Since the emergence of the first generation of video game consoles in the early 1970s, the video game industry has not stopped striving toward the future of gaming. Fifty years later, that commitment to nonstop innovation has never been more true. Currently, we reside within the ninth generation. These ninth-generation video game consoles generally include — but are not limited to — the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X, and the Xbox Series S.

But what is it that makes something a ninth-generation console as opposed to, say, seventh or eighth? Moreover, how did we get to where we are today? In order to answer these questions, we must first take a look at the timeline of ninth-generation video game consoles.

Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles: A Timeline

The ninth generation of video game consoles kicked off in 2020 with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S. Their arrival was highly anticipated, especially considering the duration of the eighth generation, which began with the release of the Wii U in 2012. Truthfully, some were looking forward to it not long after settling into the eighth-gen staples — the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

Alas, due to Moore’s law, which states that a dense integrated circuit’s total number of transistors doubles every two years or so, video game fans knew it would be at least five years or more until any substantial rumors emerged. Then something unexpected happened.

Both Sony and Microsoft released mid-generation console redesigns in the form of PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. This had never happened before. A substantial console upgrade taking place outside the parameters of Moore’s law, and before a new generation began? It was previously unheard of.

While it was hard to know for certain at the time, the Pro and the One X hinted at a key component of the ninth generation of video game consoles. The ceiling had finally been reached, and there wasn’t much higher they could possibly go.

The Ninth Generation’s Official Launch

A few years after the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X, the ninth generation of video game consoles emerged from the shadows. As it turned out, the writing had been on the wall since the 4 Pro’s release in 2016. While the newly announced PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S boasted clear improvements to the previous generation’s CPUs, GPUs, and SSDs, owners of PS4 Pros and Xbox One Xs saw little reason to make the big jump from the eighth generation to ninth.

After all, the eighth generation had plenty of games with only a slightly slower performance. Plus, the ninth-gen consoles were nearly impossible to track down. Thanks to supply chain disruptions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S were insanely difficult to get your hands on. Pre-orders were bought up in a flash, and once they officially hit shelves, they were already sold out.

Today, PlayStation 5s and Xbox Series X and Ss are still somewhat difficult to locate. It doesn’t help that Sony and Microsoft also discontinued their eighth-generation Pro and X consoles. Consequently, this only continues to drive demand for the marginally better ninth-gen consoles.

Main Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles

Now that the timeline of the ninth generation has been outlined, let’s take a closer look at the consoles that make up the ninth generation. These offerings from Sony and Microsoft are chiefly what make up this current generation; albeit, they aren’t the only ones. There’s certainly no telling whether another ninth-gen console might emerge before the start of the tenth but, for now, these are the two primary offerings.

PlayStation 5

PlayStation 5 Console
  • Stunning Games - Marvel at incredible graphics and experience new PS5 features.
  • Breathtaking Immersion - Discover a deeper gaming experience with support for haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D Audio technology.
  • Lightning Speed - Harness the power of a custom CPU, GPU, and SSD with Integrated I/O that rewrite the rules of what a PlayStation console can do.
  • Model Number CFI-1102A
Release DateNovember 12th, 2020
DeveloperSony
Memory16 GB SDRAM
Storage825 GB SSD
Peak Display8K UHD
Price$499 (base model)
$399 (digital edition)
Units Sold to Date21.4 million

Along with the Xbox Series X and S, Sony’s PlayStation 5 helped officially kick off the ninth generation of video game consoles in the fall of 2020. Plagued with chip shortages that led the console to see insanely competitive preorders and widespread scamming, the PlayStation 5 has nevertheless found its way into the hands of customers.

Now a couple of years old, the PlayStation 5 has been praised most for its backward compatibility, fast load times, and its high-definition capabilities (even if they’re pretty similar to the previous generation console, the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro).

