Gaming is a huge industry. You probably already know that video games earn more than movies and the music industry combined. Although gaming has had its fair share of ups and downs, it has been going strong for well over 30 years now, growing bigger every year. The growth of the esports sector further contributes to both popularity and sales of video games. Most games now sell in millions or tens of millions of units. It’s that big of a deal.
Our video game sales statistics overview will look at the best-sellers across multiple console generations. We’ve also checked the latest charts across all current-generation platforms, both physical and digital, and certain milestones that happened throughout the years.
Video Game Sales Statistics – Editor’s Choice:
- Minecraft is the best-selling video game, with 238 million copies sold.
- Space Invaders was the first video game to sell 1 million copies.
- Tetris, GTA 5, and Minecraft are the only video games with 100+ million copies sold so far.
- Grand Theft Auto 5 earned over $6 billion and is the most profitable entertainment product.
- With 82.9 million units, Wii Sports is the best-selling Nintendo game of all time.
- Mario is the best-selling video game franchise with 760 million copies sold across 200+ games.
Video Game Sales Records
1. Space Invaders for Atari 2600 was the first video game to sell 1 million copies.
At the height of the arcade craze, Taito released Space Invaders to global acclaim. The game was filling up the arcades, so the home release was set to follow. It was the first arcade-to-console licensed title, and within the first year, 2 million copies of it were sold, setting a video game sales record. Space Invaders also drove up sales of the Atari 2600 consoles and, along with its arcade release, remains one of the most profitable video games of all time.
2. With 8 million copies sold, Pac-Man was the best-selling video game on Atari 2600.
The lovable Pac-Man was another game that made the jump from the arcades to home consoles. On launch, there were already 1 million cartridges of this game available, but that was not nearly enough to match the global demand.
Despite the commercial success, the Atari port of Pac-Man is considered one of the worst games of all time and was one of the reasons for the big crash of the gaming industry in 1983.
3. Superman 64, the worst game of all time, sold 500,000 units.
For quite some time, slapping a beloved IP on a video game was enough to place it high on the video game sales charts. This was true in the Nintendo 64 era when a game widely considered the worst of all time was released. Despite overwhelmingly negative reactions from the gaming press and players, Superman 64 managed to move over half a million units. That’s a lot of disappointed superhero fans.
4. Grand Theft Auto 5 earned $6 billion since its launch.
Rockstar Games hit the jackpot when it released Grand Theft Auto 5, or GTA V, in 2013. On top of universal praise, the game sold like hotcakes – 34 million units within a year of release.
The game was initially available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, but the developer later ported it to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and recently to current-gen consoles. Along with the unit sales, GTA V has been making money for its publisher via various in-game purchases, becoming the most profitable entertainment product in the world.
5. With 238 million units sold, Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time.
Video game sales statistics wouldn’t be complete without Minecraft. What started as a small, experimental Java game eventually became the world’s biggest and most popular game.
Developed by Mojang, Minecraft launched in 2011 and was an instant hit within the gaming community. The combination of exploration, LEGO-style building mechanics, and constant support by the developers skyrocketed Minecraft above every other video game. Minecraft now has 140 million active players and is available on almost every gaming device out there.
6. Tetris, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto 5 are the only games with 100+ million units sold.
Many video games can be considered all-time classics, but there are only three of them that managed to move 100+ million units. It happened across several console generations, PC and mobile, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
7. The Mario franchise sold 760 million units.
Nintendo has recently celebrated Mario’s 35th birthday, but the real reason for the celebration is the data on the game’s sales. The portly Italian plumber is the star of the best-selling gaming franchise of all time. Originally part of the Donkey Kong arcade game, Mario got his own game soon after, and the rest is, as they say, history. Hundreds of games later, the franchise is still going strong.
9. Beat Saber is the best-selling VR game with over $69.7 million in earnings.
Widely considered a system-seller, Beat Saber has been sitting atop best-selling lists since it was released in 2018. Available on PC, Oculus, and PlayStation VR, the game of rhythmic cube slicing brought in millions of dollars thanks to its widespread popularity and sales of additional licensed music as DLC.
10. Cyberpunk 2077 is the fastest-selling PC game, with 4.72 million copies sold on launch day.
Apparently, to make your video game sell like hotcakes, you just need to hire Keanu Reeves as your hype man. Reeves, known for his role as Neo in Matrix and recently John Wick, was one of the star actors in the CD Projekt Red’s blockbuster video game.
The PC crowd was especially eager to experience this RPG, as statistics on video game sales reveal that 59% of all pre-sales for Cyberpunk 2077 were on PC.
Best Selling Games by Platform
11. Grand Turismo and Final Fantasy 7 are the only PlayStation 1 games to break 10 million units sold.
The original PlayStation console introduced millions of players to many new franchises. One of them was Gran Turismo, a serious racing simulator from Polyphony Digital and the best-selling game for the PS1. Another was arguably the most legendary game in an iconic franchise – Final Fantasy VII, which recently got a remake for the PS5 and PC.
12. The Grand Theft Auto series sold 36+ million units on PlayStation 2 alone.
The best-selling PlayStation console was home to some of the highest-selling video games of all time. GTA, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, Tekken, and God of War each sold millions of copies worldwide. But, the GTA series, with its four sequels, remains the king of PS2. San Andreas was the best seller with 17.33 million copies, while Vice City sold over 10 million.
13. According to console game sales statistics, God of War sold 19.5 million copies on PlayStation 4.
Since the PS2 era, God of War has been the game you must buy if you’ve got a PlayStation console. The franchise’s long-awaited return happened in the spring of 2018. The game was showered with praise by both players and critics, won dozens of awards, and became the best-selling PS4 exclusive to date.
