The Full Wiki

More info on History of video game consoles (sixth generation)

History of video game consoles (sixth generation): Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

The sixth-generation era (sometimes referred to as the 128-bit era; see "Number of bits" below) refers to the computer and video games, video game consoles, and video game handhelds available at the turn of the 21st century. Platforms of the sixth generation include Sega's Dreamcast, Sony's PlayStation 2, the Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox. This era began on November 27, 1998 with the release of the Dreamcast, and it was joined by the PlayStation 2 in March 2000. The Dreamcast was discontinued in November 2001 and that same year saw the launch of the Nintendo GameCube in September and Xbox in November.

Home systems

Sony's PlayStation 2 achieved sales dominance in this generation, with over 140 million sold as of mid-July 2008, making the PlayStation 2 the best-selling console in history. Microsoft's Xbox came in second with over 24 million sold and the Nintendo GameCube was third with 21.6 million sold. Sega's Dreamcast, which arrived prior to all of the others and was discontinued prematurely in 2001, came in fourth with 10.6 million sold, representing 6.5% of the sixth generation sales.

The sixth generation began to end when the Xbox was succeeded by the Xbox 360 in late 2005. GameCube hardware (Platinum color only) was still being produced when the Wii was released in late 2006, but has since been greatly reduced. PlayStation 2 sales have continued to be strong into November 2007, due to the system's large software library, continuing software support, and affordable price.

In February 2008, the PlayStation 2 outsold both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the United States. Games were still being produced for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube as of 2007, while Dreamcast games were officially discontinued in 2001. There were still a few games being produced for the Dreamcast in 2007, but they are essentially NAOMI arcade ports released only in Japan, with small print runs.


Sega's Dreamcast was the first console of the generation and introduced several innovations including Internet gaming as a standard feature through its built-in modem, and a web browser. It was also the first home console to always display full SD resolution.

Initially, the Dreamcast was very successful, due to its lineup of critically and commercially successful titles, setting video game sales records at its launch. The console helped to restore Sega's reputation which had been damaged by the earlier failures of the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, and Sega CD. Despite this, the Dreamcast was discontinued prematurely overall due to numerous factors. The impending and much-hyped PlayStation 2 slowed Dreamcast sales, mostly due to the fact that the PlayStation 2 had a built-in DVD player and continued on-line services, just three years after the Dreamcast was released, causing Sega to suffer and not to have a dominant population from that generation. In addition, the poor performance of the Saturn (due in part to Sega's decision to quickly end the Saturn in favour of the Dreamcast - much as it had done with the earlier 32X in favor of the Saturn) in North America had left developers and customers skeptical, with some holding out to see whether the Dreamcast or PlayStation 2 would come out on top.

Sega's decision to implement a GD-ROM (though publicly advertised as a CD-ROM) for storage medium did save costs but it did not compare well against the PS2's much touted DVD capabilities. With the announcements of the Xbox and GameCube in late 2000, Sega's console was considered by some to be outdated only two years after its release. The previous losses from the Saturn, 32X, and Sega/Mega-CD, stagnation of sales due to the PlayStation 2, and impending competition from Microsoft and Nintendo convinced Sega to pull out of console manufacturing entirely, devoting its resources to game development instead.

PlayStation 2

The brand Sony had established with the original PlayStation was a major factor in the PlayStation 2's dominance, both in terms of securing a consumer base and attracting third party developers; the gradual increase in one tending to reinforce the other. The PlayStation 2 was also able to play DVDs and was backwards-compatible with PlayStation games, which many say helped the former's sales. Sony Computer Entertainment secured licensing for key games such as Final Fantasy X, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, enabling the PS2 to outperform its competitions' launches.


Although the Xbox had the formidable financial backing of Microsoft, it was unable to significantly threaten the dominance of the PlayStation 2 as market leader; however, the Xbox attracted a large fanbase and strong third-party support in the United States and Europe and became a recognizable brand amongst the mainstream. The Xbox Live online service with its centralized model proved particularly successful, prompting Sony to boost the online capabilities of the PlayStation 2. Xbox Live also gave the Xbox an edge over the GameCube, which had a near total lack of online games. The flagship of Xbox Live was the game Halo 2, which was the best selling Xbox game with 8 million copies sold worldwide..

