What's the best-selling video game of all time?

I was discussing this with a friend the other night, and we figured it would be tough to guess. In other forms of entertainment (books, movies, music, etc.), classics keep on selling, but not in games. So we figured there’s a good chance that the latest big hit is #1 of all time at any given time, at least if you rate games by sales dollars.

Then again, the market way back when was pretty strongly dominated by Nintendo, and it’s a little more diverse these days, so if you rate games by copies sold, maybe a classic dominates the market.

So what do the figures suggest?

For PCs, the best selling game ever is “The Sims,” by a fairly wide margin; it passed “Myst” after about six million sales and I think got above eight million. (This doesn’t count the expansion-only sales or the sequel.)

For all platforms, it may be “Super Mario Bros.” Some sources cite unit sales as being in excess of 40 million games.

However, it is possible that the true champeen is “Tetris,” which has been sold on so many platforms and by so many publishers that it’s hard to count just how many were sold. I have found one source suggesting Tetris sold 30 million units just for Game Boys.

If you went by sales dollars - well, again, it’s still “The Sims,” “Tetris” and “Super Mario Bros.” Video game prices haven’t changed very much; if anything, they’re down against inflation over where they were 15-20 years ago.

As an add-on…

… I also found a source that claims the Microsoft Flight Simulator series has sold in excess of 25 million units, which would make it the absolute PC champion. However, that’s a long succession of completely different software products. You cannot reasonably claim that the Flight Simulator I played on my PC XT in 1985, running off a floppy disk in beautiful CGA graphics, is the same game as today’s Flight Simulator.

It’s hard to define where one game ends and a sequel or different version begins. I think we can all agree, for instance, that “Civilization” and “Civilization III” are different games, while “Halo” for the XBox and “Halo” for the PC are the same game, just for different platforms. But are the various versions of Tetris the same, or different? The two Age of Empires games have sold at least 10 million units, and they sure are similar, so is that one game or two? What about the various Grand Theft Auto titles?

That’s one problem that occurred to me–if a game is released for multiple platforms, is it still the same game? That seems like a tough question to answer.

Whats so tough to answer about that? Same game different platform sounds like they are the same game to me.

For its time, and all other hedge words like that…

Super Mario Brothers 3 sold more copies than any other game. I think it made more money than “E.T.” the Extra Terestrial (Movie) made

But that was some time ago.
I would bet that Sims, Halo 2, Zelda, and Tetris are in the Top 10.

I think it was Super Mario Brothers 3. I remember hearing a long time ago that it sold something around 60 million copies, which sounds pretty crazy…but hey, it was a crazy game for its time.