Earlier this week we reported on the impressive fact that Sony has sold over 500 million total PlayStation consoles since the original PlayStation debuted in 1994. That got me thinking about another titan in the industry with an even longer history. Nintendo has officially released sales data for all of its major hardware releases since the Famicom in 1983, so I did a little digging to see what kind of numbers they’ve piled up over the years and how they compare to Sony’s.

Purely by luck, it seems I had great timing in picking now to total everything up. As of Nintendo’s last official update on June 30th, Nintendo home consoles sales have just passed up the 300 million mark. The Wii makes up over one-third of this total (and almost all of that within its first four years) with over 100 million units sold. Here’s how it all breaks down:

Nintendo Home Console Sales (all numbers in millions)

  • NES — 61.91
  • SNES — 49.10
  • N64 — 32.93
  • GameCube — 21.74
  • Wii — 101.63
  • Wii U — 13.56
  • Switch — 19.67
  • Total: 300.54

Sales figures for the Famicom are added to the NES total in Nintendo’s official data. 35 years after it first graced living rooms in Japan, Nintendo has sold more than 300 million home consoles worldwide. That takes care of the living room, but a huge part of the Nintendo experience is playing on the go. What do their handheld sales figures look like?

Nintendo Handheld Sales (all numbers in millions)

  • Game Boy — 118.69 (includes Color)
  • Game Boy Advance — 81.51
  • DS — 154.02
  • 3DS — 72.89
  • Total: 427.11

As you can see, Nintendo’s handheld business has proven even more successful than their home console lineup. DS accounts for over one-third of total sales, and it sold alongside Wii, making that period one of the most lucrative in Nintendo history. The original Game Boy extended its life with the Color version (which Nintendo considers all part of the same family, much like DS and DSi) and eventually sold over 118 million.

Combining the home console and handheld totals together gives us a grand total of 727.65 million. All of these numbers come from Nintendo’s investor relations website, which does not list official data for NES Classic Edition, SNES Classic Edition, Virtual Boy (all three of which combine for a little less than 10 million), or any of the various Game & Watch lines For comparison’s sake, we’re just going to use Nintendo’s officially listed figures.

So how does that stack up against Sony? Famicom made its debut in July of 1983, giving Nintendo 35 years and one month in the business. PlayStation launched in December of 1994, giving Sony 23 years and 8 months in the hardware business. If you do the math, that comes out to 20.7 million units of hardware sold per year by Nintendo and 22.12 million units of hardware sold per year by Sony.

The two companies have combined to sell an astonishing 1.253 billion consoles altogether, bringing joy to hundreds of millions of players along the way. Here’s to another billion!

Ben Lamoreux


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