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What game has sold the most copies?

Determining which video game has sold the most copies is an interesting question. Video games have become a massive industry, with some games selling over 100 million copies worldwide. In this article, we’ll look at the data on video game sales and determine which game currently holds the record for most copies sold.

The Rise of Video Games

Video games first emerged in the 1970s with early arcade games like Pong and Space Invaders. The 1980s saw the rise of console gaming, with the release of systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System. By the 1990s, gaming had become a major mainstream industry, with popular series like Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Street Fighter capturing the attention of millions of players.

In recent decades, the video game industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace. The development of 3D gaming, online multiplayer, and mobile gaming have all contributed to more people playing games worldwide. The industry is now worth over $100 billion annually. As technology improves and gaming becomes more immersive, it’s likely that video games will continue growing in popularity and financial success.

Factors in Video Game Sales

There are several factors that contribute to a video game becoming a high seller:

  • Platform availability – Games that are released across multiple platforms (consoles, PC, mobile) have a broader reach.
  • Sequels and established franchises – Games that are part of a popular franchise tend to sell better.
  • Marketing and promotion – Big marketing campaigns increase awareness and drive sales.
  • Positive reviews – Critical praise and word-of-mouth can boost sales.
  • Mass appeal – Games with gameplay and themes that appeal to a wide audience have an advantage.

Games that check several of these boxes have the best chance of having high lifetime sales. Of course, making a high quality and engaging game is also essential.

Top Selling Video Games

Here are the top 5 best selling video games so far:

Rank Game Copies Sold Platform
1 Minecraft 200 million Multiplatform
2 Grand Theft Auto V 140 million Multiplatform
3 Tetris 100 million Multiplatform
4 Wii Sports 82.9 million Nintendo Wii
5 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 70 million Multiplatform

As we can see, the current record holder for most copies sold is Minecraft by a significant margin. Let’s take a closer look at each of these top selling games.

1. Minecraft – 200 Million Copies Sold

Minecraft is a sandbox style game developed by Mojang Studios where players explore, gather resources, and build structures and environments out of textured cubes. The game offers near limitless possibilities for creativity and building. Minecraft was first released in 2011 and has since expanded to consoles, mobile devices, and virtual reality platforms.

Some keys to Minecraft’s incredible sales success include:

  • Availability across all major platforms
  • Kid and family friendly gameplay
  • Creative, sandbox style of play
  • Ability to mod and customize the experience
  • Regular updates adding new content
  • Multiplayer servers enabling social gaming
  • Development of a strong brand over a decade

Minecraft continues to be extremely popular today, driven by a dedicated player base across age groups as well as a thriving community creating mods, textures, videos, and more. It remains one of the most influential and top selling games of all time.

2. Grand Theft Auto V – 140 Million Copies Sold

Grand Theft Auto V is a 2013 action-adventure game developed by Rockstar Games. As the name suggests, it is part of the long running and highly successful Grand Theft Auto franchise dating back to 1997. GTA V built upon the familiar open world, crime focused formula of the franchise while providing updated visuals and gameplay.

Reasons for GTA V’s massive sales include:

  • Part of an established, blockbuster franchise
  • Released on PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles initially
  • Enhanced re-releases on PS4, Xbox One, and PC
  • Hugely anticipated Grand Theft Auto storyline and characters
  • Controversy and media attention surrounding violence/adult content
  • Vibrant, detailed open world environment
  • Built-in multiplayer mode Grand Theft Auto Online

GTA V continues to have an active online player base earning revenue through in-game purchases, boosting its lifetime sales. It remains one of the fastest selling entertainment products ever produced.

3. Tetris – 100 Million Copies Sold

Tetris is a puzzle game originally designed and programmed in the Soviet Union in 1984. Gameplay involves manipulating geometrical shapes known as Tetrominos as they fall into a rectangular glass matrix. The goal is to form complete horizontal lines that then disappear. This simple but addictive concept made Tetris an instant classic.

Tetris found success by:

  • Releasing on multiple console, arcade, and computer platforms
  • Game Boy launch title driving sales of the handheld system
  • Easy to understand but difficult to master gameplay
  • Ability to play in short sessions
  • Bright, distinct visual style
  • Danny Elfman composed theme song

100 million copies sold makes Tetris one of the most popular classic games. Its timeless formula and appeal across demographics has enabled it to remain relevant across generations of gaming platforms.

4. Wii Sports – 82.9 Million Copies Sold

Wii Sports is a collection of sports simulation minigames initially released alongside the groundbreaking Nintendo Wii in 2006. It popularized motion controls in gaming by having players mimic real life motions to control on-screen athletic activities. Included sports were tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing.

Reasons for its strong sales include:

  • Bundled free with every Nintendo Wii system
  • Intuitive motion control scheme
  • Appeal to new audiences like families, children, and seniors
  • Simple pick-up-and-play gameplay
  • Local multiplayer supporting competition

Wii Sports introduced gaming to people who might not normally play games. It became a showcase title for the unique Wii platform. Multiple entries in the Wii Sports franchise have released over the years.

5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – 70 Million Copies Sold

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG, is an online multiplayer battle royale game first released in 2017. Up to 100 players parachute onto an island and then scavenge for weapons and equipment. The playable area shrinks over time, forcing encounters between players. The last person or team standing wins the chicken dinner.

PUBG became a breakout hit by providing:

  • A fresh take on the emerging battle royale genre
  • Realistic weapons and shooting mechanics
  • Huge open world maps to explore
  • Matches with up to 100 real human players
  • Team-based modes allowing squad cooperation
  • Thrilling risk/reward gameplay

The tense, unpredictable matches combined with competitive rankings and esports potential brought huge numbers of players to PUBG. Multiple mobile versions and free-to-play transitions have also boosted the total units in circulation.

Other Notable Best Selling Games

While the top 5 covers the current biggest selling video games of all time, many other titles have also sold incredibly well over the years. Here are some other noteworthy entries:

Game Estimated Sales
Super Mario Bros. 58 million
Pac-Man 53 million
Mario Kart Wii 37.4 million
Wii Fit 35 million
Pokemon Red/Green/Blue 32.5 million

Iconic franchises like Super Mario, Pokemon, and Mario Kart rank among the best sellers. Fitness games like Wii Fit also connected to mainstream audiences in big numbers. Plenty of classic arcade games also sold hardware units into the millions during the coin-op era.

The Outlook for Future Best Sellers

The video games industry continues evolving at a rapid pace. Here are some trends that may lead to new best selling games in the future:

  • Cloud gaming removing hardware barriers
  • Increased smartphone and mobile users
  • Battle passes and live service models
  • Expansion into emerging markets
  • Battle royale saturation leading to new genres
  • Virtual and augmented reality integration

As gaming accesses new demographics and business models change, there is strong potential for current record holders to be surpassed. However, games like Minecraft have incredible staying power that will be difficult to overcome. The next 10-20 years of gaming sales should be fascinating to watch.


Minecraft currently leads the pack with over 200 million copies sold worldwide. The universal appeal of its creative sandbox gameplay has enabled it to become a historic bestseller across all platforms. Other top selling titles leverage factors like sequels, controversy, and innovative controls to drive sales. going forward, trends like mobile gaming could propel new record setters. But dethroning Minecraft will be an extremely challenging task in the years ahead, if not impossible.