Video game popularity is at an all-time high as 155 million Americans report they play video games regularly and 67 percent of households own a video gaming console. In 2017, consumers spent a whopping $41 Billion on gaming, which would likely baffle even the most visionary pioneers of the video game industry.
We were interested to see how various consoles resonated with consumers compared to others, so we used Google Trends data to determine which console was the most popular per state.
Most Popular Video Game Consoles per State
Comparing each state’s search volume during the year of release for each console, we determined which console was the most popular per state. Indicative by the buzz each console generated, we can see which console won the affection of gamers nationwide.
It’s interesting to see the widespread popularity of the Playstation 4 release compared to other consoles, even previous versions of Playstation. What might surprise you even more is that the release of PS2 was apparently the pinnacle of gaming for Wyoming and Vermont.
A revelation in this analysis is that although the Wii console attracted a much broader audience than previous consoles, the hype around the launch was obviously lacking the public’s attention. Only six states searched more for the Wii and Wii U in the year of their release compared to other consoles.
Another unexpected find is that although Nintendo Switch is deemed as one of the fastest selling game consoles and there was a lot of buzz surrounding its release; it only took top console the year of its release in six states.
The original Playstation console was released in 1994 and made its debut in the United States in September of 1995. The original Playstation was the first computer entertainment platform to reach 100 million units sold.
Playstation 2 Searches in 2004*
*Although the PS2 was released in 2000, earliest Google Trends data available is 2004
Playstation launched their second console in 2000 to immediate and sustained commercial success. Even after the release of new consoles, the PS2 continued manufacturing and even sold more than 150 million units worldwide until production was discontinued in 2013.
After the immense success of their second generation console, the Playstation 3 was released in 2006 and met with lackluster market adoption. The PS3 was their first console to incorporate social gaming through their online PlayStation Network.
Playstation 3 Searches in 2006
With the exception of Wyoming and West Virginia, every state revealed an increase in interest compared to the Playstation 2.
The fourth iteration of the PlayStation was released in late 2013 and as of December 31st, 2017, has sold 73.6 million units.
Playstation 4 Searches in 2013
Generally, the PS4 was very well received when it launched in 2013 and, with the exception of Oregon and South Dakota, every state indicated an increase in interest compared to the launch of the PS3.
Following the release of the original Xbox in 2001, the Xbox 360 was launched in 2005. It was the first Xbox with the ability to stream television, film and music. The Xbox platform was also the exclusive console for the extremely popular game Halo 2.
The Xbox 360 boasts total lifetime sales of 84 million units before manufacturing was discontinued in 2016.
Xbox 360 Searches in 2005
Comparing this 2005 data to Playstation 2 searches in 2004, we can see a spike in interest among western states such as Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
Following in the footsteps of the immense success of the Xbox 360 console, the Xbox One was released in 2013. In keeping with forward thinking trends, the Xbox One allowed users to easily record and stream live gameplay.
Xbox One Searches in 2013
Overall, the interest in Xbox One upon launch exceeded that of the Xbox 360. Although Nevada’s interest cooled on the latest Xbox console, interest for Xbox One piqued across the Midwest.
Released in 2006, the Wii received mixed reviews from industry experts but tapped into a much broader gaming audience. Nintendo admits the Wii was a casual console for families, and should be held in a very different light to consoles from competitors. The casual appeal of the Wii console brought commercial success to the tune of 101.63 million units sold during its life.
The launch of Wii U in 2012 was Nintendo’s attempt to revive the appeal to core gamers with enhanced hardware and high definition graphics. Nintendo also coined the term “asymmetric gaming” when referring to their GamePad controller which featured a touchpad screen allowing the user to play the game on the pad itself.
Wii Searches in 2006
Although Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah showed immense interest in Nintendo’s launch of the Wii, overall the interest score is low when compared to the Xbox 360 launch a year earlier.
Wii U Searches in 2012
Interestingly, the states that were uniquely enthusiastic about the release of the original Wii such as Kentucky and Mississippi saw no significant spike in interest for the Wii U launch. Utah however, saw a rise in attention to the Wii U release when compared to the launch of the first Wii gaming console.
In response to the Wii U’s poor sales and the overall market competition from mobile gaming, Nintendo released the Nintendo Switch in March 2017.
After the Wii U, the Switch is Nintendo’s second attempt at a tablet-based home gaming console, with major function and hardware improvements.
Both a home console and portable tablet, the Switch quickly became one of the fastest selling consoles of all time with more than 14 million units sold in its first year. This sales success is directly tied to two game titles: The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Odyssey.
Nintendo Switch Searches in 2017
The Future of Gaming
As video games continue to command the attention of people around the globe, growth in innovation will likely mirror the expansion of the industry.
Virtual reality has been an intriguing area of development for gaming consoles. As VR platforms are now commercially available, a truly immersive gaming environment is taking shape.
Not only can you fully envelop yourself in the physical environment, you can also receive data and information in real time with the growing trend of augmented reality.
Other shifts include the use of drones as well as open-source and cloud gaming, making gaming more accessible and affordable for players.
The Oculus VR headset was first released in 2016 and, according to Google’s search volume data, failed to generate the expected buzz. Alaska was the only state that proved significantly intrigued by the new technology.
With continued investment from established companies such as Playstation, Samsung and even Sega, VR is gaining traction in the industry. More portable, affordable and efficient VR systems are set to come out in late 2018.
Reviewing the search volume throughout the years has indicated the growth in gaming will continue to progress. The expanding demographic of gamers also highlights the evolution of the video game landscape.
Social gaming, live streaming and competitions by the Major League of Gaming are bringing video games even further into the mainstream. The gaming landscape is rapidly evolving as more Americans are playing video games than ever before.
With the growing popularity of augmented and virtual reality gaming consoles, the industry is undergoing a major shift. 63 percent of frequent gamers said they’re familiar with VR, with 15 percent having used it in the last year.
We compiled Google Trends search volume for each console spanning the U.S. between 2004 and 2017. We used search data from 2004 for Playstation 2 since Google has only released trend data from 2004 and after.
When comparing search volumes within each state to determine the most popular console we found some search volumes remained the same across various consoles. In the situation where two consoles received the same attention from the public, we awarded the console that was released earlier.