The Top Selling Video Games of All Time: Ranked

When Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann patented their "cathode-ray tube amusement device" in 1947, they set the stage for the multi-billion dollar video game industry we know today. Over 75 years later, the world‘s top selling video games span decades of gaming history, from iconic 80s arcade titles to modern record-breaking hits.

These games below represent a wide range of platforms, genres, franchises and innovations that have each sold over 50 million copies. Analyzing the all-time bestsellers provides unique insight into the gaming trends, beloved titles and franchise powerhouses that have captured the hearts of gamers across generations.

The Top 10 Selling Video Games Ever

Below are the 10 top-selling video games of all time based on available sales data. We‘ll analyze each to understand why these particular games struck gold.

#10: Red Dead Redemption 2

Genre: Action-Adventure
Original Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Year: 2018
Copies Sold: Over 44 million

As a sequel to 2010‘s popular Red Dead Redemption, this 2018 title elevated the series with its visually stunning open world and immerseive gameplay. Set in a gorgeously rendered Wild West, it struck a chord with its gripping storytelling and addictive mix of action, exploration and hunting/crafting systems. Developer Rockstar Games has a knack for building buzz and the title continues to sell well across platforms.

#9: PlayerUnknown‘s Battlegrounds

Genre: Battle Royale
Original Platform: Microsoft Windows
Release Year: 2017
Copies Sold: Over 75 million

This multiplayer battle royale shooter spearheaded the trend of throwing 100 players into a map to scavenge for weapons and fight for survival. Its realistic graphics and mechanics combined with the high stakes competition to hook gamers. After exploding on PC, console and mobile ports opened the massive player base. The game shifted to a free-to-play model in 2022, ushering over 1 billion registered users.

#8: Pokémon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow

Genre: Role-Playing
Original Platform: Game Boy
Release Year: 1996 (JP), 1998 (NA)
Copies Sold: Over 47 million

This set of interlinked Game Boy RPGs sparked a global phenomenon in the late 90s. The games let players collect cute monsters to battle and trade. It spearheaded many innovations that upgraded the RPG genre like reactive battles, evolution systems and connectivity for trading creatures. Developed for a handheld, it leveraged multiplayer link cables for real world social gameplay. The franchise remains popular today across spinoff games, cards, toys, anime and films.

#7: Super Mario Bros

Genre: Platformer
Original Platform: NES/Arcade
Release Year: 1985
Copies Sold: Over 58 million

This classic side scrolling platformer marked a turning point for Nintendo‘s mascot Mario into a global icon. Bright graphics, catchy music and slick controls popularized the 2D sidescroller. It was bundled with the NES console to drive adoption. Along with subsequent Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 titles, the series demonstrated strong franchise power and gameplay innovation to become the best selling game on the NES.

#6: Grand Theft Auto V

Genre: Action-Adventure
Original Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Year: 2013
Copies Sold: Over 170 million

Rockstar struck gold again by letting players freely roam a seedy open world city and pull offheists. Its urban crime theme resonated broadly despite controversy over violence. Selling over 32.5 million units in its first six weeks, its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports vastly extended its run. Advances like seamless multiplayer and support for user-generated content demonstrate key reasons why franchises like Grand Theft Auto dominate all-time sales records.

#5: PlayerUnknown‘s Battlegrounds Mobile

Genre: Battle Royale
Platform: iOS, Android
Release Year: 2018
Copies Sold: Over 200 million

Capitalizing on the popularity of its PC counterpart, the mobile port of Battlegrounds introduced the competitive battle royale style to the mobile scene. The on-the-go convenience and extensive customization combined with a strong content pipeline has earned this free-to-play game nearly $7 billion to date according to Sensor Tower – the highest mobile game revenue of all time.

#4: Wii Sports

Genre: Sports
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Release Year: 2006 launch title
Copies Sold: Bundled with over 82 million Wii consoles

This collection of motion controlled sports minigames became a cultural phenomenon. Approachable gameplay let casual gamers pick up bowling, tennis and boxing easily with natural motion controls. It highlighted the Wii‘s family appeal and turned the console into a lightning success. While exact sales are unknown since it was bundled with Wii consoles, estimates based on console sales put it as the best selling game on a single platform ever.

#3: Tetris

Genre: Puzzle
Platforms: iOS, PlayStation Portable, NES and nearly every platform imaginable
Release Year: 1984 (Alexey Pajitnov‘s original version), 2006 (EA mobile version)
Copies Sold: Over 100 million (500 million including free mobile downloads)

Available in some form on nearly every device, this ultra addictive puzzle game continues to be a best seller nearly 40 years later. Simple rules, endless replayability and a synergy with mobile gameplay has cemented its legacy. While exact figures are tricky given its numerous ports, the EA mobile app version alone accounts for over 100 million paid downloads. Estimates suggest 500 million+ installs across all platforms and versions.

#2: Minecraft

Genre: Sandbox / Survival
Platform: Originally PC before expanding to all platforms
Release Year: 2011 official release
Copies Sold: Over 239 million

This indie sandbox crafting and building phenomenon has taken the gaming world by storm for over a decade. Its simplicity draws in players of all ages to explore strange blocky worlds and unleash endless creativity experimenting and designing structures and inventions. Available on a staggeringly versatile range of devices, its community-run servers and crossplay unite tens of millions of monthly players.

#1: GTA V

Genre: Action-Adventure
Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Release Year: 2013
Copies Sold: Over 170 million

Despite being nearly a decade old, Rockstar‘s blockbuster open-world crime series dominates as the all-time bestseller. Offering unprecedented freedom to heist, steal cars and battle polilce, the game struck a chord with over 32.5 million copies sold in its first six weeks alone. Continuously updated online experiences, ports to new consoles and in-game virtual currency purchases has powered its unprecedented longevity as the true greatest of all time.

