Although sales aren’t the only metric relevant to how good a game is, it’s a decent measurement of how influential certain titles have been over time. In this list, we’ll take a look at the cream of the crop, listing the top bestselling video games of all time.
Some interesting notes before diving in: Almost all of the titles below were included as part of a hardware bundle at some point, with the exception of Terraria. Additionally, only seven of the games below are exclusive to one console — six on Wii and one on Nintendo DS. All other games are available on multiple platforms. It’s also worth noting that many of the sales stats for the following games are a couple of years old at this point and are likely higher today.
As with many successful Nintendo games, Wii Play is part of a bundle — only, it wasn’t bundled with a console. Instead, all copies of Wii Play were paired with a Wii Remote, which is likely why it reached over 28 million units sold. The game itself isn’t anything too special, but it was something accessible that even non-gamers could play.
Consisting of nine minigames like billiards, fishing, and a shooting range, this is one of the Wii’s most popular games, even if it isn’t its best.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt certainly came out of nowhere, didn’t it? While its predecessor, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, was good, not many were expecting the follow-up to explode with popularity. It featured an amazingly beautiful open world, interesting characters, and an excellent gameplay loop that made it hard to put down.
The side missions were memorable, too, and in some cases, even more engaging than the main quest. That’s why it’s no surprise it reached over 28 million units sold as of April 2020. It launched across PC, PS4, Xbox One, and, most recently, the Nintendo Switch, reaching a huge audience in as many places as possible.
Read our full The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
Following in the footsteps of the wildly popular Pokémon games from the first entries, generation two was bound to be successful. Consisting of Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, these games launched to an audience that was hungry for more and eventually went on to sell nearly 30 million units combined across all three entries.
Generation two added quality of life improvements, along with a slew of new Pokémon to catch. If you’re a Pokémon fan, you probably have a soft spot for these games.
Diablo III and its Reaper of Souls expansion topped 30 million sales in August 2015, setting sales records after only three years. Since then, Blizzard has ported the game to Nintendo Switch, though there aren’t any reported figures for sales on that platform. Given the velocity of sales from 2012 to 2015, it’s likely that Diablo III has sold many more copies.
That said, the latest report is that the game has sold more than 30 million copies, though it’s hard to say for sure where it stands now.
Read our full Diablo III review
Like Diablo III, it’s tough to say how many copies Skyrim has sold, especially with its countless re-releases and remasters. Todd Howard, director of Bethesda Game Studios, reported the game sold more than 30 million copies in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. In the same interview, Howard said the average player spends more than 150 hours in the game.
Unfortunately, the report came out before the VR releases of Skyrim and the Nintendo Switch port (read our best Vive games guide for more on the latter). That’s not to mention the Skyrim Alexa skill.
Read our full Skyrim review
Following its launch in 2011, the action-adventure sandbox Terraria has gotten tremendous support, leading to millions of copies sold worldwide. In fact, as of April 2020, it surpassed 30 million copies sold, making it one of the bestselling games ever. Most of its sales are attributed to PC, with 14 million copies sold on that platform.
Its developer, Re-Logic, recently released the game’s final expansion, titled Journey’s End, and now plans to start working on something new. Will it be as successful as Terraria? We’ll have to see.
Beating out Skyrim and Diablo III by a few hundred thousand units, New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the first single-platform title on our list. It has sold 30.28 million copies from November 11, 2009, to September 30, 2019, according to Nintendo. Out of the Wii’s lineup, it’s the highest-selling stand-alone game, followed by Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii outsold those other titles because it was bundled with a limited-edition red Wii console, celebrating Nintendo’s 25th anniversary.
2006’s New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS is the bestselling DS game of all time, clocking in with nearly 31 million sales. It’s the bestselling by a long shot, too, beating out all three Nintendogs titles and Mario Kart DS, each of which sold around 24 million copies.
The first in a series of games that continues to this day, New Super Mario Bros. returned to the side-scrolling 2D platforming of the original titles. Like the other entries on this list, it was bundled with a Nintendo DS, accounting for a decent portion of the sales.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is certainly Rockstar’s most ambitious game to date, giving us one of the best living, breathing open worlds we’ve ever seen. In it, you’ll come across a memorable cast of characters with understandable and realistic motivations. But the real shining force is in the details, and boy howdy are there a lot.
Everything from the way the main character — Arthur Morgan — changes based on the environment to the animations and the way other NPCs react to you is fully realized. It’s a slow and deliberate game that wants you to spend time in it, but clearly that didn’t stop players from buying it. We recently found out that it topped 32 million copies sold, which is incredibly impressive.
Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review
Wii Sports Resort expanded the popular Wii Sports demo disc included with every Wii console. Nintendo updated the Wii controller in 2009, following tracking issues with the original design. The update came in the form of the Wii MotionPlus accessory, which plugs into the Nunchuck port on the Wii controller.
The high sales volume is a result of Nintendo’s clever bundling of games and accessories, which is something we’ll see with other entries moving forward. Players who wanted the Wii MotionPlus could buy it bundled with Wii Sports Resort at no extra charge, resulting in very high sales.
By the standards of the bestselling games of all time, Mario Kart 8 didn’t perform well, moving just over 8 million units. Unfortunately, the lack of Wii U sales likely caused the lower than average figures, as the Nintendo Switch port, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is the bestselling Switch game so far at 26.74 million units.
