Top 10 Best-selling Video Games in History

Video games long had the image of being made exclusively for kids or “nerds”. But that is definitely no longer the case. Video game culture has reached the mainstream. In fact, the e-sport industry is growing at an incredibly fast pace and has overtaken most “real-life” sports in terms of global popularity. It is needless to say that the video games industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry. The market also belongs to the most competitive ones there are.

While hundreds of millions of video games are shipped every year, only three video games in history managed to sell more than a hundred million copies in total. The following ranking of the best-selling video games shows which ones and the entire Top 10 of the all-time best-selling video games in the world.

Note: For obvious reasons free video games, like the popular “Fortnite” for example, are not recognized in this best-selling Top 10 video games ranking.


The Top 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time

top video games in history

1. Minecraft

best selling video game

Minecraft is the single best-selling video game in history.

At a time when most video games strive to provide their players with realistic, high-end graphics, Minecraft proved that graphics are not primarily what makes a video game successful. The sandbox survival game uses almost absurdly outdated, simplistic graphics, yet it has sold around 240 million times around the world since its release in 2011. The game was developed by the small Swedish video game company Mojang Studios, which was only founded in 2009 and is now owned by Microsoft.

Aside from the “ancient” graphics, another aspect that makes Minecraft so special: It does not have a specific goal. There are no levels to complete or high scores to break. Players simply build their own world while avoiding and/or killing a variety of monsters. The multi-platform game can be played both in single-player as well as multiplayer mode.


2. Grand Theft Auto V

third best-selling video game of all time

Grand Theft Auto V is the second most sold video game of all time. It also joins Minecraft and Tetris in being the only video games to have broken the 100 million mark by selling a total of around 170 million copies worldwide. GTA V is part of the Grand Theft Auto series, which itself belongs to the most popular and best-selling video game series in history. GTA V was developed by American video game company Rockstar Games in 2013.

While Rockstar, which is owned by video game giant Take-Two Interactive, is now also known for other widely popular games, it is still the GTA franchise that stands almost synonymous with the company. GTA V is an open-world action-adventure game that lets players play with three different characters, each with unique background stories and attributes.


3. Tetris

second of the best-selling top 10 video games in history

Tetris is third among the best-selling video games in history, having only recently been surpassed by Minecraft. The game was created in 1984 by Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov. The inventor worked for the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, which still existed then. His original task was to develop a program that would let the Computing Center of the Academy test newly developed hardware. In other words, Tetris was originally meant as testing software, not a game.

But Pajitnov soon realized that his program became quite popular among his colleagues. With the permission of his superiors and the help of his colleagues, the program was then developed into a game named “Tetris” (a portmanteau of the geographic shape tetromino and the sport of tennis).

The game was consequently published worldwide by the state-owned Soviet (and later Russian) company Elektronorgtechnica. The simple, yet highly addictive game has sold around 150 million times ever since. Today, the licenses for the game are handled by the Tetris Company, a Hawaii-based company co-owned by Pajitnov.


4. Wii Sports

fourth of the top 10 best-selling video games in the world

In the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese video game giants Nintendo was the nonplus ultra of the video gaming world. But the competition, especially from Sony and Microsoft, was growing at the start of the 21st Century. Nintendo desperately needed a new innovative gaming concept. And as always, the company managed to create just that. In 2006, Nintendo released its new video game console: The Nintendo Wii. The console’s controller includes a sensor that detects three-dimensional movements, making the Wii controllable by the player’s movements.

Wii Sports represented the original game for the Wii console and it is therefore not surprising, that the game sold around 83 million copies worldwide. Wii Sports, as well as other games on the Wii console, quickly gained global prominence for being a popular party game for players of all ages. Like all Wii games, the game was and is exclusively playable on a Wii console.


5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds completes the Top 5 of the Top 10 best-selling video games of all time. Only released in 2017, the game has already sold around 70 million copies all over the globe. The battle royal-styled game was created and developed by South Korean video game studio PUBG which belongs to the likewise South Korean video game corporation Bluehole. The multi-platform game is only playable in multiplayer mode.

