Best selling video games

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

The gaming industry has gone through many changes and transformations in the past few decades. It is no longer just an innocent hobby from childhood, but a hundred billion dollar industry that is rapidly growing. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 75 percent of Americans have at least one gamer in their household. As the industry has evolved, multiple genres of video games have emerged to choose from.

Using the data from the Entertainment Software Association, we provide a breakdown of the U.S. video game market by most popular genres. The data consists of proportions of units sold in the year 2018. By far the most popular are action games, which are responsible for more than one-fourth of the whole market. This genre emphasizes physical challenges, including hand-eye coordination and reaction time. It also has many sub-genres, including multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like Dota 2 and League of Legends. The second most popular type of video games were shooters; this genre takes approximately one-fifth of the U.S. market. Shooter games require spatial awareness, good reflexes and are often played in teams using multiplayer environments. This additionally requires good communication and teamwork skills from the players.

Next, we move to the specific video games that were most popular around the world. We split console games and PC games into separate groups since these platforms have a largely different pool of games available. We used the data from VGChartz.

The most popular PC game in terms of copies sold is Sims 3. It is a life simulation video game and the third installment of the series. Thanks to the unique genre and gameplay elements it gained a large fan base: 7.96 million copies sold worldwide. The second is World of Warcraft, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It claimed the Guinness world record as the most popular MMORPG by player count in 2009. The sales figure for this game has to be viewed as a low estimate since it was possible to purchase it in a game store as well as online, which can be sometimes hard to track. The data includes a number of different titles, but they mostly come from a few large game development and publishing corporations: Electronic Arts and Blizzard Entertainment.

The most popular console games consist almost entirely of Nintendo games. First place (by a pretty large margin) belongs to Wii Sports: More than 82 million copies of this game sold. It is less of a surprise if we note that it primarily came in a bundle with the Nintendo Wii console. The console itself was quite successful, hence the large sales figures. In second place, we have Super Mario Bros. This game came out in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It became one of the oldest, most iconic and influential games of all time. Super Mario Bros. and characters became a core property of Nintendo, spawning many sequels and related games from the company.

As more than two-thirds of the list of best selling games are by Nintendo, we’ll highlight these next few games made by other companies. Tetris is a popular tile-matching puzzle video game originally designed and programmed by Soviet Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. It was later released for many platforms worldwide. Kinect Adventures is a game for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which featured the use of the innovative Kinect motion camera controller.

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About Alexander Fishkov

Alexander Fishkov, Ph.D. student Computer Science

Alexander is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science. He currently holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Applied Math. He has experience working for industry major companies performing research in the fields of machine learning, data mining and natural language processing. In his free time, Alexander enjoys hiking, Nordic skiing and traveling.

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