened, but they did so by following their own DNA (just like Nintendo went through modernization following their own DNA).

The roots of the problem is that Sony and Nintendo were always totally different kind console manufacturers, with totally different philosophies. With time these differences became more and more pronounced.

Sony was always a third-party driven console maker which meant Sony decision making was always based on third-party publishers' attitudes. Sony always focused on what is cool at the present (what's "cool" changes with each epoch, it's situational) and always strived to bring videogames near more mature entertainment forms like cinema (note: creators in new entertainment form suffering from inferiority complex compared to other established entertainment forms and trying in some way to imitate them to seek legitimacy was always a common behaviour).

In contrast Nintendo being a first-party driven console maker always took their decisions based on their vision and their games always (at least from early on) aimed to be unique and to base their entertainment value on basic instincts of the human beings because they want them to trascend time.Think at the exhilarating action of sliding down a slope, that sensation is common in every human being, be them male or female, young or old, born in 1900, 2000 or 2100, independent from the cultural background. That's what Nintendo try to use to create games whose value is eternal.

You said that Nintendo remained true to its roots while Sony changed, in reality both remained true to their DNA it's just that the identity upon which they base their success acts differently with changing times.

As for the last sentence, Sony cannot compete with Nintendo on Nintendo's terms and vice versa Nintendo cannot compete with Sony on Sony's terms.Their skillset are too incompatible to compete head on.

Since we are touching the argument, there is another big difference between Nintendo and Sony which pertain the commoditization of videogames. It isn't often talked about but I expect in the future to rise in prominence.

Last edited by Endymion - on 05 April 2021

RolStoppable said:

I've had a big idea for the console market's history since about a year, but never got around to start it because of its scope. So instead I'll be making a more condensed version today, because having something is better than postponing it for all eternity.

The idea is to put console history into a new context which not only expands analyses, but also provides answers to bigger questions of the current time, such as why PlayStation console sales are in decline in Japan with no signs of a rebound despite continued success in other regions of the world. Or why Nintendo's home consoles have been on an up and down trajectory after the continuous decline of their first four.

Through each generation, the most important consoles will be placed in a table that contains five categories that describe the focus in their manufacturer's approach. These are:

1. Arcade Games: Consoles to play arcade games at home.
2. Arcade Evolution: Consoles to play games that have evolved from arcade gameplay.
3. Balance: Consoles that try to strike a balance between 2 and 5.
4. PC Priority: Consoles that prioritize playing PC games on console while 2 still has a notable presence.
5. PC Games: Consoles to play PC games.

It's rather rough, but should be good enough to work with.

Important notes left to preface the table: Since I am creating a new context, I might as well reinstate a generation that got lost along the way; this is why you'll see the count go up to 10. Another note is that the count prioritizes the North American market because the console market wasn't a global thing in the beginning; this is the reason why the dates for generation 3 and 4 look a bit strange, because when Japan entered the fray, there wasn't a global alignment yet.

GenerationArcade GamesArcade EvolutionBalancePC PriorityPC Games
1Magnavox Odyssey
2Atari 2600
Fairchild Channel F
Magnavox Odyssey 2
3Atari 5200
Colecovision
Intellivision
4NES/Famicom
Master System
5Genesis/Mega Drive
PC Engine/TG-16
SNES/Super Famicom
6Nintendo 64
Saturn
PlayStation
7Dreamcast
GameCube
PlayStation2
Xbox
8WiiPlayStation 3
Xbox 360
9Wii UPlayStation 4
Xbox One
10SwitchPlayStation 5
Xbox Series X|S

Generation 3: This is the generation you typically see wiped from history and lumped together with generation 2 because it was a dark era for the console market. Make no mistake, the Atari 5200 (1982) was the successor to the Atari 2600, it's just that it failed with only ~1 million units sold. Both the Colecovision (1982) and Intellivision (1980) are estimated to have been more successful with 2 million and 3 million, respectively, but they are pitiful numbers nonetheless.

