Top 10 Best-Selling Game Franchises

top ten best selling game franchises


Whether you work in the gaming industry, are an avid gamer, or are involved in an anti-gaming crusade, there is one thing we can all agree upon – Halo 3 will be the best-selling game of 2007. After announcing an unprecedented $170 million in loot on opening day alone, Bungie and Microsoft made the launch of Halo 3 the highest-grossing single day launch in entertainment history. Even though this major event is nothing for the gaming industry to sneeze at, the Halo trilogy barely makes a dent in the Top 40 of video game franchises list even if it has currently sold 15 million units – this is even if you add 10 million more units thanks to Halo 3. It still cannot compete with the laudable franchises listed below, which by the way,  I have included my own research and opinions on – just in case anyone asks.

10. Gran Turismo – 47 million Units Sold – Defining game: Gran Turismo (PSOne)

Everyone who has ever played a racing game, knows that this franchise is the creme de la creme of everything that is racing simulation. Pole Position may have been the arcade champion when it was introduced, but Gran Turismo proved that the racing genre would be a hit a home with better graphics and just flat out crazy gameplay.

9. Donkey Kong – 48 million Units Sold – Defining game: Donkey Kong (Arcade)

How many quarters did you feed into this machine as a kid? Just think how many cool things you could buy today or think of the hellacious retirement plan you could help fund if you only had that money back. While the Donkey Kong franchise has spawned many installments (Diddy Kong Racing !!!!) and different platforms for the game, the granddaddy of them all is the original arcade version which not only introduced us to the “Damsel in Distress” plot-line, it also introduced us to the world famous plumber that we now know as Mario.

8. The Legend of Zelda – 52 million Units Sold -Defining game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Most Legend of Zelda nerds like me cannot mention The Ocarina of Time without getting a little misty-eyed. Granted, A Link to the Past was the game that got most of us hooked, but with the introduction of the N64 – the bar was set higher. Windwaker, and Twilight Princess be damned in the graphics and gameplay mechanics department, The Ocarina of Time will be the one we all remember with the most fondness.


7. Madden NFL – 60 million – Defining game: All of Them

Not only is the Madden franchise the best selling of any sports related game, it has helped pad my nemesis John Madden’s pockets for the past 20 years. If you had to pick a title that was the most consistent and long lived, Madden NFL would be tops on the list. What other game would allow Joe-Schmoe the opportunity to have the greatest NFL players on his dream team and “puppet master” his way to victory – all from the comforts of his own couch? None. Only Madden NFL. Whether you are a fan of the genre and football or not, you have to respect its staying power, and popularity over the years.

6. Tetris – 60 million Units Sold – Defining game: Tetris (Game Boy)

Tetris may be an arcade favorite of most long-time gamers, but it did not really hit its stride until it went mainstream thanks to Nintendo’s Game Boy. Highly addictive, it created a scientific phenomenon called the “Tetris Effect.” This psychological disorder is described as the inability of players to stop thinking about shifting and sorting blocks even after they had stopped playing the game. You know, you can’t blame Tetris for this phenomenon, we have discussed this sort of “disorder” once before.

5. Grand Theft Auto - 65 million Units Sold – Defining game: GTA III (PS2)

The GTA franchise finally hit its stride with GTA III, and with GTA IV waiting to invade our lives, you can bet your Granny’s heirloom pearl necklace that it will be THE game of 2008 – Halo 3 or no Halo 3. Where else can one revel in things that are unspeakable in society, pick up hookers, and laugh you ass off with inane radio banter – all while driving cars that most of us only dream of owning? Nowhere! Rockstar is always pushing the limit with enjoyable gameplay elements, engaging storylines, and enough shock value to keep the special interest groups and Jack Thompson in business for years to come. All hail Rockstar!

4. Final Fantasy - 75 million Units Sold – Defining game: Final Fantasy VII (PSOne)

Sqaure Enix took a gamble on FF VII and that gamble paid off a thousand fold. Most gamers and critics can argue till the day is long about the impact of the Final Fantasy franchise on the RPG genre as a whole, but most will agree that FF is indeed the behemoth of them all. MMOs aside, the FF franchise has paved the way for many other RPG titles and has given credence to all of us who set in our bedrooms playing D&D on Saturday nights when we should have been on a date. No longer just for a bunch of fantasy loving dorks, FF made RPGs cool again, and there are no signs that Square Enix plans to stop the evolution of their beloved franchise.

