Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Mega Drive sales figures - an update


There has been further research conducted into the Mega Drive's total sales figures within the Sega community, but this time more in-depth. This brings us closer to solving the dispute among retro gamers as to which console really did sell the most during the 16-bit console war.

Here is a list of sales figures compiled so far, including sources:
This brings the total sold worldwide to around 39.7 million. The most widely-quoted figure of 29 million total units sold must therefore be inaccurate, as this new figure has been compiled from various sources rather than just one.

What the compiled figures do show is that the Mega Drive was the best-selling unit in the Americas. Nintendo's official sales figures quote that 23.35 million SNESs were sold in total, compared to the Mega Drive's 25 million.

The Mega Drive sold more than the SNES in "other regions" as well, which includes Europe - compare Sega's 10.4 million to Nintendo's 8.58 million.

These figures do miss out on one thing, however - there are no solid sales figures for the many variations of Mega Drives, such as the Wondermega and Multi-Mega. One website mentions that in North America 10,000 JVC X'Eyes may have been sold along with 5,000 CDXs.

If we take all of the figures gathered so far, we can safely assume that the Mega Drive sold almost 40 million units worldwide, a much more accurate figure than the previously assumed 29 million. We can also say that the Mega Drive outsold the SNES in the Western hemisphere.

It seems that Nintendo's huge sales of the SNES in Japan (17.7 million) have led to the general assumption that the Mega Drive was "beaten" everywhere, when in fact Japan was the only major market where this occurred. Japan's figures gave the total SNES sales a huge 49.1 million, compared to Sega's 39.7 million.

Aside from these sales figures, the community found some software and hardware revenue figures from Sega and Nintendo:
Sega - US Hardware and Software Revenue in millions of dollars (including Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and Sega 32X, not including Sega Nomad, Sega CDX, JVC X'Eye, the Genesis 3 or software sold by Majesco in 1997-1999)

1989 - $182
1990 - $280
1991 - $586
1992 - $1,151
1993 - $1,938
1994 - $1,812 (End of 16-bit era Total: $5,949)
1995 - $812
1996 - $294
1997 - $180
Total - $7,235

vs.

Super NES - US Hardware & Software Revenue in millions of dollars

1991 - $560
1992 - $1,733
1993 - $1,890
1994 - $1,471 (End of 16-bit era Total: $5,654)
1995 - $823
1996 - $514
1997 - $243 (End of Sega Total: $7,234)
1998 - $137
1999 - $20
Total - $7,391
This shows that Sega was ahead (revenue-wise) of Nintendo from 1994, with Sega's cheaper hardware and software suggesting more units were sold. If we take into account Sega's hardware and software not included on the list then surely they made more revenue in total?

I will update the figures when more sources have been found. All this effort put in from the community shows that for many of us, the 16-bit war will rage for all eternity!

EDIT 28/12/09: I have updated the figures with new information, mainly for Europe and Japan.
02/01/10: Here is another source for the Mega Drive sales figures. [Unreliable chart removed.]
08/07/10: Here is a chart from the May 1995 issue of Man!ac Magazine showing console sales of 29 million at the fiscal end of 1994.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quite a pointless exercise IMO.
The problem is that Sega had never released official figure on their site for their consoles while Nintendo had a comprensive list of historic sale datas on their ( japanese ) site.

For example there are two source in 1999 that declare 2 different figure for Genesis's total sales in North America and the difference is really big ( 14 M vs 19 M ).

MikeMK4 said...

Actually, the 14 Million NA sales quote, as well as the 29 Million world wide sales quote both come from the same 1995 source.

The 19 Million number is what comes from 1999.

I know it's easy to confuse the two, seeing as they're talked about on the same website, but the different sources are noted.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!

Please update the proper pages on wikipedia =)

Start here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_%28fourth_generation%29

They say there "29 M", and this blasphemous figure must be corrected.

Anonymous said...

The 14 million figure I was talking about come from the 1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide.
( you can read it for yourself thanks to Retromags )

Again the main problem is that Sega Enterprise never stated what was the Genny LTD.

Anonymous said...

Ops I didn't see the update before I posted.
Is the Sega of Japan Press Release 97 available online ?
If yes could you give the link.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a lot of prestidigitaion on a Sega fanboy's part to pump the Genesis after the fact. For instance, I don't know how you could possibly count the Nomad in the Genesis sales figures. It's a completely different product. I've never seen anyone count the Turbo Express in together with the Turbo Grafx 16, or the Game Gear with the Sega Master System.

I would trust the 29 million figure I saw in a recent Gamepro article more than I would some Sega fan who wants to retroactively award a Genesis sales victory over SNES.

Master said...

@ Anon2

The SEGA Genesis won this war, whether you like it or not.

