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Which Gaming Console Are Gen Z & Millennials Flocking to Buy This Season?

The console wars are in full swing, with new Xbox and PlayStations sold out everywhere—but how many young consumers are actually planning to buy one, and which is winning out? YPulse data shows the real story…


This holiday season, a great tradition has returned: the great gaming console wars are back on. In November, Microsoft launched a brand new Xbox Series XIS, and Sony released the PlayStation 5, continuing a decades long rivalry for young consumers’ attention and wallets. Adding to the drama of it all: the consoles are nearly impossible to find, with websites crashing under demand and both Xbox and PlayStation sold out everywhere. And sales numbers are perhaps just as hard to come across. While many are clamoring to find out who will, as BBC puts it, “win the next-gen console race,” Xbox has refused to disclose just how many units they sell.

Of course, 2020 has already been a major year for gaming, with lockdown spurring the popularity of new games and creating a boom for the industry—and record sales for major players like Nintendo. Gen Z and Millennials have been fueling the success, as they hunker down to play the latest versions of their favorite games during a year of lockdowns and become increasingly devoted to gaming. In fact, YPulse’s just-released gaming report found that weekly gaming has increased across mobile, computer, and consoles in the last two years among 13-39-year-olds, and over half now report playing on a console every week.

With gaming more of a focus than ever, the release of the new consoles has been highly anticipated—and we took the opportunity to find out exactly how many young consumers plan on buying one, and which they’re itching to put in their carts. We found that over half of young consumer overall plan to buy a new console for themselves or for someone else, with only 45% of 13-39-year-olds saying they don’t plan to buy one. According to our data, Millennials are driving the console rush:

A full 59% of Millennials told us they are planning to buy a new gaming console in the coming months, or that they had already bought one. We asked this question in the beginning of November, so at this point the number who have been able to purchase one has undoubtedly increased. Why are Millennials more likely than Gen Z to be flocking to get a new console? Well, one major reason could be that many Millennials have their own kids. In fact, 70% Millennial parents reported that they will be buying or have bought a console, far more than their non-parent peers.

But of course there aren’t just generational differences between interest in console. YPulse’s gaming research shows that a growing number of young females consider themselves gamers, and their gaming frequency has been increasing more rapidly than males. But they are more likely to be gaming on mobile than using consoles, and we also found that they’re far less likely to have plans to buy a new console this season:

This data not only shows that males are more likely than females to be buying a new console in the coming months, but that an astounding 66% of young males planned to buy one. It’s a major number. But considering we found that 68% of young males report gaming on a console weekly, and 78% consider themselves gamers, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.

But which of the new consoles do these young gamers be snatching up? We asked those who plan to buy or have purchased which they have or will be bringing home:

Overall, 64% of young consumers told us they planned to buy or had bought a PlayStation, versus 40% who bought or planned to buy an Xbox, and 29% who bought or planned to buy a Nintendo. When we compare Gen Z and Millennials’ console preferences, Millennials are slightly more likely to have plans to buy a PlayStation.

But we see more differences in console affinity when we look at males and females:

While males and females who plan to buy or have bought a console this season are equally likely to have chosen Xbox, males are more likely to prefer PlayStation, while females are more likely to choose Nintendo, which is clearly still a hot commodity after a gangbuster year for the Switch and Animal Crossing.

But clearly overall PlayStation is winning the console wars this season. Though not all who plan to buy a console will get one, we can see that young consumers are far more likely to have their eye on a PS5. Though let’s be honest, both brands will be having a merry holiday.