It was good of you to include the "lost" 3rd generation.  In gaming magazines of the day, the Atari 5200 and ColecoVision were both very much advertised as the "Third Wave" or "Third Generation" consoles.  I think the shortness of their lifespans is what led to their being lumped in with the 2nd generation systems.  But, there is no denying the jump in graphical quality from an Atari 2600 to the Colecovision especially when comparing ports of the same games.  That being said, when speaking of their lifetime sales, I think a bit more respect should be given considering the reason for their abrupt end.  The Colecovision launched in August of 1982 to extremely popular reception and sales for its time only to be massively impacted by the North American Video Game Crash of 1983, just one year into its lifespan.  I wouldn't call Coleco's sales "pitiful" when considering the timeframe they took place in, and the massive external factor that took place which removed any possibility of longevity in the marketplace.



JWeinCom said:

I don't think these numbers work out, at least for our purposes.

The Nielson surveys are dealing with households, which is a bit different than what we're talking about. I'm pretty sure we all mean (at least I did) people who played games primarily on the Wii, since that's really what's relevant if we're trying to figure out what factors are driving the Switch's success. 

If we're using households, then a large amount of that ownership is going to be purely incidental. If a person is buying a Switch now, and they lived with their grandma during the Wii days who was one of those octogenarian Wii fans you hear so much about and they never played it themselves, then their Wii ownership didn't really factor into the Switch purchase. Household numbers don't give great insight into what kind of users are buying a console.   

And,, I'm not sure about these numbers anyway. If a console owning house generally had 1.38 consoles, That means that there have to be more single console owning houses than double dippers... right? Unless Wii owners are vastly overrepresented among double dipping households, then 62% can't be right.

Which begs the question of whether there was only a 5% overlap between 360 and PS3. Which sounds really sketchy to me. The two systems applied to a similar userbase. I get that they are somewhat redundant, but exclusives and the ability to play with friends who own other consoles would drive it to way higher than 5% imo. And the data we have, if accurate, seems to bear that out. As of 2009 according to NPD, 14% of Wii owners had a PS3 and 26% had an XBox 360. https://www.alistdaily.com/media/most-wii-owners-do-not-own-xbox-360-ps3/ So a maximum of 40% of Wii owners owned one of the other two systems. This number could have drifted up by 2012, but 60% would be really high.

The PS4 data is really suspect to me and wouldn't jive with a 5% PS360 crossover.

Unless I'm missing something, if you add it up you get to about 14 million 7th gen systems among the 6.3 millionish PS4 households in the US which didn't own a 7th gen console. This means either virtually all of them owned two consoles (or alternatively an offsetting number of people owned one and three respectively). That's pretty sus. Of course, these are early adopters though so they're bigger gamers. Still, that number seems crazy high. 

But if that number is even remotely accurate, then 5% can't even be close. If there were 5 million households that have a Wii, even if all of those households had a second console, then you're left with about 3.5 million PS3s and 360s among the 1.3 million or so non-Wii owning PS4 households. Even if all 1.3 million of those people owned both systems, there would still be be about 800K left over. Meaning we'd have to have 800K PSWii60 owners which would be about 12% of the PS4 households on their own.

These are early adopters so their habits are going to be different than the entire market, but they can't be THAT far off that a 5% overlap with PS3 and 360 would make sense. So, some figure here is off. 

And... according to Nielson the figured were very different in June of 14.

https://www.neoseeker.com/news/25445-sony-31-percent-of-new-playstation-4-owners-hopped-aboard-from-xbox-360-and-wii/

At that point, the number of non gen 7 owners was 17%. Of course, the number could go down over time, but you'd figure the earliest adopters would be the most likely to have been 7th gen gamers, so if anything we'd expect those numbers to be going up and not down. 

They also say that 31% of PS4 owners were Xbox 360 or Wii owners that did not own a PS3... If around 60% of PS4 owners in mid 2014 were PS3 owners, and 31% were 360 or Wii owners who did not have a PS3... Then together, that would make about 90%. About 10% of PS4 owners didn't have 7th gen systems... So... that means there would have to be zero crossover between PS3 and Wii/360 owners.

