Compiling a list of the most popular video games of all time is a difficult proposition, especially for a gamer. There are loads of PC, console, and yesteryear games we have played that can and should make it to a top 25 listing.
So, how can we judge which games make the list and which don’t?
Well, we have pushed through considering 2 pointers. Firstly, how good the game was or is. There are some games that have brought about a paradigm shift in gameplay – just what made them among the most popular video games around.
Secondly, sales. The best games sell and even though we have moved way forward physical or digital copies today, back in the ’90s or later on, sales were the most popular metric.
In case you’re wondering whether Fortnite, COD: Warzone, or even DOTA 2 have made it to the list, no. As popular as these games are today, bear in mind we are compiling a list of the best games ‘of all time.’
Chances are you may not have played some of the games laid out below. Not your fault though. We have dug through quite a bit of history to bring you perhaps the best listing you will find anywhere. Have at it!
Most Popular Video Games of All Time, Ranked
25. Assassins Creed 2
Perhaps the most consistent video game series today, Assassins Creed games remain among the most anticipated titles.
With Valhalla soon to add on after the excellent Assassins Creed Odyssey, AC is going from strength to strength even in this free-to-play FPS gaming and esports environment (none of which apply to AC.)
Assassins Creed 2 started it all. Not to take anything away from the 1st installment, however, with AC 2, people started to take notice.
A combat engine unlike anything, sandbox wall-crawling, and a well-designed dark European setting – AC 2 had it all.
Ezio has grown into one of the most beloved gaming characters around with fans screaming for a revisit (not sure when that’s going to be.) All in all, Assassins Creed 2 changed PC and console gaming for good.
- Release Date – 17th November 2009
- Developer – Ubisoft Montreal
- Platform/s Supported – PS 3, Xbox 360, Windows, Mac
- Copies Sold – 9 million
The quintessential pastime in the ’80s and a classic video game – Pacman was one of the games that showed how big gaming can be.
It’s a simple maze arcade game but in its simplicity lies the key to its runaway success. Everyone has played Pacman. If you haven’t, your old man must have, and that’s exactly how popular Pacman was.
The game itself is minimalist but alarmingly addictive. You get a maze and you must navigate Pacman through it for things to gobble and from things that can gobble you.
It is in this simplicity (and a lack of other games one might add) that Pacman became a part of the pre-millennial culture. This is one of the most played games in the world yet! It is virtually unbeatable unless you’re Billy Mitchell.
- Release Date – 22nd May 1980
- Developer – Namco, Atari.
- Platform/s Supported – Arcade, PS4, Atari 2600
- Copies Sold – $3.5 billion in sales across both arcade machines and game copies sold
23. Age of Empires II
Strategy games do have their own niche crowd and there is no bigger strategy genre and building empires. Enter the Age of Empires franchise.
Excessively addictive on multiplayer and just as brilliant in single-player campaigns, AOE II is popularly considered the best of the lot.
Choose between civilizations and enjoy unique perks. Build your empire as the largest reign around. We dare you to play AOE II setting the difficulty to Hard.
You are up against an intelligent AI adversary, one of the best strategy gaming machines created yet (without marring the fun that is.) This is a must-play, AOE II is one of the greatest games of all time.
- Release Date – 30th September 1999
- Developer – Ensemble Studios
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, MacOS, PS 2
- Copies Sold – 25 million
22. Sonic the Hedgehog
Before the fps fanatism and the best gaming PC builds, this was the fastest game around. Sonic the Hedgehog brought some much-needed adrenaline into video gaming and along with a certain plumber (coming to that later), changed video games forever.
The simplest of changes, from jumping to running, and Sonic the Hedgehog became nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon.
Along with Super Mario (who first started off as a carpenter and not a plumber!), Sonic still is considered one of the most famous and beloved video game characters of all time.
Currently, you can play later iterations and official spinoffs on almost all platforms (there’s a 2020 movie as well!)
- Release Date – 23rd June 1991
- Developer – Sega (Composer – Masato Nakamura)
- Platform/s Supported – Sega Genesis
- Copies Sold – 140 million (official paid estimates only)
If you haven’t played Pong, we have nothing against you. With eSports tourneys always around the corner, few would be even remotely interested in a simple game of ball and paddle.