14. Demon’s Souls remake is the best-selling PS5 exclusive with 1.4 million units.
(Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Originally released on PlayStation 3 in 2009, Demon’s Souls was a cult classic. A brutally hard action RPG, this progenitor of a whole new genre of “soulslike” games got a full-blown remake by Bluepoint Games just in time for the big Playstation 5 launch.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the only other game that sold 1+ million units, but the PS5 video game sales chart is still growing, and we’re sure many more titles will start hitting those numbers in the future.
Bear in mind these are only numbers for PS5-exclusive games – cross-gen titles and those that also came to PC had much larger sales across the board.
15. The Halo series sold 13.4 million copies on the original Xbox.
Xbox’s system seller was also its launch game – Halo: Combat Evolved. The first-person shooter was revolutionary for its time, as it standardized control schemes for the console shooters, introduced several new mechanics to the genre, and brought millions of players into an exciting, original new sci-fi world.
Its sequel even outdid the original, selling 8.4 million copies on the Xbox as the first console-exclusive game in the series. It only made it to the PC years later, by which time it became the best-selling title of all time on the original Xbox.
16. Xbox 360 players purchased 24 million copies of Kinect Adventures.
Kinect was a strange device. With the slogan “you are the controller,” it was supposed to be the next step for gaming, but ultimately it ended up being just another expensive gimmick. Still, Microsoft managed to sell 24 million Kinect units and, bundled with it, Kinect Adventures video game.
20. With 82.9 million copies sold, Wii Sports is the best-selling Nintendo game of all time.
Nintendo Wii was a one-of-a-kind console. Compact and boasting a killer game library, it also offered a new way to play video games by using motion controls. It was an ideal console for sports and other action games, which explains why Wii Sports became such a dominant title when looking at video game sales stats.
Of course, bundling the game with the console helped Nintendo sell as many units as it did. The sequel, Wii Sports Resort, also recorded huge sales numbers – over 33 million units since 2009.
21. The best-selling Nintendo Switch game is Mario Kart 8, with over 45.3 million units sold.
It’s no surprise that a Mario game is the best-selling on the latest Nintendo console. Initially published for Nintendo WiiU, Mario Kart 8 truly found its home on the Switch as the console was made for couch co-op play. Nintendo continued to support the title due to this massive success and is set to publish a set of additional tracks this year.
Recent Video Game Sales Numbers
22. Call of Duty: Vanguard was the best-selling video game of 2021.
Year after year, Call of Duty games have dominated the sales charts, so it’s little surprise that the 18th installment in the long-running series has managed to secure the number 1 spot on the NPD list. We’re talking physical and digital sales combined here. Not only has Call of Duty reached the top spot with the newest game in the franchise, but also the second-highest place on the list with an older but still wildly popular title.
Here is the complete top 20 list for 2021:
- Call of Duty: Vanguard
- Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War
- Madden NFL 22
- Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
- Battlefield 2042
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Mario Kart 8
- Resident Evil: Village
- MLB: The Show 21
- Super Mario 3D World
- Far Cry 6
- FIFA 22
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- NBA 2K22
- Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Back 4 Blood
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Forza Horizon 5
23. Among Steam’s best earners of 2021, only four games were 2021 releases.
Annual Steam sale statistics revealed that established franchises and games continued to dominate the charts in 2021. The digital storefront unveiled a top 100 list of games that earned the most money – by direct sales or through in-game purchases. It then split the list into several tiers, with Platinum marking the highest earners. Unsurprisingly, many of these games were also incredibly popular among esports viewers.
The top 12 Steam games are:
- Apex Legends
- Battlefield 2042
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dead by Daylight
- Destiny 2
- Dota 2
- Grand Theft Auto 5
- Naraka: Bladepoint
- New World
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
24. Valheim, Battlefield 2042, and Outriders were some of Steam’s best-selling new releases in 2021.
If we look strictly at the games released in 2021, there was some overlap with the overall top sellers.
For example, Battlefield 2042, Naraka: Bladepoint, New World, and Valheim were on both lists. Aside from these games, Steam users also loved Halo: Infinite, Farming Simulator 22, Age of Empires 4, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, Resident Evil: Village, Back 4 Blood, and Forza Horizon 5.
25. NBA 2K22 was the most downloaded PlayStation 5 game of 2021 in the US and Canada.
Sony’s PlayStation division had a fruitful year, despite the PS5 console being incredibly difficult to purchase. Its data on video game sales confirmed that sports games thrive on the PlayStation ecosystem, alongside first-party exclusives.
The latest NBA game was the top download of 2021, followed by Call of Duty: Vanguard, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Madden NFL 22, and Battlefield 2042.
26. Elden Ring sold over 12 million copies in less than a month following its launch.
The gaming season of 2022 started strong, with several AAA releases, but one game quickly overshadowed them all – Elden Ring. FromSoftware’s latest endeavor and the first massive open world souls-style game took the PC and console world by storm and is still one of the most-talked-about games in recent years.
Where do I find video game sales data?
Websites that provide data on sales and earnings in the video game industry include NeoGAF, Gamasutra, Edge Online, and GamesIndustry.biz Game publishers also frequently post data on their profits and game sales.
Are video game sales declining?
No. In fact, thanks to the global availability of broadband internet and digital storefronts, games are these days sold faster and in larger quantities than ever before.
What video game has made the most sales?
In terms of units shipped, Minecraft is the undisputed leader in sales, with 238 million units sold. Looking at purely the revenue generated (from sales and other related methods such as in-game purchases), Grand Theft Auto 5 leads with $6 billion earned since its original PS3/X360 release.
What percentage of video games are profitable?
Not many. According to some video game sales statistics, only 5% of all video games published are profitable for their publishers. Considering how many projects there are, this makes for more games than you’d think.