Xbox Series X/S

Xbox Series X
  • Next wave of invites will be sent on 11/27/2022 to qualifying customers. While supplies last.
  • Introducing Xbox Series X, the fastest, most powerful Xbox ever. Play thousands of titles from four generations of consoles-all games look and play best on Xbox Series X.
  • Experience next-gen speed and performance with the Xbox velocity architecture, powered by a custom SSD and integrated software.
  • Play thousands of games from 4 generations of Xbox with Backward compatibility, including optimized titles at launch.
  • Download and play over 100 high-quality games, including all new Xbox Game Studios titles like Halo Infinite the day they release, with Xbox Game Pass ultimate (membership sold separately).
Release DateNovember 10th, 2020
DeveloperMicrosoft
Memory16 GB SDRAM (Series X)
10 GB SDRAM (Series S)
Storage1 TB (Series X)
512 MB (Series S)
Peak Display8K UHD (Series X)
4K UHD (Series S)
Price$499 (Series X)
$299 (Series S)
Units Sold to Date16.5 million
Sale
Xbox Series S
  • Go all digital with Xbox Series S and experience next-gen speed and performance at a great price.
  • Bundle includes: Xbox Series S console, one Xbox Wireless Controller, a high-speed HDMI cable, power cable, and 2 AA batteries.
  • Make the most of every gaming minute with Quick Resume, lightning-fast load times, and gameplay of up to 120 FPS—all powered by Xbox Velocity Architecture.*
  • Enjoy digital games from four generations of Xbox, with hundreds of optimized titles that look and play better than ever.
  • Add Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (membership sold separately) to play new games day one. Enjoy hundreds of high-quality games with friends on console, PC, and cloud. Plus, now you can skip the install and jump in with cloud gaming.*

Released just two days before the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X and Series S make a point of distinguishing between their digital and base model consoles. There’s obviously a reason for this, too. Namely, the Series X and the Series S boast drastically different specs. The Series X has more memory, more storage, a higher peak display, and a higher price tag.

The Series S has a fraction of its memory and storage. It only goes up to a 4K UHD display, and it comes at a price that’s about $200 lower than its base model. Nevertheless, both the Series X and the Series S are functional, high-quality consoles. Obviously, this can be seen in their great sales figures. Evidently, it’s also Microsoft’s fastest-selling console ever.

Additional Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles

The PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S are pillars of the ninth generation of video game consoles. Nevertheless, they are not the only consoles to fall under the ninth-gen umbrella. There are also some holdovers from the eighth generation worth mentioning. As formerly stated, there’s a possibility some other ninth-gen consoles could emerge before the start of the tenth. Until then, these are the ones we’re discussing.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch – OLED Model w/ White Joy-Con
  • 7-inch OLED screen - Enjoy vivid colors and crisp contrast with a screen that makes colors pop
  • Wired LAN port - Use the dock’s LAN port when playing in TV mode for a wired internet connection
  • 64 GB internal storage - Save games to your system with 64 GB of internal storage
  • Enhanced audio – Enjoy enhanced sound from the system’s onboard speakers when playing in Handheld and Tabletop modes.
  • Wide adjustable stand – Freely angle the system’s wide, adjustable stand for comfortable viewing in Tabletop mode. Nintendo Switch – OLED Model supports all Joy-Con controllers and Nintendo Switch software
Release DateMarch 3rd, 2017
DeveloperNintendo
Memory4 GB
Storage32 GB
Peak Display2K
Price$299
Units Sold to Date111 million

Similar to the way the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One released mid-gen upgrades partway through the eighth generation, the Nintendo Switch did something similar with its OLED model. Decidedly not the Pro model that was rumored for so long, the Nintendo Switch OLED is nonetheless a worthy eighth-ninth-gen crossover console. While its technological capabilities are undoubtedly on par with the eighth-gen, its competitive status against the ninth-generation consoles makes it worthy of inclusion in this list.

Google Stadia

ninth generation video game consoles
Stadia is a cloud gaming service developed and operated by Google.
Release DateNovember 19th, 2019
DeveloperGoogle
Maximum Resolution4K UHD
Total Users2 million

Another component of the ninth generation that could be considered a holdover from the eighth one is cloud gaming services. Google Stadia was one of the first and remains a worthy competitor of PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S. However, its total number of users is obviously far smaller than the total number of consoles sold.

Intended for the rising number of anti-console PC gamers, Google Stadia and other cloud gaming services bring console titles to the PC market. However, its lack of major titles nevertheless keeps it from reaching the same level as its competition.

Amazon Luna

Sale
Luna Controller – The best wireless controller for Luna, Amazon’s new cloud gaming service
  • Upgrade your Luna gaming experience with Luna Controller: Designed for Amazon's cloud gaming service where it's easy to play games on devices you already own.
  • Luna Controller over Cloud Direct connects directly to Amazon’s custom game servers, reducing roundtrip latency by 17 to 30 milliseconds vs. a Luna Controller using a Bluetooth connection on Windows PC, Mac, Fire TV, and select Samsung Smart TVs.
  • With Cloud Direct technology, Luna Controller talks directly to the cloud. There is no need to pair to each device, making it easy to transition your game from one screen to the next on compatible Windows PC, Mac, Fire TV, Fire tablet, iPhone, iPad, Chromebook, Android devices, and select Samsung Smart TVs.
  • Connect over Bluetooth and USB to play games outside of Luna on Windows PC, Mac, and Android devices.
  • Launch Luna games with Alexa – On Fire TV and Fire Tablets, press and ask Alexa to easily get to your games. Try “Alexa, play 'Sonic Mania Plus.'
Release DateMarch 1st, 2021
DeveloperAmazon
Maximum Resolution2K
Total UsersUnknown

The Amazon Luna is another cloud gaming service, this time from Amazon instead of Google. While the Amazon name is not one to balk at, there are a couple of head-scratching specs in relation to the Luna. Firstly, its maximum resolution of 1080p is significantly lower than that of its cloud gaming competitors. Secondly, its total number of users also remains unknown. These are two concerning factors, as they leave us in the dark about the true nature of Luna’s success – or failure.

