VGChartz has sales data from 2005 onward. They began to track this data in 2005, and have expanded retailer participation each year.

VGChartz asks gamers, retailers of new and used games, and game publishers for sales and usage data for every console and pc. They cover data from the USA, UK, Germany, France, and Japan. They are expanding their coverage with contributors from Canada, Spain, Italy Latin America, Australia, and Asia for greater global accuracy.

This data is from their global yearly chart indexes covering global software by platform. I have combined all consoles into a total value, since we are comparing PC versus Console usage.

The listed hardware within the Console list is the year in which the stated hardware was released. I listed this way because I thought it might be interesting to see which year each piece of hardware was released. We may be able to explain some console sales trends based on new hardware releases, since everyone who buys a new console also buys games for that console, which of course leads to a greater diversity in titles consumed.

The numbers listed are figured partly like this. If I play five different games this week, and you play three, then the two of us combined have played eight games. Some of these games may have been the same game, but these numbers ignore that idea for both PC and console figures. Sales data from retailers and publishers are also considered, but only to make certain that sample methodology is similar enough to sales figures to assume an accurate sampling.

It is important to note that these figures are weighted more toward incidence of gameplay, rather than sales figures. A bad year for game sales can be a great year for gamer population growth. Proof would be 2007 and 2008. Look those years up on gaming news websites.

The following numbers are representative of a sample size that is almost certainly different with each year. The differences in sample size are normalized between years to create values that can be directly compared to one another. The numbers are not raw data, instead they have been altered proportionally. They are not the literal total game sales, total gamers, or the actual number of games played. They only represent these values, just as 1/5 represents 2/10. Keep that in mind when viewing the data, and do not think of total game sales per year.


PC games played by year, with % change from previous year.

2005 568,968

2006 558,074 (-2%)

2007 2,920,185 (+423%)

2008 5,857,447 (+101%)

2009 6,187,437 (+6%)

2010 15,728,587 (+154%)

2011 29,631,542 (+89%)

2012 33,355,879 (+13%)


Console games played by year, with % change from previous year.

All Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony combined, including portables.

Hardware listed is the year in which the hardware was released.

2005 48,621,847 XBox 360, PlayStation Portable 1000

2006 140,890,341 (+290%) DS Lite, PlayStation 3, Wii

2007 321,998,102 (+229%) PSP 2000, PlayStation Eye

2008 578,241,141 (+80%) PSP 3000

2009 570,507,923 (-3%) DSi, DSi XL, PSP Go, PS3 Slim

2010 614,779,227 (+8%) Kinect, 360 Slim, Playstation Move

2011 578,873,094 (-6%) 3DS, Wii Family Edition

2012 445,278,842 (-23%) 3DS XL, PlayStation Vita, Wii Mini, Wii U


Some observations:

In 2005, PC popularity was 1.17% of consoles.

In 2012, PC popularity was 7.49% of consoles.

+5863% PC gain from 2005 to 2012.

+916% combined console gains from 2005 to 2012.

PCs have increased six times as much as consoles have.

PCs are trending up much faster than consoles.

Consoles won 2006 growth rates. PC and Console both saw huge gains in 2007, with consoles maintaining momentum and PCs doubling their growth. This could imply that many console gamers were purchasing PCs or playing a greater period of time on PCs than they used to.

2007 brought us the first expansion to World of Warcraft. As the number one MMO, they definitely caused PC sales as a whole to plummet as most PC gamers stuck to a single game.

While PC game sales fell in 2007 and 2008 (source is 99% of gaming news sites), actual PC gameplay rose. The media may also be failing to take into account that 2007 saw the after-holiday purchase rush of PS3 and Wii games, which continued well into 2008. The media also combined game and hardware sales into one figure, which is misleading, as money spent on hardware is money not spent on software.

In 2008, we see similar gameplay growth rates in both PC and console. This is despite a reported shrinkage in game and system sales in 2008. We appear to have been content to play the games we already owned. 2009 saw the first console playtime shrinkage, and the second PC expansion. PC has grown since, while consoles trend downward to today.

