PS5 vs. Xbox Series X/S vs. Nintendo Switch – Which Console Won 2022?

It was certainly a strange year for gaming, but which of gaming's three major consoles came out on top in 2022?

PS5 vs Xbox Series X vs. Nintendo Switch
Photo: PlayStation, Xbox Game Studios, Nintendo

We’ve spoken before about how…strange the current-gen console wars really are. In some ways, it feels like we’re still waiting for this generation of console gaming to properly begin. Of course, so long as most gamers need to choose between the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch, the debate about which console had the absolute best year will inevitably rage on.

Just as we did last year, we’re going to weigh in on the current console wars by assigning each major current console 1 to 3 points in five different categories (with one point going to the last place console in that category, two points going to the second place console, and a full three points to the first place console). Here’s an overview of the categories we’ll be using to rate each console’s year:

Sales – How many units of each next-gen console were sold in 2022? This category is based on the most recently published official sales figure as well as the most reliable available estimates.

Hardware – This category accounts for the advantages (and disadvantages) offered by every piece of hardware in each console’s “family.”

Ad – content continues below

Services – Points are awarded in this category for the quality of exclusive services offered by each console. Unlike features offered by each piece of hardware, these services are typically optional.

Exclusive Games – Points are awarded in this category for the quality (and, when appropriate, quantity) of exclusive games released for each console family in 2022.

The Future – This category is based on what upcoming exclusive games and services each console manufacturer revealed for 2023 and beyond.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the debate.

What About the Steam Deck?

While I initially intended to add the Steam Deck to this year’s hardware battle, I ultimately decided against it. Steam Deck is certainly an incredible piece of hardware that will likely make waves in the industry in the years to come, but it was only widely available for a relatively small part of 2022. As such, I’m going to wait until the Steam Deck enjoys a full year of global availability before I add it to this already heated debate.

Xbox Series X/S: 2022 In Review

Sales – 1

I was tempted to give Xbox an extra point here simply because the Series X and S experienced tremendous year-over-year growth in 2022 compared to the other consoles. However, the numbers don’t lie. The Xbox brand was third in overall 2022 hardware sales and remains third in the overall sales race.

Ad – content continues below

Still, the Xbox team’s push in certain areas is finally starting to translate into actual hardware sales (even in Japan). The Xbox team has traditionally downplayed the impact of traditional hardware sales, though they may soon be singing a different tune if these trends continue.

Hardware – 3

Last year, I talked about how the Xbox Series X’s quality-of-life features helped make it the most enjoyable piece of next-gen hardware. That’s still the case, though Xbox’s victory in this category has more to do with the growing appeal of the Xbox Series S.

Microsoft bet big on the idea that the underpowered (but affordable) Series S would remain a viable net-gen hardware option for years to come, and they were right. The Series S is gaining momentum at a time when other hardware is struggling at least slightly in a difficult market. It’s a game-changing approach to a secondary console.

Services – 3

Game Pass remains the king of video game subscription services, and the competition isn’t even close. In fact, it’s starting to look like competing services will only catch up with Game Pass once Game Pass becomes worse rather than when they become significantly better.

Until then, Game Pass remains the best reason to own an Xbox. It’s an incredibly powerful weapon in an increasingly heated console war.

Exclusive Games – 1

There’s really not much to say here. From a quantity and quality perspective, this was one of Xbox’s worst years for exclusives in recent memory.

Ad – content continues below

Games like Pentiment and Grounded deserved a little more love than they received, but the fact of the matter is that Xbox’s Triple-A lineup is thin, and they know it. Things are looking up, but this was a really bad year on this front.

The Future – 2

I really debated whether or not Xbox was second or last in this particular category. If we had a better idea of how the Activision Blizzard deal will play out, it might be easier to say how exciting Xbox’s future really is. If that doesn’t go through, Xbox could lose out on some valuable potential exclusives and Game Pass additions.

Still, Game Pass is only growing and Xbox’s upcoming lineup of exclusives (Starfield, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, Redfall, Forza Motorsport) does look promising. Xbox is certainly trending in the right direction heading into 2023, despite some struggles.

Nintendo Switch: 2022 In Review

Sales – 3

Look, the Switch isn’t just the sales success of this generation; it’s the kind of console that could very well end up becoming the best-selling piece of video game hardware ever.

There’s a lot to say about the Switch’s 2022 stumbles (and we’ll say more about them in a bit), but the console is a bonafide sales monster that has settled into success despite its problems. It’s the clear winner of this category.

Hardware – 1

It was tough to rank the Switch last in this category. After all, the Switch’s hardware remains a big part of its historic success. However, this really was the year that we saw a lot of holes emerge in the Switch’s design and no real efforts to plug many of them

Ad – content continues below

The Switch has obviously always been a bit underpowered, but the hardware has clearly reached its performance cap, and the console’s natural storage and structure limitations are becoming more apparent after this many years of ownership. With no Switch Pro on the horizon, it’s tough to say when things will improve.

Services – 2

Perhaps a controversial ranking, but the thing that elevates the Nintendo Switch’s main services is how remarkably uncomplicated they are. An incredibly low yearly subscription fee grants you access to online gameplay and a growing collection of retro titles, demos, expansions, and services. It’s an increasingly appealing proposition that Nintendo is finally starting to put some effort into.

