The best-selling games over the past 20 years

Video games have certainly come a long way since 1998. Today, we’re looking at the top selling game of each year since then. Everything from shooters to sports games has a place on the top-seller’s list so what made it to the top each year may surprise you.

1998 – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Ocarina_of_Time_box_artOne of the most classic games of all time, and the highest rated game of all time (via Metacritic), Ocarina of time is a must-play game for anyone. It was highly praised for its graphical beauty, attention to detail, amount of things to do, and its ability to immerse the player in its world.

Over 7 million copes were sold of the classic game worldwide.

1999 – Donkey Kong 64

SI_N64_DonkeyKong64_image1600wAfter developing the popular Donkey Kong Country games, developer Rare began development on a 3D Donkey Kong game.

Donkey Kong 64 was the first game to require the Nintendo 64’s Expansion Pak, an accessory for the console that added extra memory.

In the game’s story, players would complete minigames and puzzles in order to save Donkey Kong’s kidnapped friends from King K. Rool. The game also feature multiplayer modes that allowed players to compete in deathmatch and last man standing game modes.

The game was met with universal acclaim and ended up selling over 2.3 million copies.

2000 – Pokemon Stadium

maxresdefault-1.jpgDespite its title, this is actually the 2nd Pokemon Stadium game to exist. Labeled Pokemon Stadium 2 in Japan, this game was localized for US markets as Pokemon Stadium as it was the West’s first Stadium game.

Unlike main-line Pokemon games, Stadium did not have a story, and instead focused in on strategy of battle.

The game received mixed reviews from critics for feeling dumbed down compared to the original Gameboy games.

Pokemon Stadium sold over 1 million copies.

2001 – Madden NFL 2002

Madden_NFL_2002_CoverartMadden 2002 was met with praises from all critics alike. The game was the first game in the franchise to feature the Houston Texans as a selectable team.

In the game’s 2002 expansion draft the player can add the 32nd team to the NFL forcing the Seattle Seahawks to mode to the NFC.

Madden 2002 was able to sell 1.9 million copies.

2002 – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Vice-city-coverVice City was Rockstar Games’s second try at a 3D open world action game. It’s previous entry, Grand Theft Auto 3, saw commercial success, but not to the level that Vice City saw.

The game featured an 80s themed Miami to explore and all the crime of a Grand Theft Auto game.

Since its launch, Vice City has sold over 17.5 million copies.

2003 – Madden NFL 2004

220px-Madden2004boxMadden 2004 was the first entry in the series to feature an owner mode. In the mode you could take control of a franchise. You would be able to take on responsibilities such as pricing, managing coaching staff, team relocations, and more.

The game also brought the ability to edit historic teams and take part in pre-season training camps.

Madden 2004 has sold 3.5 million copies.

2004 – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

220px-GTASABOXAfter the success of Vice City, things could only go up for developer Rockstar Games. GTA San Andreas was one of the most ambitious games of its time features a huge open world and tons of mechanics to enjoy and things to do.

San Andreas saw itself wrapped up in controversy though, as an unattainable sex mini-game was modded back into the game to be playable. This and the violence made this game a nightmare for mass media and moms alike.

Critics and fans didn’t seem to mind though as the game sold 21.5 million sales since launch.

2005 – Madden NFL 2006

Madden06This Madden entry brought along the new Superstar mode. The mode allowed the player to create a custom athlete with their own IQ, occupations, and hobbies. You would continue through your custom player’s career as seen in their eyes but played by you.

These innovations to the series brought in a whopping 1.8 million sales.

2006 – Madden NFL 2007

Madden_NFL_07_CoverartMadden 07 didn’t bring a long a ton of big features to the series, but it did improve on what was established in Madden 2006.

The new features it did bring along though were the ability to play as a lead blocker, use the right stick to get your way out of a tackle with an evasive mode, and multiple styles of jukes and spins.

Madden 07 sold 3.3 million units overall.

2007 – Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock

220px-Guitar-hero-iii-cover-imageGuitar Hero III saw success unlike any rhythm game had seen before. The game featured the iconic guitar peripheral along with over 70 song to play on its 5 frets.

Popular musicians, Tom Morello and Slash, both make appearances as in-game boss battles.

Although fans praised the game, critics cited the game as being “too hard.” Even while being “overly difficult” Guitar Hero III was able to sell 3.475 million copies.

2008 – Rock Band

220px-Rock_band_coverBuilding off of the success of the Guitar Hero Franchise, Rock Band adds more instruments to the mix. Players have the ability to play guitar, bass, drums, or sing.

