Are Consoles Becoming Less Popular?

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the percentage of homes in the U.S. with a gaming console is dropping. From cocktail arcade games to vertical arcade machines to modern consoles, the gaming industry has developed tremendously over the past few decades. If recent data is accurate, trends are beginning to shift once again.

The Study

Each year, the ESA conducts a study of U.S. consumer video game behavior. This year, it surveyed 4,000 U.S. households to obtain the data, and many of the results may challenge the average person’s preconceived perception of video games the stereotypical gamer.


One of the most important observations that will matter to developers and marketers is the drop in console use. On average, 51 percent of U.S. households had a dedicated gaming console between the years 2013 and 2015. 2016 brings about a change in that statistic. Now, only 48 percent of households own a dedicated gaming console. Will these numbers continue to drop?

Whether or not consoles retain their popularity, gaming in general isn’t going anywhere. 65 percent of U.S. households own at least one device that games can be played on, whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, computer or console. One thing that will make console game developers happy is the fact that 95 percent of those who own a console buy video games for that console.

Who Plays Video Games?

You may think the popularity of video games is highest with the youngest generation, but the people who purchase the games the most? Their average age is 38. The average age of all gamers is 35.

Why Do We Play?

48 percent of the most frequent gamers report playing socially, with friends, family members, parents and spouses. More than half of frequent gamers report that buying video games brings them more value for their money that purchasing DVDs, music or movie tickets. Some of the activities that gaming has replaced in the daily lives of Americans include playing board games, watching television and going to the movies.

Will the console continue to thrive, or will up and coming platforms like virtual reality take over the spotlight? Of all frequent gamers, 40 percent say they are likely to purchase a VR headset in the next year. Time will tell if the next few years will signal the decline of the console.