Last Updated on March 31, 2022
What do you think the best-selling computer game is in the UK? Would you expect a current title, or a retro game?
Well, it’s difficult to get this exactly right, but you’ll get a good idea of things thanks to this new list from GfK. Their brand analysis of 27 years’ of data shows the 30 best setting video games since 1995, titles that have earned an incredible £26.3 billion.
Now, they’ve collated the data by brand or franchise, so we’re looking at tables featuring the Grand Theft Auto series rather than individual titles. Of course, some franchises feature titles that are better than others (hi, Call of Duty), but the results do provide a good idea of what games people love, and most of them started in the 1990s, so there is a definite retro angle to this.
Here’s the top 10:
As you can see, the top two best-selling computer game positions are occupied by long-running titles with annual release patterns. While the FIFA series has had a new game every year since 1993 (when FIFA International Soccer launched on Sega Megadrive), so Call of Duty games have appeared regularly, with 32 iterations and 19 annual releases.
And then there is number three: Mario. This series dates to 1987, the heart of what we consider the retro era. Super Mario Land, Mario Kart 64, and Super Mario 64 are among the most popular in the series, although the most successful Mario titles are Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 8, and New Super Mario Bros.
Elsewhere in the top 10, Grand Theft Auto (4th), Lego games (5th; first appearing back in 1997, and I have the disc somewhere) and the inevitable Star Wars also make an entry. There are 113 games in the entire Star Wars gaming series, which kicked off back in 1983 with conversions of that seminal arcade cabinet. With that number in mind you’d struggle to name most Star Wars games.
Beyond the Top 10: More Best-Selling Computer Game Brands
The entire list of 30 game brands across 27 years and £26 billion also includes:
Beyond the top 10, the list features DC titles, Zelda (surprisingly low in the list) Harry Potter, games based on Tom Clancy novels, and a bunch of sporting titles: Pro Evolution Soccer, WWE/WWF/Wrestlemania, Formula One, The Olympic Games, PGA Tour Golf… curiously, no Championship Manager/Football Manager, which let’s be honest, has gone off the boil in recent years.
Dorian Bloch is GfK’s Senior Client Insight Director for Gaming: “This is a fascinating list and anyone who has been following the development of the videogame industry as I have will no doubt show little surprise at the sheer value, size, and breadth of this market. What was once seen as a niche sector is now an unquestionably mainstream market generating billions in revenue annually. The characters in these games have become much-loved heroes, from Lara Croft to Luigi and Mario, to Sonic the Hedgehog. Terms used in the franchises have entered our vocabulary, and there are more than a few gamers who could navigate their way around the outskirts of San Francisco from their time at the wheel of a stolen car in GTA.”
GfK, who use the “Growth from Knowledge” tag, based its research on point of sale tracking of sales revenue data from a detailed list of UK retailers, including games specialists, supermarkets, online pure players and technical superstores, department stores, and consumer electronics retailers. The data covers 42,000 games across five generations of hardware (PlayStation 1-5 console systems, Microsoft Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo N64, Gamecube, Wii, Wii-U, Switch, plus PC gaming and hand-held consoles.)
Disappointed by this list of best-selling computer game brands? Prefer to see a list of games?
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.