3. The Sims – 90 million Units Sold – Defining game: The Sims (PC)

Everyone has a bit of a voyeur in them, and everyone also has God-complex just dying to emerge forth from their limited souls. Add to this the desire to be someone else once in a while and you have the ultimate life simulation game, The Sims. Although many other simulation titles exist, and you have Second Life to add to the mix, The Sims spawned a new generation of gamers and gave seasoned players something new to play. The Sims is not only the best-selling PC game of all time, it boasts more expansions and spin-offs than any other simulation game combined. Who would have thought that a game based on “life” could be so interesting and addictive?

2. Pokemon - 164 million Units Sold – Defining game: Pokemon Red/Blue (Game Boy)

Nintendo had no idea what an overnight success the introduction of their linkable Game Boy games Pokemon Red/Blue would be, and with success, also came the bombardment of everything Pokemon. With an anime series, trading cards, old fashioned puzzles, toys, movies and clothing – the Pokemon phenomenon may have hit its peak, but it is still hanging around. Back in 1997 when little kids everywhere were screaming “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”, parents everywhere were shilling out the dough to keep their children from throwing themselves in the aisleway of Wal-Mart and kicking and screaming “Got to buy it, Got to buy it!” (South Park)…… Meanwhile, at Nintendo headquarters, the head of the company was bathing in money, smoking Cuban cigars and putting the finishing touches on world domination. Purportedly considered a fad that would phase itself out, ten years later Pokemon is still around and new games are coming out as we speak. Who would have thunk it?

1. Mario - 195 Million Units Sold – Defining game: Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Over the past 25-years, Mario has had a title on every Nintendo console known to man. His franchise has grossed Nintendo $8 billion in sales, spawned many a gaming title, and has appeared in the media enough times to make Anna Nicole blush if she were still alive. Mario is indeed the Grand Master of all video game franchises, and even with being saturated with him for most of our lives, we just can’t seem to get enough of him. With new titles coming soon, and a Paper Mario MMO petition floating around the web (27 signatures to date), our love affair with this mustachioed Italian plumber will probably never end – and Nintendo will not let it. If there is a console or handheld in the works, you just KNOW that Nintendo will produce a game where Mario is the star.

Thanks for the list: Yahoo Games

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7 Comments on Top 10 Best-Selling Game Franchises


On September 29, 2007 at 3:33 pm

I think I read this somewhere before, it might of been on gamefaqs or something


On September 29, 2007 at 4:09 pm

LightAce: I provided the link to Yahoo Games where I got the list, and it was written by Ben Silverman who wrote it for Yahoo.

Here is the link in case you missed it. :-) Hope you enjoyed it!


On September 29, 2007 at 5:11 pm

The jump between 2 and 3 is astonishing. Really, that’s a heck of a lot.

Cool list, though. Obviously I can’t disagree with cold hard facts, but I don’t think there is any up there that *shouldn’t*.


On September 29, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Heres the top 50 if anyones interested.

Mario (193 million)
Pokémon (155 million)
The Sims (90 million)
Final Fantasy (75 million)
Tetris (60 million)
Madden NFL (60 million)
The Legend of Zelda (52 million)
Grand Theft Auto (50 million)
Donkey Kong (48 million)
Gran Turismo (47 million)
Sonic the Hedgehog (44 million)
Lineage (43 million)
Dragon Quest (41 million)
Crash Bandicoot (35 million)
Tomb Raider (32 million)
Resident Evil (31 million)
James Bond (30 million)
Mega Man (27 million)
Medal of Honor (27 million)
Command & Conquer (25 million)
Street Fighter (25 million)
Mortal Kombat (20 million)
Castlevania (20 million)
Tekken (20 million)
Frogger (20 million)
Metal Gear (20 million)
Rayman (20 million)
Warcraft (19 million)
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (18 million)
Spyro the Dragon (17 million)
Winning Eleven (17 million)
Diablo (17 million)
SimCity (17 million)
Brain Age series (17 million)
Age of Empires (16 million)
Half-Life (16 million)
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (16 million)
Halo (15 million)
Need for Speed Underground (15 million)
Nintendogs (14.79 million)
Driver (14 million)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (14 million)
Disney series (13.2 million)
Metroid (13 million)
Wii Series (12.81 million)
Myst (11 million)
Super Smash Bros. (10.89 million)
Lord of the Rings (10 million)
Dragon Ball Z (10 million)
Ace Combat (10 million)
Kingdom Hearts (10 million)
Prince of Persia (10 million)


On September 29, 2007 at 7:22 pm

I’m sorry, but Half Life has sold more than 15 million, the first game sold about 15 million.


On September 29, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Half Life sold around 8m copies. According to the only figures available the entire Half Life franchise has collectively sold around 16m.

If you disagree just read this where last year Valve said the series had sold ‘over 15m’.


On October 1, 2007 at 7:12 pm