So I dunno. Either these numbers are off, or they're being reported wrong, or the terms are being used in unintuitive manner. 


I'd say the best evidence we have if we want to figure out the type of audience is buying which system, the best evidence we have is the games that they're buying, particularly when they're big enough that we're getting figures from the company.

I had my reply mostly finished yesterday morning after working on it a bit Monday night after work, but there was a power outage and I lost everything I had written. I'll try my best to replicate what I had.

That 5% figure was just me spitballing. And I flubbed the numbers slightly, as I was using Gen 7 LTD sales as of March 2012 instead of January. The survey was published in March, but it specified the number of owners "as of January 2012." Bit of oversight on my part. It may be only two months, but given the state of console sales in the U.S. in early 2012 (total 360+PS3 sales were over three times that of Wii sales) it does nudge the figures by several points. Instead of the percentage of Wii owners owning a 360 and/or PS3 being 62.2%, it should be 58.1%. And that may explain why that percentage was at most only 40% in 2009. I know it's just anecdotal, but I bought my 360 in 2007, but I didn't own a Wii until 2009. Waiting until later in a gen to get a second console probably isn't unusual.

In any case, we don't know what the actual overlap is. But let's play with those numbers to see what other results we get. If the percent of 360-owning households in the U.S. that owned a PS3 rises to 10%, then percent of Wii-owning households that own a 360 and/or a PS3 drops to only 53.8%. Even if the former increases to 20%, the latter declines to 45.4%. For the vast majority of Wii-owning households to not own either a PS3 or 360 it would require a very large overlap. But even 20% of 360 owners owning a PS3 seems kind of high considering the redundancy between the two. It's not impossible, but more unlikely than lower figures. It is probably higher than 5%, but I doubt it's something like 20+%, either.

And once we figure in Nintendo loyalists who buy every Nintendo system and only buy Nintendo systems, that's likely to still propel the percentage of Wii owners that were core gamers to over 50%. And of course this is all assuming that Nielsen is only counting just the Wii, 360, and PS3. It's not clear if they were counting the DS and PSP as "consoles," but if they were then the Wii↔PS360 overlap may be even higher.

While you're right that households aren't the same thing as individual owners, I imagine it doesn't make a huge difference. There probably wasn't a huge percentage of Wii buyers getting one for, say, live-at-home grandparents. While non-gamers in the household may have gotten into playing the Wii, I still think there's a good argument to be made that most people that owned a Wii were core gamers. Even Nintendo stated that the average age of Wii players was 29, about the norm for the average gamer. Granted, that was a year after the Wii was released and that could have changed, but I doubt it shot up so high as to indicate large swaths of octogenarians getting in on the craze. There was another Nielsen survey measuring time spent playing on particular consoles by age and gender (download the PDF further down the page for details), and while it implied that the Wii was more popular among players aged 35+ and among women based on the metric being used, there was nothing to indicate that the Wii's demographics were drastically different from that of the PS3 & 360.

Since you brought up the kind of games people bought on the Wii, while the Wii series was very popular, it's worth pointing out that several of them benefited from heavily bundling. Wii Sports owed nearly all of its sales to bundling (its global attach rate was 81.6%, but in Japan where it wasn't bundled the attach rate was only 29.3%). Wii Sports Resort also benefited from heavy bundling as it became the new pack-in in May 2010, less than a year after its release. Wii Play was essentially a $10 mini-game collection bundled with a Wii Remote. Why not spend $60 instead of $50 and get some extra games along with a second controller? Wii Fit succeeded on its own merits, though, as it was bundled with a peripheral made just for it rather than the system or a general purpose controller. If we assume zero overlap between people who bought Wii Fit and Wii Fit plus, 43% of Wii owners had one or the other; it's likely a rather high overlap, but even if it was 100% overlap that still means 22.3% of Wii owners had Wii Fit, and I imagine non-gamers were a decent chunk of Wii Fit buyers. Finally, Wii Party didn't have nearly the attach rate because it wasn't bundled with anything.