In Japanmarker, Xbox sales were very poor, partly due to Microsoft's inability to attract major Japanese developers and game franchises. The console's physical size, which did not fit local aesthetic standards, and brand loyalty to Japanese companies like Sony and Nintendo were considerable factors as well.

Nintendo GameCube

Nintendo struggled with conflicting brand images, particularly the family-friendly one developed during the 1990s. Its arsenal of franchises and history in the industry, though earning it a loyal fan base, failed to give it an advantage against the Xbox and PlayStation 2 which captured audiences seeking 'Mature' titles which Nintendo had fewer of. Nintendo also made little headway into online gaming (releasing a small handful of online-capable games, the most popular of which was Phantasy Star Online, which was in fact a port of the Dreamcast game), instead emphasizing Game Boy Advance connectivity. As a result, the Nintendo GameCube failed to match the sales of its predecessor; the Nintendo 64.

Nintendo did however rejuvenate its relationship with many developers, often working in close collaboration with them to produce games based upon its franchises, in contrast to the past where it was frequently seen as bullying developers. As a result, the Nintendo GameCube had more first and second party releases than its competitors, whose most successful titles were mainly products of third party developers.

Number of bits and system power

Bit ratings for consoles largely fell by the wayside after the 32-bit era. The number of "bits" cited in console names referred to the CPU word size, but there was little to be gained from increasing the word size much beyond 32 bits; performance depended on other factors, such as processor speed, graphics processor speed, bandwidth, and memory size.

The importance of the number of bits in the modern console gaming market has thus decreased due to the use of components that process data in varying word sizes. Previously, console manufacturers advertised the “n-bit talk” to over-emphasize the hardware capabilities of their system. The Dreamcast and the PlayStation 2 were the last systems to use the term “128-bit” in their marketing to describe their capability.

It is not easy to compare the relative "power" of the different systems. Having a larger CPU word size does not necessarily make one console more powerful than another. Likewise the operating frequency (clock rate) of a system's CPU is not an accurate measure either.

The Microsoft Xbox uses a 32-bit (general purpose) CISC x86 architecture CPU, with an instruction set equal to that of the Coppermine core Mobile Celeron, though it has less cache memory (128 kB) than the PC equivalent. It has 64 MB RAM (shared) and runs at 733 MHz, the fastest of the sixth generation. Most notably, its NV2A GPU, which is based on the GeForce 3 for desktop computers, makes it the only console in its time with vertex and pixel shaders. The power of the Xbox was not exploited by many game developers early in its lifecycle. Some games like Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell were originally meant to be exclusive to the Xbox and to utilize the power of the Xbox to the fullest, but when they were ported to the Playstation 2 and Gamecube a lot of graphical sacrifices had to be made and levels had to be redesigned to be on par with the relatively weaker hardware of the consoles. These sacrifices include lower polygon counts, reduced number of enemies per level, truncated level design, weaker AI and shorter draw distance; however many of this generation's late PC games, for example Far Cry Instincts, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2, which were meant to be released for all consoles managed to make it only to the Xbox due to its similarity to the PC the originals were built on.

The Nintendo GameCube is the most compact sixth generation console. Its IBM Gekko PowerPC CPU runs at 485 MHz, while its "Flipper" graphics processor is comparable to the ATImarker Radeon 7200, and it has 32 MB of system memory. The GameCube supports Dolby Pro Logic II.

The PlayStation 2's CPU (known as the “128-bit Emotion Engine”) has a 64-bit double precision core based on MIPS architecture. It includes three separate execution units inside the one processor and each one is capable of executing two instructions per cycle. The PS2's Graphics Synthesizer has fast dedicated video memory, though it is limited in the amount of data it can hold. Consequently, many of the PS2's games have reduced textures compared with versions for other consoles. It also does not have a transform and lighting unit like the ones found in the Xbox and GameCube GPUs.

