The Best-Selling Videogame Franchises of All Time

Games Lists Best-selling games
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10. Final Fantasy

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Original release: 1987
Number of releases: dozens
Copies sold: over 144 million

It’s hard to count how many Final Fantasy games actually exist. Yeah, there have been 15 installments of the main series, but there have been so many spinoffs, sequels, remakes, remasters, mobile games, and more that it’s difficult to land on a single number. (I quit counting around 50.) Let’s just say that over the last 30 years Final Fantasy has been the preeminent role-playing game series, helping define that genre in Japan and being one of the first JRPGs to bring that genre to the West. It also might have the most devoted fanbase of any series on this list, which is really saying something.


9. Need for Speed

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Original release: 1994
Number of releases: 26
Copies sold: over 150 million

I’m not going to lie: I was shocked to see EA’s racing game this high on the list. I knew it was popular—you don’t turn a game that’s not popular into a major motion picture starring Aaron Paul—but bigger than Madden? Bigger than Final Fantasy? Bigger than Sonic? I didn’t know you had it in you, Need for Speed. Kudos.


8. Tetris

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Original release: 1984
Number of releases: 60
Copies sold: over 170 million

It might’ve been released in 60 different permutations over the years, but there’s only one Tetris. It’s less a videogame series or franchise than a game like chess—something so singular and fundamental that it feels weird to view it the same way as, say, the Assassin’s Creed games, or Grand Theft Auto. Still, across these dozens of Tetris releases you’ll find different rules, different viewpoints, even different shapes, so they’re not quite the same exact game. And as Tetris Effect and Tetris 99 have shown the last two years, there’s still room to innovate within Alexey Pajitnov’s masterpiece.


7. Minecraft

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Original release: 2011
Number of releases: 1 (we’re not going to count Minecraft Story Mode)
Copies sold: over 176 million

Yeah—one game has sold that many copies. Minecraft is the single best-selling videogame of all time. If you can’t remember back to, oh, four years ago, Mojang’s crafting game was maybe even bigger at its peak than Super Mario was at his. A whole generation of players became obsessed with this game, spawning all kinds of merchandise and other assorted tie-ins, and prompting Microsoft to buy the game for $2.5 billion in 2014. The fad might have run its course, as all fads do, but Minecraft isn’t going anywhere. With its sprawling worlds and open-ended nature, it’s less of a game than a tool set or a play box, and as long as Microsoft keeps tweaking it and porting it to new hardware Minecraft will probably live forever.


6. The Sims

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Original release: 2000
Number of releases: 12
Copies sold: 200 million

Will Wright’s real life simulator has seen a myriad of expansions and spinoffs, and has been ported to pretty much every piece of hardware that could possibly play it. It’s still only had four main installments in almost 20 years, though, meaning its per-game sales are one of the highest on the list. The Sims has been its own unique phenomenon since day one, and although some longtime fans have issues with the newest version, it’s hard to see this series ever coming to an end.


5. FIFA

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Original release: 1993
Number of releases:
Copies sold: over 260 million

The biggest game not just in football but all of sports, FIFA dominates the sales charts throughout the world every year. It’s also regularly one of the very last games released for older systems—it was coming out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as recently as 2018, four years after their successors were released. FIFA 14 had a PlayStation 2 version, 13 years after that console first came out. It comes out every year on every system in every market around the world, and that level of availability is another reason FIFA is one of the best-selling games of all time.


4. Call of Duty

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Original release: 2003
Number of releases:
Copies sold: over 288 million

Activision defined the first-person shooter for a generation with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which supercharged the already popular FPS series into one of the biggest games of every year. From the rise of online multiplayer, to Call of Duty World League’s stature in the world of esports, Call of Duty has constantly reflected the shifting state of the games industry, while always letting its players blow off steam through digital warfare and violence. Call of Duty conquered the FPS market for two main reasons: its accessibility (Modern Warfare perfected FPS controls on console) and its love of excess, in terms of both narrative and action.


3. Grand Theft Auto

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Original release: 1997
Number of releases: 15
Copies sold: over 290 million

People love mayhem, and Grand Theft Auto has ridden that love to massive success. After flying under the radar with its first few games, GTA blew up with 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III, which helped define the third-person action genre and also normalized the M rating. GTA III took a weird, cult series, injected a cutting edge cinematic approach to storytelling, and in the process created the biggest gaming franchise of the 21st century.


2. Pokémon

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Original release: 1996
Number of releases: 84
Copies sold: over 340 million

It’ll take you forever to catch ‘em all: Nintendo and Game Freak have been pumping out, on average, over three Pokémon a year since 1996. A lot of those are spinoffs, mobile games, one-offs, and other assorted randomness, but the main series of light RPGs has been keeping players occupied for over two decades now. Of course there’s a long-standing tradition of releasing two similar Pokémon games at the same time, with the primary difference between them being slightly altered creatures rosters. That might tip the scales a bit in Pikachu’s favor, but there’s no denying these adorable little critters are huge in the world of games.


1. Super Mario

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Original release: 1985
Number of releases:
Copies sold: over 340.05 million

Is it any surprise that Mario’s #1? This doesn’t even include the sales of Mario Kart or any of the other spinoffs—if we added those in Mario would be sitting at over 600 million units sold. The classic Super Mario platformers represent perhaps the most consistently great videogame series of all time, so it makes sense that it’s also the best-selling. With the Super Mario series Nintendo has crafted something special—something with a longevity and consistent level of both quality and popularity that’s almost unheard of in any medium.


Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.

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