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 devices and controlled with a separate game controller, or handheld consoles, which include their own display unit and controller functions built into the unit and which 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 methods of distribution, easing the effort of launching a game. However, this leads to ubiquitous proprietary formats that create 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 play 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 one generation. The industry has developed a razor and blades model: manufacturers often sell consoles at low prices, sometimes at a loss, while primarily making a profit from the licensing fees for each game sold. Planned obsolescence then draws consumers into buying 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. Previous console developers include Sega, Atari, Coleco, Mattel, NEC, SNK, Fujitsu, and 3D0.

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