Best Selling Video Games Of All Time

Publisher (eg. Nintendo, Psygnosis)

Developer (eg. Nintendo R&D - EPD, Sonic Team)

Franchise (eg. Mario/Mario Kart Franchise, Call of Duty Franchise)

Game Released Before the Year 2000 (eg. Super Mario Land, Frogger)

Game Released During or After the Year 2000 (eg. New Super Mario Bros., Terraria)

or

Game Released as Part of a Console Bundle (eg. Super Mario World, Mario Kart 7)

(Note: if there is only one bubble/node around a game, that means that the developer released the game independently of a publisher)

(Note: if the only game on the list from a given franchise is also the first installment of that franchise, it isn't nested under a franchise node as it's popularity is not necessarily due to the "franchise effect")

GENERAL NOTES:

This data visualization is designed to illustrate how consolidated video game sales are amongst large publishers and their franchises. It breaks down each of the top 52 best selling video games by its unit sales figure and nests each inside nodes indicating its original developer and publisher. It also indicates whether or not each game is part of a franchise.

The only indendently released video games on the list are Mojang's "Minecraft" (at 144 million units sold) and Bluehole's "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" (at over 30 million units sold -- PUBG's numbers were recently updated, see The Verge article [11]). The former is topped only by Spectrum HolyByte's "Tetris" (at 170 million units sold). For contrast, I also added the independently released video game "Braid", arguably the 2nd best selling independly released video game ever (at almost 1/2 million copies sold) [1][2].

If you add up the units sold for each installment of the best selling franchises from Nintendo, Activision, and Rockstar Games -- according to this list -- they are as follows: 233,750,000 (Mario/Mario Kart); 224,990,000 (Call of Duty); 155,000,000 (Grand Theft Auto). Some sources, however, estimate that the units sold overall for these series are as high as 528 million, 250 million, and 250 million, respectively (see Wikipedia article [3]).

NOTES ON OMISSIONS FROM THIS LIST:

This visualization focuses only on units sold because of the difficulty in comparing revenue between such differently priced products. Activion's "Guitar Hero" franchise, for example, is notable for generating large amounts of revenue, yet no single installment in the series had enough copies sold to make it onto the list of the 52 best selling video games [4][5].

While digital downloads are considered in these figures, only paid downloads are counted. This means that some mobile games with high download rates are not included if they only use an in-app purchase payment scheme (ie. "Candy Crush") [6]. There are also games whose paid downloads are difficult to track as they were free to download for multiple periods of time, such as usTwo's "Monument Valley" [7].

In reference to Braid being the "2nd best selling independently released video game ever", there are other contenders (such as SOMA), but the numbers are hard to track for these smaller relases [8].

If you know of any errors in my data after checking your information against my sources, please contact me as I would be happy to make corrections!

    Sources:
  1. https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-guilt-of-the-video-game-millionaires
  2. http://indieobscura.com/article/14/top-5-highest-grossing-indie-games
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_game_franchises
  4. https://www.npd.com/press/releases/press_080821.html
  5. http://www.shacknews.com/article/56720/guitar-hero-3-is-the
  6. http://www.businessinsider.com/kingcom-generates--1-billion-from-candy-crush-2014-2
  7. https://www.polygon.com/2016/5/20/11724058/monument-valley-sales-revenue-download-numbers-ustwo-games
  8. http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2016/09/26/soma-turns-a-profit-after-selling-nearly-half-a-million-copies.aspx
  9. https://www.statista.com/statistics/321374/global-all-time-unit-sales-call-of-duty-games/
  10. http://www.vgchartz.com/article/4145/the-50-best-selling-videogames-of-the-1990s-worldwide/
  11. https://www.game-debate.com/news/24271/pubg-sales-smash-through-30-million-sold-1-3-million-copies-a-week-since-september
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games
  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/42320076/pubg-creator-says-games-need-better-protection-from-copycat-titles
  14. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/software/wii.html
  15. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/new-frogger-game-arrives-on-mobiles
  16. https://kotaku.com/5830192/what-do-grand-theft-auto-and-lemmings-have-in-common
  17. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/terraria-passes-20-million-units-sold-future-plans/1100-6448000/
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2010/sep/13/games-gameculture
  19. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/gobankingrates/pokken-tournament-and-pok_b_9501260.html
  20. http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/04/the-best-video-games-to-come-out-every-year-since-the-atari-2600/duck-hunt
  21. https://www.polygon.com/2014/5/21/5737488/tetris-turns-30-alexey-pajitnov
  22. http://www.pcgamer.com/minecraft-had-74-million-active-players-in-december-a-new-record-for-the-game/
  23. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/gta-5-ships-85-million-copies-surpassing-wii-sport/1100-6454751/
  24. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/software/ds.html
  25. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/skyrim-creator-todd-howard-talks-switch-vr-and-elder-scrolls-wait-w451796
  26. https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/08/05/believe-it-or-not-diablo-3-is-now-the-10th-best-selling-video-game-of-all-time/&refURL=https://en.wikipedia.org/&referrer=https://en.wikipedia.org/
  27. http://www.itv.com/news/2013-09-13/a-brief-history-of-the-grand-theft-auto-series/
  28. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/gta-5-has-already-beaten-gta-4s-lifetime-sales-8863784.html
  29. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-microsoft-xbox-kinect-didnt-take-off-2015-9
  30. https://books.google.com/books?id=Vu-pCwAAQBAJ&pg=PT115&lpg=PT115#v=onepage&q&f=false
  31. http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/09/30-best-selling-super-mario-games-of-all-time-on-the-plumbers-30th-birthday/
  32. http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2015/11/19/call-of-duty-2016-infinity-ward/#/slide/1
  33. http://www.itv.com/news/2013-09-12/gaming-world-awaits-the-release-of-grand-theft-auto-5/
  34. https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/finance/software/3ds.html
  35. https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/202366/Pokemon_X__Y_sell_4M_copies_in_first_weekend.php
  36. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20050207005389/en/Sims-Franchise-Celebrates-Anniversary-Continues-Break-Records
  37. http://news.softpedia.com/news/100-million-Need-for-Speed-Games-Have-Been-Sold-to-This-Day-125015.shtml
  38. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-13874266
  39. https://www.gamespot.com/articles/red-dead-redemption-2-take-two-talks-competition-w/1100-6447645/
  40. https://kotaku.com/5922548/battlefield-3-sells-15-million-prompts-ea-to-give-more-games-the-premium-treatment
  41. https://web.archive.org/web/20120707030451/http://www.polyphony.co.jp//english/list.html