445 million console games played in 2012 is still nothing to sneeze at, but is losing ground to the exponential growth seen in the PC market. They still lead in pure population figures, however.

It is important to note that gaming as a whole still trends upwards, though it is slowing. I suspect market saturation, meaning that we're reaching a point where we have more games than we can play. I myself could stop buying for the next ten years and still not empty my backlog, THANK YOU EVERY GAME I HAVE YET TO PLAY SINCE 1988.

Market saturation could be to blame for slowing console growth. There is a console in nearly every home, regardless of income level. PCs are getting cheaper, and games for budget PCs are getting more plentiful. If you already own one console and have a favorite genre, you are extremely unlikely to buy into another genre next year unless it is a sequel or you have grown tired of your current games.

PC gamers live in a world where cross-advertising is frequent. When they visit a community website for their favorite game, they see advertising banners for competing games. PC gamers have a wider array of free games and demos of full games, and typically have much larger storage space and greater download speeds. This may lead to a greater willingness to try new games.

Console gamers tend to stick to their console-given online communities, with the closed nature of consoles being to blame. PC gamers tend to drift out a bit into places where they will come into contact with a wider array of interests, due to the open-ended nature of PCs in general. This is strictly concerning software flexibility, both for consoles and PCs.

As PCs and consoles are platforms with different goals in mind, not everything that applies to one may apply to the other. The apparent ignorance on both sides suggests to me that more study is required to fully understand our differences and similarities, both for our benefit and for the benefit of our entertainment providers, regardless of which sources they may be.


Real-world concerns, aka reasons for PC and console gamers to work together:

Older people tend to be more stubborn and resistant to change, even when it is inevitable. Old people who have never been on the internet, let alone played any game more high-tech than solitaire with REAL CARDS or any game more complex than 'whose sister is the better kisser' are currently writing laws that affect video gaming. The ignorant have no business writing laws for things they have no experience with.

PC and console sales combined are still trending upward, which means there are more and more of us gamers appearing with every passing year. The majority of us are old enough vote. Many of us have the mental focus necessary to successfully run for senate. Imagine if we, gamers of all ages, started writing laws to protect and promote gamer rights.

EDIT: edited some preamble text for clarification of what numbers mean.

NastyNate813 (1 year ago)

Pretty interesting statistics. I totally flip flopped on pc games vs console myself all within the last year or so...(I am old, stubborn, and resistant to change) I love pc gaming now.

I still buy cheap used consoles to play exclusives, but they're just not worth full price to play the handful of games I'm interested in.

My last purchases, from present to the past, are Wii, DSi XL, GBA Micro, GBA SP, DS, GBA, PS2, N64, PS1, GBC, SNES, NES, and misc Atari/Atari-like systems.

I plan to pick up a PSP around Christmas, and a PS3 and/or 360 when the ebay rush begins just before next-gen launches. It happened with used PS2 and 360 systems. I might pick up a DS Lite sometime just because of how freaky lightweight it is for DS gaming, but DS and GBA emulation are so spot-on today that I don't see as great a need anymore. As far as a 3DS, I'll wait and see if they come out with a newer system with a second analog stick. That sort of thing seems like a huge oversight to me. This would be after I upgrade my PC's video card, of course.

Strange that the 360 caused a Wii exodus instead of an Xbox Classic exodus.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

mkrnic (1 year ago)

I can't say I understand the numbers at all...

They show the rates that the gaming population has grown by on PC and on Consoles.

Take note that a growth of 0% means there was no change between that year and the previous year, among gamers who said they played X number of different games on a console or on a PC.

What else would you like to know? I'll explain what I can in smaller pieces. I'm big on statistics, so I may be assuming normal people like you would not.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

What's the PC games played by year number represent?

AloXX

(1 year ago)

In a very simple definition, each number shows how popular the games are for PC vs Console.

More detailed, but still a little simpler than the original post, these numbers are derived from user survey feedback, retail sales data (most games purchased end up played that year or the next, but usually not two years later), and reports from various publishers via their own tracking methods. Some tracking methods include all games played on Steam, OnLive, Origin, XBox 360, PSN, cloud services and multiplayer servers.

