Why are some games more successful than others?

It is quite literally the million dollar question: how to make a video game that outcompetes all of your rivals? There are of course several factors that determine the success of a game, from build quality and storyline, to pop culture and marketing…


Below is a table containing the sales figures for the 18 most successful video game series of all time. Using the numbers given in the table can you estimate the amount of profit each video game series has made over the course of it’s existence?


Franchise name Original release date Sales
Mario July 9, 1981 557.323 million
Mario first appeared in 1981 in the original Donkey Kong,[10] before starring in Mario Bros., followed by the Super Mario series of platform games. The character was created by Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and has since become the official mascot of Nintendo, owner of the trademark. It is developed by various Nintendo studios. The Mario franchise has expanded into other game genres, including racingsportspartypuzzle, and role-playing games. The franchise includes other media, including three animated television series, comic books, a manga, a filmand other merchandise. It is currently the best-selling video game franchise of all time.
Super Mario September 13, 1985 326.75 million[n 1]
The Super Mario series of platform games began in 1985 and features Nintendo’s character Mario. The Super Mario series forms the core of the Mario franchise.
Pokémon February 27, 1996 307.51 million[n 6]
Pokémon was created by Satoshi Tajiri, founder and president of Game Freak, in 1996 as a role-playing video game for the Game Boy handheld game console, soon turning into a franchise merchandised into animemangatrading cards, toys, books, twenty films (one of the highest-grossing animated film series) and other media. It is produced by The Pokémon Company, which is a joint venture by the three companies holding the rights to Pokémon: NintendoGame Freak, and Creatures Inc.
Call of Duty October 29, 2003 275 million[17][18][19]
Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game series. The series is published by Activision and Aspyr Media and developed by Infinity WardGray Matter InteractiveTreyarchSledgehammer GamesRaven SoftwareNeversoft and High Moon Studios. With new games in the series released annually to blockbuster-level sales, the series is verified by the Guinness World Records as the best-selling first-person shooter game series.[18]
Grand Theft Auto October 1997 250 million[20]
Grand Theft Auto is an open world action-adventure video game series created by David Jones and primarily developed by Scottish developer Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, including ten stand-alone games and two expansion packs for the original game and two for the ninth. It is the most successful video game franchise the United Kingdom has produced and the best-selling action-adventure as well as open world series.
Wii November 19, 2006 201.8 million[n 7]
The Wii series of physical simulation video games was created by Shigeru Miyamoto in 2006 to help with the initial launch of Nintendo’s Wii console. The first game in the series, Wii Sports, was included with the original Wii console.
The Sims February 4, 2000 200 million[25]
The Sims is a series of strategic life simulation computer and console video games created by American game designer Will Wright, developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. The series consists of four main games and a number of compilations and expansion packs. It is currently the most successful PC gaming franchise of all time.
Tetris June 6, 1984 170 million[26]
Tetris is a falling-blocks puzzle video game, created by Alexey Pajitnov and released on a vast spectrum of platforms, from video game consoles and computers to mobile devices and calculators, with the version bundled with the Game Boy selling over 35 million.[27]
FIFA Christmas 1993 150 million[28]
A series of association football based sports games, released yearly by Electronic Arts under the EA Sports label, and the first to have an official licence from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (International Federation of Association Football), the international governing body of football.
Need for Speed August 31, 1994 150 million[29]
Need for Speed is a series of racing video games published by Electronic Arts, and has been developed by multiple companies in the past such as EA Black Box and Criterion Games. The series is currently developed by Ghost Games with the games being released on multiple platforms. It is currently the most successful racing game franchise of all time.
Minecraft November 18, 2011 144 million[30]
Minecraft is a sandbox-building video game originally created by Swedish game designer Markus “Notch” Persson and developed by Mojang. Originally a computer game made using Java, there have been ports released for home consoles and mobile devices. It was bought by Microsoft Studios on September 15, 2014. It is the most successful video game franchise Sweden has produced.
Final Fantasy December 18, 1987 135 million[31]
Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー Fainaru Fantajī) is a media franchise created by Japanese game designer Hironobu Sakaguchi and owned by Square Enix. The franchise encompasses fifteen signature role-playing video games alongside a number of spin-off video games, motion pictures, and other consumer products and interactive media.
Mario Kart August 27, 1992 124.27 million[n 2]
Mario Kart is a series of go-kart-style racing video games developed and published by Nintendo as a series of spin-offs from their trademark Super Mario series of platformer adventure-style video games. The series has spawned eight main games, four arcade games and a mobile game.
Wii Sports November 19, 2006 115.12 million[n 7]
The Wii Sports series of physical sports games was created by Shigeru Miyamoto for Nintendo’s Wii console in 2006. Its success led to the Wii video game series, of which it is a sub-series. The first game in the series, Wii Sports, was included with the original Wii Console.
Lego 1995 100 million[34]
The Lego franchise includes many different games, including original games such as Lego IslandLego Racers and Lego Rock Raiders, as well as several different licensed properties like Lego Indiana Jones: The Original AdventuresLego Batman: The Video Game, and Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4.
Madden NFL June 1, 1988 100 million[35]
Madden NFL is an American football video game series developed by Electronic Arts Tiburon for EA Sports. The game is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden, a well-known color commentator for NBC Sports and formerly a Super Bowl-winning head coach during the 1970s with the Oakland Raiders.
Assassin’s Creed November 13, 2007 100 million[36]
Assassin’s Creed is a historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth series developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft.
Pro Evolution Soccer March 15, 2001 100 million[37]
Pro Evolution Soccer (known as World Soccer: Winning Eleven in Japan) is a series of association football video games developed and published by Konami.


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