The Dreamcast has a 64-bit double-precision superscalar SuperH-4 RISC MPU core with a 32-bit integer unit using 16-bit fixed-length instructions, a 64-bit data bus allowing a variable width of either 8, 16, 32 or 64-bits, and a 128-bit floating-point unit.The PowerVR 2DC CLX2 chipset uses a unique method of rendering a 3D scene called Tile Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR): While storing polygons in triangle strip format in memory, the display is split into tiles associated with a list of visibly overlapping triangles onto which, using a process similar to ray tracing, rays are cast and a pixel is rendered from the triangle closest to the camera. After calculating the depths associated with each polygon for one tile row in 1 cycle, the whole tile is flushed to video memory before passing on to render the next tile. Once all information has been collated for the current frame, the tiles are rendered in turn to produce the final image.


Name Dreamcast PlayStation 2 Nintendo GameCube Xbox
Launch prices US$ 199.99
UK£ 119.99
€ 144.99

US$ 299.99
UK£ 299.99
€ 214.99
(now US$ 99.99, UK£ 49.99, € 97.90,Rp 1.200.000)

US$ 199.99
UK£ 129.99
€ 144.99
(now approx.

US$ 29.99, UK£ 29.99, € 34.99, Rp 499.000)

US$ 299.99
UK£ 299.99
€ 214.99
(now approx.

US$ 49.99 ,Rp 858.000)

Best-selling game Sonic Adventure, 2.5 million (as of June 2006) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, 12 million shipped (as of April 30, 2008) Super Smash Bros. Melee, 7.09 million (as of March 10, 2008) Halo 2, 8 million (as of May 9, 2006)
Release date
Accessories (retail)
  • Visual Memory Unit
  • Dreamcast mouse and keyboard
  • Fishing Rod
  • Microphone
  • Light Gun
  • Dreameye camera
  • Samba de Amigo Maracas (controller)
  • More...
  • Xbox Live Starter Kit
  • Xbox Media Center Extender
  • DVD Playback Kit
  • Xbox Music Mixer
  • Memory Unit (8 MB)
  • Logitech Wireless Controller (2.4 GHz)
  • More...
CPU 200 MHz SuperH SH-4 294 MHz MIPS "Emotion Engine" 485 MHz PowerPC "Gekko" 733 MHz X86 Intel Celeron/PIII Custom Hybrid
GPU 100 MHz NEC/VideoLogic PowerVR CLX2 147 MHz "Graphics Synthesizer" 162 MHz ATI "Flipper" 233 MHz Custom Nvidia NV2A
Video RAM 8 MB
Sound RAM 2 MB

Video RAM 4 MB
Main RAM 24 MB 1T-SRAM
Video RAM 3 MB embedded 1T-SRAM

64 MB unified DDR SDRAM
Online service Dreamarena, GameSpy, SegaNet Non-unified service Sega, Lan play, Emulation-online adapter required Xbox Live
Backward compatibility None PlayStation GB, GBC, and GBA

(using Game Boy Player)
System software SegaOS, Microsoft Windows CE, KallistiOS proprietary OS, HD Loader, Linux

DVD Playback Kit
proprietary OS, startup disc for Game Boy Player Xbox Music Mixer

DVD Playback Kit, Xbox Linux
Consumer programmability Homebrew possible via KallistiOS, Windows CE, Katana (the latter two are illegal) Yabasic software and limited linux OS Homebrew possible via hack Via Softmods and/or modchips; Modified Windows XP, Windows 9x Windows CE 2.x, Windows MCE Server Wndows Vist 6.0., Linux

Worldwide sales standings

Console Units sold
PlayStation 2 140 million (as of July 15, 2008)
Xbox 24 million (as of May 10, 2006)
GameCube 21.74 million (as of March 31, 2008)
Dreamcast 10.6 million (as of September 6, 2005)

Handheld systems

During the sixth generation era, the handheld game console market expanded with the introduction of new devices from many different manufacturers. Nintendo maintained its dominant share of the handheld market with the release in 2001 of the Game Boy Advance, which featured many upgrades and new features over the Game Boy. Two redesigns of this system followed. The first, the Game Boy Advance SP in 2003 and the second, the Game Boy Micro in 2005. Also introduced was the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1998 and Bandai's WonderSwan Color launched in Japanmarker in 1999. South Korean company Game Park introduced its GP32 handheld in 2001, and with it came the dawn of open source handheld consoles. The Game Boy Advance line of handhelds has sold 80.48 million units worldwide as of September 30, 2007.