This is a trend seen with other first-party titles on the Wii U and Switch. For example, New Super Mario Bros. U, originally released on the Wii U, moved 5.79 million sales. The Switch port, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, has already outsold the Wii U version at 5.85 million units, despite releasing nine years later.
Read our full Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review
Another case of a console-bundled, accessory-bundled game, Mario Kart Wii has reached nearly 40 million sales as of September 2019. The base game came with a specially designed wheel that that Wii controller could fit inside. Likewise, Nintendo sold a black Wii bundle, which included the game, a built-in Wii MotionPlus controller, and a special black wheel.
It’s tough to say how many copies of Mario Kart Wii were sold on its own. In addition to a normal Wii bundle and the black Wii bundle, Nintendo also bundled the game with an exclusive red Wii mini. This version, however, didn’t include the wheel seen with the base game.
A stroll down the electronics aisle of any thrift store will show just how popular Wii Fit was. Bundled with the Balance Board accessory, Wii Fit incorporated exercise into a video game, with a variety of yoga positions and strength training exercises. As a family-centered console, Wii Fit was a perfect addition to the family, pushing everyone to get off the couch and exercise.
Wii Fit on its own was no slouch in terms of sales, topping 22 million shipped units. Wii Fit Plus, an enhanced version of the game with additional exercises, followed closely behind at over 21 million sales. Combined together, Wii Fit is the second bestselling game on Wii, beaten only by Wii Sports.
The first-generation Pokémon games — those being Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green — account for more nearly 20% of Pokémon’s 275 million or so sales. Counting the original Japanese releases in the form of Red and Green, as well as the American releases of Red, Blue, and Yellow, the first generation of Pokémon reached nearly 50 million players.
The majority of those sales came from the Game Boy cartridge release (around 46 million). The remaining 1.5 million were sold through the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, with around half the sales coming from American customers.
Super Mario Bros. was released in the early days of home gaming on the NES, and has since been ported to countless other systems. Despite the much smaller market compared to now, the game endured, selling over 40 million copies on the NES. The remaining 8 million sales came from releases on the Wii Virtual Console, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance.
The 48 million only factors in physical and digital sales of the game. As for how many people have played Super Mario Bros., the number is probably far higher. The game launched alongside multiple other NES titles for Nintendo Switch Online in 2018, allowing players on Nintendo’s latest console to go on a nostalgia trip.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game that popularized the battle royale genre, has amassed over 70 million sales as of 2020. The figure only accounts for PC and Xbox One sales, the latter of which had a console bundle. Since the sales announcement, the game has been released on PS4, so the number is likely higher.
As for the number of players, PUBG’s figures are much higher than 70 million. In the same sales announcement, PUBG Corp. said that the game has a player base of over 400 million. Around 350 million of those players are on mobile devices, where PUBG is available as a free download.
Wii Sports is a bit of a cheat entry. Bundled with every Wii console, the game “sold” as many units as the Wii, even if the players didn’t want a copy. Again continuing Nintendo’s tradition of piggybacking one product’s sales on the back of another, Wii Sports sold more than 82 million units.
Although the Wii itself topped 100 million sales, the last 20 million or so are likely credited to the Wii Mini. When it launched, the Wii Mini didn’t include a pack-in game, though it was later released with a copy of Mario Kart Wii.
According to Take-Two’s earnings report in the first quarter of 2020, Grand Theft Auto V has sold over 135 million copies worldwide, 15 million of which were sold in 2020 so far. The figure takes into account all sales of the game across console generations. The main reason it has garnered such success (other than the fact that it has a fantastic single-player mode) is thanks to Grand Theft Auto Online.
This shared world multiplayer component sends players through the world of Los Santos with the goal of having the most luxurious life you can imagine. A major component to GTA Online are its in-game purchases, in which you can spend real world money on. You can buy currency (in the form of Shark cash) outright, or — and here’s the kicker — you can often find brand new copies of GTA V bundled with Shark cash, with a lower price than if you bought the digital currency outright. As a result, players have been known to double or even triple dip, just to get discounts on in-game cash.
Read our full Grand Theft Auto V review
Like Tetris, which we’ll get to next, Minecraft sales aren’t clear. The only thing for sure is that the number is high. Between console, mobile, and PC sales, the game has reached over 200 million people. Factoring in the free-to-play mobile title, Minecraft has a player base of nearly 500 million.
When it debuted in May 2009, Minecraft was free and players could download it without paying. But within a matter of months, Minecraft monetized as a pre-ordered game. Xbox subscribers can still download Minecraft for free with a subscription, though. It’s worth doing since Minecraft is one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass.
Tetris sales are a moving target and difficult to track. The physical game has sold nearly 70 million copies (35 million with the Game Boy release). But when we consider the profits Tetris makes from the paid mobile app, it rises quickly to the top.
In a 2014 interview, VentureBeat reported 425 million paid downloads of Tetris’s mobile app. Don’t forget that you can also play free versions of Tetris. So those 425 million downloads are likely only a fraction of the overall downloads of Tetris.
The final point is that all these figures are pretty old, and Tetris has not slowed down. Whatever way you count it, Tetris is the best-selling game of all time.
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