Analysis: Why These Games Dominate The Best Seller List

Several clear patterns emerge from these top-performing games that offer insight into crafting breakout hits.

Key Factors Behind Best Selling Video Games

Strong Franchises – Games like Mario, Pokémon and Grand Theft Auto illustrate that franchises build momentum, visibility and loyalty that propels continuous sales even decades later. Grand Theft Auto V enjoyed record pre-order sales based largely on goodwill from previous titles.

Multiplatform Ports – Minecraft and Tetris show how titles can explode in sales by expanding to every possible platform, maximizing accessibility and reach. Even exclusives like Nintendo‘s Wii Sports can sell systems that propel game sales.

Gameplay Innovation – Red Dead Redemption 2 advanced open world immersion. Mario pioneered momentum-based 2D platformers. PUBG sparked a Battle Royale movement. New gameplay directions attract buzz and loyalty.

Engaging Progression Systems – RPG leveling systems, competitive rankings and collecting content that carries over between play sessions enhances players‘ sense of investment and progress.

Social Features – Local multiplayer, trading mechanisms, sharing content and online battles motivate social gameplay in real and digital spaces, increasing engagement.

Developer Relationships – Rockstar‘s continuous high-quality output makes players eagerly anticipate their next release. Nintendo‘s seal of approval flags Mario spin-offs as quality.

What About These Games Creates Lasting Popularity?

It‘s not enough to just sell well early on. These games demonstrate lasting value that keeps them selling year after year.

Strong Core Gameplay – Easy to learn but hard to master games like Tetris have nearly endless depth despite simple components. Wii Sports bowling resonates across ages and demographics.

Customization & Expression – Games like Minecraft and PUBG Mobile that facilitate player creativity, customization and sharing user generated content benefit from a constant stream of new content.

Competitive Elements – High score chasing or direct player vs player battles motivate continuous play to rise rankings and test skills against others.

Regular Content Updates – Games like GTA V and PUBG Mobile release regular gameplay updates, cosmetics and events to sustain player interest and spending over years.

Active Communities – Even classic games get modern online refreshes that connect players like Tetris 99. Friend networks playing Minecraft and keeping each other engaged.

Cross-Generational Appeal – Stylized graphics and approachable gameplay allows vintage games like Super Mario Bros and Sonic appeal to kids who missed their era. Parent share classics from their childhood.

Where To Get These Best Selling Games

For physical collectors, re-releases and limited editons create great display pieces. Check video game focused stores like GameStop along with Target, Walmart and BestBuy. Local retro game shops can have nicely priced used copies.

Online stores like Amazon and platform shops for Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox consoles have digital purchases readily avaialble for convenience and portability.

Fan conventions often have vendors, sometimes with exclusives or rare titles. Locally, Flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales might have well preserved games for killer deals from old personal collections.

Before You Buy – Compatibility Check

With games spanning over 30 years of gaming platforms, check that a title works with consoles you already own before purchasing to avoid disappointment.

While platforms like iOS and Android phones have very old games updated for download, most top sellers like PS2 classic Grand Theft Auto titles require now outdated consoles. Consider costs of acquiring compatible used systems – or look into manufactured classic mini consoles for some franchises like NES and SNES that play vintage catridges.

The Legacy: Why These Record Holders Still Delight Today

These top selling titles represent gaming‘s most creative breakthrough moments blending art, tech and entertainment. It‘s worth revisiting pioneering masterworks celebrating pure gameplay innovation.

Visually, early 3D polygons feel nostalgic versus modern cinematic set-pieces and texture resolution. Gameplay trumps all – with pixel-perfect precision platforming challenges, emergent open city sandboxes for experimentation and roleplaying living out fantasy personas.

Local multiplayer focus created memorable socially experiences crowding around one screen. Offering pure gameplay thrills in focused 20 minute play sessions – no tutorials, prompts or interruptive narrative cutscenes. Just the satisfaction of beating high score records through sharpening skills.

Their influence continuously evolves gaming. Super Mario characters now co-star with Mickey Mouse on Disney cruise lines. The world‘s biggest pop star Drake streams Fortnite during concerts. PUBG and Fortnite‘s success forced the mighty Call of Duty series to add their own Battle Royale mode. Tetris puzzles get crafted into real world architecture. Minecraft allows coding and engineering education using redstone electronic systems.

Their simplicity invites newcomers fearlessly to pick up controllers and leap into waving flags in Mario Kart races or smashing Tetris lines without judgement. Gaming now out-earns Hollywood globally with platforms like Twitch livestreaming playthroughs to mass audiences – building bonds across cultures.

Once perceived as solitary basement activities for outcasts, gaming represents meaningful life milestones marking generations. Friendships bonded sneaking Game Boy link cable samples during high school algebra. Parents now share formative memories with their children through interactive medium – outperforming passive film or television viewing.

Ultimately quantifying 135 million Grand Theft Auto 5 sales matters less than the memories made racing bikes down the mountains escaping police helicopters together. The industry keeps growing with games now rivaling Star Wars and Harry Potter franchise success. Everyone deserves to experience how artfully designed gameplay – whether 2D sidescrollers or sprawling 3D cities or puzzles – thrills senses and forges new skills that restore our sense of childlike innocence. Revisiting these classic best sellers offers a perfect entry point into the magic of play that 30 years of technology finely tuned for delight.

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