Back in the early '90s, Activision was hardly the dominating video game publisher we know now; in fact, the company filed for bankruptcy.

But nearly 20 years later, things have changed drastically. According to data compiled by the NPD, Activision is responsible for 5 of the top 10 highest grossing games of all time . As a frame of reference, rival Electronic Arts is nowhere to be found on that list, while Nintendo takes four of the last five slots (with Viacom holding the last position). Call of Duty alone takes up three slots and the latest, Black Ops , shows "every sign that it will soon become the best selling game of all time, as judged by gross sales." However, bear in mind that Activision is the leader on this list due to a now-defunct blockbuster series: Guitar Hero . Believe it or not, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock actually sits in the #1 spot with life-to-date sales of $830.9 million.

Just remember that the NPD doesn't take inflation into account, and it doesn't include titles that were shipped bundled with systems. Only standalone titles were evaluated. If we talk bundled titles, Wii Sports would be the clear winner, and Super Mario Bros. on the original NES (over 40 million copies distributed since 1985) would also land on the list. As for inflation adjustment, the standalone winner appears to be Super Mario Bros. 3 with 18 million copies sold on the NES. With a price tag of $50 at the time, and when total sales are converted to today's dollars, that's a whopping $1.7 billion…and nothing else comes close.

But as we said: times have changed.

Subscribe
Notify of
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Godslim
Godslim
9 years ago

not surprised cod takes up 3 spots tbh it is very popular now…..but gh3 wow

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

It doesn't surprise me to see Guitar Hero III on the list. There was a crazy shortage for the Wii version of the game. People who had a copy could sell it for double or triple the price; it was that highly sought after.

Good old Mediagenic could have been dead and buried but Bobby Kotick revived it big time…and he'll probably bankrupt it again someday, too, with his policies. Of course, as long as there are sheep and lemmings who don't know any better, they will still thrive.

Temjin001
Temjin001
9 years ago

Good ol' CoD pulling in the cash.
I picked up my fav CoD, MW2, yesterday for $15 (sure of heck beats the $60 Games on Demand price). I just love shooting it out in the shopping plaza next to the Burger King and Taco Bell. Great stuff.
Having done so much KZ3 lately, CoD is DEFINITELY (caps for emphasis =p ) more of an arcade shooter. It's so fast and exaggerated feeling. Not that I don't like that; it's different feeling from slower, less twitchy types. Oftentimes there's whole groups of dudes standing around shooting gallery style while you just drop 'em one by one.
Production value and dramatized moments can be pretty awesome in MW2, too.

Basically, I'm saying I like MW2 and most of what CoD's have to offer. It just happens to have a huge popularity appeal that seems pretty disproportionate considering other quality games that share shelf space with them. If the market fairly responded to CoD's other great competitors, I don't think CoD would be seen as such a hog.

JMO_INDY
JMO_INDY
9 years ago

I also really liked COD: MW2. It was a lot of fun (couldn't stand Black Ops.) I think people just take it as a chance to be the popular one hating on COD is the cool thing to do, I myself am a rather big COD player hater. I dislike most people that play the game rather than the game itself. I think it's just that I feel that most COD players are of the X-Bot type and so obviously mine and the view of others as well our approval of the game goes down. It might not be fair to Activision, but honestly they have another place in my mind for why I hate on COD, they just treat us like sheep. But to be honest I'm sure a lot of people you will see hating on COD have spent numerous hours playing it. I really just wish all the COD fans out there will try the competitions entree once in a while.

maxpontiac
maxpontiac
9 years ago

There isn't a game developer out there that doesn't want a piece of that lucrative pie.

I have a feeling it's going to suck as far as variety goes when more and more studios see what COD is doing.


Last edited by maxpontiac on 3/25/2011 11:04:43 AM

CrusaderForever
CrusaderForever
9 years ago

I just wish all the groups that decided to choose Guitar Hero would do a 180 and release their music on Rock Band 3. I hate GH!! But I love Van Halen so it's a love hate relationship to play that game.
I don't see CoD slowing down any time soon.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

Just proves that there are more twitchy kids playing video games today than there used to be.

Although I think determining this by gross sales is a bit silly. Considering almost everyone who bought guitar hero had to purchase it with guitars and such, it's price being twice that of any other regular video game.

I find these numbers as irrelevant as most NPD numbers, as best selling of all time should be number sold, not money made from, and with the used video game market that has been around for years and years, we'd never actually know how many people actually purchased a game.

JMO_INDY
JMO_INDY
9 years ago

well thats not really fair, they are counting stand alone games, not bundles. And most people that bought GH1 already had guitars and such and didn't bother buying new ones so just bought the stand alone disc of GH3.

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
9 years ago

they are far from irrevelant. they track new game sales, including digital distrubution. used games should not be counted becuase that game has already been counted once anyways. if they came up with a seperate category then fine.

kraygen
kraygen
9 years ago

not sure why you would say used games are irrelevant, a first time purchase for someone should count regardless of whether they bought it used or new.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
9 years ago

But Black Ops isn't very good.

shootu
shootu
9 years ago

Nope your just not very good. LEGO star wars awaits you.

Excelsior1
Excelsior1
9 years ago

another cod headline. that's interesting becuase most sites have this covered as guitar hero 3 is biggest money maker in us history. i predict another cod headline in another few days here.

how about a re racoon city is confirmed article that been a headline on the major cites for the past few days? i would love to talk about that. it's from slant six, and is a co-op shooter.

cod games are good at being a face paced, close quarter, run and gun shooter that caters to the twitch audience. they run at 60 fps which help a lot on that type of shooter. they are sub hd with ps3 version always being worse than the 360 version. i don't like that.


Last edited by Excelsior1 on 3/25/2011 3:38:04 PM

Killa Tequilla
Killa Tequilla
9 years ago

lol

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
9 years ago

Activision, the publisher with the best marketing plan.

BikerSaint
BikerSaint
9 years ago

Anti-vision, the company that cares…

….but only for itself!

Happy, Bozo, & Homie all give a big thumbs down on Kotex joining their clown union, silly hair or not

JMO_INDY
JMO_INDY
9 years ago

Homie dont play dat!

___________
___________
9 years ago

amazing how quickly things can change!
from antivision in the pits, to the most profitable publisher!
from EA, releasing nothing but crap to the best MP publisher out there!
from ubisoft going from the best MP publisher out there, to 2nd worse only behind antivision!
from sony swimming in money, to hemorrhaging money!
ever since father ken left them its been screw up after screw up and there FY margins are reflecting that.
amazing how much 5 years can change!