I’m sure many of you have sat down with a couple of fellow gamers and argued over the epic questions. One of those might have been regarding what the most successful console has been when it comes to game sales. So what I did was pour over a ridiculous amount of sales and console data to provide you with the answers, and the outcome I eventually developed is one that might surprise a few people. Not only that, but the list that follows behind it is equally as intriguing and controversial.
Technically speaking the highest selling game of all time was, for many years; Super Mario Brothers. This however is due to it being packaged with the Nintendo Entertainment System “selling” around 40 million copies worldwide. In a similar way including console packages, Super Mario World (released with the SNES) has “sold” 20 million copies, Super Mario 64 (N64) 11 million, Tetris (Gameboy) 33 million, Super Mario Land (Gameboy) 14 million and Sonic The Hedgehog (Mega-drive/Genesis) 4 million.
But this has recently been usurped by another console package, Wii Sports (packaged with the Nintendo Wii) has “sold” around 41 million copies. With it’s innovative physically interactive gameplay Wii Play has “sold” around 21 million copies, however many believe this to be an untrue sales figure due to mainly being bundled with a peripheral.
Wii Fit on the same system has sold over 14 million copies and is sold with a peripheral which is specific to the game, therefore many might argue that this should be a stand alone sales figure as the peripheral does not have any other uses aside from the game. The Wii continues its phenomenal sales record with Mario Kart Wii selling around 14 million copies.
Additionally, and equally as controversially, excluding Wii Play from the list the second spot goes to Pokemon Red, Blue and Green, if you include them as pieces of one game, which technically they are; as you cannot complete the total game (by collecting ALL of the Pokemon) without both releases.
All of this begs the question, If Wii Play isn’t considered the number one selling game of all time, and Pokemon is a rather hotly disputed second, what comes in at number one?
Maintaining the controversy Nintendogs is the best selling game of all time with over 22 million sales on the Nintendo DS, however disputes surround it also. Technically 5 different games; Dachshund and Friends, Lab and Friends, Chihuahua and Friends, Dalmatian and Friends and Nintendogs Best Friends it is plausible that the games should be considered individually. Additionally the Nintendogs Best Friends release was actually a bundle package with a special addition DS, adding further fuel to the fire of controversy.
So this all begs the question, based on individual sales of a game, packaged on its own, what (finally) claims the crown of BEST SELLING CONSOLE GAME EVER? This award not surprisingly goes to Nintendo and to a certain mustache wearing plumber whom you might have heard of. Super Mario Brothers 3 released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1988 (or 1990 or 1991 depending on where in the world you lived) has amassed sales of over 18 million and built on the success of Super Mario Brothers 2’s sales of 10 million. Interestingly the Nintendo DS version, New Super Mario Brothers has achieved 18 millions sales making it a surprising yet unsurprising success story.
The list that follows in the wake of the mighty Super Mario has some surprising twists of its own. For instance, did you know that Grand Theft Auto San Andreas outsold Grand Theft Auto IV 3-1? Halo 3 only just outsold Halo 2 (by around 100,000 units)? How about Goldeneye on the N64 selling more than Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty World at War (so far)combined? Space invaders on the Atari only sold around 1million units, and was outsold 7-1 by PacMan? Gears of War 2 has so far sold only as many copies are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES (4 million)?
Taking a broader view, when expansion packs and sales of the original and it’s sequel are taken into account the best selling PC game The Sims has sold over 100 million copies. A mere footnote however when compared with the mighty Super Mario empire with over 200 million combined sales, standing head and shoulders over the now dormant Pokemon franchise with 186 million sales.
But what about the future? Many believe that Call of Duty Modern Combat 2 will become the new title holder, but only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, as gaming becomes more diverse and sophisticated and gamers tastes diverge it will take a truly phenomenal game to knock the crown off the head of Super Mario Brothers 3.
Listed below are some notable games and their approximate sales figures (taken from Gallup, The Guinness Book of World Records and a few other sources) for you to mull over. Obviously the list below is not exhaustive and misses many titles out but should provide answers to anyone who challenges you with a “what about …..” question.
- Nintendogs - 22 million
- Super Mario Brothers 3 - 18 million (Super Mario Brothers 2 - 10 million
- New Super Mario Brothers (DS) - 18 million
- Gran Turismo 3 A Spec - 15 million (Gran Turismo 11 million)
- Grand Theft Auto San Andreas - 12 million (Grand Theft Auto IV - 4.1 million)
- Halo 3 - 8.1 million
- Halo 2 - 8 million (Halo Combat Evolved - 5 million)
- Goldeneye - 8 million
- Street Fighter II - 8m million
- Mario Kart 64 - 8.5 million (Super Mario Kart - 8 million)
- Super Smash Brothers Melee - 7.1 million
- Pac-Man - 7 million
- The Legend of Zelda (NES) - 6.5million
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - 6 million
- Gears of War - 5 million (Gears of War 2 - 4 million)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) - 4 million
- Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare - 3.7 million
- Space Invaders - 1 million
Please note that all figures are approximations and some figures my now be out of date due to some games still selling at this moment in time.