But bear in mind though, this is the game that started it all – inviting friends over for a gaming session and making video games a worthwhile pastime. Without Pong, who knows where gaming would be!
So, you get a paddle to bounce the ball back to the opposite wall. The motto is to keep playing. Not much fun?
Imagine a Pentium 2 PC and a dial-up internet at best (few even had internet.) That’s where Pong excelled at, eating the hours.
This is pure arcade gaming at its very best – one of the most influential video games. Oh! And did we mention that Pong was the first video game ever?
- Release Date – 29th November 1972
- Developer – Atari
- Platform/s Supported – Arcade
- Copies Sold – Pong did not come with copies but as gaming arcades like these!
20. Mortal Kombat X
A fighting games series that led to its own game development studio and the first-ever movie inspired from a video game – Mortal Kombat is a living legend among mortals.
With a game series spanning over 11 iterations and an increasing number of cult followers, Mortal Kombat is still a name to reckon with.
For a fighting game (quite a niche genre in itself) to rack up more than 10 million sales is huge. Just what Mortal Kombat X did, with a healthy dose of fresh characters and a rejigged gameplay machine.
Mortal Kombat X is a fans’ favorite and with reason too. When the 10th iteration of a gaming series starting from 1992 is hailed as the best ever, it deserves a special mention.
This is one of the most popular games around and may just stand the test of time.
- Release Date – 7th April 2015
- Developer – NetherRealm Studios
- Platform/s Supported – PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
- Copies Sold – 11 million+
19. StarCraft II
Real-time strategy games are not the most popular gaming genres, but they do have a more stable fan following. And talking about RTS games, we have to talk about StarCraft.
Released way back in 1998, this is one of the longest-running video game series around and the only one surviving with just 1 major upgrade!
StarCraft II essentially smoothed out the rough edges of an extremely well-developed and sorted-out RTS.
Amped up with modern graphics and a few twitches, StarCraft II became the fastest-selling RTS ever.
Add all of this to the eSports tourneys and you have a classic video game rekindled as a modern-day giant. Reason enough to label StarCraft II as one of the greatest games of all time.
- Release Date – 27th July 2010
- Developer – Blizzard Entertainment
- Platforms Supported – Windows, Mac OS
- Copies Sold – 1.5 million in the first 48 hours! You can play it for free right here.
18. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Moving on from real-time strategy to turn-based strategy gaming and we traverse into a more populated gaming genre.
Competition is heavy but Sid Meier’s Civilization series has cemented its position as one of the most popular games of all time. With its latest release though, it has pushed new boundaries.
Civilization VI takes an already successful game and adds more content, well thought out content. So, it pleases the old-time users and appeals to the new casual gamer.
An even better gameplay engine, that does sometimes seem unbeatable though, and some extensive graphics upgrades later, we already have arguably the best turn-based strategy game made even better!
- Release Date – 21st October 2016
- Developer – Firaxis Games, Aspyr
- Platform/s Supported – All PC OS, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
- Copies Sold – 6 million+
17. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Is The Legend of Zelda one of the greatest Zelda games of all time? Maybe. Maybe not if you’re not into RPGs.
However, if it weren’t for this game, we would have never known how simply good an RPG can be.
There is only one suggestion for you in case you haven’t played Ocarina of Time – play it. Years later, we would still suggest the same.
Yes, you will find the graphics comparable to today’s pixel art genre. But, with the controls, gameplay, story, and the mysteriously beautiful concoction of everything, you will fall in love with Link. This is one of the best video games of all time and it gets even better with Breath of the Wild.
- Release Date – 21st November 1998
- Developer – Nintendo
- Platform/s Supported – Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii
- Copies Sold – 1.14 million
16. World of Warcraft
Post DLCs and expansion packages, many yesteryear MMO games lose their sheen. World of Warcraft, however, is one game that hasn’t.
It did not take long for Blizzard to understand that they have hit a gold mine with the fantasy sci-fi MMO genre. World of Warcraft started it and still going strong.
With the latest Shadowlands expansion, WoW looks to expand a gaming community mostly full of loyalists.
Who knows if it’s like the Battle of Azeroth pack where you’re powerful enough to win through anything or whether you need to organically make friends and raid in groups like in the Classic edition.