But what about other games? Outside the Wii Series, the Top 10 best-selling games on the Wii were Mario Kart, New SMB, Smash, Mario Galaxy, Just Dance 3, Mario Party 8, Twilight Princess, Galaxy 2, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, and either DKC Returns or Mario & Sonic at the Winter Games. One third-party party game, one or two Sega-made Nintendo-Sonic crossover sports games, and the rest were perennial Nintendo franchises. The top-selling first-party titles on Nintendo's home consoles, excluding those spent most of their lives bundled (e.g., SMB, SM World, Wii Sports), typically had an attach rate in the 30-40% range since the N64. MKWii and NSMBWii were at 36.7% and 29.8%, respectively. Speaking of attach rates, the Wii had an overall attach rate comparable to other Nintendo home consoles. Even excluding Wii Sports, its overall attach rate was over 8.2 games per system, just ahead of the NES, and second only to the GameCube.

While the Wii Series did bring in a significant periphery demographic, there's little to suggest that the vast majority of Wii sales came from non-gamers. Whether it's the Wii's overall sales trajectory, or what other kinds of games aside from Wii Sports and Wii Fit did on the system, or the general spending habits of the average Wii owner (~$650 spent per system, assuming $250 for the system and $50 for each game times eight gamers per system excluding Wii Sports), there's really not anything too far out of the ordinary with the Wii.

Finally, regarding the Aug. 2014 Nielsen survey, while the percentage of PS4 owners that owned a Gen 7 console going to 17% then to 9% in Jan. 2015 does seem odd, upon further inspection the disparity comes down to different questions being asked. While the Jan. 2015 survey asked "Which of the following video game systems have you ever owned?", whereas according to the original article reporting on the Aug. 2014 survey "it asked only what consumers currently owned at the time of the survey."

I would like to see the full data on that Aug. 2014 survey just to see a detailed breakdown. Unfortunately, none of the news outlets reporting on it link back to Nielsen, and Nielsen's website doesn't appear to have it, either, so my curiosity will remain unsatisfied.



Shadow1980 said:
JWeinCom said:

I don't think these numbers work out, at least for our purposes.

The Nielson surveys are dealing with households, which is a bit different than what we're talking about. I'm pretty sure we all mean (at least I did) people who played games primarily on the Wii, since that's really what's relevant if we're trying to figure out what factors are driving the Switch's success. 

If we're using households, then a large amount of that ownership is going to be purely incidental. If a person is buying a Switch now, and they lived with their grandma during the Wii days who was one of those octogenarian Wii fans you hear so much about and they never played it themselves, then their Wii ownership didn't really factor into the Switch purchase. Household numbers don't give great insight into what kind of users are buying a console.   

And,, I'm not sure about these numbers anyway. If a console owning house generally had 1.38 consoles, That means that there have to be more single console owning houses than double dippers... right? Unless Wii owners are vastly overrepresented among double dipping households, then 62% can't be right.

Which begs the question of whether there was only a 5% overlap between 360 and PS3. Which sounds really sketchy to me. The two systems applied to a similar userbase. I get that they are somewhat redundant, but exclusives and the ability to play with friends who own other consoles would drive it to way higher than 5% imo. And the data we have, if accurate, seems to bear that out. As of 2009 according to NPD, 14% of Wii owners had a PS3 and 26% had an XBox 360. https://www.alistdaily.com/media/most-wii-owners-do-not-own-xbox-360-ps3/ So a maximum of 40% of Wii owners owned one of the other two systems. This number could have drifted up by 2012, but 60% would be really high.

The PS4 data is really suspect to me and wouldn't jive with a 5% PS360 crossover.

Unless I'm missing something, if you add it up you get to about 14 million 7th gen systems among the 6.3 millionish PS4 households in the US which didn't own a 7th gen console. This means either virtually all of them owned two consoles (or alternatively an offsetting number of people owned one and three respectively). That's pretty sus. Of course, these are early adopters though so they're bigger gamers. Still, that number seems crazy high. 

