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The 20 Best-Selling Videogames of All Time

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Videogames aren’t a charity, pal. They’re made to make money for the corporations that release them and the developers who create them, and as with any commercial enterprise, success is not always guaranteed. Some games lose money, some break even, and some make a tidy little profit. And then there are the games that are true blockbusters in the Hollywood sense of the word, selling tens of millions of copies and reaping millions—and sometimes billions—of dollars. Those are the games we’re talking about here, the games that most dramatically separated players from their money. These are the 20 best-selling videogames of all time, according to this Wikipedia list. That doesn’t mean they’re the most profitable, but that they simply moved the most units off of store shelves and through digital storefronts. Paste can’t personally vouch or fact-check these numbers—the games industry generally tries to hide its sales data—but Wikipedia has links that back up its numbers, if you want to research it for yourself.

Here they are: the 20 best-selling games of all time.

20. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Year released: 2010
Copies sold: 26,200,000

With Black Ops Activision took the Call of Duty soldier boys into conspiracy territory, right before the Infowars doofuses of the world turned conspiracy theories from a harmless laugh into a society-undermining threat. The ever-popular multiplayer mode and availability on basically every platform known to man have helped this one sell over 26,000,000 copies since it was released in 2010.


19. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Year released: 2011
Copies sold: 26,500,000

If you know anything about games, you probably know this: people like shooting other people inside of them. Activision’s annual murder jamboree hit its popular peak in 2011, with the third Modern Warfare selling 26,500,000 copies across multiple platforms.


18. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Year released: 2004
Copies sold: 27,500,000

Rockstar’s tribute to the G-funk era is still probably the most chaotic GTA, and thus probably the most fun. It’s also the most controversial, as its ESRB rating was briefly changed to AO due to the infamous Hot Coffee mod. After several rereleases on various platforms over the years, San Andreas has sold over 27,000,000 copies.


17. Wii Play
Year released: 2006
Copies sold: 28,020,000

This one deserves a big fat asterisk. 28,000,000 people didn’t buy Wii Play because they wanted a collection of mediocre Wii minigames. The game came bundled with a Wii Remote, at a time when everything Wii-related was flying off the shelves. The easiest way to find a Wii Remote in 2007 was by buying Wii Play, and so people bought it in droves. Some of the minigames were enjoyable, but overall it felt like a quick, cheap cash-in on the then-thriving Wii fad.


16. Duck Hunt
Year released: 1984
Copies sold: 28,300,000

Witness the power of the pack-in. If you bought an NES in the ‘80s, odds are it came with a copy of Duck Hunt on the same cartridge as Super Mario Bros. That alone helped the Light Zapper game move over 28,000,000 units, solidifying it as one of the most iconic games of the ‘80s.


15. Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal
Year released: 1999/2000
Copies sold: 29,490,000

Pokémon games tend to release in groups. Instead of one single game, Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal all feature different playable Pokémon characters in the same overarching story. While not nearly as popular as the first round of Pokémon games that came out a few years earlier, the trio of Gold, Silver and Crystal has still run up almost 30,000,000 units in sales


13. Diablo III and Reaper of Souls (Tied)
Year released: 2012
Copies sold: 30,000,000

The first Diablo game in over a decade sold 3.5 million copies in a single day. Apparently Diablo fans were starving for some hacking and slashing. Since release it’s sold roughly 30,000,000 copies, even though it’s become a controversial game among the Diablo fan base. Some love it, some hate it, but tens of millions still bought it.


13. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Tied)
Year released: 2011
Copies sold: 30,000,000

The Dragonborn roared its way to the best sales numbers of the Elder Scrolls franchise. If you stripped Nintendo games from this list, Skyrim would be the fifth best-selling game of all time. Mark it up to both the game’s ubiquity—it’s available on almost every game console released over the last 15 years, as well as PC—and its quality. This massive, intricately detailed RPG is one of the best-reviewed games of the decade.


12. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Year released: 2009
Copies sold: 30,220,000

We’re not going to lie: this bums us out just a little bit. Not that the retrotastic side-scrolling Mario game is on the list, but that the vastly superior Super Mario Galaxy, which was released for the Wii one year earlier, isn’t. Nostalgia is hard to fight, though, and even though this game was new in 2009, it was heavily steeped in the 2D nature of Mario’s past. Over 30,000,000 copies sold is no joke, so clearly Nintendo knew what they were doing.


11. New Super Mario Bros.
Year released: 2006
Copies sold: 30,800,000

This DS game preceded New Super Mario Bros. Wii by three years, and has sold just over half a million copies more since it was released. It was the first of Nintendo’s periodic returns to the side-scrolling Mario well, and the best-selling game on the wildly popular DS handheld.


10. Wii Sports Resort
Year released: 2009
Copies sold: 33,090,000

If a Nintendo game had the word “Wii” in the title, it usually sold like gangbusters. Wii Sports Resort cruised to over 33,000,000 units moved on the back of four facts: it was the sequel to the mega blockbuster Wii Sports; it came bundled with the WiiMotionPlus peripheral, which improved the system’s motion controls; it was later bundled with the console alongside Wii Sports; and it was legitimately a lot of fun to play.


