There’s no denying the dominance of the video game in popular culture. Since Pong first appeared in the early 1970s, video games have not only become their own medium, but one which rivals film and television revenue, and even drives its rival’s content with a litany of big- and small-screen game adaptations.
In fact, the wildly popular new game Fortnite has already grossed 1 billion dollars, outgrossing major motion picture releases from the Jumanji reboot to new franchise installments by Wonder Woman and Spider-man.
Whether video games are the most popular form of entertainment in the modern era is debatable, and so too is the question of which video games are the most popular; the best of the best, the cream of the crop. Different gamers will have different opinions unless the criteria are based on sales figures alone, which can also be deceptive, as some games cost millions of dollars to design, others much less; some copies sell for higher costs, some less.
Lots of gamers will disagree with any subjective list, and that’s fair. So we’ll be objective, and take a look at ten indisputably great and markedly successful video games, legendary among players, revered and respected in the industry, and also the best sellers. These are the ten most popular video games of all time.
Tetris remains the all-time champ, with 170 million copies sold across various platforms. The 1984 tile-sorting game really took off in 1989 with its Game Boy release. It’s also the oldest game among the top ten, an impressive feat of its own! Gamers worldwide will confirm that Tetris was (and remains) obsessively addicting, and there’s no doubt that it paved the way for popular games like Candy Crush Saga. It’s also one of the most popular games among girls, as it’s much less violent than some of the other games on our list.
Minecraft plays second, with 154 million copies across multiple platforms since its release in 2011. It hasn’t sold more total copies than Tetris, but it’s come close and in just about half the release time. For those who don’t know, the idea is that you mine certain materials, like rock or wood, and you craft things with it, such as fires, houses, or walls. It had a similar appeal to players that the classic Lego blocks did, and even shared that beloved toy’s visual aesthetic. This world of limitless creation captured the imaginations of players and spawned countless book spinoffs. Most notably, Microsoft bought the Minecraft IP for a whopping 2 billion dollars.
3) Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V has sold an impressive 100 million copies across multiple platforms. The game that was released in 2013 is just one installment in the wildly popular GTA series. GTA V is well-known and revered for its detail and authentic open world play. Drive down any street and enjoy the storefronts, which are not found in any other game. It’s a technological giant among giants.
4) Wii Sports
Wii Sports is the highest ranking game on our list to be available for just one platform, it’s namesake Wii console. But the game has sold over 82 million copies since 2006, making it the most popular single-platform game and the most popular sports-related video game!
5) PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has sold an impressive 50 million copies for multiple platforms, an impressive figure when you consider that the game was released as recently as 2017. Not only is it one of the most popular games of all time, but it’s one of 2018’s best sellers and one of the most popular games currently on the market.
6) Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow
Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow is the most popular Game Boy exclusive on our list, with 45 million copies sold since 1996. Of course one does not have to look to a Game Boy for the ubiquitous pocket monsters, who enjoyed a resurgence with Pokemon Go! and were featured in animated television shows, films, plush toys, Halloween costumes, and other merchandise. The card game aspect of the Pokemon phenomenon also cannot be underestimated, spawning massive conventions of competitive card gameplay, drawing children and adults internationally. That’s something unique among the games on our top ten list.
The classic is available for NES and has sold over 40 million copies. The pioneering game first appeared on this platform way back in 1985, making it the second-oldest game on the top ten list. The game also gave rise to Nintendo’s immense popularity and industry dominance, as well as the popularization of the platform genre. The brothers and their digital cohorts have also starred in various film and television projects and plush toys. This classic was one of the first among six video games to be inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Play. Way to go, Mario!
8) Wii’s Mario Kart
Wii’s Mario Kart has sold over 37 million copies since its release in 2008, securing its place in the top ten and confirming the enduring popularity of the Mario family of characters.
9) Wii Sports Resort
Wii Sports Resort is yet another Wii platform exclusive to plant its flag on the top ten list of most popular video games. There are over 37 million copies of the game, giving Nintendo yet another hit (they published or developed six of the ten). The performance of these Wii games is made even more impressive when one considers that the console only holds about 25% of the market, as much as or less than PS4 (25%), XBOX 360 (30%), or PS3 (38%).
10) Super Mario Bros Nintendo DS
The Mario family of characters make their third appearance on the top ten list of most popular video games with this Nintendo DS game, which sold almost 31 million copies since its release in 2006. That makes them the most popular video game characters if you look at it from a sales aspect alone.
So here are the top ten best-sellers and, hence, the most popular video games of all time. For those interested in different criteria, we believe that’s fair enough: Most popular current games and other subjects will be the focus of subsequent articles, so stay tuned and keep gaming!