But if that number is even remotely accurate, then 5% can't even be close. If there were 5 million households that have a Wii, even if all of those households had a second console, then you're left with about 3.5 million PS3s and 360s among the 1.3 million or so non-Wii owning PS4 households. Even if all 1.3 million of those people owned both systems, there would still be be about 800K left over. Meaning we'd have to have 800K PSWii60 owners which would be about 12% of the PS4 households on their own.

These are early adopters so their habits are going to be different than the entire market, but they can't be THAT far off that a 5% overlap with PS3 and 360 would make sense. So, some figure here is off. 

And... according to Nielson the figured were very different in June of 14.

https://www.neoseeker.com/news/25445-sony-31-percent-of-new-playstation-4-owners-hopped-aboard-from-xbox-360-and-wii/

At that point, the number of non gen 7 owners was 17%. Of course, the number could go down over time, but you'd figure the earliest adopters would be the most likely to have been 7th gen gamers, so if anything we'd expect those numbers to be going up and not down. 

They also say that 31% of PS4 owners were Xbox 360 or Wii owners that did not own a PS3... If around 60% of PS4 owners in mid 2014 were PS3 owners, and 31% were 360 or Wii owners who did not have a PS3... Then together, that would make about 90%. About 10% of PS4 owners didn't have 7th gen systems... So... that means there would have to be zero crossover between PS3 and Wii/360 owners.

So I dunno. Either these numbers are off, or they're being reported wrong, or the terms are being used in unintuitive manner. 


I'd say the best evidence we have if we want to figure out the type of audience is buying which system, the best evidence we have is the games that they're buying, particularly when they're big enough that we're getting figures from the company.

I had my reply mostly finished yesterday morning after working on it a bit Monday night after work, but there was a power outage and I lost everything I had written. I'll try my best to replicate what I had.

That 5% figure was just me spitballing. And I flubbed the numbers slightly, as I was using Gen 7 LTD sales as of March 2012 instead of January. The survey was published in March, but it specified the number of owners "as of January 2012." Bit of oversight on my part. It may be only two months, but given the state of console sales in the U.S. in early 2012 (total 360+PS3 sales were over three times that of Wii sales) it does nudge the figures by several points. Instead of the percentage of Wii owners owning a 360 and/or PS3 being 62.2%, it should be 58.1%. And that may explain why that percentage was at most only 40% in 2009. I know it's just anecdotal, but I bought my 360 in 2007, but I didn't own a Wii until 2009. Waiting until later in a gen to get a second console probably isn't unusual.

In any case, we don't know what the actual overlap is. But let's play with those numbers to see what other results we get. If the percent of 360-owning households in the U.S. that owned a PS3 rises to 10%, then percent of Wii-owning households that own a 360 and/or a PS3 drops to only 53.8%. Even if the former increases to 20%, the latter declines to 45.4%. For the vast majority of Wii-owning households to not own either a PS3 or 360 it would require a very large overlap. But even 20% of 360 owners owning a PS3 seems kind of high considering the redundancy between the two. It's not impossible, but more unlikely than lower figures. It is probably higher than 5%, but I doubt it's something like 20+%, either.

And once we figure in Nintendo loyalists who buy every Nintendo system and only buy Nintendo systems, that's likely to still propel the percentage of Wii owners that were core gamers to over 50%. And of course this is all assuming that Nielsen is only counting just the Wii, 360, and PS3. It's not clear if they were counting the DS and PSP as "consoles," but if they were then the Wii↔PS360 overlap may be even higher.

While you're right that households aren't the same thing as individual owners, I imagine it doesn't make a huge difference. There probably wasn't a huge percentage of Wii buyers getting one for, say, live-at-home grandparents. While non-gamers in the household may have gotten into playing the Wii, I still think there's a good argument to be made that most people that owned a Wii were core gamers. Even Nintendo stated that the average age of Wii players was 29, about the norm for the average gamer. Granted, that was a year after the Wii was released and that could have changed, but I doubt it shot up so high as to indicate large swaths of octogenarians getting in on the craze. There was another Nielsen survey measuring time spent playing on particular consoles by age and gender (download the PDF further down the page for details), and while it implied that the Wii was more popular among players aged 35+ and among women based on the metric being used, there was nothing to indicate that the Wii's demographics were drastically different from that of the PS3 & 360.