9. Mario Kart Wii
Year released: 2008
Copies sold: 37,140,000

Mario Kart Wii is the best-selling Mario Kart game of all time. It is not the most popular or best reviewed Mario Kart game of all time. This is what the Wii could do for a game: if you slap some goofy gimmick in the box (in this case, a plastic wheel that you could snap the Wii Remote into), add the word “Wii” to the title, and release it at the height of the Wii fad, you could expect to sell tens of millions of copies.


8. Super Mario Bros.
Year released: 1985
Copies sold: 43,170,000

Yes, somehow this only comes in eighth. The NES pack-in is the definitive videogame for a generation, and the first experience many ever had with the medium. There’s a reason any game that lets you create and share levels will have multiple versions of Super Mario World 1-1 uploaded to its servers on the first day: because a huge percentage of the gaming audience knows it like the backs of their hands. Super Mario Bros. has sold over 43,000,000 copies since it was released, which is a lot of coins.


7. Wii Fit / Wii Fit Plus
Year released: 2007/2009
Copies sold: 43,800,000

Maybe this is a cheat. (Don’t tell the trainer.) These are technically two different releases, although Wii Fit Plus is basically just the first game with a number of additions. Individually neither would make the list, as they both sold about 22,000,000 copies. Both games were pack-ins with the Wii Balance Board at different points, proving once again that the words “Wii” and a peripheral almost guaranteed big sales back in the late ‘00s. We’re bundling the two together here because, well, that’s what Wikipedia did, but also because, again, Plus is less of a sequel than an expansion on the original game. If Wii Fit was released ten years later Plus would just be DLC for it, and not a separately packaged product. So let’s ring ‘em up together and slot in ‘em right here at lucky number seven.


6. Pokémon Red/Green/Blue/Yellow
Year released: 1996/1998
Copies sold: 47,520,000

Here’s another handheld Pokémon RPG with an unnecessarily confusing release strategy. Red and Green were the original Pokémon games in Japan, and set the precedent of Pokémon games launching with multiple releases featuring the same game with different characters. Blue was a special edition in 1998, and that title replaced Green when the games rolled out internationally. And then Yellow was another enhanced version of the original game with a new crew of characters. Released for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, these variants combined to sell a huge number of copies to players around the world.


5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Year released: 2017
Copies sold: 50,000,000

This honestly shocked me. I knew PUBG was huge in 2017 and into 2018, but with Fortnite quickly stealing its thunder it’s maybe become too easy to forget exactly how huge the battle royale originator was. This is the newest game on the list (obviously) and the only one released in the last five years, and it’s a success that was driven heavily by Twitch and other streaming platforms. (And yes, the only reason Fortnite didn’t make this list is because it’s free-to-play, meaning nobody actually buys a copy of the game.)


4. Wii Sports
Year released: 2006
Copies sold: 82,860,000

Wii Sports is the perfect combination of hardware and pack-in title. For some (like, uh, my parents), Wii Sports basically was the Wii—they didn’t realize or care that the system could play other games, too. They were content to bowl and play tennis for months, and then content to let the Wii sit untouched in the entertainment center after they tired of it. The Wii was a pop culture phenomenon in a way we rarely see in games, something that wasn’t just massively successful but was more popular outside gaming circles than within, and Wii Sports was a huge reason why.


3. Grand Theft Auto V
Year released: 2014
Copies sold: 100,000,000

GTA isn’t for everybody—it’s a tediously cynical tantrum with reliably terrible controls masquerading as social commentary—but it clearly resonates with a massive portion of the gaming audience. It takes the most successful movies ever several weeks to hit $1 billion dollars in profits; GTA V rang that up in its first three days. People clearly can’t get enough of Rockstar’s virtual chaos.


2. Minecraft
Year released: 2011
Copies sold: 154,000,000

Minecraft transcended videogames. When the thirty and fortysomething men of 2040 start hitting their midlife crises and indulging in shameless nostalgia, Minecraft will be at the top of the list of pop cultural detritus they exhume from their childhood. For millions of kids Minecraft was the only game that mattered for several years straight. It almost felt less like a game than a competitor to Lego; instead of following instructions to build models or playsets in real life, Minecraft players were free to build almost anything they wanted within their massive world. And when players tired of that freedom, they could always pursue the esoteric story subtly weaved into the game. Minecraft might’ve lost a lot of its thunder to Fortnite and growing up, but it’s so popular and well-established that it’ll probably never fully go away.


1. Tetris
Year released: 1984
Copies sold: 170,000,000

The secret to Tetris’s success is getting released on pretty much every mechanical device made since Reagan’s second term. Tetris is ubiquitous, feeling less like a videogame along the lines of Minecraft and Super Mario than a timeless institution with no beginning and no end. Tetris is the chess of today, the modern-day go, a storied game with a past few people think about and a future that is as taken for granted as breathing. It’s sold over 170,000,000 copies during its 35 years, and could very well sell another 170,000,000 before the oceans swallow us.

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