Video games were already a favorite technology-based form of entertainment for millions of people before the COVID-19 pandemic. As people were asked to stay at home as much as possible — and many did — the popularity of video games skyrocketed. In the United States alone, in the first nine months of 2020, total gaming sales were up by 23% compared to the same period in 2019.
Fans usually seek out the latest editions of a game with updated graphics and the introduction of new characters. Yet, some of the best-selling games of all time were first released decades ago.
To determine the most popular video game of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on lifetime video game sales for over 55,000 titles from industry intelligence firm VGChartz.
Most of the most popular video games we looked at to pick the best selling were released for a wide range of platforms, including personal computer and console. The best-selling game on a single platform is Wii Sports, with about 83 million copies sold for the Wii console.
Among the 20 best-selling video games on this list we examined to pick the top one, 11 were published by Nintendo. Three of the company’s video games that made the finalist list are from the Super Mario iconic series. Another publisher with multiple entries is Rockstar Games, which has been releasing games in the Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty franchises.
A noticeable trend in the video game industry is the release of sequels. Nearly all the games on this list are franchises that have been around for decades. Remakes and sequels are a very popular trend in the film industry these days as well.
VGChartz collects data on shipments and sales as it is made available by developers and publishers. In our analysis, we treated shipment and sales data interchangeably. VGChartz data mostly consists of physical sales and may not account for digital sales, which have become a much greater share of the video game market in recent years. Data on release dates and publishers also came from VGChartz. Primary console refers to the console for which the most versions of the game in question have been sold.
Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, having sold 200 million copies worldwide. Its publisher is Mojang. The game was released in North America on November 18, 2011.
Minecraft is a single-player or multiplayer sandbox video game. Players start out with an infinite terrain, which they explore for resources. They eventually create their own worlds, crafting tools and weapons to fight dangerous mobs.