Since you brought up the kind of games people bought on the Wii, while the Wii series was very popular, it's worth pointing out that several of them benefited from heavily bundling. Wii Sports owed nearly all of its sales to bundling (its global attach rate was 81.6%, but in Japan where it wasn't bundled the attach rate was only 29.3%). Wii Sports Resort also benefited from heavy bundling as it became the new pack-in in May 2010, less than a year after its release. Wii Play was essentially a $10 mini-game collection bundled with a Wii Remote. Why not spend $60 instead of $50 and get some extra games along with a second controller? Wii Fit succeeded on its own merits, though, as it was bundled with a peripheral made just for it rather than the system or a general purpose controller. If we assume zero overlap between people who bought Wii Fit and Wii Fit plus, 43% of Wii owners had one or the other; it's likely a rather high overlap, but even if it was 100% overlap that still means 22.3% of Wii owners had Wii Fit, and I imagine non-gamers were a decent chunk of Wii Fit buyers. Finally, Wii Party didn't have nearly the attach rate because it wasn't bundled with anything.

But what about other games? Outside the Wii Series, the Top 10 best-selling games on the Wii were Mario Kart, New SMB, Smash, Mario Galaxy, Just Dance 3, Mario Party 8, Twilight Princess, Galaxy 2, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, and either DKC Returns or Mario & Sonic at the Winter Games. One third-party party game, one or two Sega-made Nintendo-Sonic crossover sports games, and the rest were perennial Nintendo franchises. The top-selling first-party titles on Nintendo's home consoles, excluding those spent most of their lives bundled (e.g., SMB, SM World, Wii Sports), typically had an attach rate in the 30-40% range since the N64. MKWii and NSMBWii were at 36.7% and 29.8%, respectively. Speaking of attach rates, the Wii had an overall attach rate comparable to other Nintendo home consoles. Even excluding Wii Sports, its overall attach rate was over 8.2 games per system, just ahead of the NES, and second only to the GameCube.

While the Wii Series did bring in a significant periphery demographic, there's little to suggest that the vast majority of Wii sales came from non-gamers. Whether it's the Wii's overall sales trajectory, or what other kinds of games aside from Wii Sports and Wii Fit did on the system, or the general spending habits of the average Wii owner (~$650 spent per system, assuming $250 for the system and $50 for each game times eight gamers per system excluding Wii Sports), there's really not anything too far out of the ordinary with the Wii.

Finally, regarding the Aug. 2014 Nielsen survey, while the percentage of PS4 owners that owned a Gen 7 console going to 17% then to 9% in Jan. 2015 does seem odd, upon further inspection the disparity comes down to different questions being asked. While the Jan. 2015 survey asked "Which of the following video game systems have you ever owned?", whereas according to the original article reporting on the Aug. 2014 survey "it asked only what consumers currently owned at the time of the survey."

I would like to see the full data on that Aug. 2014 survey just to see a detailed breakdown. Unfortunately, none of the news outlets reporting on it link back to Nielsen, and Nielsen's website doesn't appear to have it, either, so my curiosity will remain unsatisfied.

We need to know the number of PS360 owners to figure out what percentage of Wii owners own another system. 5% seems crazy low to me. Data on PS4/Xbox One ownership indicates that's also not the case.

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/364705/Data_suggests_almost_half_of_Xbox_One_users_also_own_a_PlayStation_4.php#:~:text=While%20this%20may%20especially%20prove,own%20an%20Xbox%20One%20X.

