Most popular/best selling video game?

Yesterday my wife picked up our copies of Diablo II (and don’t you know OUR kids will be computer geeks) and in so doing had to go by a line of 30 people or so who wanted to buy it. They had unwisely not reserved copies.

I note that according to Blizzard, they have produced 2,000,000 copies of the game and expect to sell them all almost before they hit the shelves.

Here’s one for the Dopers; what’s the best-selling video game of all time? For the sake of clarity, let’s say

  • It can be on any platform, e.g. PC, Atari, Nintendo, Sega, whatever.
  • It has to be a specific title on cartridge or software; don’t say “Pong.”
  • It can be one game on different platforms (e.g. they made Doom for everything) but not distinct versions of what is more or less the same game (SimCity 2000 and 3000 are two different games.)
  • It has to be an independently, commercially sold title. “Minesweeper” doesn’t count, 'cause it’s part of Windows, not really something you buy separately. “Acrophobia” doesn’t count because it’s Freeware.

Anyone have any idea what it might be? I’d guess something like Myst. If it isn’t a PC game, what is the best-selling PC game?

I’m pretty sure it’s Myst, much to the chagrin of most serious gamers who think it’s crap.

I’d have to agree with Myst, as much because of its target audience as anything. Most of the people who bought it weren’t heavy gamers, or computer users, and they actually bought. Most of the other games that are popular are aimed at a crowd fairly likely to get a hacked version rather than buying it.

Sorry, i’m guessing- but don’t you think it would be Pac-Man for Atari 2600?
(You said non-PC was OK)
Pac-Man, by the way, did not come with the 2600, Combat did.

In the UK and Europe I believe it’s the football management game “Championship Manager 3”.

According to:

Pac-Man remains the most popular video game ever, having managed to appeal to young and old, male and female, all around the world. Its popularity in the arcade spawned many sequels and its port to the Atari 2600 was more anticipated in its day than the arrival of any game could be today. Pac-Man has appeared, in one way, shape or form, on more video game consoles than any other game.

Case closed, right? Wrong. says,

*As for Tetris, it’s the most popular video game ever made—more than 40 million copies sold. *

…And then there’s

The most popular video game ever released for the NES was SMB3. It remains the most popular NES game.

…which may have been eclipsed by

Resident Evil: As Big As The Beatles?
Capcom’s killer Resident Evil has now shipped more than a million copies worldwide, the company announced this week. They also say they’re expecting the title to do at least double that by Christmas – which would mean that two out of every three current PlayStation owners would own R.E. That’s an incredible 66.6 percent.

To really understand what a phenomenal number that is, consider that the most popular video game ever, in terms of sales, Super Mario Brothers III for the NES, sold 10 million copies. That was with an installation base of 42 million NES units – about a 25 percent mark. [From sometime in 1996, I think–SK]

So until someone can cough up some reliable numbers, I think if we’re going judge “most popular,” we should do it as we did in high school, and base our decision strictly on bra-size.

Easily Windows Solitaire, sold with windows, probably on more than 1 billion computers worldwide.

I gotta side with the Pac-Man crowd. Gamespot has the following info:

Any video game that has inspired not only home versions but also more than 400 products, a hit song, a cartoon series, and even has a medical problem associated with it (remember “Pac-Man elbow”?) reigns supreme.

Quick note RE: Myst:

Myst may be a VERY widely distributed game, but its actual direct-to-consumer sales were only good. The game got bundled with just about every video card made, plus a number of complete PC systems. Their sales figures reflect every bundled copy.

Do the numbers for Tetris and Pac-Man count all of the versions, or only the sold ones? Both are now widely available in shareware and freeware. And does a game with identical boards/gameplay count as the same game, even if it has a different title, or slightly different graphics?

To paraphrase Mr. Spock:

“Myst is like a wreath of pretty flowers, that smell bad!”

“And Riven was twice as bad.” - Dr. McCoy

Even though I have Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man tatooed on my arm, and may be considered biased, I’ll go with Pac-y. As Ms. Pac-Man is pretty damned close to Pac-Man (arcade hardware-wise), I’m wondering if we should count her in as well. Regardless Pac-Man has appeared on (at least): Atari 2600, NES, Game Boy (as well as a Game Boy Color ‘special’ edition), PlayStation (Namco Museum Vol. 1 and Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary both have the original versions emulated). Sega Saturn (again, Namco Museum), N64 (again, Namco Museum). I beleive there is a Museum in the works for Dreamcast, but I don’t know if the Yellow Gobbler is in there…

Its neck and neck with Minesweeper.

