A recent study has found that the most popular Mario games have had quite a heavy impact on the environment. Not only that, the effect is ongoing, daily, and it’s really not great. The research was conducted by Console Carbon Footprint, a study that revealed the carbon footprint of every games console made to date. Following the study, 21 games companies have pledged to reduce their CO2 output by over 30 million tonnes by 2030.
Mario Has One Massive Carbon Foot
While the study also goes into details about the packaging for games, and the environmental impact there, it’s the focus on Mario that’s pretty astounding. Firstly, the study found that in 2019 5,785,529 Super Mario games were sold, 83 percent of which were digital versions of Mario games. You might think this is quite good, with only 17 percent of these copies being physical, the environmental impact must be really small. You’d be wrong.
Yes, physical games cost 0.39kg of CO2, while digital games cost much less at 0.017kg of CO2. But if you take every single Mario game into account, digital and physical units, the total amount of CO2 produced is still 475 tonnes. This figure grows if you take into account the 0.025kg CO2 per hour that all consoles output as standard. To put that into perspective, the average output of a single person living in Belgium for a whole year will only cause 8 tonnes of CO2.
This may sound all doom and gloom, and it is a bit, but things are getting better. Each digital copy of a game is far more environmentally friendly than a physical copy. Each new console is also far more environmentally friendly than the previous generation. The PS3 output 0.054kg of CO2 per hour, while the Xbox 360 produced 0.051kg of CO2 per hour. By comparison, the Xbox One X produces 0.035kg of CO2 per hour, so it looks like console manufacturers are slowly but surely making their products more efficient.
We don’t currently have any data for the CO2 emissions of the PS4 and Xbox Series X, but they need to be less than current-gen consoles. The only way to move forward with games consoles, is to make them less harmful on the environment, and the same goes for games. Limited physical copies have their place, but even they have a more severe impact. Eventually, we’ll all need to convert to digital-only, because it’ll save the planet a huge chunk of CO2 with very little effort.
Sometimes we write articles on games and sustainability. If you like that sort of thing, check out some of our other articles on the topic here.