Dismissing Wii Sports as selling only because it was bundled is ignoring the possibility that a lot of people bought the Wii because it was bundled with Wii Sports, which is part of what we're trying to get at. Wii Sports sales in Japan gives us a baseline, but it's quite probable that Wii Sports would have sold better in other regions, and there's a lot of data to support that. For example, in 2012 when Mario Kart was by far the more common bundle (I don't believe Wii Sports was even really available at that point as a bundle) Wii Sports sold 1.5 million units, with 2 million Wiis being sold. Even if half of the Wii Sports sales were bundled, then about half of the people who bought a Wii in 2012 wanted Wii Sports. And if the ratio was actually 70%+ (which I believe it was) then even more people wanted Wii Sports. 

As for the other games selling on the Wii, they are similar to what sold on other Nintendo consoles, but they can't literally be the same people who bought other Nintendo consoles, because of the math. So, Wii gamers ultimately wound up with similar tastes to other Nintendo fans, but obviously something helped bring in more people. 

But, most of this is kind of tangential in the question of the evolution of the market. The question that's more relevant to me is what happened to that fanbase.

100% of Wii owners were gamers, whether they were before of after they got a Wii, and the question is whether they stayed gamers. There's evidence to show a decent amount went on to buy a PS41, but that would still indicate a huge drop off. If those gamers stayed in the market, a large chunk would have to be gaming on the Switch, which I think is largely supported by the evidence. 



RolStoppable said:

(...)

5. The commotion about Switch being in the same column as the Wii is annoying, because apparently it's fine that Switch and the SNES are in the same column, or that the SNES and Wii are in the same column. There's something strange going on here.

(...)

I think your whole table is a mess.  Your terms are not clearly defined.  When I offered some constructive feedback, you got into an argument about it.  

Here is a more logical version of the same table.

GenerationArcade GamesArcade EvolutionBalancePC EvolutionPC Games
1

Magnavox Odyssey

Atari Pong

2

Atari 2600 

Intellivision

3

Atari 5200 

Colecovision

C64
4

Atari 7800                 

Master System

NES/Famicom
5

Genesis/Mega Drive

Neo Geo           

TG16/PCE

SNES/Super Famicom 

Gameboy

6

SaturnN64PS1
7

Dreamcast                       

GBA

Gamecube

PS2                

Xbox

8WiiDS

PS3          

XBox360      

PSP

9

Wii U       

3DS

PS4          

XB1        

PSVita

10Switch

PS5             

X|S

For reference, I'll use the following terms.
1. Arcade Games: Consoles to play arcade games at home.
2. Arcade Evolution: Consoles to play games that have evolved from arcade gameplay.
3. Balance: Consoles that try to strike a balance between 2 and 4.
4. PC Evolution: Consoles that prioritize playing games which evolved from PC gameplay.
5. PC Games: Consoles to play PC games.

Also I define "Arcade" and "PC" based on what they primarily meant in the 20th century.
Arcade: Short, intense, easy to die, mainly challenges the body (e.g. coordination), uses a variety of controls especially joystick (or d-pad by extension), local multiplayer
PC: Long, slower paced, content heavy, focus on cutting edge graphics (including 3D graphics), challenges the mind (i.e. strategy, puzzle solving, etc...), uses primarily keyboard and/or mouse controls (or touchscreen and analogue stick by extension), online multiplayer

Generation 1-3: The focus of these consoles is to port arcade games onto a home system.

Generation 4:  Nintendo actually changes the nature of a home console, because of the Famicom Disk System (FDS).  If you look at the Japanese release dates of every game that came before The Legend of Zelda, you will actually see a bunch of pure arcade games (essentially the black box games).  The FDS introduces the ability to save data while still using the elementary Famicom controller which introduces a new type of game which has arcade controls, but is made for the home like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.  Sega and Atari are still making systems primarily for arcade games.

Generation 5: Nintendo doubles down on combining arcade controls with content heavy games (e.g. Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, etc...).  In spite of this there are popular games that are both purely arcade games (e.g. Street Fighter 2) as well as PC Evolution games (e.g. Final Fantasy 6).  The Gameboy largely plays games like the NES and SNES.  The Neo Geo is quite obviously an arcade machine.  Sega is also still focused mostly on making arcade style games.  Some of these are pure arcade ports (e.g. Altered Beast, Golden Axe, etc...) while other games could have easily been put straight into the arcade (e.g. Sonic, Streets of Rage).

