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Ranked: The Best Selling Video Games in History

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A chart ranking the top-ten most sold video games in history.

Ranked: The Best Selling Video Games in History

It’s a good time to be a video game fan. Not only is the gaming industry booming and projected to grow to $320 billion by 2026, but every year is bringing new evolutions in the medium.

2022 saw massive launches in both games (Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök) and media based on games (the films Uncharted and Sonic the Hedgehog 2). 2023 has already seen the release of major flagship TV series based on a game, HBO’s The Last of Us, and the much-anticipated The Super Mario Bros. Movie is slated to release in April.

But which game is the best, or most successful? That debate may never end, but from company reports and sales data aggregated by Wikipedia, Samuel Parker’s chart of the most-sold video games as of March 3, 2023 can at least tell us which ones have been the most popular.

Top Ten Video Games Sold in History

The best selling video game didn’t need multimillion dollar budgets, sixty-hour narratives, or celebrity voice actors and ad spots. The independently-developed (indie) Minecraft, with its pixelated blocks, takes the top spot on this list.

RankGameSales (units)Year ReleasedDeveloper
1Minecraft238.0M2011Mojang Studios
2GTA 5175.0M2013Rockstar
3Tetris (EA)100.0M2006EA Mobile
4Wii Sport82.9M2006Nintendo
5PUBG: Battlegrounds75.0M2017PUBG Corp
6Mario Kart 860.5M2014Nintendo
7Super Mario Bros.58.0M1985Nintendo
8Read Dead Redemption 250.0M2018Rockstar
9Pokémon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow47.5M1996GameFreak
10Terraria44.5M2011Re-Logic

Minecraft sold more units than the combined forces of Grand Theft Auto 5 (#2) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (#8), both made by industry giant Rockstar. Its immense popularity has been credited to its simple gameplay (no goals), creative structure (build anything), and engaged community with player-run servers and additional feature creations (known as mods).

Another simple favorite, Tetris, comes in at third place with 100 million units sold of its 2006 re-release. Millennials continue to make up a large chunk of the video game playing demographic which might explain Tetris’ sales.

But newer games are making up the majority of sales records. PUBG: Battlegrounds, a battle-royale shooter game which helped popularize the genre (and eventually its competitor Fortnite) asserts its popularity at #5. That puts it well ahead of the better-known shooter Call of Duty, even despite PUBG being banned in a number of countries for the alleged impact on the mental health of gamers.

The oldest game to make the list is Super Mario Bros. (#7), apt considering it is credited with reviving the video game industry after it crashed in 1983. The original staple side-scroller has sold 58 million copies worldwide.

Developer Dominance

Though the top selling games span various series of games, a few developers managed to repeatedly find success.

DeveloperTop 20 Best-Selling Games
Nintendo11
Rockstar2
Others7

Japanese video game titan Nintendo developed three games (Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart, Wii Sport/Fitness) in the top 10 and another eight in the top 20. That’s not including its co-ownership of Pokémon, the world’s highest-grossing media franchise.

American publisher Rockstar Games also managed to score multiple hits, though its longer development cycle necessary to create cinematic games gives it fewer potential candidates. That might change with the much-anticipated GTA 6 reportedly in production.

Best Selling Genres

The most popular genres in the top 10 give players the freedom to impose their will upon the world and pursue objectives at their leisure:

GenreGames
Sandbox/Open World4
Simulation2
Others4

Two games (Minecraft, Terraria) are classic sandbox games, where worlds are procedurally generated and there are no gameplay goals. Another two (GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2) are in the adjacent open-world genre, with a combination of sandbox elements and a narrative structure.

However, with new games launching and selling millions of units every year, new entrants to the top 10 list of best selling video games of all-time seems likely. How will these developers, genres, and games fare over time?

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Chart: The Price of Entertainment Subscription Services

From Netflix to Google Play Pass, we compare the cost of subscription services across a range of entertainment platforms.

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This bar chart shows the price of entertainment subscription services per month.

The Price of Entertainment Subscription Services

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Subscription models have become ubiquitous in the entertainment sector, providing a recurring stream of revenue to a host of platforms.

While inattentive customers using subscription models can increase revenue by as much as 200%, many entertainment platforms struggle to make a profit. In fact, Netflix and Disney are the only two profitable streaming services in the market.

This graphic shows the cost of entertainment subscription services, based on data compiled by Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and the providers of entertainment subscriptions.

Comparing Monthly Entertainment Subscription Costs

Here are the monthly subscription cost of various entertainment platforms as of April 2024:

SubscriptionMonthly Price (USD)Category
Spotify$10.99Music
YouTube Music$10.99Music
Apple Music$10.99Music
Audible$15.00Books
Scribd$11.99Books
Kindle Unlimited$11.99Books
Netflix$15.49Video
Sling TV$40.00Video
Disney+$13.99Video
Hulu+$17.99Video
Paramount+$11.99Video
Apple TV+$9.99Video
HBO Max$15.99Video
Amazon Prime Video$11.98Video
YouTube Premium$13.99Video
Apple Arcade$6.99Gaming
Google Play Pass$4.99Gaming
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate$16.99Gaming
Playstation Plus Premium$17.99Gaming
Nintendo Switch Online$3.99Gaming
NY Times (Digital)$4.00/month first six months,
$25 thereafter
News
Apple News+$12.99News
Wall Street Journal Digital$19.49/month first six months,
$38.99 thereafter
News

Prices represent standard individual plans with no ads excluding promotional periods/prices less than two months. YouTube Premium Video subscription includes YouTube Music which can be purchased seperately.

As we can see, the price of major music subscription services remains lower than many other forms of entertainment—with standard subscriptions costing 35% lower than Netflix in America.

Since late 2022, several music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple, and YouTube, have increased their subscription price, marking the first increase in more than 10 years. In June, Spotify raised its price again, charging $11.99 per month for an individual plan.

Across video platforms, Amazon Prime Video makes up the largest share of the U.S. video-on-demand market, at 22% as of Q1 2024. Netflix falls closely behind, with a 21% share. Over the last two years, Netflix’s revenue has jumped following a password-sharing crackdown, integrating ads, and slowing content expenditures.

Often, streaming services add content to replace lost customers. This is because viewers will switch to providers that offer the shows they want to watch. Due to this churn, streaming providers lose on average 35% of their customers each year. To combat this, some providers are bundling content offerings to retain their customer base, such as Disney+, Hulu, and Max or Paramount+ and Showtime.

As an outlier from the pack, Sling TV offers live TV and sports broadcasting along with on-demand movies and shows, charging $40 per month.

When it comes to news subscriptions, major outlets charge among the highest in the dataset. With a monthly subscription price of $25 after the first six months, The New York Times has 9.7 million digital-only subscribers, roughly three times as many as The Wall Street Journal. These subscriptions are the biggest source of revenue for the publication, rising by more than eightfold over the last decade.

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