Video game consoles have come a long way since the Atari 2600 system and "Pong". So when talking about the most popular video game systems, it would be logical to assume that last year top console could consistently be one of the most up-to-date systems. The Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 probably would come to mind.
Are you ready for a shocker? The most popular video game console of April, 2009 was the PlayStation 2! Yes, it's the same gaming system that Sony had released nearly a decade earlier, in 2000. About 140 million units and 2,000 games later, the PS2 is still going strong.
You might be wondering: how is the "most popular" gaming system being defined? PS2 earned the title based on recent Nielsen ratings. The ratings are calculated by totally the number of minutes gamers spent playing particular consoles, during an entire month. When Nielsen published its statistics for April of 2009, PlayStation 2 was at the top, earning 21.6% of all gaming minutes that month. The second most popular gaming system was right on the PS2's tail, with Xbox 360 earning 21.1% of the total minutes. Nintendo Wii was farther behind, at 17.6%, and PlayStation 3 was next at 10.5%.
You should certainly take these figures with a grain of salt. One factor is that in April 2009, Xbox 360 games were selling better than all the other video game consoles. Also, Nintendo released a significant amount of original titles towards the latter half of 2009. In fact, by November of 2009, the PS2 dropped to second place in the Nielsen ratings (19.8%). The Xbox 360 was king of the ratings, earning 24.1% of usage minutes. Meanwhile, the Wii took third place (16.0%), and the PS3 was in fourth place (12.4)
Nonetheless, the staying power of the PS2 is nothing short of incredible, considering how rapidly the gaming industry changes. Still, newer doesn't necessarily mean better. Remember all the hype surrounding Sony's unveiling of the PS3? Nielsen's figures show that it's fallen well behind the Xbox 360 and Wii, in terms of minutes played. So there's something to be said about playing games on the oldie-but-goodie PS2.
How about those Nielsen ratings for PC games? "World of Warcraft" continues to be the most popular PC game on planet Earth. In fact, it's not even close! When Nielsen released its monthly figures in April of 2009, about 45% of all minutes that PC gamers racked up were for "World of Warcraft" alone. Interestingly, while players average more time playing other games, those games have fewer players. As of November 2009, "World of Warcraft" still topped the charts, with "Warcraft 3" earning the second spot. Gamers weekly spent about 8.7 hours and 7.6 hours playing the two games, respectively.
It remains to be seen how the gaming systems will rank in Nielsen's ratings, in 2010. The PS2 will likely drop further in the charts, as newer systems produce more advanced games. But consider the fact that on average, gamers are still spending twice as much time playing PS2, as they are playing PS3!