All said, with nearly 5 million players tuning in, WoW is a pure MMO gaming experience totally worth it.
- Release Date – 23rd November 2004
- Developer – Blizzard Entertainment
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, Classic MacOS
- Copies Sold – 14 million (since 2004)
15. Mario Bros
Just like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario is central to how popular video games are today. Starting off as Jumpman, it was not long before Mario became one of the most popular games of all time and making Nintendo the video gaming overlord (pre-Xbox and PlayStation era.)
What makes Mario Bros and the whole Mario series one of the greatest and most popular games of all time is their long-running popularity, from arcade all the way to the latest gaming consoles.
Mario Bros gave way to Super Mario Bros and a whole bunch of superbly entertaining Nintendo games thereon, always welcome for the next bunch of kids (and adults!) Mario may just be the most famous video game character in history!
- Release Date –1983
- Developer – Nintendo
- Platform/s Supported – Switch, Wii, PS4, Xbox One
- Copies Sold – 40 million + (Super Mario Bros – the most popular Mario game)
14. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend
Popularly rated as the best Lara Croft game, Legend is where Lara Croft gets the closest to how we want to see her at her swashbuckling English best.
Forget Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft (a difficult proposition,) Croft can be a lot more than a tomb raiding female with brains and addendum. Although that’s not something the latest Lara Croft game follows upon.
Lara Croft alone is worth it on this list, as one of the most famous and hottest video game characters ever. It showed how the gaming market can explode with a powerful protagonist and an engaging storyline plus some action thrown in.
But it’s this, Legend, that helps Lara make its way past into the top 15 simply by being true Lara Croft. Tomb Raider: Legend is a must-play.
- Release Date – 5th April 2006
- Developer – Crystal Dynamics
- Platform/s Supported – Windows 10, Xbox One, PS4
- Copies Sold – 3 million
13. Wii Sports
How about a video game for the 6 to 60s? That’s Wii Sports, arguably, the first video game that translated into proper family time.
Wii Sports came bundled in with the Nintendo Wii, their upgrade over the popular GameCube. And it was hugely popular, especially in the US.
Move over gaming consoles, Nintendo Wii brought basic tactile controls into the average living room. Not much graphics oomph or excellent gameplay simulation, but what made the Nintendo Wii exceedingly popular and enjoyable was the easy fun.
Family time rarely demanded in-depth gameplay mechanics and it’s this simple enjoyment with the Nintendo Wii remote that bore fruit. Swing and play! Launched at just under $250 in 2, Wii Sports slowly became the most aggressively sought-after game in the house!
- Release Date – 19th November 2006
- Developer – Nintendo
- Platform/s Supported – Nintendo Wii
- Copies Sold – 83 million
12. Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy may be the most enthralling RPG and one of the best JRPGs of all time. And it’s the 12th iteration that’s widely considered the best in this enduring video game series (We loved Final Fantasy 15 as well though.)
FFXII is what many will consider today as a sleeper hit. The release date did not help at all – FFXXII was launched on PS2 just ahead of the PS3 and Wii releases.
However, once backward compatibility became a thing, gamers went back in numbers to enjoy this 100-hour excellent RPG with perhaps the best storyline from the Final Fantasy series.
Don’t forget to check out the remastered Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age edition as well for a high-definition experience of Ivalice!
- Release Date – 16th March 2006
- Developer – Square Enix, Virtuos
- Platform/s Supported – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 2, Xbox One, Windows.
- Copies Sold – 6 million+ (Only till 2009 on PS2)
11. Halo Reach
If you’ve played the Halo trilogy, you might find it questionable how this prequel makes its way to just under the top 10 spot instead of the top 3.
What makes Halo: Reach stand out is the near-perfect amalgamation of the gameplay mechanics, multiplayer camaraderie, and characterization. In short, Reach has the best of the Halo trilogy without going overboard.
Armor abilities add a twist to the otherwise standard Halo-ish combat scenarios and this game better-paced as well, nor frantic neither dampening.
This is the most difficult Halo and the graphics are just as immersive. Note that Halo: Reach did come with benchmark graphics on release.
This is the best Halo game ever and the perfectly fitting entrant to the series, easily among the most famous video games of all time.
