Fifth Generation Consolesthe History Of Video Games


The first generation Sony PlayStation was a fifth generation console that marked the electronic giant's third attempt at entering the gaming market. From its initial drop in Japan during Christmas of 1994 and only one year later, in 1995, over a million units had been sold. The fifth-generation era (also known as the 32-bit era, the 64-bit era, or the 3D era) refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 4, 1993 to March 23, 2006.

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Fifth Generation: 1989–1995

The fifth generation of home video game systems featured 16-bit processors, more detailed graphics, and more imaginative games. This generation was dominated by Nintendo and Sega.

NEC TurboGrafx-16

Videogaming's fifth generation was ushered in by the 1989 American release of NEC's TurboGrafx-16. (The system was launched in Japan in 1988 as the PC Engine.) Although the TurboGrafx-16 was advertised as a 16-bit system, it actually used an 8-bit microprocessor, assisted by a 16-bit graphics chip and 64K RAM; it was notable as the first game console to have a CD player attachment. Unfortunately, a lack of games doomed the TurboGrafx-16 in the marketplace, and it was discontinued within four years of its initial release.

Sega Genesis

More formidable was the Sega Genesis game system (sold as the Mega Drive in Japan). Released to the U.S. market in 1989, Genesis was the first true 16-bit game system, using a Motorola 68000 microprocessor. Genesis was priced at $199 and ran excellent translations of Sega arcade hits; sales received a significant boost with the 1991 release of the Sonic the Hedgehoggame.


In 1989, third-party software developer SNK released a programmable video game system for arcades, dubbed the MVS (Multi-Video System). SNK ported this system to the home in 1990 as the NEO GEO system. The NEO GEO used both 16-bit and 8-bit microprocessors. Unfortunately, the high price of both the console ($650) and the game cartridges ($200) doomed the NEO GEO to an early death.

Nintendo Super NES

To compete with the Sega Genesis, Nintendo launched its own 16-bit system in 1991. The Super NES(known as the Super Famicon in Japan) sold for $199 and included the Super Mario World cartridge. The initial U.S. production run of 300,000 units sold out overnight; over the course of its product life, more than 46 million Super NES units were sold worldwide.

Philips CDi

In 1991, Philips (who, along with Sony, co-developed the then-emerging compact disc format) decided to leverage its compact disc technology into a 'multimedia' system capable of playing audio CDs, CDi and CD+G software discs, VCD video CDs, and Karaoke CDs. This multiformat machine confused the public, so in 1992, Phillips relaunched the CDi as a 16-bit video game console. This iteration was also unsuccessful because of the console's high price and lack of quality games.


Another early CD-based video game system was the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. This system was unique because Trip Hawkins's 3DO company licensed the technology to other companies to create consoles and games; the first 3DO console was released by Panasonic in 1993, with Goldstar releasing a similar unit soon afterward. 3DO was the first 32-bit system released in the United States; it sold for $699. Despite the system's stunning graphics, the high price ensured its status as a niche system. The 3DO system was removed from the market in 1996.

Atari Jaguar

In December 1993, a full six years since the release of its last game console, Atari attempted to re-enter the fray by releasing a 64-bit video game system. The CD-ROM-based Atari Jaguar promised to be a revolutionary machine but was hampered by a lack of game cartridges and practically nonexistent marketing. In 1996, Atari officially killed the Jaguar—and dropped out of the video game market altogether—when it merged with JTS, a manufacturer of computer hard drives.

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Fifth Generation Consolesthe History Of Video Games On

The Fifth generation of video game hardware (1993-2005) expanded the home console market. With early CD technology, many companies made their own consoles such as Panasonic's 3DO Interactive Multiplayer in North America, Commodore's Amiga CD32 in Europe and NEC's PC-FX. Unfortunately these consoles failed due the lack of third party developers. Learning from mistakes of previous games and using the technology they worked on from the canceled SNES CD add on, Sony released the PlayStation. SEGA's SEGA Saturn was planned to be released in late 1995, but SEGA moved the Saturn's release date to early 1995 to get it released before the PlayStation. Many developers were upset by SEGA's decision, since they didn't have the time to develop games. The SEGA Saturn had poor marketing in North America, but did well in Japan. One year later, Nintendo released their Nintendo 64, which used cartridges, even though CDs were available at the time. The PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were the main competition up to 2000. This time in video game history also introduced the 'hardcore' audience into gaming. Many notable events happened in this Generation; Sony entered the console market and 3 dimensional games became a reality.