Yes, there is so much more that Nintendo could do in this department. Many people are still waiting for that “Virtual Console” alternative that will pretty clearly never come. However, what they do offer is quickly becoming an essential part of the Switch package.

Exclusive Games – 2

While not a banner year for Nintendo exclusives (the console’s biggest draw), the Switch actually enjoyed a somewhat underrated 2022 so far as its software lineup goes.

Arceus, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Splatoon 3, Mario+Rabbids…what the Switch lacked in absolute heavy hitter exclusives, it more than made up for with shockingly good second-tier games that offered a steady stream of new releases throughout the year. Honestly, the Switch was a major new release away from taking this category.

The Future – 1

Tears of the Kingdom is one of the biggest games on the horizon, but the Switch’s lineup is a big question mark beyond that. It’s been too long since we’ve gotten a major update from Nintendo on their biggest potentially upcoming franchise entries, which means that we’re just left to guess in regard to how the company will support its admittedly solid upcoming lineup of slightly smaller games.

Ad – content continues below

Hardware-wise, Nintendo is rapidly getting to the point where they need to make some kind of announcement regarding the Switch Pro (or whatever it may be called). All things considered, Nintendo just isn’t being as clear about the Switch’s future as they need to be.

PlayStation 5: 2022 In Review

Sales – 2

The PS5’s sales are certainly strong, though it finally started to lose a little ground to the Series X/S in certain markets. However, those struggles can be attributed as much to global supply shortages and economic woes as anything the PlayStation team did or didn’t do in 2022.

Ultimately, this is going to be a closer next-gen console race than anyone predicted. However, the PS5 appears to have a comfortable enough lead for it to ultimately become the best-selling of the more modern next-gen consoles.

Hardware – 2

The PS5 hardware is generally excellent, and we actually got a couple of peeks at its true power thanks to its surprisingly robust 2022 lineup of true next-gen exclusives. Many believe the PS5 is the most powerful of the next-gen consoles, and we’ve seen few reasons to doubt its high-end potential.

However, Sony does have a bit of a secondary console problem. Whereas the Xbox Series S continues to offer a viable budget alternative during tough times, the PS5 remains an expensive and difficult-to-construct piece of hardware regardless of whether or not you opt for the built-in disc drive. I’m also still not sold on the PS5’s “Command Center” features, though the PS5 controller really is a special piece of hardware.

Services – 1

Look, Sony has had numerous opportunities to offer some kind of viable Game Pass alternative for PlayStation fans. Actually, let’s remove Game Pass from the conversation. What PlayStation really needs is some kind of online service that feels like a can’t miss part of the PS5 experience.

Ad – content continues below

We thought the revamped PlayStation Plus program would offer just that, but it proved to be a somewhat convoluted subscription service that lacks anything more appealing than its own simple existence. It’s too expensive for what you get, and it’s not clear how (or if) Sony will continue to grow it in any meaningful ways.

Generally speaking, Sony seems a little too content with their place in the market. They continue to push consumer-unfriendly policies (including a PS5 price hike in many major regions) while relying on their exclusive games and name value to carry the weight. It was just a bad year for PS5 services across the board.

Exclusive Games – 3

As noted above, PlayStation’s bread and butter remain their incredible lineup of true exclusives. Well, 2022 was the kind of year that shows why that strategy can pay off and right a lot of wrongs.

The Last of Us Part 1, God of War Ragnarok, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West, and Stray all gave Sony the kind of heavy-hitting 2022 exclusives that other companies simply lacked. We’re gradually working our way out of a very slow start for the next generation of gaming, and the PlayStation team appears to be leading the pack so far as games go.

The Future – 3

While there are quite a few notable upcoming PlayStation exclusives (Final Fantasy 16, Death Stranding 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, etc.) the biggest advantage PlayStation has in this category is how clear the PS5’s future looks.

I have a lot of unanswered questions about what comes next for Nintendo and Xbox and when we can expect some of their suspected future plans to come to fruition. While we don’t know every major PS5 release date on the horizon, we do have a pretty good idea of what to expect over the next couple of years, so the PlayStation teams can really only pleasantly surprise us from here. The future looks bright.

Ad – content continues below

PS5 vs. Xbox Series X/S vs. Nintendo Switch – Which Console Won 2022?

Third Place: Nintendo Switch – 9 Points

Nintendo can cure many of the Switch’s current woes by releasing some kind of hardware upgrade in 2023 and revealing a few of the major exclusives that will utilize those necessary performance upgrades. You won’t necessarily regret buying a Switch if you don’t already own one, but it does feel like the console is in a bit of a holding pattern.

Second Place: Xbox Series X/S – 10 Points

Xbox fans deserve more notable exclusive games, and it’s still not entirely clear when they’re going to get them. For the time being, though, the combined strengths of Game Pass and the Xbox Series X/S’s best hardware features are more than enough to make the Xbox brand as appealing as it has been since the Xbox 360 era.

First Place: PlayStation 5 – 11 Points

If Sony can figure out their hardware shortage problems and service shortcomings, then the PS5 will be in an excellent position to lead the next generation of gaming. The PS5 hardware is powerful, nobody can top PlayStation’s output of notable exclusives, and it doesn’t look like PlayStation fans will be as negatively impacted by the Activision Blizzard deal as some feared.