How do video games stack up compared to movies when it comes to gross revenues? We’ve rounded up the top 10 highest grossing video games ever, based on worldwide sales through the end of 2011. DLC sales are not included.
10: Modern Warfare: $700 million
The Call of Duty series went into the modern era with a bang: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was released in 2007 and spawned an instant franchise. Modern Warfare would go on to sell millions of copies across multiple platforms, eventually generating over $700 million in revenue.
9: The Sims: $740 million
The original Sims was released in 2000 and became a best seller among casual and female gamers. The Sims has since become one of the highest grossing PC games ever, generating over $500 million in revenue on PC alone, and $740 million in total.
8: Modern Warfare 2: $780 million
The sequel to Activision’s Modern Warfare wasn’t as groundbreaking as the original, but it still managed to out-gross it, reaching $780 million.
7: Gran Turismo 3/GTA San Andreas (tied): $850 million
Gran Turismo 3 and Grand Theft Auto 3 are two of the best selling and highest grossing PlayStation 2 games ever. Both have generated around $850 million in revenue. However, GTA San Andreas was also released on the Xbox and PC platforms, and was later released on the Xbox 360 as well.
6: New Super Mario Bros. $1,2 billion
New Super Mario Bros. was the first must-have title on the Nintendo Wii. The game gathered great reviews and quickly became a top seller for Nintendo. In just two years, the game passed the $1 billion mark, and has to date generated $1.2 billion in revenue. But even then, it’s still only the 3rd highest grossing Wii game ever.
5: Wii Play: $1.25 billion
Everyone who bought a Wii got Wii Sports, and Wii Play was a natural extension to the bundled title. Wii Play was packaged with a Wiimote and sold separately as well. Despite lackluster reviews, Wii Play went on to sell almost 27 million copies, generating $1.25 billion in revenue for Nintendo.
4: Grand Theft Auto 4: $1,35 billion
Grand Theft Auto was one of the most anticipated titles on the current generation consoles, and gamers had huge expectations for the title. So did Rockstar, who spent $100 million developing the game. But it turned out to be a good business decision: GTA 4 grossed $1,35 billion, making it the highest grossing video game in Rockstar’s history.
3: Mario Kart Wii: $1.4 billion
The best selling game for the best selling current-gen console, Mario Kart Wii, was released 2008 and was an instant hit with gamers and critics. It has since sold over 28 million copies, generating $1.4 billion in revenue — the highest grossing Nintendo game of all time.
2: Call of Duty: Black Ops: $1,5 billion
Black Ops took Call of Duty to an all new level: it grossed more than Modern Warfare 1 and 2, combined. This makes Call of Duty Black Ops the best selling title across all current-gen consoles. In all, Black Ops grossed $1.5 billion, and that’s without DLC — DLC packs which have sold millions of copies as well.
1: World of Warcraft: $10+ billion
Not only has World of Warcraft sold over 15 million copies (including expansions), but it has had a base of around 11 million paying subscribers for more than half a decade. This alone brings in over $1.5 billion per year. Overall, World of Warcraft is estimated to have generated over $10 billion in revenue to date, making it the highest grossing video game ever.