The idea that video games were only created for children or “nerds” was long-held. Yet, it is clearly not the case now. The culture of video games has become widespread. In reality, the global popularity of e-sports has surpassed that of the majority of “real-life” sports and is increasing at an astonishingly fast rate. The video game business has grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry, which needs no further explanation. The market is among the most fiercely competitive ones out there.
Just three video games in history have sold more than 100 million copies of a single game, despite the fact that hundreds of millions of video games are distributed annually. The Top 10 video games that have ever sold the most copies worldwide are listed here along with the titles that came in the first place.
Before being released in other regions such as Pokemon Red and Blue, the defining original Pokemon was first only accessible in Japan in Red and Green. Depending on the region, the Yellow Version (also known as Special Pikachu Edition) was released between 1998 and 2000.
Nintendo hasn’t made the first generation of Pokemon games’ sales figures public, but according to survey information from the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA)*, the four versions collectively sold around 45 million copies—roughly 31.05 million for Red/Blue/Green and 14.64 million for Yellow. According to Nintendo, 1.5 million copies were also sold on the 3DS through the Virtual Console, increasing the total number of first-gen Pokemon games sold to almost 47 million.
When we asked Nintendo for an official number, we got no answer. We do, however, have the franchise’s official sales total: By the end of March 2022, Pokemon games had sold over 440 million copies worldwide.
Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros has sold slightly more than 48 million units overall, according to CESA. It is the most popular NES game ever, having reportedly sold 40.24 million copies for the system. This sales figure also includes sales of the Game Boy Color remake Super Mario Bros.
Deluxe (which sold 5 million copies), the Game Boy Advance’s Classic NES Series: Super Mario Bros. (which sold 2 million copies), and the Virtual Console (which sold 666,000 copies).
Several versions of the renowned platformer were also produced on the following systems: arcade, Game & Watch, PC-88, Sharp X1, Nintendo’s PlayChoice-10, SNES (via Super Mario All-Stars), NES Classic, and Nintendo Switch (via Nintendo Switch Online). As of publication, Nintendo has not responded to our request for an official sales figure.
Overwatch, a hero shooter developed by Blizzard, has reportedly sold 50 million units, according to a Bloomberg story from April 2022. With the outstanding game design, meticulously created heroes, and ongoing esports backing, Overwatch elevated the hero shooter subgenre. Overwatch will be replaced by its free-to-play successor, Overwatch 2, in October 2022.
Red Dead Redemption
Nintendo reports that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best-selling Switch game with 52 million units sold. When the first Wii U release is taken into account, the amount of the overall sales to nearly 60 million, making it the sixth-best-selling game of all time. Given that MK8 outsold the next-best-selling game by 15 million units, it seems doubtful that it will move up the list much more.
It’s hardly unexpected that PUBG has been such a commercial success, considering the pivotal role it has played in the meteoric rise of battle royale games over the past five years. According to Dave Curd, creative director of Krafton, 75 million copies of PUBG have been sold as of December 2021.
Due to the game being free-to-play a month later in January 2022, that is likely to be the final sales number. It’s worth mentioning that as of March 2021, PUBG Mobile had been downloaded over a billion times, even though free mobile downloads don’t count against its revenue total.
Wii Sports is the best-selling Nintendo game of all time, according to the company’s official sales numbers. While the majority of these games were included in console bundles at some time, Wii Sports was included in practically all Wii consoles sold at retail. To date, it has sold approximately 83 million copies, making it the best-selling exclusive for a single platform.
Grand Theft Auto
Grand Theft Auto 5 has sold more copies than any other console or PC-only game ever (the top two entries on this list have mobile versions, too). As of September 30, 2022, more than 170 million copies of Rockstar’s most ambitious GTA game had been sold.
This number is the sum of how many copies of the game have been sold on three console generations and the PC between 2013 and 2022. GTA 5 was the fastest entertainment release of any kind to reach $1 billion, and Rockstar and Take-Two have made even more money from it since then. As of 2018, it is the most profitable entertainment release ever.
Microsoft said that as of April 2021, 238 million copies of Minecraft had been sold, but that number has likely gone up in the past year and a half. The company says that number is the total sales for all 22 of its platforms. And with film, Netflix, education, toy, and many other projects done or in the works, Minecraft has gone beyond the medium in a way that few others have. We asked Microsoft for a new sales total, but they didn’t get back to us.
The Tetris Company says that 520 million copies of the game have been sold, which puts it at the top of the list of all-time best-sellers. Tetris may be the most timeless video game ever made. This number includes sales on all platforms, with mobile sales making up the majority: Henk Rogers, who is the managing director of The Tetris Company, said that as of 2014, 425 million paid mobile downloads of Tetris had been made.
Tetris was first made for a computer made in the Soviet Union called the Elektronika 60. Since then, the classic puzzle game has been made for more than 50 different platforms. Notably, it helped make the Game Boy a hit, selling 35 million copies of the handheld console made by Nintendo.
Still, new versions of the classic are coming out: Tetris Effect: Connected brought the puzzle game to current-generation consoles with an emotional twist, and Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 came out in 2020.