"Console wars", also known as "System wars" is a term used to refer to periods of intense competition for market share between video game console manufacturers. The winners of these "wars" may be debated based on different standards: market penetration and financial success, or the fierce loyalty and numbers of the fans of the system's games. The term itself does not strictly denote a clear winner in each case, though. The outcome of a console war may however determine whether or not a manufacturer remains a part of the video games industry.
Due to different manufacturers releasing consoles at different times, the wars described below are not exact definitions and do not necessarily have firm beginning and ending dates. Also, these wars had different years and combatants on different continents, since traditionally the four main markets—Europe, Japan, Australia and North America—have been treated as separate entities, with machines and games released at different times or even completely different games being released. This situation is not as apparent as it was in the past, but remains in some respects, particularly with regards to Japan when compared to the other three markets.
In the mid-1980s, home computers from various manufacturers were used primarily for gaming purposes by consumers worldwide (in the absence of comparable consoles following the video game crash) and are included here as well.
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