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The Gaming Consoles Gen Z and Millennials Are Buying This Holiday Season

Whether gifting it to themselves or others, this is how many Gen Z and Millennials are buying new gaming consoles for the holidays…

TL;DR

  • Half of young consumers are planning to buy or have already bought a new gaming console
  • Millennials and Millennial parents are most likely to be making these big purchases this holiday season
  • Playstation is young peoples’ favorite gaming console, and naturally the one most are planning to purchase

YPulse’s newest Gaming report data shows 95% of Gen Z and Millennials play video games, and 80% do so on video game consoles. And the holidays are an especially popular time of year for young people to buy a new one (for others or themselves). But since the top consoles will run them a heavy price tag during an already expensive year, some may wonder if their shopping plans are looking slightly different.  

Console gamers may be a dedicated bunch—YPulse data shows 54% of video game players play on console weekly or more often, for an average of 7 hours a week—but that doesn’t exempt them from price strains or industry issues. In fact, the gaming industry at large has seen massive profit shifts as gamers get out of house with thanks to fewer COVID restrictions, and ongoing supply chain issues stunt console production. Combined, these issues feed into changing purchase predictions for the holidays: when YPulse asks all 13-39-year-olds if they’re planning to buy any new gaming consoles in the coming months, there’s some notable differences compared to last year: 

Bar chart showing if 13-39-year-olds plan to buy a gaming console in the coming months, comparing 2021 to 2022

Fewer young people are planning to buy consoles this year

It’s been a stressful year for Gen Z and Millennials financially, which is likely a leading reason that the number planning to buy a new console has gone down slightly from last year. YPulse’s Holiday Shopping Plans data shows their average holiday shopping budgets have dropped significantly—far below the price of a single new console. Young people do, however, have a trend of spending more than planned, as shown by YPulse’s Post Holiday Shopping Review reports.  

That said, one third of young people are still planning to buy one in the coming months, and 19% already have. Whether being launch-day shoppers, or using compiled lists of the best Black Friday deals for the most sought-after consoles to secure one for a (slightly) more budget-friendly price, many gamers are finding ways to get the systems they want.  

Millennials (with their comparatively higher spending power) are more likely to be making the big purchase: 36% of Millennials are planning to buy a new console in the coming months, compared to 26% of Gen Z, and 20% already have, compared to 15% of Gen Z. Millennial parents are even more likely to say they’re going to or already have: 37% are planning to buy versus 30% of non-parents, and 24% have already bought one compared to 16% of non-parents. YPulse data shows that 55% of Millennials parents’ children play on console weekly or more often, and 52% of parents themselves do. 

Some consoles are less likely to be purchased than they were this time last year  

Among the popular consoles, Gen Z and Millennials again have a clear favorite: Playstation. Roughly half (49%) of console gamers tell YPulse they play on Playstation, compared to 34% who play Xbox and 11% who play Nintendo. So, when we ask gamers who have bought or are planning to buy a console which one they’re going for, it’s clear which comes out on top: 

Bar graph showing which gaming consoles 13-39-year-olds are planning to buy, comparing 2021 to 2022

Playstation remains the top console young people are buying, with more than 60% making it their pick. In comparison, 37% say they’ve bought or are planning to buy an Xbox this season, and 27% say so for Nintendo consoles. According to YPulse’s Brand Ranking data (available to Pro users), Playstation and Playstation 5 are Gen Z and Millennials’ top gaming brands, followed by Xbox and Nintendo.  

Xbox is down a significant –12pts on planned or made purchases this year, but there’s a few reasons this might be. To start, supply chain issues have continued to cause delays in gaming tech: “Xbox head Phil Spencer remarked that consumers shopping for the Xbox Series X this holiday season may have trouble finding the elusive console at retailers,” meaning some could still be waiting on their desired console. On top of that, several major game studios have pushed Xbox releases to 2023, potentially making console ownership a back burner priority. Of course, not releasing a new console for the holiday season could also contribute to the decline. The good news for Xbox is their subscription gaming pass’ success—but it’s also available for the huge number of PC gamers, marking another potential setback on holiday console sales.  

There’s an interesting difference in young male and female gamers’ preferred consoles, too: while Playstation comes out on top for both, 65% of young males say they’re planning to buy one / already have, compared to 56% of young females. And Nintendo is a more popular choice for young females; when it comes to what they’re buying or have bought, 37% of young females go with Nintendo, compared to 21% of young males—which makes sense given 18% say they play Nintendo consoles compared to only 7% of young males.