There’s life left in the PlayStation 4, but it’s already outpaced the PSone’s eye-watering 102.49 million units install base and established itself as the second best-selling home console ever made. It’s got some work to do before it catches the PlayStation 2’s mind-blowing 155 million units, but the fact that it’s already ahead of a cultural phenomenon like the Nintendo Wii (101.6 million units) says a lot about the success of the current-gen console.
Perhaps most impressive of all to me is that of the top five best-selling home consoles, four of them are PlayStation systems. We all know that the PlayStation 3 is the black sheep of the family: its 87.4 million install base is the only one to be under 100 million units. But even then I can’t help but look back to the abysmal start that the Japanese giant got off to, and how it rebounded so successfully in 2009 and beyond.
Make no mistake: the PS3 was a disaster at launch. It was over-engineered, overpriced, and poorly marketed – that it currently stands as the fifth best-selling home console of all-time says a lot about Sony’s prowess in the space. I also think that the recovery it made from 2009 onwards – releasing quality exclusive after quality exclusive and revising its entire marketing philosophy – paved the way for the stratospheric success of its, well, successor. Lessons were learned.
I occasionally see this notion in hardcore gaming communities that PlayStation is merely a lucky brand; it’s argued, for example, that if Microsoft hadn’t messed up with the Xbox One launch, then the PS4 wouldn’t have been anywhere near as popular. It’s a reductive statement that sits contrary to the evidence that we have; if Sony’s success is luck, then it must have hit the jackpot to have four of the five best-selling home consoles of all time.
No, I think the manufacturer’s achievements can be attributed to a few things: consistency, quality, and a global outlook. It often gets ignored in the American-centric media, but PlayStation’s ability to establish itself in regions such as the Middle East and Continental Europe has made up for declining interest in, say, Japan. It’s one of the reasons that the PS3 was able to maintain pace with the Xbox 360, despite the Sony system receiving a pasting in the USA.
I know there were plenty of people eager to point to the Game Boy and the Nintendo DS in our article today; depending on how you categorise consoles, then, yes, the picture looks a little different. But at the end of the day it’s impressive whichever way you paint it: aside from a minor blip with the PS3, this is a console manufacturer that’s been outrageously consistent over the past two decades and a bit. Who wants to bet against the PS5 continuing the trend?
Have you been impressed by PlayStation's consistency over the years? Which of Sony's consoles is your personal favourite? Do not underestimate the power of PlayStation in the comments section below.