Green Gaming: Carbon Footprint of Consoles

Looking for a new console or game for the holidays? With the electricity prizes rising you might want to consider the carbon footprint! Which game can be considered green and which game has more carbon emissions than your average car?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Many of us find sitting back and logging on to our favourite game a great way to relax. Whether you’re a League of Legends fan or can’t get enough of Fortnite, there are so many great titles and consoles for gamers to choose from these days.  

But do we really know the effect that our favourite pastime could be having on the environment? The Green Gaming study looks into the emissions of popular game consoles and gaming titles from the past year to reveal their carbon footprint. 

By analysing games console power usages and sales figures, as well as player counts, platform compatibility and completion times behind some of the most popular games at the moment, Green Gaming ranks the least eco-friendly consoles and games – based on their total carbon emissions (CO2e) per hour.

Top Eco-Friendly Games Consoles

When it comes to console power outputs, the least eco-friendly platform was revealed as the PlayStation 3. The console – released all the way back in 2006 –  produces 0.043kg of CO2e per console per hour. 

When sales figures are taken into account, the PS3 emits a total of 3758.2 tonnes of CO2e per hour. That means for every hour each sold PS3 is played, 3.8 million kg of CO2 is released! 

The second least eco-friendly games console came out as the Xbox 360. This classic console is a hit amongst fans but doesn’t follow too far behind the PS3, resulting in a total of 3,528 tonnes of CO2e per hour per Xbox.  

PlayStation again makes the top list when it comes to console carbon footprints, with the PlayStation 5 being among the least eco-friendly gaming platforms. The PS5, released in 2020, results in 6,298 tonnes of CO2 per device sold per hour – way ahead of its other gaming counterparts such as the Nintendo Switch, WiiU and even older sibling PlayStation 4. 

On the other end of the scale, the most eco-friendly console came out as the Nintendo Switch, which produces 0.003kg of CO2 per hour. 

When the average time a person spends gaming per week (8.5 hours) is considered, the total footprint of games consoles gets into the billions (kg) on a yearly basis. PlayStations are on average the least eco-friendly gaming platform, releasing 1.9 billion kg of CO2 each year.

The Carbon Footprint of Video Games

Whether it’s Fornite that you simply can’t get enough of, or Animal Crossing that helps you wind down after a long day in reality, there’ve been some wonderful gaming titles created over the past year.

But the reality is that games can impact the environment just as much as their platforms! Based on available player count data and completion time, Green Gaming reveals the eco impact of popular gaming titles. 

The least eco-friendly video game of the past year proved to be the team-based game League of League of Legends. Having risen in popularity over the past decade, it continues to be one of the most-played online games with an estimated 2.3 million players online at any one time. 

As the average player spends on average 1,008 hours on the multiplayer platform, with the kWh and resulting output of a typical PC in mind (0.023kg in CO2 per hour), League of Legends results in 58.4 million kg CO2e. 

International hit Fornite comes in second as the least eco-friendly gaming title – although hosting a staggering 2.6 million players at any one time, Fortnite’s completion time is significantly shorter than the League of Legends’ (68.5 hours), and so results in 6.4 million kg of CO2. 

Another impactful gaming title proved to be Apex Legends – the free-to-play hero shooter dystopian. When played on PC, Apex results in around 1.6 million kg of CO2e, with 1.09 million players online at any one time and a completion time of 77.5 hours. 

The study revealed that, interestingly, despite not being a particularly played title (only hosting around 356,000 players at any one time), FIFA 22 is also one of the most impactful games of the past year. 

Due to the platforms it can be played on, such as PlayStation 4 and 5, the most recent edition of FIFA has resulted in over 926,000 kg of CO2.

Fan Gaming Favourites

The debate over which game and console are the best is ever continuing, but which gaming title and platform have the most supporting players?

Using a Twitter Sentiment Analysis, the study revealed that the most popular console is the Xbox Series X, which saw the highest influx of positive Tweets from fans, followed by the PlayStation 5, and then Google Stadia. 

As for gaming titles, interestingly, despite lower player counts and contested reviews online, FIFA 22 came out on top for fans on Twitter. FIFA was followed by the mystical role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV, then by car racing game Forza Horizon 5.

The least popular console received online was the PlayStation 4, which has seen the least support from fans – perhaps due to reported freezing and loading problems. 

Halo Infinite proved to be the least popular gaming title for fans – however, having just been released in November 2021, perhaps players are still making up their mind on the sixth edition.

Conclusion

While gaming trends come and go, knowing the impact of our online consumption – whether it be our favourite consoles or gaming titles – can help us take measures to reduce our carbon footprint whenever we can.

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