Each data source is weighted based on how reliable these data sources have proven to be. This reliability can then be somewhat relied on to give plausible figures for games with no online features, online DRM, or any kind of phone-home tracking systems built in when comparing users' reported usage to sales figures.

While these numbers are not accurate to the exact values given, they do show trends. Remember that the USA Census figures are not accurate either, merely estimates based on response rates. A count of such a large group that moves about so frequently (citizens and gamers) is impossible to count 100% accurately.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

Well, for example, I have no idea what "2005 568,968" means... 569k of what exactly in 2005? And why would there be a 423% increase in 2007?

mkrnic

(1 year ago)

In 2007, there was a 423% increase in gamers playing console games as compared to that number in 2006.

In 2005, there were around 569k games played by gamers on consoles. This doesn't mean they aren't also playing a few PC games, but it does mean that 569k games, distributed among all gamers counted that year, were played. Duplicates between gamers, yes, but no duplicates per gamer.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

So what you're saying is that on roughly a billion PCs in 2005, a tenth of which were at home, there were only 569k user+game combinations?

I can't believe that for a second. I must have personally played 10 different games in 2005, which means there would only have to be 57000 people like me in the entire world for those numbers to be flawed. Hell, my parents played 10 different games in 2005, and they're not gamers. (Neither am I.)

In fact, WoW already had 1.5 million subscribers in 2005, which means that there's no theoretical way the number could have been 569k.

mkrnic

(1 year ago)

Along with that I know BF2 sold about 1 million copies in its first month alone in 2005. Which is why I'm wondering what these numbers are supposed to be.

AloXX

(1 year ago)

Looking at the numbers, we can see that gamers reported playing 1.17% as many PC games as they played console games. The numbers are not individual people, individual sales, or anything individually. They are not a census or a count of anything.

Misreading does not change meaning. They are not yearly copies sold, but each year compared to the other, adjusted for sample size differences between years.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

You're still not conveying what the numbers represent. Most of your replies are just how the data is gathered. The only thing I gathered is that this is supposed to show trends.

I'm going to assume, then, these numbers are basically the results of a survey taken every year?

AloXX

(1 year ago)

Sort of. I've tried to state what the numbers represent, actually. Imagine that you have two differently sized sample pools. One where you ask 15 people, another where you ask 30 people. Each is one year apart.

To allow these sample sizes to represent the same percentages, you can either double the 15 or halve the 30. The ratio of answers remains the same, regardless of how large or small you make the pools. The year-to-year change, when looked at only in percentages, remains equal to the original value.

The numbers given are estimated games played from the sample, adjusted to match a sample size that I don't know the size of. They could be any number at all, really. But a ratio is a ratio. 30% of 10 is 3, 30% of 100 is 30, but both are equal percentages. 10 sample in one year, 100 sample in another, adjust for sample size differences, and you have compatible (emulated sample size, not sure of proper term) where you can see estimated percentage changes from year to year.

I could give more explanation, but I'm not sure where to begin again. Perhaps visual props would be helpful? Not trying to make fun, it's a genuine puzzle to me at the moment.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

Oh I understand completely what you're trying to say. It's just that you keep going through these wordy examples that circle around, but don't actually get to the point. What we were asking an explanation for is what that "games played" number means, and it's just a data point in time of a sample group of size x.

AloXX

(1 year ago)

I am forgetting terms and phrases that would make explaining easier. Middle-aged body with an old fart's mind.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

They did not, and can not possibly poll 1.5 million gamers. They didn't ask you, or your parents, your gaming habits. It's likely a sampling across each nation, attempting to prevent biased data based on location, race, and income.

If I send out 1,000 emails asking to participate in a survey, how many replies will I get? Statistics suggest less than 200. If I send 1000 emails to each state, I have sent 50,000.

To counteract a varying number of respondents each year, this is compared against total game sales each year. If game sales remain constant, the percentage between each year can be weighed equally. If not, adjust each one equally and you can now compare to detect trends in gamer usage.