- Release Date – 14th September 2010
- Developer – Bungie Inc.
- Platform/s Supported – Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows
- Copies Sold – 10 million+
10. The Sims 3
Without a doubt, the best Sims game yet, any most popular video games of all time list would be incomplete without a Sims on it.
Sims always had at least one or multiple entries in the top 10 gaming sales list since its release back in 2000.
And although traditional gamers would prefer RPG and FPS or at least RTS games, Sims is for the largest gaming crowd, the non-traditional gamers.
Sims 3 takes the series into brand new territory and despite the numerous glitches, it remains a revelation.
It picks up from where Sims 2 only peeks into and then expands rapidly. Real-life simulation cannot get better than Sims 3 – limitless possibilities and innumerable variables. True, this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Sims 3 is still is one of the most played video games in the world.
- Release Date – 2nd June 2009
- Developer – Maxis, Sims Studio
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Android, Wii
- Copies Sold – 4.5 million+
9. NFS Underground
Long before today’s online GTA championships and Forza Motorsport series, there was only NFS Underground that ushered in the era of immersive racing games.
Custom graphics, tuned performances, and an excellent gameplay engine made for one of the most popular video games of all time.
You can still complete NFS Underground within 12 hours of gameplay. Style, panache, and sheer addictive racing simulation – this racing game alone transformed how racing games should be.
The same goes for NFS Underground 2, perhaps an even better game but it was the original title that started it all. If you haven’t played NFS Underground, do. It’s just as enjoyable today. NFS Underground is a classic.
- Release Date – 17th November 2003
- Developer – EA Arts
- Platform/s Supported – PS2, Xbox One, Windows, GameCube, GameBoy
- Copies Sold – 15 million
8. Half-Life 2
Combine the best features of a first-person shooter, add a brilliant storyline, excellent soundtrack, and a beautifully crafted environment.
You’re still short of what Half-Life 2 has in store for you. Perhaps the best continuation sequel in the gaming industry yet, Half-Life 2 is a masterpiece, proof of a time when video games were more than an entertainment and form of expression.
We advise you to play Half-Life 2 after its preceding title. Back in 2004, this was the pinnacle of gaming technology, and one of the most complete post-modern games ever released.
It will test your aptitude and claw at your grey matter with its puzzles. The mystery will transcend to reality and by the time you’re done with this 20-hour odd masterpiece, you will want to play it again.
- Release Date – 16th November 2004
- Developer – Valve Corporation
- Platform/s Supported – Xbox, Windows, IBM PC, Linux, Mac
- Copies Sold – 12 million
7. Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike brought forth the era of online multiplayer FPS games. With simple game mechanics, rapid combat scenarios, and easy graphics, CS essentially started the eSports revolution.
With Global Offensive, Counter-Strike only lived up to its promise as the premier online multiplayer gaming entertainment.
Only recently do we have the sheer number of FPS and 3rd person shooters, including Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, and Call of Duty: Warzone. But CS: GO, even with its comparatively limited game environment, still rules the roster.
It’s free to play now and even available on Steam, where it recorded 1 million concurrent players in March 2020. (Get it right here!)
Without a doubt, CS: GO and the whole Counter-Strike series will remain among the greatest games of all time.
- Release Date – 21st August 2012
- Developer – Valve Corporation
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, macOS, Linux, PS 3, Xbox 360, Linux
- Copies Sold – Free-to-play. Revenues above $500 million
6. Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty is the most renowned FPS video game series with multiple titles released over the years and an explosively popular online multiplayer portal as well.
But all that the fans ever wanted, and still do, is a better version of their second iteration – Call of Duty II.
Arguably rated as one of the greatest games of all time, COD II still remains nothing short of a masterpiece.
Its rendition of WWII is widely considered as the best yet, complemented almost perfectly by an immersive gaming engine, brilliantly detailed maps, and an excellent soundtrack.
Call of Duty II offered an experience unlike anything before and it single-handedly popularized FPS to what it is today.
- Release Date – 25th October 2005
- Developer – Infinity Ward, Aspyr
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, Xbox 360, Classic Mac OS
- Copies Sold – 6 million+
5. League of Legends
The one and only PC game with the highest number of users, League of Legends is the most popular game in the world.
