As an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, you likely appreciate groundbreaking, influential video games just as much as I do. In this post, we‘ll explore the 10 most commercially successful video games ever based on units sold. Get ready for a fascinating journey through gaming history!
Video games have exploded into a $179 billion global industry, evolving from simple arcade amusements into an interactive art form. But across decades of technological leaps, some landmark titles have risen above the rest. Let‘s dive into the games that sold the most copies and left an enduring impact on pop culture.
#10 Tetris – 495 million units sold
It‘s incredible that the #10 game on this list has sold nearly half a billion copies! Tetris, created in 1984 by Russian engineer Alexey Pajitnov, is the quintessential puzzle game. Its simple yet endlessly compelling gameplay has cemented its status as a timeless classic.
The premise couldn‘t be more straightforward – rotate falling geometrical shapes to form complete lines across the playfield. But the addictive, easy to pick up formula hooked players almost instantly. After Nintendo bundled Tetris with the Game Boy in 1989, sales exploded. The chart below illustrates the staggering sales growth:
|1989||Game Boy||35 million|
|2006||Mobile phones||100 million|
|Total to date||All platforms||495 million|
Tetris has been released on over 65 platforms – that‘s a Guinness World Record! Even decades later, the legendary puzzle game keeps selling. It remains firmly implanted in pop culture through references in movies like Wreck-It Ralph and even an upcoming biopic. Tetris introduced timeless gameplay that forever changed video games.
#9 Wii Sports – 82.9 million units sold
Wii Sports powered Nintendo‘s blockbuster Wii console to new heights through fun, social gaming. Packaged with the Wii system, this 2006 title let players use motion controls to play tennis, bowling, boxing, golf, and baseball. It originated the ‘moms and grandparents playing games‘ trend that exploded with the Wii‘s accessibility.
Wii Sports achieved stunning mainstream success – by 2009, two years after release, sales had topped 50 million copies. Today, total sales exceed 82 million, making it one of the best-selling games ever. Analyzing the numbers shows how attaching it to the Wii itself drove massive popularity:
- Wii consoles sold – 101 million
- Attachment rate – 82%
- Total Wii Sports units – 82.9 million
The game struck a chord through pure fun and simplicity. I still remember having a blast playing Wii Sports with friends – ramping up bowling speed or flailing around in boxing matches full of slapstick comedy. It opened gaming to wider audiences that continue to benefit the industry today.
#8 Super Mario Bros. – 58 million units sold
This side-scroller defined Nintendo‘s iconic mascot and the platformer genre. After Mario made his debut in 1981‘s Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. propelled him to superstardom in 1985. The colorful, charming world of mushrooms, piranha plants, and flagpoles captured the gaming zeitgeist.
Developer Shigeru Miyamoto struck magic with the intuitive run and jump gameplay. Levels offered hidden secrets and diverging paths for exploration. Mario powered up with the iconic mushroom and flower power-ups we now take for granted. The catchy soundtrack, coupled with dynamic visuals, created an experience greater than the sum of its parts.
The game drove NES console adoption, ultimately selling over 58 million copies globally. Super Mario Bros. defined Nintendo‘s focus on gameplay and memorable characters. It spawned an expansive franchise now comprising over 200 games. Mario himself became the mascot of video gaming and a fixture of pop culture.
#7 PlayerUnknown‘s Battlegrounds (PUBG) – 75 million units sold
In 2017, PUBG pioneered the explosive battle royale genre that now dominates gaming. Inspired by Japanese movie Battle Royale, PUBG drops 100 players onto an island until one victor remains. Players scavenge for weapons and engage in a tense, ever-shrinking battlefield.
After launching in Steam Early Access, the addictive survival gameplay quickly garnered over a million players. Two years after release, PUBG grew to 45 million sold. By 2022, that number reached 75 million copies across PC and consoles. Let‘s break down the sales trajectory:
- 2017 – 30 million units
- 2018 – over 50 million units
- 2019 – over 60 million units
- 2022 – over 75 million units
PUBG filled a void in multiplayer gaming through emergent storytelling. No match plays out the same way. Unpredictable player encounters and a vast arsenal of weapons make for endless memorable moments. It paved the way for other battle royale games, but PUBG remains the pioneering titan.
#6 Grand Theft Auto V – 175 million units sold
Rockstar‘s 2013 open-world opus set sky-high benchmarks for next-gen gaming. The sprawling city of Los Santos brimmed with criminal activities. Players freely jumped between three protagonists on an epic crime spree. Revolutionary visuals and unprecedented scale delivered an unforgettable sandbox experience.
The game broke records with day one sales topping $800 million and exceeding $1 billion after just three days. Take a look at the beyond impressive sales numbers:
- 3 days after launch – $1 billion
- 2 months after launch – $1 billion in sales
- 6 weeks after PC launch – $800 million
- Total sold – over 175 million copies
GTA V‘s masterful worldbuilding and storytelling place it among gaming‘s elite. Even years after release, the thriving GTA Online community ensures millions of new players keep exploring everything Los Santos offers. This record-shattering installment will be the benchmark for open world games for years to come.