While the gameplay was mostly identical to Guitar Hero before it, that didn’t stop it from selling 4 million units.

2009 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

5a4f5ebe5bafe354e54fd732One of the Call of Duty games many consider to be a classic in the Call of Duty franchise was able to take the top spot of 2009’s sales. The game featured the controversial “No Russian” scene where a player could kill civilians in a Russian airport, and it also featured depictions of an America invaded by Russian forces.

This game was another tool used to try and perpetuate the “violent video games are bad” stance, but that didn’t stop it from flying off the shelves.

Modern Warfare 2 sold 25 million copies.

2010 – Call of Duty: Black Ops

headerCall of Duty: Ops became a huge success for developer Treyarch. Black Ops saw the rise of what was once seen as the lesser company to make games under the Call of Duty brand.

The game too a rather different approach to its story, featuring brain washing, multiple time periods, plot twists, and JFK assassination theories all wrapped up into an action movie style package.

The game brought back the extremely popular Zombies mode from Treyarch’s previous game, Call of Duty: World at War, and made improvements to the multiplayer mode.

Black Ops sold 30 million copies worldwide.

2011 – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

modern_warfare_3_img4Modern Warfare 3 currently is the highest selling Call of Duty of all time. While it is a direct sequel to the popular Modern Warfare 2, it was widely criticized for not being much of an improvement over the previous game in the series.

Much of the game, from the graphics to the gameplay, was extremely similar to Modern Warfare 2, but that didn’t stop the game from selling 30.7 million copies.

2012 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops-2-625x352Call of Duty: Ops 2 aimed to take what the first Black Ops did and improve on it. In many cases, it did this, but in others it failed.

Black Ops 2’s multiplayer was deemed as the most solid the series had seen to date, but the included zombies map was hated by almost every player.

Black Ops 2 was able to pull of an impressive 29.5 million sales.


2013 – Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto V was a technical marvel at its release. The ability to run such a large, detailed open world on an Xbox 360 was astounding. But it didn’t just look good, it played good too. GTA V was filled with things to do. Players could easily spend hundreds of hours playing though side missions and still have things to do.

The game also became the highest ever grossing entertainment product. GTA V sold 11.21 million units in just 24 hours, and it grossed $1 billion in only 3 days time.

In its lifetime, GTA V has sold over 100 million copes and continues to sale.

2014 – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

maxresdefault (2)Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brought huge changes to the franchise. Advanced Warfare was the first Call of Duty game to be fully produced by Sledgehammer Games, and was the first to introduce advanced movement to the already fast-paced shooter.

Players would use jet-pack equipped exo-suits to maneuver around maps in its campaign, exo-zombies, and campaign modes.

The game also featured Kevin Space as a lead character. This casting might not have aged too well, but at the time it was pretty cool.

Advanced Warfare sold over 21 million copies.

2015 – Call of Duty: Black Ops 3

220px-Black_Ops_3Following the success of Sledgehammer Games’s exo-suit movement system, Call of Duty developer, Treyarch, decided to give the system a whirl. Black Ops 3 refined Advanced Warfare’s movement system to be more smooth and refined. It also introduced specialists to multiplayer mode, giving players the option of choosing a character with special abilities.

The game also saw the return of Treyarch’s popular zombies game mode with maps featuring characters new and old.

Black Ops 3 was able to sell over 26 million copies.

2016 – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

220px-Call_of_Duty_-_Infinite_Warfare_(promo_image)Even though Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s reveal trailer is currently the 3rd most disliked Youtube video of all-time with 3.7 million dislikes, it was still able to outsell every other game that released in 2016.

The game was criticized for continuing the advanced-movement system that fans were growing tired of and many were upset at the future space setting of what used to be a military shooter series.

Even with all this negativity, the Infinite Warfare received fairly positive reviews from critics, and many see its campaign as being a hidden gem.

With all the anger surrounding the game, it was still able to sale an impressive 12.6 million units.

2017 – Call of Duty: WWII

59ea2439ae653ab1342eb187Just as Call of Duty fans were growing fatigued of future settings and jet packs, Sledgehammer Games brought the series back to its roots with Call of Duty: WWII.

While fans were happy to see boots on the ground gameplay and the return to roots, many felt the game was lacking in substance. The game was also panned for introducing controversial loot box openings and almost completely reworking create a class.

WWII has sold over 12 million copies.


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