Since the home gaming industry started to boom in the late ’70s, the market has continued to grow, with video games now prominently centered at the forefront of many people’s lives. They offer a chance for adventure, competition, community, and, depending on the game, even scares or laughter.
While literally millions of video games have been released throughout the decades, some have turned into absolute phenomenons, withstanding the test of time and becoming the bestselling titles in gaming history.
10 Mario Kart Wii: 37.38 million copies
When the Wii was released in 2006, it was a breakout hit that took the world by storm. In fact, the Wii became one of the bestselling consoles of all time. The biggest reason for its success was its motion controls, which helped transform gaming into a physical experience. Nintendo used these motion controls to revolutionize their famous Mario Kart franchise by turning the Wii remote into a steering device.
Best of all, an actual steering wheel accessory was released, allowing gamers to insert the Wii controller into a plastic steering wheel, giving players increased control and the feeling of actually being inside the game. Nintendo reports that over 37 million copies of Mario Kart Wii have been sold.
9 Red Dead Redemption 2: 38 million copies
Rockstar Games has released some of the most exciting, immersive, and bestselling games of all time, like Manhunt and Max Payne. But one of their most famous (and bestselling) franchises is Red Dead Redemption.
The games allow players to embark on missions and side quests in a massive open world, all set in the wild wild west. From train chases to shootouts, it was the perfect gaming experience for anyone who has dreamed of being a cowboy. At the beginning of August, sales figures were released for Red Dead Redemption 2, revealing that it had surpassed 38 million copies in sales.
8 Super Mario Bros.: 40.24 million copies
The true sales numbers and the number of gamers who have actually played Super Mario Bros. are much higher than its official sales of over 40 million units. It’s important to remember that the title came bundled into Super Mario All-Stars for SNES, which itself sold millions of copies. Plus, it’s currently playable for free to anyone with a Nintendo Switch Online account.
Regardless, it’s extremely impressive that the Super Mario Bros.’ physical sales alone keep the game in the top 10 list almost 40 years after its initial release. Since then, it’s spawned a whole franchise of games, a TV show, an underrated film adaptation that’s become a cult classic, and billions of dollars in merchandise sales. It seems that while some gaming franchises fade, Mario is here to stay.
7 Mario Kart 8/Deluxe: 45.53 million copies
Mario Kart 8 became the bestselling game for Nintendo’s Wii U console. However, a vast majority of the game’s sales come from its Deluxe edition which was released for the Switch. According to Nintendo, Deluxe has sold 37.08 million copies while the Wii U sold 8.45 million (bringing the total to 45.53 million copies sold).
Much of the additional content released in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was simply DLC for the original Wii U game, meaning that any player still using the Wii U can give their game a massive upgrade through Nintendo’s EShop. However, according to The Gamer, Wii U’s online store will be shutting down in early 2022.
6 Pokémon (First Generation): 45-47 million copies
Nintendo has never come outright and listed sales figures for the first generation of Pokémon games (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green). However, through calculations, the common belief is that a little over 45 million copies were sold. This figure has even been used by Polygon. However, because some first-gen titles are still for sale virtually for the 3DS, the numbers have risen even higher, with DigitalTrends estimating sales numbers to now be around 47 million total units sold.
The release of Pokémon was a crucial moment in Nintendo history, proving the company could still produce hits in an ever-changing market. To date, the franchise has become one of the bestselling series in history and remains popular to this day.
5 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: 70+ million copies
Despite being released just four years ago in 2017, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has already sold over 70 million copies. And because the game is still for sale, that number continues to slowly rise. The game is a battle royale-style arena shooter, where numerous online players duke it out to be the last one standing. The game was reportedly inspired by the Japanese film Battle Royale, which is also alleged to be the inspiration for The Hunger Games.
On top of the impressive sales numbers for consoles and PC, it’s also been reported that the mobile version of Battlegrounds has been downloaded more than 1 billion times, becoming one of the most downloaded mobile games of all time.
4 Wii Sports: 82.90 million copies
Wii Sports is one of the most influential games of all time. Not only did it revolutionize what gaming could be and turn sports into a virtual experience, but it helped drive Wii sales, putting Nintendo back on top. After selling almost 83 million copies, the game’s sequel, Wii Sports Resorts, went to be extremely successful as well, selling over 33 million copies.
Anyone who owned a Wii in the mid-2000s surely remembers going bowling, playing baseball, or even boxing against their loved ones right in their own living room. The game was so popular that it even made its way into movies and TV, being featured in shows like The Big Bang Theory. Wii Sports was more than a game, it was a cultural phenomenon.
3 Grand Theft Auto V: 150+ million copies
For many players, Grand Theft Auto literally is gaming. It’s the perfect combination of action, combat, open-world exploration, and story. It’s the pinnacle example of what a great game can be. And that’s proven in the franchises’ epic sales numbers. GTA III, Vice City, and GTA IV are all heavily praised and are among some of the bestselling games of all time.
But GTA V has outsold all of them and continues to sell copies to this day. In August, it was reported that the game has now sold over 150 million copies, safely cementing it as the third bestselling game of all time.
2 Minecraft: 238+ million copies
The concept of Minecraft might sound simple: It’s basically like playing with virtual Legos. Players can take blocks and then build them into whatever they want. But something much bigger happened inside the game. The music was calming and inviting, the scenery was gorgeous, and the panoramic views of epic creations like castles, skyscrapers, and roller coasters were absolutely breathtaking.
Minecraft is so powerful because it can literally become whatever a gamer wants it to be. The imagination of the player guides the gameplay. Social media and YouTube have also helped the game, allowing players to show off their creations to the world. Microsoft reports that, to date, over 238 million copies have been sold.
1 Tetris: 500+ million copies
Tetris has been around for decades, and it’s been released for almost every electronic device ever. It began as a computer game, then made its way to consoles like the NES and Genesis/Mega Drive. It even became an arcade game, was wildly successful on Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy and was later released on every major console, phone, as well as iPods. There are even browser versions on websites and Facebook.
To put it simply; everyone has played Tetris and it has sold hundreds of millions of copies. Surprisingly, despite being almost 40 years old, it remains popular and relevant to this day. It’s a simple puzzle game that is addicting, challenging, and a whole lot of fun, so it’s easy to see why it’s still loved by so many gamers.
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