Thought it would be interesting to check out the biggest franchises of this generation now that it is soon to be coming to an end. I included all franchises that managed over 30mil in sales on ps3/360/Wii/PSP/DS/PC. Please let me know if I accidently missed any big franchise that should have made the list. I'm excluding phone game sales.
The mascot of gaming is still number 1 this gen. Sales include every single game that had mario in it's name this gen on the wii and ds. The only franchise to be able to successfully carve itself into nearly every genre in gaming. But surprisingly two other franchises, came pretty close to it in total sales, and are infact both significantly bigger than Mario on just consoles.
2. Wii Series
196.38mil (119mil if you exclude none Japanese Wii Sports sales)
Somewhat controversial since probably well over 50% of the series's sales were bundled, but you could argue these bundled games are what sold the systems especially to the massive casual audience nintendo managed to build up. The wii series managed to bring Nintendo from dead last last generation to first by a longshot this generation. This series changed console gaming forever.
3. Call of Duty
Call of Duty along with the Wii series are no doubt the most influential franchises this gen. In one generation they eclipsed lifetime sales of every single storied franchise short of pokemon and mario. And Call of Duty will likely pass Pokemon soon and become the second biggest console gaming franchise of all time. Could end up reaching over 180mil by the time CoD stops selling on current gen systems.
The mainline games are a long way down from what they were in the gameboy days and yet this is still the 4th biggest franchise of this generation. Sales are becoming ever more frontloaded though which might prevent the games from ever breaching 20mil like the first two, despite their ludicriously high launch weeks.
This franchise doesn't get talked about to often in the forums, but boy is it massive. Almost as big as pokemon this gen, this has been the only franchise that has managed to be very successful on all 5 major consoles and handhelds.
6. FIFA Soccer
Sales managed to really explode this generation. Has become the biggest sports franchise by a longshot. Games should continue to get ported to current gen systems for a while so it could end up above even pokemon this gen.
7. Assassin's Creed
Third biggest HD gaming franchise, and second biggest new IP this gen. Who would have thought an assassination game with mediocre reviews could lead to such a successful franchise. Could end up reaching 60+mil once Assassin's Creed games stop selling on current gen systems. If you ask someone what the biggest new Ip is on the 360 or ps3, most would say Uncharted and Gears of War, but Assassin's Creed easily outsold both of those franchises combined.
Despite facing massive competition from Call of Duty, Halo has managed to stay very successful. It is the only exclusive HDtwins franchise that has been able to sell 20mil+ let alone 30mil+, if we exclude kinect adventures copies as sales. Milking is done more similarly to mario/final fantasy with spinoffs and remakes, rather than typical hd mega franchises that pump out true sequels.
9. Madden NFL
Despite being eclipsed by fifa in worldwide sales, madden has remained a very strong seller.
10. Just Dance
Only new IP that managed to become a massive hit without coming out early in the consoles' lifecycle. Massive hit on the Wii, managing to sell over 35million units on that console alone. That's almost as much as Halo sold on the 360.
11. Grand Theft Auto
The only mega gaming franchise that didn't seem to get heavily milked this gen. Interestingly enough the PSP games accounted for the most retail sales for the franchise. Obviously that will change in a few short months, but still quite surprising how successful the game managed to be on handhelds and consoles. Should get to near 50mil after GTAV.
12. Need for Speed
While EA was unsuccessful in introducing a new IP that became a massive hit this gen, this is yet another old school franchise that that has managed to continue selling extraordinary well.
13. Brain Age
The gaming franchise that has been hurt the most by the rise of mobile gaming. Scary how quickly it has fallen to obscurity. The idea was brilliant. It just translated much better into none gaming dedicated devices.
33.97mil(14.13mil excluding kinect adventures)
Managed to turn around the xbox 360's stagnation, and probably single handedly extended the xbox's life by 2 years though at the cost of decreased core support. In two months we will find out if Microsoft will be able to propery juggle its kinect audience with the core audience for next gen.
Looking through this list shows the huge disparity between the three most popular franchises this gen and the rest of the pack. When all is said and done the top three will each sell over 100mil more than 4th place and account for close to 20% of all games sold this gen, and likely over 25% of all console games sold this gen. Having yearly sequels is really important towards reaching massive sales, but not 100% nessessary.
Third Parties are more important than ever for microsoft and sony. Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto(When V comes out), and Fifa, are much bigger, even on a single console basis, than any hd exclusive other than Halo. Third parties have not been as successful on nintendo gaming devices but LEGO and Just Dance series were bigger this gen on just the wii and ds than most of nintendo's iconic franchises.
Sony didn't manage to get any exclusives on the list but they had plenty of midteir franchises.Their massive franchise, Gran Turismo could have possibly made the list if it was released as often as they released Uncharted, Ratched and Clank, or God of War titles.