A topic I have long been interested in is how it is decided which platforms a game is released on. It costs time and money to port a game, or to develop for multiple platforms at once, and this must be balanced against expected sales. How well a game “fits” a system, how active a playerbase for a system is, how technically difficult it may be to port a game, the money to be earned from exclusivity deals, and more must go in to these calculations.
I have gathered data on what systems every game for 6th generation consoles (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox) was released on. This does not take region into account, a game could have released in a single country. This data, the naming conventions of systems, and the decisions of what counts as a distinct game come from MobyGames, with some exceptions. For example, MobyGames considers Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube to be exclusive and different than the Resident Evil 4 released on 9 other platforms. I have combined game entries in a few cases where it made sense to me, including counting a game if it is included in a compilation. MobyGames also seems to consider ports to handhelds to be the same game, even if there are fairly significant changes, such as Guilty Gear X for the Game Boy Advance. I have kept these as they are.
The list of games were all released on at least one of the 6th generation home consoles, a total of 4,073 games, and 32 systems are included in the study. There were a couple more systems that these games appeared on which I decided not to keep track of. These platforms either only had a handful of games, or the lines between them and another system were too blurred. The exclusion list includes Super Nintendo, WonderSwan Color, PalmOS, tvOS, FireOS, BREW, J2ME, DoJa, Windows Phone, Gloud, PlayStation Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Blacknut, and dedicated plug and play consoles.
Windows, Macintosh, and Linux were combined into a “Personal Computer” system, as well as iPhone and iPad into “iOS”.
All 6th Generation Console Games
Systems are listed chronologically by earliest release date. After PlayStation 5 are some miscellaneous systems, then games only released on the four systems this study is about, and lastly games only released on a single platform. I don’t believe there were any cases where a game released on one of the 4 and also other systems not included in the study.
Of the 4,073 games included in this study, most released on what was by far the biggest seller, the PlayStation 2, while the short lived Dreamcast got much less support. The Xbox’s somewhat PC-like nature surely helped give it a solid lead over the Gamecube in number of titles despite their close overall sales numbers. The Gamecube has even been overtaken by PCs in the years since, as games have trickled in for many years.
What surprised me the most was just how many games have remained stranded among these four consoles. It’s also amazing that 42% of these games were made for one system and have remained that way for the 15-20ish years since. System exclusivity went down dramatically after the 6th generation.
This venn diagram shows how many games each system and every combination of systems had.
Those four games that were released on each of the four systems were Puyo Puyo Fever, NBA 2K2, Castle Shikigami 2, and Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium.
Ports of Each System
As the first of the 6th generation systems it’s not too surprising the Dreamcast has a comparably larger number of games from the 5th. It also has the largest overlap with arcade games, as Sega still had a very active arcade presence at the time and those games came to the Dreamcast in droves.
I can’t tell you why, but the Dreamcast also has the largest percent of its games also release on the handheld systems, minus the DS and 3DS.
The PlayStation 2’s huge library had the largest percent of games never ported to another system and the smallest percent of games that made their way to the PC.
The Gamecube’s distinction is having the largest percent of its games also release on its three competitor’s systems. It also has the smallest percent of its games come out for mobile devices in the future.
The Xbox has the fewest true exclusives among this group and the most PC ports. It also received ports of games from previous generations the least.
Among the systems included in this study Metal Slug 3 appeared on the most, at 14. There was also Garou: Mark of the Wolves (13), The King of Fighters 2002: Challenge to Ultimate Battle (12), Rayman 2: The Great Escape (11), and Metal Slug 5 (11). Mostly SNK arcade games.
The average number of systems a game appeared on was 2.18, while the most common number of systems was 1.
MobyGames for game data.
Venny for the venn diagram template