We love video games – and we’re prepared to spend our money on them just because we love playing them. A lot of money indeed. In 2018 , Americans alone spent nearly $43 billion on video games. In 2020, the global gaming market generated around $160 billion in revenue.
For an industry formerly associated with stoners and slackers, video gaming has evolved into a multibillion-dollar cash cow, with some titles grossing billions of dollars and selling millions upon millions of copies. In fact, if you could simply make enough money from some of these games to last a few days, you’d be set for life.
It’s impossible to assess which video games are the most lucrative once, since there are so many various types of video games – arcade games, mobile games, console games, PC games, and so on.
These, on the other hand, are top 10 video games that have proved their capability of earning millions of dollars in the market!
10. “Pokémon Go”
“Pokémon Go” had just about every millennial wandering around outside, staring at their phones and trying to capture Pokémon when it released in 2016. The thing was a phenomenon – and so many people played the augmented reality game irresponsibly that one study said “Pokémon Go” may have caused 250 deaths, 150,000 traffic accidents and billions of dollars in economic costs.
But, hey, it wasn’t Pikachu in the driver’s seat. The study didn’t affect the game’s financial line, either: “Pokémon Go” made $1.2 billion in 2017 and $1.3 billion in 2018, bringing its total revenue to $2.5 billion. It’s also the mobile game with the fastest revenue of $300 million.
09. “Red Dead Redemption 2”
Rockstar Games’ title about outlaws in the Wild West, “Red Dead Redemption 2,” which was released in late October 2018, has made more money than most of the world’s most successful bank heists. With $516 million in sales after only a few months on the market, SuperData placed “Red Dead Redemption 2” as the fifth highest-earning premium title of 2018.
There’s also more money to be made. “Red Dead Redemption 2” has an online mode, similar to “Grand Theft Auto V.” Although it is still in beta, there are already a slew of micro transactions.
Electronic Arts has a number of well-known game titles, including “Battlefield,” “Star Wars,” “The Sims,” and “Madden,” but their soccer franchise, FIFA, appears to be its main cash cow. EA produced $5.1 billion in revenue last year. Over a fifth of that money came from “FIFA 18” and “FIFA 19,” which grossed $790 million and $482 million, respectively, during that year.
The company and its titles have sparked debate. Loot boxes, which were once so atrocious in “Star Wars: Battlefront II” that Hawaii attempted to enact a legislative measure prohibiting them, are fundamental to their revenue streams. The bill was defeated.
After the Belgian government opened a criminal investigation against the firm for not complying with the country’s gambling regulations, EA said in late January 2019 that it would discontinue selling FIFA Points (which were purchased for real money and used for loot boxes) in the country.
Even though it’s one of the world’s most profitable games, you’ve probably never heard of “CrossFire.” “CrossFire” is a free-to-play clone of Valve’s blockbuster shooter “Counter-Strike,” and it’s a great hit in Asian countries like China and South Korea. Since at least 2013, the game has produced close to $1 billion every year, and in 2018, it was the fifth highest-earning free-to-play game with $1.3 billion in sales.
It’s a game that’s so popular that it’s been given a psychiatric term, and it may be the best-selling video game of all time. It’s called “Tetris,” and it’s been played in some form or another since it was first released in 1984. The Russian game was a hit on the PC until 1989, when it was bundled with the original Gameboy. The game went on to sell about 70 million copies after that, but that was only the beginning. Since then, “Tetris” sales have been breaking records line by line, and the game has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of paid downloads on mobile devices. In total, 170 million copies of “Tetris” have been sold in its various incarnations.
It’s hard to imagine “Minecraft” was the result of a single person’s labor of love.
When Markus Persson’s game was named PC Gamer’s 2010 Game of the Year, it was still in alpha. According to Tech Radar, “Minecraft” had over one million users by 2011, and an Xbox version was published in 2012, selling over four million copies in six months. The toy aisles were dominated by LEGO sets, toys, and other Minecraft-related products. “Minecraft” was a worldwide sensation, and Microsoft was taking notice.
The business paid $2.5 billion for “Minecraft” in 2014. “Minecraft” has sold over 154 million copies worldwide and has over 91 million monthly users.
The company’s video game income climbed by $367 million after the sale to Microsoft, a figure attributed to “Minecraft” sales that year.
04. “Player Unknown’s BattleGrounds” aka PUBG
The game that started the battle royal craze is “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” or PUBG. It debuted on PC in 2017 and went on to sell over 22 million copies in its first nine months. Since then, the game’s free-to-play mobile version has been a huge hit, as have its Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions.
PUBG earned over $1 billion in game sales alone on PC and console systems in 2018. According to Sensor Tower, their mobile port has made almost $158 million worldwide as of late 2018.
Despite PUBG’s premium model (the game costs $30 everywhere except mobile), the survival shooter also sells cosmetic things and loot boxes, which must bring in a lot of cash – the game’s publisher, Bluehole, is worth $5 billion.
03. “Candy Crush Saga”
Everyone seems to be playing “Candy Crush Saga” after its release in 2012. And, based on the company’s revenue, they very likely were playing this game. “Candy Crush Saga” is a freemium smartphone game in which extra lives, new episodes, and boosters are sold. Because of its highly addictive nature, players are willing to pay to keep playing (you must wait if you run out of lives), and the game made more money last year than ever before. In 2020, Candy Crush Saga” earned $1.19 billion in revenue.
02. “League of Legends”
Since its release in 2009, this top-down MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) has been gaining players (and their money of course!). According to Inc., “League of Legends” brings in roughly $1.6 billion each year, with $1.75 billion in 2020. The game is also a very popular Esport, with million-dollar prize pools and tournaments attracting millions of fans from all over the world every year.
01. “Grand Theft Auto V”
Who’d have guessed a game involving carjacking, drug peddling, and gunning down innocent bystanders could be so lucrative? Probably not even Take-Two Interactive, which in 2013 produced Rockstar Games’ incredibly popular and lucrative game. Since its release, “Grand Theft Auto V” has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and has remained in the top ten best-selling games of the year. The game grossed $628 million in 2018, five years after its debut.
That doesn’t even take into consideration the game’s lucrative online component, which involves a never-ending quest for bigger and better vehicles, houses, and boats – all of which can be purchased with real-world cash. According to a Market Watch discussion with an analyst, GTA – V has grossed more than $6 billion, more than any other single media product in history. To put this in context, James Cameron’s “Avatar,” the highest-grossing film in history, made only $2.8 billion.