A video game console is an electronic device that outputs a video signal or image to display a video game that can be played with a game controller. These may be home consoles which are generally placed in a permanent location connected to a television or other display device and controlled with a separate game controller, or handheld consoles that include their own display unit and controller functions built into the unit and can be played anywhere. Hybrid consoles combine elements of both home and handheld consoles.
Video game consoles are a specialized form of a home computer geared towards video game playing, designed with affordability and accessibility to the general public in mind, but lacking in raw computing power and customization. Simplicity is achieved in part through the use of game cartridges or other simplified ways of distribution, easing the effort of launching a game. However, this leads to ubiquitous proprietary formats that creates competition for market share. More recent consoles have shown further confluence with home computers, making it easy for developers to release games on multiple platforms. Further, modern consoles can serve as replacements for media players with capabilities to playback films and music from optical media or streaming media services.
Video game consoles are usually sold on a 5-7 year cycle called a generation, with consoles made with similar technical capabilities or made around the same time period grouped into the generations. The industry has developed a razorblade model for selling consoles at low profit or at a loss while making revenue on the licensing fees for each game sold, with planned obsolescence to draw consumers into the next console generation. While numerous manufacturers have come and gone in the history of the console market, there have always been two or three dominant leaders in the market, with the current market led by Sony (with their PlayStation brand), Microsoft (with their Xbox brand), and Nintendo (currently producing the Switch console and its lightweight derivative).
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