A major new addition to the market was the trend for corporations to include a large number of "non-gaming" features into their handheld consoles. Everything from cell phone, MP3 players, portable movie players, to PDA-like features began to appear on a regular basis during this generation. The first of these was Nokia's N-Gage, which was released in 2003 and doubled primarily as a mobile phone. It subsequently went through a redesign in 2004 and was renamed the N-Gage QD. A second handheld, the Zodiac from Tapwave was released in 2004 and was based on the Palm OS offering specialized gaming-oriented video and sound capabilities, but it had an unwieldy development kit due to the underlying PalmOS foundation.

With more and more PDAs arriving during the previous generation, the difference between consumer electronics and traditional computing began to blur and cheap console technology grew as a result. It was said of PDAs that they are "the computers of handheld gaming" because of their multi-purpose capabilities and the increasingly powerful computer hardware that resided within them. This capability existed to move gaming beyond the last generation's 16-bit limitations; however, PDAs were still geared towards the typical businessman, and lacked new, affordable software franchises to compete with dedicated handheld gaming consoles.

Console Units sold
Game Boy Advance

(figure includes GBA SP and Game Boy Micro)
81.36 million
Game Boy Advance SP 43.49 million
N-Gage 3 million
Game Boy Micro 2.5 million
Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color 2 million
Tapwave Zodiac less than 200,000 units
Image:Neo geo pocket color.png|Neo Geo Pocket Color
Released in 1999
Image:Swan crystal.jpg|SwanCrystal
Released in 2002
Image:Gba.jpg|Game Boy Advance
Released in 2001

Released in 2001Image:Tapwave_Zodiac2_640.jpg|Tapwave Zodiac
Released in 2003
Image:Nokia N-Gage.png|Nokia N-Gage
Released in 2003
Image:Game Boy Advance SP.jpg|Game Boy Advance SP
Released in 2003
Image:NgageQD.jpg|Nokia N-Gage QD
Released in 2004
Image:GBmicrofront.JPG|Game Boy Micro
Released in 2005


Market convergence

Major publishers such as Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft adopted a cross-platform strategy, releasing versions of their games for PC, all major consoles, and in some cases, handhelds as well. The sixth generation was the first to help console and computer software grow closer together as well as outperform the arcade market in features, graphics and business. The Dreamcast, which had an official Windows CE Development Kit to help porting games from PC's to Dreamcast and the Xbox, which was made from off the shelf PC parts and hosted many PC ports, factored into this also.

Controversial games

This generation was noted to have extensive criticism by public figures of "objectionable" content in gaming such as sex, crime, violence, profanity, drug use, and social propaganda as well as topics of debate such as religion, politics, feminism, and economics; however, this generation was not the first to have its share of controversial games and many other examples of controversy extend much farther back into gaming history with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Mortal Kombat, and Night Trap. The earliest occurrences of such public outcry date as far back as the 1970s, with perceived violent or explicit games such as Death Race and Custer's Revenge.

The sixth generation was also notable because it saw the continuation of lawmakers taking actions against the video game industry. The most famous were the Grand Theft Auto games with Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City facing lawsuits over alleged racial slurs and influencing minors to commit crimes, while Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was briefly given an adult rating and banned from stores over the availability of an abandoned sex mini-game using the Hot Coffee mod.

The sixth generation also coincided with September 11 attacks in New York Citymarker and The Pentagonmarker, which had a huge impact on the entertainment industry as well as the video game industry; in the subsequent market climate many games were edited in response to the sensitivity surrounding the event. Most notable was Metal Gear Solid 2, which prior to its release depicted the culminating scene having , a submersible mobile fortress hijacked by terrorists destroying a good portion of Manhattanmarker in view of the twin towers themselves (this can be found in the "document of metal gear solid 2" making of) . Similarly, several undisclosed modifications were made in Grand Theft Auto III, most notably the change of the police cars' color scheme (the old scheme resembled that of NYPD's older blue and white design). The Dreamcast game Propeller Arena was never officially released, the main reason probably being that a certain level was visually very similar to the September 11 attacks.