You see when SEGA discontinued the Genesis worldwide in 96 while it was still in the lead. Nintendo however, continued manufacturing the SNES in certain parts of the world up until 2002.

Time on market for Genesis - 80 months
Time on market for SNES -165 months

The reality is Genesis and SNES are very close in overall sales, and if we just count the first 80 months of both system SEGA did in fact win.

Master said...

@ Anon2

The SEGA Genesis won this war, whether you like it or not.

You see when SEGA discontinued the Genesis worldwide in 96 while it was still in the lead. Nintendo however, continued manufacturing the SNES in certain parts of the world up until 2002.

Time on market for Genesis - 80 months
Time on market for SNES -165 months

The reality is Genesis and SNES are very close in overall sales, and if we just count the first 80 months of both system SEGA did in fact win.

Natasha said...

A lot of fighting on here...and all by "Anonymouse" like people can't make up names??

How do we know it's the same guy coming back over and over again?

I have a 1994 magazine scan stating the 14 million US number.

I don't know when it will be uploaded, as I have no website.

Anonymous said...

@ Master

SNES sold the most, thus it won. There is no alternate reality in which Sega didn't drop support (though it should be noted that it never ceased production in Brazil), though even if there was I doubt it would've changed much.

"I would trust the 29 million figure I saw in a recent Gamepro article more than I would some Sega fan who wants to retroactively award a Genesis sales victory over SNES."

Also this. Apparently some wounds never heal.

Anonymous said...

"You see when SEGA discontinued the Genesis worldwide in 96 while it was still in the lead. Nintendo however, continued manufacturing the SNES in certain parts of the world up until 2002."

Did it EVER occur to you that if the Mega Drive sales figures had been so underestimated, then how many additional SNES systems has Nintendo sold up until 2003? You just pretty muched confessed that in your post.

Most sources contain sales figures from around 1998 or so, which say Nintendo sold around 50 million SNES's.

I can't believe how butthurt some Genesis fanboys still are. Nintendo won, get over it already

Moose said...

LOL, you casual gamers are really just clueless. The figures which say SNES sold near 50 million are from Nintendo themselves, if they didn't reveal the entire figures up until 2002 then that's on them, especially considering the data comes from a 2010 PDF.

Investigate your arguments next time, sorry.

Natasha said...

Who said Nintendo didn't sell 49.10 million SNES'?????

I see the blog says 49.10, and I see the comments say "around 50 million" so, what is your deal Moose?

23.35 million Super Nintendo's is in reference to North and South America sales numbers.

Just as 25 million (which is still the total N&S America number listed on Wikipedia) is in reference to the Genesis.

No one's saying Super NES didn't win the war.

49 million SNES vs 40 million Sega is still SNES wins.

Super NES fanboys, grow up.
Sega Genesis fanboys, grow up too.

Learn to read with a neutral point of view, and don't get mad when people say "oh btw, Genesis didn't suck." It doesn't translate to "The SNES sucked."
No one implied or said that.

That's how paranoid Nintendo fans are.

Regarding the gamepro article, there's also these 1994 numbers.
http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/9849/mdsalesuntilendof1994sc.jpg
Well lookie at that, 1994 and 14 million...wow.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I always thought SNES eventually won in North America, with 23.35 million SNES consoles against about 20 million Genesis consoles?

That would, IMO, bring the total worldwide to around 35 million Geneses sold. I do agree that 29 million seems too low, though.

Arnold said...

In fact, Genesis won in the US market. And won because it had the best games. It was not easy for SEGA because in the 8-bit era the third-party developers were required to sign a contract by Nintendo that would obligate these parties to develop exclusively for the NES. People in US want to see games like Super Mario, Zelda, Castenvania, Megaman, Contra, Metroid, Final Fantasy and Adventure Island.
US sales figures:
Genesis: 20 million, Sega Genesis 3: 2 million, Sega Nomad: 1 million; without considering Sega CD X and JVC X'eye sales.
Genesis and Nomad are essentially the same hardware. The same is not true for Master System and Game Gear.

John said...

...and yet, the Genesis is still being manufactured to this very day. If this isn't a success, then I don't know what it is. It's a rare case where a product is more successful than the company that released it.

Here, take a look, why don't you buy one?

http://www.tectoy.com.br/produto_interna.php?id=6

Yeah, I'm exaggerating a little, besides the fact that Tectoy's Mega Drive doesn't even feature the actual hardware nor does have a cartridge slot, but it is still marketed as a Mega Drive (and licensed by Sega).

I mean, whatever the numbers are, this still very impressive. If only Sega could maintain such success throughout the generations and it would be king.

lepakking said...

The Mega Drive has slightly better manuals than the rubbishy Sega Master System but it pales to that for the Super Nintendo.

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