The 16 best selling video game franchises of all time are series that have stood the test of time, and then some, remaining best sellers for years and even decades. These series have adapted over the years and continued to thrive throughout several major changes in gaming technology and shifts in consumer preferences.
The gaming industry is heavily sequel-driven, with many of the most popular series having little downtime between games. As soon as one is popped out, work begins on the next; there’s not really any question of doing something else or trying something new. In fact some companies work on multiple games in a series at the same time, especially now that many of the top developers have also embraced bringing their games to mobile and handheld devices.
At this point, gaming is largely made up of a few dozen key series, which are rarely intruded upon on the sales charts by new IPs scrabbling for purchase at their own shot at becoming one of those popular series. A recent example of a new game that enjoyed success and has quickly been turned into a series is Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs.
However, more often than not, it’s established series that continue to rule the industry, making it an extreme challenge for other games to break through, especially given the length of time that many games eat out of their players’ lives, as well as their costs. Unlike movies, which require minimal time and monetary investments, there’s realistically only so many games a person is going to buy or have time to enjoy in any given year.
The best selling video games of 2016 illustrate this point well, with Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, and the usual suspects when it comes to the best selling sports video games: Madden, NBA 2K, and FIFA, all ranking among the best selling games of 2016 in the U.S. While there was a breakout hit, Overwatch, which was the most profitable video game of 2016, it was courtesy of Blizzard, which hadn’t released a game on consoles since Diablo III in 2012, and which has a huge cadre of loyal fans.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the 16 best selling video game franchises of all time and look at some of the successful games that have driven them to the top of the charts. We’ve used a variety of sources to gather the most up-to-date sales on every series, including VG Sales’ list of the best selling game franchises and VG Chartz. Head to the next page to begin the countdown.
To see more of gaming’s most successful games, don’t miss our list of the 12 Highest Grossing Video Games Of All Time, which includes online games.