Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) is an outstanding console. In its lifespan, the console saw incredible commercial success and produced a long line of excellent titles. Because of this, the PS4 is arguably the winner of the eighth console generation—despite some formidable completion.
Here's why the PS4 won the eighth console generation.
Which Consoles Took Part in the 8th Console Generation?
To see why the PS4 won the eighth console generation, let's look at which games consoles were actually in it.
The eighth generation of consoles featured the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and their respective variants. This generation saw a more iterative approach from Sony and Microsoft, while Nintendo failed with the Wii U but bounced back with the Switch. We also saw the likes of VR gaming and cloud gaming arrive on the scene.
In addition to this, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo's offerings (excluding the Wii U) all saw variants a few years after their release, with the PS4 Pro and Slim, Xbox One X and S, and the Nintendo Switch Lite and Switch (OLED Model).
Sadly, if we're looking at legitimate competition, the Wii U is out of the question. Nintendo undercooked this console, leading to Sony and Microsoft's consoles overshadowing it when they arrived a year later.
So, the real competitors of the eighth generation of consoles were the PS4 family, the Xbox One family, and the Nintendo Switch family.
Why Did the PS4 Win the 8th Console Generation?
Let's quickly discuss what exactly "winning" a console generation would mean.
Everyone will have their own favorite console. But in this case, winning a console generation would mean that this console is consistent throughout its lifespan in terms of quality, delivering a great first impression, hardware, and, most important, outstanding games, which translate into overall sales.
When talking about quality output, the PS4 arguably produced the most consistently of the eighth generation consoles. Here are three key reasons that support this.
1. The PS4 Gave the Best First Impression
When Sony and Microsoft announced their upcoming consoles at E3 2013, gamers were excited to see the true arrival of next-gen consoles. However, it was Sony's that cemented itself as the one to buy.
Microsoft didn't have a bad E3 per se, but Sony knocked it out of the park with the PS4's announcement and gave it the best possible first impression. The PS4 was cheaper than the Xbox One. Moreover, you didn't have to connect to the internet once a day to play offline games—and you could play used games.
The last two points sound bizarre in terms of giving a great first impression. What about the games? The hardware? User features? Games can come in the future, hardware doesn't mean a better console, and user features can come through software updates. It was the principles of the PS4 that won in the hearts of the gamers.
Though the PS4 didn't complete against the Switch at E3, it still had the arguably better first impression. Nintendo was recovering from the disappointing venture of the Wii U. While the Switch enjoyed a decent reveal, it wasn't building from past success or introducing a new console generation—unlike the PS4.
2. The PS4 Delivered Outstanding Games
Following E3 2013, the PS4 enjoyed some benefits over the Xbox One. For instance, the base PS4 ran cross-platform games better than the base Xbox One.
Then the waters got murkier with the releases of the higher-spec PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, where the latter became the best running eighth-gen home console. However, Sony shone in one crucial aspect that mitigated this—it put out first-rate exclusive after first-rate exclusive.
There have been some incredible PS4 exclusives throughout its life cycle. Uncharted 4/The Lost Legacy, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, Bloodborne, God of War, Marvel's Spider-Man; the list goes on.
Neither Microsoft nor Nintendo have had this string of outstanding console exclusives. Microsoft has branched into console and PC games and thus reduced its exclusives. The Switch's exclusives, whilst still fantastic, arguably aren't all as deep or rich as Sony's offered with the PS4.
Sony didn't just release a handful of great PS4 exclusives—it consistently gave gamers a reason to buy or play the PS4 year after year with its games.
3. The PS4 Outsold Its Competitors
The PS4's success translated directly into sales. If we look at the figures, the PS4 is currently the highest-selling console of the eighth generation.
In July 2021, the PS4 sat at over 116 million units sold—comfortably ahead of the Xbox One's around 51 million units, and still in front of the Nintendo Switch's roughly 89 million units.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The PS4 is around three and a half years older than the Switch.
- In 2021, Nintendo is releasing the Switch OLED model.
- At the time of writing in September 2021, Nintendo hasn't released a Switch Pro. When it does, its sales will likely join the Switch's overall sales.
That would then be four Nintendo consoles against Sony's three, with the standard PS4 doing the heavy lifting.
Does This Mean That the PS4 Is the Best Console of the 8th Generation?
Everyone's favorite console is going to be subjective. Whether you prefer the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or Wii U, that console is the best for you—which is the most important thing. However, there's no denying the consistent success the PS4 has enjoyed throughout its lifespan.
We also haven't talked about the Switch that much, mainly because Sony and Microsoft's console wars carried into the eighth generation. Well, not only does Nintendo successfully avoid console wars, but it also stays away from console generations, and the Switch is a shining example of this.
What the Switch offers is so different from the PS4 and Xbox One that it's hard to compare it with them. Also, the Switch is still going strong into the ninth console generation. So, you've got a unique console with unique games, which doesn't keep within conventional console generations.
The Switch is an outstanding console. The Xbox One family also has its merits, and the Wii U has some underrated elements. It's possible to both prefer any of these over the PS4, but still acknowledge that the PS4 won the eighth console generation.
Will the PS5 Share the Same Success as the PS4?
The PS4 was a resounding success for Sony. The PS5 could be as well. Despite a tumultuous launch, the PS5 has had a wonderful start to its life cycle, enjoying record sales and building up a strong gaming library. The key now is combining quality with consistency.
There's a lot to love about the PS5. Let's hope it builds on its success throughout the ninth console generation.
The PlayStation 5 has been out for a while now. And there's lots to love about Sony's latest console.