Minecraft Is The Most-Selling Video Game of All Time at 42 Million Units

Written by  Tuesday, 04 February 2014 17:52
  • Print
  • Email
  •  

Update: Yes, folks, we know there are accuracy issues with digital distribution platforms and older titles. Read through the article - it makes these pitfalls clear and highlights sources. We worked with what the industry has available. Either way, Minecraft moved 42 million units and shows few signs of slowing, which is impressive.

Minecraft recently breached 42 million units shipped across all its platforms, ranking it unarguably in the top three most successful video games of all time. The rankings charts get a bit fuzzy toward the top, where games like Nintendo's Wii Sports -- which shipped with every unit of the console -- are technically above Minecraft; that said, if we're counting Wii Sports, we might as well count Minesweeper for every unit of Windows sold.

minecraft-sales

The point is, I'm not counting games unless they were sold independent of their platform, which makes the rankings as follows (note: I've skipped a few slots to illustrate where some other popular games fall). Do keep in mind that some sales figures will not include digital distribution numbers, rendering a few of these games effectively untracked; Steam releases sales figures only to the game's developers, so it is at the behest of the developer whether they want to include these stats in their public releases. Most do -- for instance, Skyrim includes Steam sales figures, to the best of our knowledge, and games like Battlefield 4 include Origin figures (the nature of a public company).

Unfiltered List of Top Games (Including Console Bundles)

Rank Game Year / Platform Units Shipped
1 Wii Sports 2006
Wii
81.99 million
2 Minecraft 2009 (2011 official)
PC, mobile, Xbox 360, PS3
42 million
3 Super Mario Bros. 1985
NES
40.24 million
4 Mario Kart Wii 2008
Wii
35.26 million
5 Tetris 1984
Game Boy, Game Boy Color
35 million
6 GTA: V 2013
Xbox 360, PS3
32.5 million
7 Wii Sports Resort 2009
Wii
31.89 million
8 New Super Mario Bros. 2009
Nintendo DS
27.88 million
9 Wii Play 2006
Wii
28.02 million
10 New Super Mario Bros. Wii 2006
Wii
27.88 million
11 GTA: San Andreas 2004
PS2, PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, Mobile
27.5 million
12 GTA: IV 2008
PC, Xbox 360, PS3
25 million
13 Call of Duty: Black Ops PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii 25 million

Most-Selling Video Games of All Time (Primarily Standalone)

* = "regularly included with consoles; stats are arguable."

Game Year / Platform Units Shipped
Minecraft 2009 (2011 official)
PC, mobile, Xbox 360, PS3
42 million
GTA: V 2013
PS3, Xbox 360
32.5 million
[...] [...] [...]
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2010
PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
25 million
[...] [...] [...]
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 2009
PC, Xbox 360, PS3
22 million
[...] [...] [...]
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 2011
PC, Xbox 360, PS3
20 million
The Sims 2000
PC
16 million 
Battlefield 3 2011
PC, Xbox 360, PS3
15 million

Again, a lot of these numbers are questionable. Our sources include Wikipedia (which is being contested in a few places), Steam, and press releases from developers/publishers. We're not pretending these stats are flawless (in fact, there are definitely some questions as to where exactly The Sims belongs, which has conflicting reports over its sales figures -- some place it at 20 million), but it still gives a good understanding of what sells in the industry.

We know that some older PC games that have since moved to digital distribution methods -- Diablo included -- have now moved up several spots in the rankings and could very well be in the top-10 sellers of all time. Unfortunately, these digital distribution numbers have not been released in combination with previous shelf sales, so we don't have a hard time ranking older games. Hopefully an analytics organization will perform these rankings thoroughly in the near future.

Regardless, Minecraft is a big deal - that we know for certain.

Minecraft is presently available on the PC -- which hosts the second most of its sales, at 14+ million (behind mobile) -- mobile platforms, Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3. The game originally released in 2009 as a tech demo / alpha, where it sold millions of copies rapidly, causing several upsets along the way; Notch, the game's creator, at one point had $810,000 USD of his PayPal funds frozen due to the extreme influx of cash over night.

The game's current lead developer, Jens "jeb_" Bergensten, publicly stated on reddit that the game has now sold "more like 42 million at the moment. That's counting PC, iOS, Android, Kindle, Xbox, and PS3 sales. PS4 and Xbone editions are still being developed. The Pocket Edition is the one that has sold the most, leading by a couple of million over the PC edition."

In a January 2013 sales stats update officiated by Minecraft developer Mojang, we can see that -- since 2012 -- PC sales have been outpaced by consoles and mobile platforms. This is likely largely due to the game's initial success on PC, prior to its release on other devices, but also speaks to the ubiquity of mobile gaming.

minecraft-stats-13

It is worthy of note that stats tracking for digital-only, subscription-based games is exceedingly difficult. MMORPGs are tough to track, but it is not unreasonable to assume that some F2P MMOs probably surpass Minecraft's 14m PC sales marker, especially when factoring-in the Asian MMO market. That said, Minecraft still holds the crown of one of the top -- if not the top, depending on if you count Wii Sports, Bejeweled, and Minesweeper -- selling games of all time.

Also worth noting is that Mojang doesn't have any digital-rights management (DRM) measures in place to counteract piracy, contradicting statements from EA Games, Activision, and Blizzard that piracy is a threat to the stability of the games industry. Treat your customers right -- and like players, rather than criminals -- and you'll do well.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 19:23

From Around the Web