I already said that these numbers represent trends, not total players. A trend is the result of a series of random samplings taken over time, counting only those who wish to reply, and weighing each time inverval against the other according to response rate. 1 out of 10 is equal to 10 out of 100, for example. The math is sound.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

I think I know what you're trying to say, but you presented it in a bad way :) Essentially, the numbers have no meaning and you're just trying to look at the trend. Your presentation could - and does - make someone think there were up to 200 console gamers for 1 PC gamer in certain periods, which definitely isn't true.

The problem is that your source data is biased and flawed. Consoles thrive in western countries, where consoles are cheap and used-game markets exist. You won't find a lot of consoles in BRIC countries, although they account for a large chunk of the (unreported) PC game marketshare. This is why online game stores such as Steam have special versions for several countries, with prices 10x lower than western prices, in order to try and fight piracy.

TL;DR - the number of PC gamers worldwide is larger than the number of console gamers, and it's only going to increase due to digital software distribution and lower game prices.

mkrnic

(1 year ago)

I had a rant ready, but felt it would be best to end my contribution to the incoming 2014 wank fest. There were several potentially amusing facepalms/slaps to the no-doubt future streetwalkers of the world.

Instead, have the last three paragraphs.


Look at how hard the backlash against a lack of used console games has become, when today there are no used PC games and we get along just fine. I understand that console gamers had gotten used to the idea. I know that I had. But people are voting with their wallets, and as surprised as I am, the money says people are completely satisfied with oppressive DRM. They want more.

It is like how people claim Wal-Mart is ruining people's lives, yet 90% of America shops there. Hypocritical doubletalk from the children of parents who keep voting the same kind of crooks they talk against back into office for term after term. It is as though no one has heard the phrase 'Put your money where your mouth is' in this facebook activist generation where they think that every uploadable picture is worth 1,000 words, but they can't think of 100 words to go with that picture.

This sort of realization-barrage could drive a lesser man to antidepressants. I will instead continue repairing someone's laptop. Malware, Viruses, "That's not my porn," the usual lies. You clicked, you're dicked. Sometimes I worry about the gene pool, then I smile and I remember that I have no daughters and realize that it is a blessing in disguise.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

dooder39 (1 year ago)

Yeah? So??

Quemical (1 year ago)

What the hell happened in 2007 to cause that surge? lol

Crysis.

jaded86

(1 year ago)

I'd blame Crysis' growing popularity, and WoW's first expansion bringing in more PC gamers. Also, WoW seems to kill multigaming on PC each year they release an expansion, with a weaker effect each successive expansion.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

Orange Box?
WoW expension?

PsyKo

(1 year ago)

I forgot about the Orange Box. I will now hang my head in shame while I get something to eat before going to bed at 4:40 AM.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

Vercinger (1 year ago)

Those numbers are definitely impossible.

Also, they're pretty much useless, since a rather massive percentage of PC users and a rather small percentage of console users live outside those countries.

These are some of the largest profit-inducing countries for consoles. Which countries would you add?

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

Cheeseburgermafia (1 year ago)

Think of it as compared to cars.

There are over 300 million people in the United States. Let's simplify and say 300 million.

If everyone bought a car last year, this means that 300 million cars were sold. 300,000,000. Almost none of us will buy another car in the next year or two at least.

Now let us assume that 1% of us buy a car this year for whatever reason. Accident, trade-in, new car for a new teenage driver, a second car for the family, whatever.

Despite selling 3 million cars this year, car sales still dropped by 99%.

Now if the figures were reversed, we have this. 3 million cars last year, 300 million cars this year.

A change of 10,000%. The media would say that cars are suddenly more popular than ever. They would project revenue increases for the next ten years based on this supposed trend. But trends to not last, positive or negative ones, short or long ones.

To continue with the car analogy, let us now assume that we are within the first few years after the invention of the car when performance vs the horse-drawn carriage is finally becoming cost effective. Both modes of transportation provide similar experiences over the years, depending of course on what type of traveler you are. But as the car becomes cheaper to maintain and more reliable over longer distances, and cheaper to perform modifications on for the purposes of increased performance, the horse-drawn carriage becomes less important financially. There will still be far more horse-drawn carriages owned, sold, and used for years to come, but the car has become the next big thing in the realm of transportation.

