These games have sold a few copies…
With the rise in popularity and prominence of free-to-play games like Fortnite, CS: GO, PUBG, and others, games are reaching astounding player counts and tallying huge amounts of play time. But in terms of sales numbers for paid games, what are the best-selling games of all time? Here in this gallery we are running through the top 10 best-selling games of all time based on the latest publicly available data.
This list does not include free-to-play games, which is why you won’t see juggernauts like Fortnite, Rocket League, Dota 2, and CS: GO on the list, among others. Those games have no doubt reached many, many more people and are probably best compared against other free-to-play games.
The list does, however, include sales of pack-in games for hardware bundles–and that is an important distinction. For example, Wii Sports sold about 83 million copies thanks in part to it being bundled with the Wii. The original Super Mario Bros. was a pack-in game as well for the NES.
With these caveats out of the way, let’s dive into the Top 10 best-selling games ever. We’re betting you can probably guess a few of these!
We will continue to update this list over time as GTA 5 inevitably continues to sell more and more copies.
10: Super Mario Bros. — 50 million (pack-in sales included)
The original Super Mario Bros. for NES, released in 1985, is the first game on this list with a reported 50 million copies sold. This was not Mario’s first appearance in a video game, but Super Mario Bros. remains beloved and its huge success helped propel the Mario franchise forward. The levels, the music, the enemies–it’s all iconic. Numerous Mario games would follow, the latest of which is Super Mario Bros. Wonder, which releases in October 2023 for Nintendo Switch.
9. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — 50 million
CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt grew the franchise to new heights, with the latest release selling 50 million copies across all platforms. Released in 2015, The Witcher 3 was a hit right out of the gate and has continued to grow and grow and grow. The game is regularly discounted to low, low prices, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact it put up gigantic sales figures. Something else that helped Witcher 3 sales was the debut of the Netflix TV series. The entire Witcher series has sold 75 million units, and with Witcher 3 taking up 50 million of those, it’s the biggest of the group.
After The Witcher on Netflix premiered in 2020, Witcher 3 sales rose by 500%. CD Projekt Red released Cyberpunk 2077 next, and while it got off to a poor start in terms of player reception, things have since turned around and the game is doing great. The Witcher 4 is the next game in the main Witcher series, and it’s in development now using Unreal Engine 5.
8. Red Dead Redemption II — 50 million
Rockstar has two games inside the list of the top 10 best-selling games of all time, and the first is the 2018 western Red Dead Redemption II, with 50 million copies sold. A prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption that fans waited nearly a decade for, Red Dead Redemption II goes back in time and explains some of the events leading up to Red Dead Redemption. The game is set in a sprawling open world in the 1899 American West. The game’s online mode, Red Dead Online, didn’t take off in the way that GTA Online did, but the game overall still managed to put up big numbers
7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — 60 million
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released back in 2011. It was a very successful release from Bethesda Game Studios at launch, and it has continued to sell well in the years that followed. In fact, the game’s ubiquity has become a meme. It’s been ported to pretty much every platform you can think of, and game director Todd Howard has explained why. “If you want us to stop releasing it, stop buying it,” Howard joked in 2018. In an interview in 2023, Howard revealed that the game had reached 60 million copies sold, making it one of the top 10 best-selling games ever. Next up for Howard and Bethesda is something new–the RPG Starfield. But after that, Howard and the team will make The Elder Scrolls 6 and Fallout 5.
6. Mario Kart 8 + Deluxe — 62.25 million (pack-in sales included)
The Mario Kart series is one of the biggest and best-known in all of gaming, and Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling of them all. The game originally launched on Wii U, where it sold 8.46 million copies (a substantial number, considering the Wii U itself only sold 13.5 million units). But the game really got a jolt in sales when it came to Switch via Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. On Switch, the game has sold an astounding 43.79 million copies to bring its total to 62.25 million. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is featured in Nintendo’s annual Black Friday bundle, so of course its sales figures are boosted by being a pack-in title. Nintendo has expanded upon Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with dozens of DLC tracks that players can buy via the Booster Pass. Unsurprisingly, it’s been reported that Mario Kart 9 is now in the works.
5. PUBG — 75 million
PUBG: Battlegrounds, or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as it was originally known, is now a free-to-play game. But before the change in business model, the game tallied an impressive 75 million copies sold across PC and console. The game, which is based on an Arma mod, was released in 2017 and remains one of the leading battle royale games on the market. It’s now also available with a dedicated version for mobile devices. At one point, there were plans to create a PUBG connected universe that would expand far and wide into the horror space with the game The Callisto Protocol, but those plans were scaled back.
4. Wii Sports — 82.9 million
The original Wii Sports was a pack-in game for the Nintendo Wii, and as such, it sold a lot of copies. Surely, its pack-in status helped it sell more than it might otherwise have. How many copies did it sell? 82.9 million by Nintendo’s latest count. The game was many people’s first introduction to the Wii’s innovative motion controls. It really did feel incredible to swing the Wii Remote and see that swing translated on screen for a tennis shot or whipping a bowling ball down the alley. A sequel, Wii Sports Resort, was released in 2009 with more games like frisbee and basketball. A successor followed for the Nintendo Switch in the form of the very creatively named Nintendo Switch Sports.
3. GTA 5 — 180 million
It was only a matter of time before Grand Theft Auto V showed up on this list. Rockstar’s celebrated open-world action game was released all the way back in 2013 but has been selling millions of copies every few months, bringing its total to 180 million+ and counting. The game originally launched on Xbox 360 and PS3 before coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and then later with updated graphics and features to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Beyond sales alone, the game brings in money from its uber-popular GTA Online multiplayer mode. And 180 million doesn’t even count all the people who might have played GTA 5 when it was available on Xbox Game Pass. In terms of dollars, it is the most successful entertainment product of all time. Unsurprisingly, Rockstar is now developing a new GTA game. Some people believe it could launch in 2024, but Rockstar has not made any official announcements yet.
2. Minecraft — 238 million
Of course Minecraft is on this list. It’s the No. 2 best-selling game of all time. As of 2021, the game had sold 238 million copies, according to franchise owner Microsoft. According to the company, a copy of the game has been sold in just about every country and territory in the world, and that includes Antarctica and Vatican City. The game was created by Markus “Notch” Persson, who would go on to sell the game and his stake in developer Mojang to Microsoft in 2014 for $2.5 billion. Microsoft has never released a Minecraft 2, but has expanded the series in the form of other games like Minecraft Dungeons and Minecraft Legends. A film starring Jason Momoa is now in the works.
1. Tetris — 520 million (pack-in sales included)
According to the official Tetris website, the iconic puzzle game has exceeded 520 million in sales over its lifetime, with “billions” of sessions played online every year. The 520 million surely includes combined sales of the many different versions of the year released over the years.
The game is a cultural phenomenon, as pretty much anyone of a certain age would know what you’re talking about when you mention Tetris. It’s also become common parlance, of sorts, as people might often refer to “playing Tetris” when loading up a car with many items that might seem difficult to fit. The game was created by Alexey Pajitnov, an engineer from Soviet Russia. It wasn’t until game designer and entrepreneur Henk Rogers discovered the game at a Las Vegas tradeshow in 1988 that the game really picked up steam, though. Rogers got the rights from Pajitnov and licensed the game to Nintendo, which released the game as a pack-in for the Nintendo Game Boy. This led to 35 million copies being sold for Game Boy alone, and the game has remained popular ever since, having been released on pretty much every platform under the sun. A movie about the origins of Tetris starring Taron Egerton was released in 2023.