In a typical battle royale setting players from all over the world are competing against each other in an open world that is getting smaller with time until players have nowhere to hide. The last remaining survivor is declared the winner.


6. Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is a 1985 platform game developed and published by Nintendo. It was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and became the best-selling game of all time at the time of its release. It now has sold around 58 million copies worldwide. The game also introduced the world to what became one of the most globally well-known and iconic video game characters of all time: (Super) Mario, an Italian plumber. One of the most successful video game franchises in history has formed in the aftermath of the release of Super Mario Bros. However, the first original release to this day remains the best-selling one in the franchise.

The story follows Mario’s quest to save Princess Peach from King Koopa, who had captured her with his army of turtles. Players control Mario as he travels through the Mushroom Kingdom, defeating enemies and acquiring power-ups that let him reach new areas. The game introduced several back then innovative concepts such as running, jumping on enemies’ heads, picking up objects and using them as weapons or projectiles, breaking blocks from underfoot or jumping off them, and collecting coins.


7. Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 is the eighth installment in Nintendo’s Mario Kart series and was originally released for Nintendo’s Wii U console in 2014. Having sold around 55 million copies worldwide, the game is not only the most successful in the Mario Kart franchise and one of the best-selling video games overall, but it’s also the most successful and most played racing game in history.

Mario Kart 8 features 16 new tracks, 16 old tracks, 6 new characters, 12 returning characters from previous games, and 4 new vehicles. The game of course also features some of the series’ most iconic items such as red shells, banana peels, and blue shells.


8. Pokemon Red/Blue

The inaugural versions of the iconic Pokemon franchise were released in Japan in 1996 for Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy console. It was originally named “Pocket Monsters”, later shortened to Pokemon. The game was created by Japanese video game company Game Freak and featured three versions (Red, Blue, and Green). For its international release in 1998, the game then came out in the Red and Blue versions (later completed by an additional Yellow version).

With around 48 million copies sold, the original Pokemon remains the most successful and most well-known, and by far the most iconic role-playing game (RPG) in video game history. Players are, in short, tasked with catching and training 151 Pokemons on their way to becoming the ultimate “Pokemon trainer”.


9. Red Dead Redemption II

Red Dead Redemption II is the second installment of the action-adventure Red Dead game series. Having sold around 45 million copies worldwide, the game now also takes its rightful place in the Top 10 of the best-selling video games of all time. Developed by Rockstar Studios, Red Dead Redemption II is characteristically set in a large open-world environment, much like the video game studio’s even more successful franchise GTA.

The story of Red Dead Redemption II follows the life of Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang who is trying to survive and escape from law enforcement after a robbery goes wrong. The game is set in 1899, with gameplay taking place primarily in the American Southwest. Red Dead Redemption 2’s gameplay allows the player to interact with characters and explore details on the side of the narrative. The player can also partake in various activities including hunting and fishing, playing poker and interacting with random NPCs that populate towns and campsites scattered throughout the open world.


10. Terraria

Terraria is a sandbox action-adventure game where players can explore and exploit a randomly generated, destructible world. The game has been developed by American software developer Andrew Spinks and published by his private company “Re-Logic”. It was first released for the Windows platform in 2011 and subsequently on all other major video game consoles.

Terrara is often compared to fellow sandbox game Minecraft, which was released the same year. While not quite as popular as Minecraft, Terraria has now sold approximately 44 million copies worldwide and thus now also belongs to the Top 10 of the best-selling video games of all time.


The Top 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time

(as of September 2022)

Top 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time:
1. MINECRAFT
~ 240 million copies sold
2. GRAND THEFT AUTO V
~ 170 million copies sold
3. TETRIS
~ 150 million copies sold
4. WII SPORTS
~ 83 million copies sold
5. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS
~ 70 million copies sold
6. SUPER MARIO BROS.
~ 58 million copies sold
7. MARIO KART 8
~ 55 million copies sold
8. POKEMON RED/BLUE
~ 49 million copies sold
9. RED DEAD REDEMPTION II
~ 45 million copies sold
10. TERRARIA
~ 44 million copies sold

Top 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time by the worldwide number of copies sold.


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