Generation 6:  All of the console makers move toward the PC side by moving heavily toward 3D graphics.  The PC was making 3D games for several years before this generation came along (e.g. Myst, Doom, Wing Commander, etc...).  Therefore PC game developers have a head start on first party developers when it comes to making 3D games.  Going forward game design ends up borrowing more and more from PC games out of necessity.  Nintendo and Sega only move somewhat toward the PC side, but still try to provide experiences that are somewhat arcade-like and Nintendo even sticks with cartridges.  Sony goes very strongly toward the PC side by adopting both a CD ROM and heavily encouraging 3D graphics from third party developers.  A lot of notable Playstation titles are either PC ports (e.g. Tomb Raider) or heavily inspired by PC style gameplay (e.g. Final Fantasy 7/8/9).  

Generation 7:  More of the same from the previous generation.  PC developers still have the advantage, so now games like GTA (a PC series) fully come into their own.  Nintendo is the sole maker of any significant handheld in this generation mostly because of their approach to hardware.  They go for cheaper/weaker hardware that does not drain batteries.  This philosophy paves the way for the GBA SP, which has a rechargeable battery.

Generation 8: Nintendo regained the top spot in the home market by bringing in a bunch of new customers instead of competing for Sony's customer base.  They also return more to their arcade roots with the Wii.  However, they get even further away from their arcade roots on the handheld side by including a touchscreen which simulates mouse controls.  Their approach to the DS also brings in a bunch of new customers.  They key to Nintendo's success in this generation was neither becoming more arcade-like or less arcade-like, but in offering experiences that would bring in new customers.  

Generation 9:  The Wii U and 3DS were both more complex and more expensive systems compared to their predecessors.  Consequently they both alienate a good chunk of their former fanbase. The Vita fairs even worse, and ends up killing Sony's handheld line.  PS4 gains a price advantage over XB1 early on and then later has a notable advantage in exclusives which guarantees it's commanding lead for the whole generation.

Generation 10: Sony and Microsoft continue to make consoles that are following the same philosophy of their predecessors.  Nintendo merges it's home and handheld lines into the Switch.  Every notable first party game on the Switch has a corresponding title on either the Wii U or 3DS (except RFA).  This shows that the main draw of the Switch is in it's hardware value.  In combining their home and handheld systems they took two low systems that many customers considered low value and made one very high value system.  In buying a Switch, a person essentially gets 2 systems (a home and a handheld) for the price of one.

In summary, the history of the console market shows that customers tend to buy the system that offers new experiences.  With the Famicom, Nintendo actually moved away from pure arcade gaming with the Famicom Disk System, and this move changed console gaming forever.  When 3D came along, success went to Playstation because it was the most PC-like system, and the best new experiences for most console gamers came from the PC or PC-like games.  When Nintendo made the DS and Wii, they were offering new experiences that gamers had never encountered before, and they greatly expanded the market (temporarily).  

However, since the DS and Wii, there has not been a system which came along to offer radically new software experiences.  Sony and Microsoft are following the same path they always have.  Nintendo, likewise, is largely making the same type of software that they have been making for decades.  The new experience with the Switch is on the hardware side.  Home console gamers can play their big budget games on the go if they like (e.g. BotW, Mario Odyssey, etc...).  At the same time handheld gamers are able to play games that are actually a new experience to them, since the Switch can play games much more sophisticated than the 3DS was capable of.  And of course, gamers who were already playing both home and handheld systems, get a very good value by buying one system instead of two.

The Switch is a different type of console than what has come before, because the innovation is purely on the hardware side and not really on the software side at all.  The Famicom, PS1, DS and Wii all innovated on the hardware side to offer different types of games.  The Switch is not offering different types of games.  It is offering better iterations of previous entries, much like the SNES did.  The lack of compelling new kinds of software indicates it will not appeal to non-gamers.  The value is entirely in the hardware, and therefore it is going to appeal to established gamers who understand that it is a better way to play the games they already enjoy.