Consoles and PCs both transport us to virtual worlds. Consoles will always be there for a consistent experience from console to console, just as when you've rented one horse, they're all pretty much identical. Some are faster, some will show you better scenery than another one, but the car can show you more scenery, and if you maintain it well, the scenery will potentially be better looking. Of course, there are still people who prefer horses, and there are situations where horses cannot be beaten by cars.

To compete with the long-distance endurance of the car, they began to strap more and more horses at the same time to one carriage. This increased the price of the whole set-up, but cannot maintain the same price vs performance ratio as a car can. A similar problem is happening to consoles consoles when faced with increasingly economical PCs, racing to improve their hardware at great expense to stay ahead of PCs that keep getting cheaper.

KynesLiet (1 year ago)

VGChartz has a very inconsistent database for game retail sales. They don't count digital sales (a very important market on PC) and they have at best very limited data of the retail market, at worst all their data is a clever analysis of public data (gamestop top games sold, GFK/NPD/Famitsu sales data...)

Even console sales are an approximation and they have a history of huge margin of error in the most important months (Nov+Dec) so I wouldn't use most of their data in a serious conversation.

Digital game sales are not reported frequently, so they cannot be relied upon. They also do not weigh retail game sales very heavily.

Valve, IGN, and Gamespot have mentioned that digital sales are not counted when tallying up total monthly and yearly sales. Without this disclosure, nothing can be assumed about digital sales.

Keep in mind that when new consoles come out in Nov/Dec, there are very few games purchased alongside them compared to the games people still play from last generation. How many people throw out their old games/console when a new dog moves in? As for Dec by itself, I would also weigh the first months back to school lightly for each country when compared to unsynchronized countries. There are many variables, yes, but what gets lost from one year's Nov/Dec is captured in next year's trends.

A trend is a trend. You don't need perfect data, only an accurate representation. Can you tell me how many stray dogs there are in any given state, or city? You certainly can give an estimate based on capture rates, which compare well to gamer questioning weighted against retail and tracking data. Actually, the comparison between each data set can reveal when a publisher is overstating their game's popularity and reveal games that have been underrated by the media and are being played by gamers regardless. Kane & Lynch 2, for example. Game of the year, unless you ask gamers.

Speaking of Kane & Lynch, anyone think Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman would be great in a movie based on them? Hell, as long as those two are allowed to ad-lib (within character) I don't care if Uwe Boll directs.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

JoeyBeanz (1 year ago)

What the hell happened in the PC world between 2006 and 2007? That seems like a huge increase (percentage-wise)

That must be when Oblivion came out >_>

We'll see smaller gains as the numbers become more equal between PC and console, and people learn which platform best fits their lifestyle as opposed to whichever one they grew up with.

Adult gamers do tend to lean toward PCs. I suspect it's only because of PC use at white-collar jobs. Work-related PC usage tends to make people who grew up only with consoles computer literate rather quickly. It worked for my mom. She's 56 and plays Skyrim (56 hours in since three weeks ago, last I checked) and New Vegas. Before, she was a Pokemon, Golden Sun, Tetris and Dr. Mario fan. But then, we're both fans of all that as well.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

The PC gaming growth in 2006 and 2007 does not assume more PC games were purchased, only that more were played. These could have been games that people already had laying around since Christmas of last year for all we know. The year of purchase is not represented here, only the year the game was played and the percent change from year to year of total game volume per platform as compared to the previous year.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

onevoltz (1 year ago)

the only explanation that i can give about the growth in pc gaming n 2007 is : half life 2 come to pc in 2006 and gamers started to play it in 2007

redeemer000 (1 year ago*)

You don't need answer for your question, PC Will always ALWAYS win No matter what because PC is the gaming planet, if there was no PC video games was just a dream. and what do we get from console Product that was made on PC, Stuck on consoles and no PC version game has been released. and will not pay 1000$ for DVD box one and 200$ for a console game in order to play one game.

I favor PC, but I cannot say definitively that PC is winning except for in growth rate.

Console still wins currently, but this next generation may be the turning point.

Cheeseburgermafia

(1 year ago)

This topic is now closed.