Emulation and retro gaming

Due to the increased computing power of video game consoles and the widespread usage of emulators, the sixth generation saw the rise of console emulation and retro gaming on a vast scale. Many games for older systems were updated with superior graphics or sound and re-released for current consoles. Commonly emulated games included those released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Mega Drive/Genesis, the PlayStation (the PS2 could play PS1 game CDs), and the Nintendo 64.

Also during this generation, the computing power of hand-held consoles became capable of supporting games made for some of the earliest gaming consoles and several companies released remakes of classic games for the hand-helds. Nintendo introduced a line of NES and SNES games for its Game Boy Advance handheld, including Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls and Nintendo's Metroid: Zero Mission. Also, an increasing number of third-party developer, including Midway Games, Capcom, Namco, Atari, and Sega, released anthology collections of some of their old games. Additionally, many video games and video game series that were originally confined to Japan were released in North America and Europe for the first time.

Rise of online gaming

Online gaming, which in previous generations had been the exclusive domain of PC games, became more prominent in video game consoles during this generation. The Dreamcast initiated this change with its built in modem, internet browsing software, and ability to play certain games online. The PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube also offered online gaming, though their approaches and commitment to it varied greatly. The Xbox offered an integrated service called Xbox Live that cost $50 per year and was only compatible with a broadband internet connection. Its ability to connect gamers for online multi-player matches was a considerable factor in allowing the Xbox to gain a foothold in the western market, especially in the first-person shooter genre. The PlayStation 2 left its online gaming service up to each individual game publisher, and though it was free to use, it was not always an ideal experience, especially with games published by small developers. The SOCOM series was one of the most popular online competitive games for the PS2. The GameCube did not offer online play for any of its first-party titles, with only Sega's Phantasy Star Online series making use of the console's online capabilities. In addition, online capability was not out-of-the-box; an adapter was needed to hook the console to the internet.


Many game publishing companies with a long established history merged with their competitors: Microsoft bought second-party developer Rarewaremarker in 2002; Square Soft merged with Enix to form Square Enix in 2003 and then later bought Taito; Sega merged with Sammy to form Sega Sammy Holdings in 2004; Konami bought a majority share of Hudson Soft; Namco merged with Bandai to form Namco Bandai Holdings in 2006.


Image:Atari Flashback.jpg|Atari Flashback (Atari)



Milestone titles

  • Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC popularized "sandbox" style gameplay in an urban crime setting, which has since been widely imitated. In addition, it brought violence and other potentially objectionable content in video games back into the mainstream spotlight, thus reviving the video game controversy.
  • Resident Evil 4 revamped the franchise in a new, more action-oriented direction. The decision to port the former GameCube exclusive to the PS2 was met with some controversy. It remains one of the highest rated games of the generation. The over-the-shoulder camera view influenced some 7th generation games such as Gears of War.
  • Shenmue for the Dreamcast went down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive video game ever produced to date (US$70,000,000). Produced by Sega's AM2 division, this game helped set the graphics standards of its time. In the 7th generation, Grand Theft Auto IV would overtake this with a 100 million dollar budget.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved was by far the most successful launch title for the Xbox. Its sequel, Halo 2, set records as the fastest grossing release in entertainment history and still is a very successful killer app for the Xbox Live online gaming service. Halo 2's sales record was broken by the last game of the trilogy, Halo 3.
  • Metroid Prime remains one of the Nintendo GameCube's highest rated titles, as well as an outstanding example of how cooperation between Nintendo and a second-party studio revived a franchise that not only was missing for a long period of time, but had even lost its creator- Gunpei Yokoi who died from injuries from a hit-and-run accident in 1997. Also, with numerous Game Of The Years and high ratings, Metroid Prime seems to be the highest rated game in the sixth generation.
  • Soulcalibur for the Dreamcast is widely considered one of the greatest fighting games of all time, and is the first game of its genre, on any platform, to have ever received a perfect 10.0 rating from IGN and GameSpot and also a perfect 40/40 (second of only nine games) by Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series was a landmark collaboration between Square Enix and The Walt Disney Company that has shipped over 8.5 million units worldwide.


Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address