  • 1Sales

Sales[editedit source]

Part of a series on:
History of video games
  • Fifth generation (1993–2005)

Worldwide[editedit source]

ConsoleUnits sold
PlayStation102.49 million shipped
(74.34 million PlayStation, 28.15 million PSone)
(as of March 31, 2005)[1]
Nintendo 6432.93 million (as of March 31, 2005)[2]
SEGA Saturn17 million (as of 1998)[3]
3DO2 million (as of May 4, 2007)[4]
PC-FX290,000 (as of 1997)[5]
Jaguar250,000 (as of May 15, 2007)[6]
Amiga CD32100,000
FM Towns Marty45,000 (as of December 31, 1993)
Apple Bandai Pippin42,000 (as of May 4, 2007)[7]

Fifth Generation Consolesthe History Of Video Games Online

Japan[editedit source]

FM Towns
PlayStationPC-FXNintendo 64
365,8002,000840,000 [9]300,000 [8]70,000

References[editedit source]

Fifth Generation Consolesthe History Of Video Games To Play

  1. 1.01.1PlayStation Cumulative Production Shipments of Hardware. Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24 Retrieved on 2008-03-22
  2. 05 Nintendo Annual Report - Nintendo Co., Ltd. (PDF). Nintendo Co., Ltd. (2005-05-26). Retrieved on 2007-11-25
  3. Evans, David S.; Hagiu, Andrei; Schmalensee, Richard (2006). Invisible engines: how software platforms drive innovation and transform industries ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press. p. 131. ISBN0262050854. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5Wx6-uv-DSkC&pg=PA131. Retrieved 31 January 2012. (with reference to Table 2: Worldwide Video Game Console Annual Shipment History - 1989-1998. Video Game Consoles: Sony, Nintendo and SEGA Brace for Microsoft Challenge. In-Stat (NPD Group) (December 2000). Archived from the original on 2001-05-01 Retrieved on 31 January 2012)
  4. Blake Snow (2007-05-04). The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time. GamePro.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05 Retrieved on 2007-11-25
  6. Greg Orlando (2007-05-15). Console Portraits: A 40-Year Pictorial History of Gaming. Wired News. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved on 2008-03-23
  7. Blake Snow (2007-05-04). The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time. GamePro.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05 Retrieved on 2007-11-25
  8. 8.08.1Edge, April 1995, page 10
  9. Saturn sales in Japan:
  10. Annual (FY) Japanese Home Console Hardware Shipments, Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei)
  11. Mega, issue 23, August 1994
  12. 12.012.1PlayStation Cumulative Production Shipments of Hardware. Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Archived from the original on 2011-05-24 Retrieved on 2008-03-22. Note: These Japan sales figures include shipments to other Asian countries.
  13. Sales Transition by Region (PDF). Nintendo (2012-10-23). Archived from the original on 2012-11-12 Retrieved on 2012-10-24
  14. PlayStation sales in Asia by end of 2001: 19.07 million
    • Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore: 3.815 million
    • Japan: 15.255 million
v·d·eFifth-Generation Hardware
Arcade Cabinets·Arcade Consoles·Augmented Reality·Dedicated Consoles·Handheld Consoles·Home Computers·Home Consoles·Microcomputers·Microconsoles·Personal Computers & Laptops·Single-Board Computers·Smart TVs·Smartphones·Tablets·Virtual Reality
Game Boy Color·Nintendo 64 [64DD] ·Virtual Boy
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Video game hardware generations
First (1972-80)·Second (1976-92)·Third (1983-2003)·Fourth (1987-2003)·Fifth (1993-2005)·Sixth (1998-2013)·Seventh (2005-19)·Eighth (2012-)·Ninth (2020-)

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