When do the generations of game consoles end?

The consoles are divided into 8 generations. Each generation has different characteristics and includes different consoles.

1st generation

The 1st generation started in 1972 and ended in 1977.

The generation included, for example, the Magnavox Odyssey, which was also the beginning of the 1st generation. Plus the Atari Pong.

The games were mostly sports games, such as pong, which was supposed to be a kind of table tennis.

Features of this generation:

  • The games were components of the consoles and were not available as removable media.
  • The playing figures and objects consist of blocks, lines and dots.
  • Very few colors. Mostly just black and white. Sometimes also 3 other simple colors
  • No ROM cartridges, multi-color graphics, and sprite-based graphics.

Well-known games of this generation are:

2nd generation

The 2nd generation began in 1976 and ended in 1992. It was the longest generation.

The Atari 2600 belongs to the generation and was the best known and most popular console in this. The Atari 5200 was one of them.

The 2nd generation still had simple 2D graphics, but the games were much better and sometimes also had a "story".

During this generation the video game market collapsed, but it was won back in the 3rd generation.

Features of this generation:

  • Microprocessor-based game logic
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) was developed and you could play alone against the AI
  • ROM cartridges to store the games
  • Pixelated and simple sprites.
  • Screen resolution of approx. 160x192 pixels
  • More colors (2-16 colors)
  • Up to 3 audio channels

Well-known games of this generation are:

3rd generation

The 3rd generation started in 1983 and ended in 1989. It is also often called the "8-bit era".

One of the best-selling consoles of this generation was the Nintendo Entertainment System.

It still stayed with a 2D graphic, but better than the 2nd generation

Features of this generation:

  • Controller with D-Pad (D-Pad)
  • Playing fields with a slight "scroll effect"
  • Better and more accurate sprites. (up to 16x16 pixels, 16 colors and 64-100 per screen)
  • Enlargement of the sprites up to 32x32 pixels was possible
  • 25-32 colors simultaneously on the screen and color palette of up to 256 colors
  • Screen resolution: 256x240 pixels / 320x200 pixels
  • Up to 5 audio channels

Well-known games of this generation are:

  • Winter Sports
  • The Legend of Zelda

4th generation

The 4th generation started in 1987 and ended in 2003. It is also often called the "16-bit era".

One of the best-selling consoles of this generation was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which is the successor to the NES.

Mainly there was good 2D graphics, but there were also some simple 3D graphics.

Features of this generation:

  • Better 16-bit microprocessors
  • Controller with 3-8 buttons
  • Large sprites (up to 64x64 or 16x512)
  • 64-4096 colors on the screen (color palette of up to 65,536 colors (16-bit)
  • Shadow effect in 3D graphics
  • Stereo audio instead of mono audio
  • Extension of music

Well-known games of this generation are:

5th generation

The 5th generation started in 1993 and ended in 2001. It is known as 32-bit ra, 64-bit ra, and 3D ra.

The best-selling console was the Playstation 1, followed by Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. The Playstation 1 is with 100,000,000 units sold in fourth place of all consoles ever sold.

The consoles were now capable of 3D graphics, which was a big new step. In addition, games now also included video sequences. Now there was also a change from cassettes to CDs.

Features of this generation:

  • 3D graphics with textures
  • CD as storage medium (up to 650 MB)
  • Significantly better audio quality
  • Analog controller
  • Up to approximately 16 million colors
  • 3D graphics functions such as shadows, texture filtering and anti-aliasing

Well-known games of this generation are:

  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Gran Turismo
  • Tomb Raider

6th generation

The 6th generation started in 1998 and ended in 2008. It is known as "128-era".

The Playstation 2, which is the best-selling console with over 155,000,000 units sold, belonged to this generation, as well as the GameCube, the Xbox, and the DreamCast

The consoles of this generation have all been sold very widely, and video game consoles have become a popular topic around the world.

Features of this generation:

  • Improved 3D functionality
  • Many consoles could also play DVDs and music
  • Better resolution (up to 640x480 pixels)

Well-known games of this generation are:

  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Halo 2

7th generation

The 7th generation started in 2005 and has not ended yet.

In this generation, consoles such as the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 were developed, which themselves (as of May 2016) are still very popular.

Almost all functions had online functions via WiFi or internet cable, which meant that you could play with or against other players worldwide. There were also new functions, such as games about movement like the Wii

Features of this generation:

  • Online function
  • Meanwhile very good 3D graphics
  • Consoles can play DVDs, music, and even access the Internet through a browser
  • Resolution up to 1920x1080 (HD)
  • Up to 4 controllers can be connected and used without cables (wireless)

Well-known games of this generation are:

  • Call of Duty (
  • Uncharted
  • Need for speed
  • Grand Theft Auto

8th generation

The 8th generation started in 2012 and has not ended yet.

In this generation, today's so-called "next-gen consoles" came out, including Playstation 4, WiiU, Xbox One

These consoles are the newest out there and have innumerable functions in contrast to the consoles before them. For example, you have 1TB of storage space, very good processors and 8GB of Ram.

Some of the functions are similar to those of a PC, e.g. stream videos, play DVDs and some of the controllers have a "touch screen".

Features of this generation:

  • Very good graphics, resolution and many functions
  • Wireless controller
  • Resolution up to 1920x1080 (HD)

Well-known games of this generation are:

  • Uncharted 4
  • Call of Duty
  • Most of the new games