Video Game Consoles

A look at the most popular video game systems

Over the past decade, the gaming industry has exploded. Video games are more and more being seen as a medium of art, not just the stereotypical teenage pastime that they once were. Of course, much of this success has to do with the game consoles themselves, so let's take a look at the most popular video game consoles:

The Nintendo Wii is arguably the most popular video game system out at the moment, outselling both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 combined. And it's not hard to see why. Its intuitive control scheme (a motion-sensing controller), ease of use and pick-up-and-play style appeals to all kinds of people. From toddlers to grandparents, literally anyone can learn to play the Wii within minutes. The Wii has changed people's perceptions of gaming and has probably converted more nongamers into players than any other console in history. However, this has also proved to be its biggest downfall, as it has been dubbed by many people as a gimmicky console.

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Microsoft's first foray into the gaming industry, the Xbox, couldn't compete with the might of Sony's PlayStation 2, but it was the first game console to successfully establish a proven and reliable online service, Xbox Live. And the Xbox 360 has done nothing but make the service better, with downloadable games, content and even movies. Although other consoles now have similar services, it was the Xbox 360 that showed the world how it was done.

Plus, with a huge array of titles thanks to a wealth of third-party support, the Xbox 360 is definitely one of the successes among next-generation consoles. The PlayStation 3 is bound to gain momentum sooner or later, but for the time being, the Xbox 360 is the hardcore gamer's console of choice, and while it may not be as user friendly as the Wii, Microsoft is trying to rectify this with downloadable family and party games. Notorious hardware failures have plagued the Xbox 360 in the past, but newer versions seemed to have solved this, leaving virtually nothing in its way.

While the PlayStation 3 might not have quite reached super stardom just yet, its older brothers, the PlayStation 2 and the original PlayStation, were the most popular consoles of all time, selling 127 million and 102 million units respectively. Much of their success can be put down to Sony's fantastic third-party support, which meant there were thousands of titles. And with exclusive video games such as Grand Theft Auto (exclusive to Sony at the time), Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, it's no wonder that almost every single gamer on this planet has at one time owed a Sony console.

For a while, the Sony PlayStation faced stiff competition from the Nintendo 64, the Sega Saturn and the Sega Dreamcast, but ultimately, the original Sony console dominated the gaming industry until the arrival of the PlayStation 2, which then outsold the Xbox and the Nintendo Gamecube. It is hard to predict how the PlayStation 3 will fare; only time will tell if it can live up to its older brothers' dominance in the video game console market.

Handheld Games

The Wii's little brother Nintendo DS has also been something of a worldwide success in the handheld game category. Again, it is Nintendo's intuitive design that has made it one of the most popular consoles today. Instead of gamers pressing buttons, as with Sony's PSP and most other handheld consoles, the DS utilizes a touch screen design with a stylus that makes for a very different, but very fun, gaming experience. Its cutesy looks and hundreds of titles have ensured that the DS is definitely here to stay.

Sony also has a major competitor in the handheld game market, the PlayStation Portable, or PSP. In addition to playing video games, this handheld unit allows for Internet browsing and can even be used with Skype. This multifunctionality makes it popular among kids and adult gamers alike.

By Imran Almuttaqi