I’ll throw in something out of left field: Space Invaders.

I recall reading a newspaper article at the height of Space Invaders popularity, it claimed that most machines would not play because they were jammed with quarters and couldn’t accept any more, the operators were having trouble going around and emptying the coin boxes fast enough, and that the US Mint actually had to mint more quarters because there was an insufficient supply, something like 20% of the quarters in circulation were sitting in Space Invaders machines.

Well, that’s a recollection from an awful long time ago, but I think its essentially accurate.

But I think you have to define your terms more closely. I could probably go back to a point in time where there was only 1 video game on the mass market, I think that dates back to the days of PONG. You could easily say this was the most popular game ever, because it had 100% of the market, there were no other video games.


Can we please stop the Myst/Riven-bashing? I disagree that they’re not “real” games. Just because they’re a different genre of game than Pac-Man or Tekken or whatever doesn’t mean they suck and that “serious” gamers wouldn’t play them. The games sold well, so they count just as much.

And yes, I own both, and I enjoyed playing both.


  • I dunno if you can directly compare the arcade games such as Space Invaders to any present-day console product. Old arcade games charged you a quarter for every game; present-day console games cost $50 to own forever. I’m old enough to remember when it came out, and I’d bet I threw a lot more than $50 into Pac-Man machines - and that’s not even accounting for the difference of inflation between then & now.
  • Many of the games that get good editors’ ratings from game magazines don’t sell well. I note that the top 5 best-selling games of 1999, according to PCGamer (April 2000):
  1. Rollercoaster Tycoon - 719,xxx copies
  2. SimCity 3000 - 657,xxx copies
  3. Who Wants to be a Millionaire - 592,xxx copies
  4. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings - 469,xxx copies
  5. Half-Life - 445,xxx copies
  • Of these, #1 and #2 aren’t “games” in the traditional sense; #3 is a game, but in a style that industry magazines (and many vocal players) tend to pass off lightly. Only #5 is a typical -violent- blood & guts/action title. Also note that “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” was developed for a fraction of what is spent attempting to create many games, and it went on sale in December[!]. - MC

River City Ransom- Best Game Ever!

One guy wants to get laid, the other guy wants to kick ass. So you go around beating down gangs!

As I say again…Best Game Ever!

p.s Super Dogde Ball and Ninja Gaiden game in a close second.

Clarifying Chas.E statement on Space Invaders: it wasn’t the US that suffered a coin shortage, it was Japan. In fact, I wonder if it wasn’t the most successful game of all time there.

And not to BBQ you AudreyK, essentially a “game” must be “fun” and even “interactive”, not a boring yet pretty movie. (This goes for all you FFVII and FFVIII fans as well :slight_smile: )

In last year’s copy of Guinness World Records, they vaguely claimed Tomb Raider to be the most popular video game ever. Without quoting statistics, and not acknowledging that (at the time) it had 3 incarnations, and multiple platforms.

I would’ve thought Quake or Final Fantasy would be somewhere up in the top ten also.

Things like Pac-Man were popular, but are hard to measure how, especially in comparison to modern times. That was at a time when there were only 12 or so different video games anyway (Defender, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, etc) and it was dependent on which video arcade / fast food joint bought it, not household sales. (thought there was a crappy Atari version of Pac Man at least)

      • Myst/Riven aren’t movies, they’re more like text games with pictures instead of text. Not heart-poundng, but some people don’t want heart-pounding. I think it could have been done better in real 3D; the slide-show presentation sucked big time. The screenshots were unmatched though, and I think that’s what sold many of these games. I have both- I ended up cheating to get through Myst because even though I found all I needed, I couldn’t understand what the guy trapped inside the book was saying about the fireplace- no alternate clues were given. I never did complete Riven; I got tired of wandering in circles (DVD) and lost interest.
      • Computer entertainment has a capability for action that I feel RPG and turn-based games fail to take advantage of. I’ve never played any FF game myself, but I’ve watched other people do it. I feel I’m not missing much. - MC