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)
Game Released as Part of a Console Bundle (eg. Super Mario World, Grand Theft Auto V)
(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")
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 game on the list is Mojang's "Minecraft", which is also one of the most successful at 144 million units sold (it is topped only by Spectrum HolyByte's "Tetris", which has sold 170 million units over the past few decades). For contrast, I also added "Braid" to the data set, arguably the 2nd best selling independently released video game ever at almost 1/2 million copies sold .
If you add up the units sold for each installment of the best selling franchises from Nintendo, Activision, and Rockstar Games that are in the top 52, the sums 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 (inlcuding installments not included in this data set) are as high as 528 million, 250 million, and 250 million, respectively (see Wikipedia article ).
NOTES ON OMISSIONS FROM THIS DATA SET:
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 .
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") . 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" .
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 .
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!