#5 Red Dead Redemption 2 – 45 million units sold
Rockstar struck artistic gold yet again with this prequel detailing the fall of the Wild West. As Arthur Morgan, players immerse themselves in a dynamic world full of shootouts, train heists, duels, and memorable characters. Films could only dream of matching the cinematic presentation on display in 1899 America.
Set across a breathtaking open world, every detail coalesced to make players feel like a real gunslinger. Adding up the sales numbers shows how RDR2 touched gamers worldwide:
- 2018 launch weekend – $725 million in sales
- First 12 days – $725 million in sales
- By Dec. 2021 – 45 million units sold
RDR2 elevated interactive storytelling with an emotional, player-driven journey. Winning over 300 Game of the Year awards, it established a high watermark for narrative depth and open world immersion. This instant classic pulls players into a poignant redemption story they won‘t soon forget.
#4 Wii Sports Resort – 45.7 million units sold
Expanding on the Wii Sports formula, this 2009 sequel added motion controls and 12 distinct sports games. It included archery, basketball, table tennis, golf, and wakeboarding – bringing the fun resort vibe home. Building on the original‘s success, this infectious party title sold over 45 million copies.
The Wii MotionPlus accessory allowed for precision control never before seen in casual motion games. Approachable sports activities meant players of all ages could jump right in. It exemplified the innovative motion control experiences that propelled Wii‘s popularity. Let‘s analyze the sales breakdown:
- Launch sales – over 500,000 units in 2 days
- Sales after 2 months – over 2.8 million units
- Total sales – 45.7 million units
Wii Sports Resort expertly blended simplicity and next-gen controls for a super social gaming blast. It stands tall among the all-time great party games – and I still love revisiting Wuhu Island to this day! The resort fun here never gets old.
#3 Mario Kart 8/Deluxe – 60 million units sold
The Mario Kart franchise hits remarkable sales heights with every new release. On Wii U and Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 and its Deluxe version have achieved a combined 60 million sales and counting. Mario Kart 8 first arrived on Wii U in 2014, bringing dynamic racing on tracks with Anti-Gravity sections, ATVs, and the series‘ signature multiplayer mayhem.
After being ported to Nintendo Switch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the definitive racing game found a massive new audience of gamers. Nintendo announced an incredible sales milestone in August 2022:
- Mario Kart 8 Wii U – 8 million units
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Switch – 52 million units
- Total sales – 60 million and counting
Mario Kart 8 still feels lightning fast and refined almost a decade later. The series sits comfortably as one of gaming‘s most evergreen staples – it‘s hard to imagine Mario Kart ever declining in popularity!
#2 Minecraft – 240 million units sold
Minecraft‘s meteoric rise from indie early access title to Microsoft‘s $2.5 billion franchise remains an amazing success story. The imaginative, world-building survival crafting struck a chord with millions of gamers. Open-ended creativity blended with mining, crafting, and combat perfectly encapsulated escapist fantasy.
After starting as a PC game in 2009, Minecraft steadily grew before absolutely exploding in popularity:
- 2012 – As indie game, over 10 million units sold
- 2014 – Acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion
- 2016 – 100 million units sold
- 2022 – 240 million units sold
Part of Minecraft‘s appeal is its timeless sandbox – there are infinitely many worlds to explore and create in. Over many iterations and platforms, the communal creativity has developed a life of its own. For a generation, Minecraft is gaming – its limitless possibilities and nostalgia cement its legacy.
#1 Tetris – 545 million units sold
Now we‘ve reached the apex – the single most successful video game of all time! Yes, with about 545 million copies sold, the Tetris juggernaut has stayed on top since releasing in 1984. Creator Alexey Pajitnov struck gold with the perfect puzzle game formula – across both portable and desktop platforms, those highly stackable Tetriminos endure as globally loved geometric shapes.
Once the Game Boy launched bundled with Tetris in 1989, sales erupted. An analysis of the numbers shows how this seemingly basic game connected with hundreds of millions across generations:
- Mobile devices – 205 million downloads
- Physical games – 125 million units
- Included with hardware launches – 215 million
- Total sales – 545 million units
For over 25 years and counting, Tetris continues hypnotizing players around the world. The recent N3TWORK Tetris mobile game has over 270 million downloads alone. This timeless experience keeps selling and inspiring new takes on puzzle games. Tetris emerges as the undisputed best-selling video game ever.
So there you have it – an in-depth look at the 10 biggest blockbusters in video game history! It‘s fascinating to see the different genres, consoles, and franchises represented by these sales heavyweights. All of these titles left a lasting impact either through groundbreaking gameplay, visuals, or mass appeal.
Which of these mega-sellers did you enjoy most? Let me know in the comments – I could talk about legendary games forever. And in the fast-moving gaming landscape, I can‘t wait to see what record-breaking titles emerge next! The magic of interactive entertainment continues evolving in exciting new directions.