After Hours optimize

Geek Trivia: What is the all-time best-selling video game that gamers paid to play?

Not counting giveaways, freemiums, or games bundled with consoles, what video game has sold the most copies in history?

The best-selling video game of all time as measured by unbundled, independent sales is -- ironically -- Tetris. More than 100 million Tetris games have been downloaded at cost to mobile phones and tablets alone. That number goes up when you consider that Tetris was sold for play on almost every console and PC platform ever released, though the exact Tetris sales numbers get fuzzy when you try to add them all up.

So, while many of us got our start with Tetris when it came bundled with our first Game Boy, the Russian puzzle game sensation has proved popular enough that people are willing to pay for it on pretty much every game system that comes along. Suffice it to say, no game has sold more than Tetris.

For you PC gamers, none of whom care about console games and their bundle-muddied statistics, The Sims ranks as the best-selling PC game of all time at a mere 16 million units sold. Yes, PC gaming is more fragmented than console gaming, but console titles simply sell more than PC games, and mobile games more than that.

And for you old-timers demanding to know where arcade games stack up, well, it's not a one-to-one comparison, as almost nobody bought an actual stand-up arcade unit and took it home. (More's the pity.) In any case, the most profitable arcade of all time is, no surprise, Pac-Man, which is estimated to have generated $7.6 billion in arcade revenue (adjusted for inflation) since its release in 1980. Not bad for only 400,000 actual arcade units in play.

That's not just an eye-poppingly popular pack of pixels; it's a ponderously profitable parcel of Geek Trivia.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

16 comments
GRH2112
GRH2112

Actually, I DID buy the stand up Asteroids game console! ...and it's still a great game!

APitchford
APitchford

Released in 1993, Myst held the record of best-selling PC game until The Sims surpassed it in 2002. That's a long-held record in the computer world! Myst single-handedly saved the CD-ROM format from the dust-bin of history because of its success. It also spawned 5 direct sequels, and 1 related game, Uru, which started out as an MMPORG, failed, became a stand-alone DVD game (URU: Complete Chronicles), and is now once again online as Myst Online: Uru Live. Cyan, the producer of the Myst games, has been (very) slowly making the online game open source, so that future updates and expansions are now in the hands of fans.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Or my old favorite Gorf! Ohhh, the quarters I dropped on those... And what about Pong? The granddaddy of them all? (Yes, I realize I'm dating myself here, hehe!) ;)

jmartin.hlg
jmartin.hlg

Although Angry Birds is provided in a free version, the paid version(s) still sit pretty high in the iOS app store listings.

Hazydave
Hazydave

Tetris, sure, but you're talking about dozens of different versions across multiple platforms. And maybe that's the key -- you buy Tetris today on you phone because you recall it from your C64 or Nintendo. Similarly, how do you count "The Sims"? Is that the original versions, all versions, just what (incidently, The Sims 3 is quite alive, still)? Does this include all those many, many add-ons, or just the core application?

Slayer_
Slayer_

It just doesn't sound right, the Sims has been dead a long time now. I would have expecting a game that has been around for awhile. (And still in production)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

for two decades just so I can play Tetris Attack... And I have it on my phone, too, of course!

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

Of course Pac-Man comes in first place; however, I (still) own a GameCube and a copy of Tetris Worlds that gets ample play-time in my home.

RipVan
RipVan

One is near me in Sharonville, Ohio. I am afraid to go in for fear I will want to buy (but can't afford) everything in the store. Those games are great, but most of all, I would LOVE to have pinball. Maybe 8 Ball or one whose name escapes me, possibly "Space Cadet" or something like that. I will definitely know it when (if) I see it!!

RipVan
RipVan

I didn't really have the patience for it, but exploring the areas and being blown away by the graphics at that time really brings back the memories of a simpler time!!! (I just love sounding like my grandpa.) Another great exploring game that didn't sell so well, but still has people developing their own mods was "Thief." I like the first person shooters okay, but exploring things at your leisure (and secondarily looking for programming mistakes in the textures) was a lot of fun.

RipVan
RipVan

My memory isn't that good! Is that the right game....???

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...which was one of the first games to span age and gender demographics. It was a sensation, one that not even its own sequel recaptured. (Also, console and mobile gaming has radically outstripped PC gaming for younger and female gamers in the last decade.) The conditions may simply never come again for Sims-like phenomenon on the PC.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Great game. It took me a long time to beat vs mode and that extra hard. Bowser cheats pretty hard core. No other game have I ever even bothered to replay after playing easy.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

or Pinball Wizard. Best. Games. Ever.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

But the name of the game, let's see, seems like it was "Berzerk" or "Berzerker"..."get the intruder", and if they got you, "Got the intruder!" Memories...used to keep rolls of quarters handy!! :)