With 115 million+ users as of 2020, LoL is not necessarily a PC game anymore though. You can now play League of Legends on Android and iOS devices as well, with some minor changes to in-game controls.
LoL is arguably the best RTS you can play with 9 other players in teams of 5. Simple graphics but play-it-to-believe-it in-depth strategy and gameplay mechanics – LoL is a chessboard with a lot of meaningful linear action.
True the graphics can do a bit better. Also, there are limitations and monotony to the gameplay. However, this repetition lies in the yearning for perfection.
- Release Date – 27th October 2009
- Developer – Riot Games
- Platform/s Supported – Windows, macOS
- Copies Sold – $2.1 billion in revenue (Billion. Yes.)
4. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
For most Elder Scrolls players, the game is a part of their lives. It is the first (and probably the best) free-form RPG to gain massive popularity, banking mostly on content, lots of content. With Skyrim, the game just became larger and better.
There are more than 50,000 active players on Skyrim, a virtually endless experience based on meticulously detailed and deep medieval fantasy-based lore.
Just why Skyrim is one of the most popular games in the world. The only game to have matched the depth and intricacy of free-form gameplay other than Skyrim maybe Red Dead Redemption 2 but that’s for another time.
Coming to Skyrim, if you haven’t played it yet, you can start off your Elder Scrolls journey with Blades (We do suggest Skyrim first!)
- Release Date – 11th November 2011
- Developer – Bethesda Game Studios, Iron Galaxy
- Platform/s Supported – PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows
- Copies Sold – 20 million+
Think PC gaming. Think Minecraft. Without a doubt the ultimate gaming experience if it comes down to creative expression, Minecraft offers a platform for open-ended innovation within its world.
It’s this spirit of creation that keeps Minecraft one of the most popular games in the world.
There are few games that deliver on a true-blue sandbox gaming experience like Minecraft. Extremely pixelated graphics and a world made up solely of blocks open avenues to do almost anything.
You can even go as far as creating your own 16-bit computer on Minecraft! Other than that, let your imagination run wild. Minecraft is the pinnacle of sandbox gaming and there’s a lot more to come.
- Release Date – 16th August 2011
- Developer – Mojang Studios, Xbox Game Studios
- Platform/s Supported – Android, iOS, Windows 10, Fire OS, Windows Phone, Windows 10 Mobile
- Copies Sold – 200 million
Must Read : 30 Amazing Minecraft Facts That You Should Know
2. GTA V
Grand Theft Auto single-handedly redefined the scope of modern video games. Beyond racing, shooting, combat, RPG, what if a game had it all?
Perfectly combined together for a wholesome gaming experience? This is the video game series that helped build one of the largest gaming empires today. GTA V only takes it further as a successful sequel.
GTA V is one of the fastest and highest-selling modern video games. Typical GTA-Esque gameplay with extensive missions asking you to do almost everything there is under the sun.
Excellent graphics, addictive open-world gameplay, and then there are the underlying comic add-ons. If you don’t have GTA V yet, get it now.
- Release Date – 17th September 2013
- Developer – Rockstar Games
- Platform/s Supported – PS 5/PS 4, Xbox Series X, Windows
- Copies Sold – 135 Million
This is the greatest game of all time. More people have played Tetris than all the games compiled on this list so far. Combined! That’s how big Tetris is – defying time and age with its geometric simplicity.
Get this, EA has sold 500 million+ copies of their Tetris on iPhones and other smartphones. Let’s not even go into the number of copies sold with Game Boys, NES, and yesteryear PCs.
We are talking of the pre-internet era. But what truly makes Tetris the greats game of all time is its popularity even today.
10 years later, we are sure it will be one of the popular games around, whatever the device might be. Tetris is here to stay as the greatest video game ever.
- Release Date – 6th June 1984
- Developer – Alexey Pajitnov, Sega, Spectrum HoloByte, Philips
- Platform/s Supported – Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System
- Copies Sold – Too Many!
Hope you found the games you were looking for in this listing. If not, you’ve surely found some video games you should play today. True that some of the most popular video games today are not covered here. Yet, that was never the objective. This listing is instead to share the history of video games, how it has progressed over the last 50 years or so. Whether you prefer the latest titles or the oldies, these are the most influential games yet. Enjoy!