GeForce Now

ninth generation video game consoles
GeForce Now is the brand used by Nvidia for its cloud gaming service.
Release DateFebruary 4th, 2020
DeveloperNvidia
Maximum Resolution4K UHD
Total Users20 million

GeForce Now is yet another cloud gaming service. Interestingly enough, it comes from Nvidia — the very company responsible for making video game graphics the best they can be. Obviously, they have every reason in the world to want to try their hand at the console wars themselves. They’ve seen how successful PlayStation and Xbox have been, so why not try it themselves? Perhaps their status as key components of ninth-gen consoles is what has earned them the most users of any cloud gaming service listed here.

Defining Features of Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles

When looking back on eighth-generation consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it’s much easier to see the defining features of ninth-generation video game consoles.

#1: Faster Processors

Firstly, ninth-gen consoles deliver faster processors and graphics, including real-time ray tracing for shadows and such. Additionally, they prioritize 4K resolution, with some even offering 8K. Games on ninth-gen consoles also offer frame rates of as much as 60 fps or higher.

#2: SSD Systems

Furthermore, ninth-gen consoles utilize solid-state drive (SSD) systems. Generally speaking, they rely on these SSDs to serve as both memory and storage systems. Hence, the SSD effectively reduces (or outright eliminates) long load times for the latest and greatest games.

This also comes in handy when streaming games on Twitch and other webcast services, which is becoming increasingly popular. Many ninth-gen consoles also offer so-called digital editions, which remove the need for an optical drive in favor of cloud and USB storage for games.

Tenth Generation: What Might It Look Like?

Given that the ninth generation didn’t kick off until 2020 with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S – not to mention the fact that the eighth generation is still present a decade after its inception – the tenth generation of video game consoles is likely a long way off. Nevertheless, we can still make predictions about what that forthcoming tenth generation might look like. It will probably be defined by 8-16K gaming, virtual reality support, and motion controls, as well as additional improvements to processing and graphics.

Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles: Which Is Best Overall?

Now that we know everything there is to know about ninth-generation video game consoles, it’s worth asking which one is best. This question is interesting because of the drastic variations in specs across the board. The Nintendo Switch has outsold both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S combined, but it’s also not technically a ninth-generation console (at least not fully). Likewise, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S have much better graphics, speed, and displays than the Nintendo Switch.

It’s a surprisingly tough call. All three main consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have their own respective pros and cons that make them worth owning. Also, all three offerings have their own slate of uniquely appealing games. However, one must be named the best.

Accordingly, we bestow the honor upon PlayStation 5. While there’s nothing wrong with owning an Xbox Series X/S or a Nintendo Switch, the PS5 is simply the superior ninth-gen offering. Obviously, all three are worth owning in their own unique ways, but PS5 boasts better gameplay at 8K peaks, and as much as 120 fps.

In addition, its cloud gaming service — PS Plus — has a superior collection to the Xbox Series X/S and the Nintendo Switch. If that weren’t enough, its new and improved user interface takes precedence over the ninth-gen Xbox’s eighth-gen holdover. Ultimately, if you combine these factors with all the little things that make the PS5 great — like the new controller, the console-exclusive games, and the actual look of the console itself — it’s fair to call it the overall winner of the ninth generation.

Last update on 2022-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Ninth Generation Video Game Consoles FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why is Google shutting down Stadia?

Despite racking up around 2 million average users in its three-year history, Google announced they would be shutting down Stadia in an effort to cut company costs.

Which is better, the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X and S?

The PlayStation 5 has many advantages over the Xbox Series X/S, including a better controller, faster speeds, superior games, and more.

What is the cheapest ninth-generation console?

Currently, the most affordable ninth-gen console is either the Xbox Series S or the Nintendo Switch, depending on what generation you define the Switch.

When did the ninth generation of video game consoles begin?

The ninth generation of consoles began in 2020 with the release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S.

When did the eighth generation of video game consoles end?

The eighth generation of consoles began in 2012 and is still ongoing today.

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