The gaming industry cannot get enough of franchises. Every year brings a batch of new entries into long-running series, which often prove infinitely easier to market than indie titles needing to make a name for themselves. Video game franchises are a lucrative business. So lucrative, in fact, that standalone titles only make up a tiny fraction of the top ten most-selling games in history. But which franchises take the cake, then? Let’s dive right in.
Who else than Nintendo’s moustachioed plumber could come out on top of the highest-grossing franchises of all time? When producer Shigeru Miyamoto introduced the character in a Donkey Kong arcade in 1981, little did he know Mario would eventually become more recognizable than Mickey Mouse across the globe. The history of Mario has now successfully spanned four decades.
Alongside his brother Luigi and an iconic cast of side characters, Mario has played centre stage in everything from arcades to classic platformers and racing games. As a whole, the Mario franchise has sold half a billion units, with the 37-year-old Super Mario title alone closing in on a swooping 60 million copies.
The Pokémon franchise comes close second to Mario, selling over 440 million copies. Pokémon Go even reigns supreme over the mobile game market, racking up a billion downloads. And what began as a Japan-exclusive series centred around capturing pocket monsters is now the largest media franchise worldwide.
Anime series, movies, merch of all shapes and sizes, collectable cards, you name it. Surprisingly, no recent entry has topped the series’ first 1996 instalments and their 47 million copies on Game Boy. Yet, even the worst Pokémon games did not hamper the franchise’s appeal across multiple generations.
Call of Duty
The bare mention of first-person shooters is enough to evoke Call of Duty. While many more FPS have hit the market successfully over the years, Activision Blizzard’s flagship games have set the golden standard for the genre. Since the release of Call of Duty in 2003, the franchise has sold over 400 million units worldwide. Meanwhile, new releases have been put out annually around the oh-so-money-making holiday season.
There are now 19 instalments in the main series, not to mention countless spin-offs and remakes. Strangely enough, no Call of Duty entry has ever outsold 35 million copies. Still, the iconic FPS franchise has stayed relevant throughout the decades by regularly shaking up its formula, taking gamers from the battlefields of WW2 to outer space.
Grand Theft Auto
It seems like ages since the last GTA title hit the gaming shelves, although the series has expanded online. Naturally, the hype is strong for the upcoming GTA VI. Still, the franchise sits comfortably at the fourth spot in the ranking of the all-time biggest sellers with 355 million units. GTA V makes up almost half of all sales. Lauded for its immersive open world, the second-biggest selling game ever also enraptured gamers with its hectic side missions and fun casino games.
Success came with controversy, however. Multiple countries even banned the series’ fifth entry, including Thailand. For the lack of Los Santos casinos to visit, though, Thai players may gamble away virtually thru casinos that offer table games like online poker(โป๊กเกอร์ออนไลน์) in Thai are a click away. Top platforms include popular Texas Hold’em, alongside a range of local variants. Live dealers also help spice up the experience. And both newcomers and seasoned gamblers may claim generous bonuses to keep it going.
A must-have for all football fans, FIFA remains the undisputed top-selling sports game franchise by quite a margin. Seeing annual releases since 1993, Electronic Arts’ iconic series crossed the 325-million-unit threshold in 2021.
Although FIFA has had shortcomings, each iteration has consistently introduced brand-new features. Recently, developers introduced the mind-blowingly realistic HyperMotion technology. Due to EA’s official partnership with the FIFA ending shortly, however, the infamous football sim will rebrand to EA Sports FC after the release of FIFA 23.
Hardcore gamer or not, chances are high that you’ve dived into these popular series at least once. Only time will tell which franchise rises to prominence next and which one fades to oblivion. But these star franchises have left enough of a mark to hold a special place in gaming history for a long while.