Most people know that games like Call of Duty: Black Ops and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock have been staples in best seller lists for as long as they’ve been available. What they may not know is that one of those games is the ‘best selling game of all time’ and the other will take that title soon. Well, sort of.
The market research group NPD has compiled its list of the ‘best selling games of all-time.’ Their data indicates that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock sits atop the list (despite the franchise recently being cancelled) with a life to date sales total of $830.9 million. Close on its heels is Call of Duty: Black Ops, which at the end of February was only $43.5 million behind the top spot. It's already the best selling game in terms of units sold, so it seems a foregone conclusion that Black Ops will soon be king of gaming history.
But when taking a closer look at NPD’s lists criteria, four flaws emerge. First, the list only takes into account gross sales of games released since 1995. This means monster sellers from the 1980s gaming boom (Super Mario Bros, Sonic, Legend of Zelda) aren’t factored in.
Secondly, since it’s a gross sales list, not all games are counted equally. Games like Guitar Hero, with its triple digit price tag (when sold with guitar peripherals), count more than games priced at the standard $60. One unit of Guitar Hero sold could be equal to two or more copies of Madden NFL sold.
Third, the sales data isn’t adjusted for inflation. Super Mario 3 was released in the United States in 1990 and sold over 18 million copies at the original price of $50. When adjusted for inflation that comes out to approximately $1.7 billion of gross sales.
And fourth, only stand-alone titles were eligible, which explains the exclusion of Wii Sports. With a reported 75.66 million Wii consoles sold, all of which include Wii Sports, the Nintendo offering would certainly hold a top spot.
While the list is flawed and probably shouldn’t be touted as a ‘best selling games of all-time’ list, it is useful in pointing out popular trends of the current gaming generation. The Call of Duty franchise holds three of the top-10 spots; Guitar Hero and Rock Band games take up another three spots; and Nintendo’s Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus hold two more.
The NPD list looks at the last 15 years, but the question gamers should ask is what do the next 15 years hold? What genre of games will lead the industry into the next generation? Will it be 3D or something else that hasn’t been revealed yet? What do you think?