'Call of Duty' Rules NPD Group's Best Selling Games For 1995 Through 2017

It’s funny how we’re seeing all sorts of retrospective numbers from the NPD Group as of late. Right after we reported on some of the best-selling games for Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PlayStation and other consoles, NPD’s Mat Piscatella has returned with yet another interesting stat, breaking down the best-selling games for each year from 1995 through 2017. And there are some rather interesting stats here.

Call of Duty

In the post, Piscatella breaks down the best sellers for each individual year, based on dollar sales and with physical and digital releases for later titles like Call of Duty: WWII. He notes that this is based on the games alone and no downloadable content or microtransactions. “There is quite a bit to unpack here, isn’t there,” he said in his tweet.

The big stat that we take away from the list, which can be seen below, is the dominance of Call of Duty in the later years. Here’s how it runs down:

  • 1995: Mortal Kombat 3
  • 1996: Super Mario 64
  • 1997: Mario Kart 64
  • 1998: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • 1999: Donkey Kong (64)
  • 2000: Pokemon Stadium
  • 2001: Madden NFL 2002
  • 2002: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • 2003: Madden NFL 2004
  • 2004: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • 2005: Madden NFL 06
  • 2006: Madden NFL 07
  • 2007: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • 2008: Rock Band
  • 2009: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • 2010: Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • 2011: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • 2012: Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • 2013: Grand Theft Auto V
  • 2014: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • 2015: Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • 2016: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • 2017: Call of Duty: WWII

Yep, a good portion of this list is made up of Call of Duty games. Even “lacking” ones like Infinite Warfare have managed to become best-sellers, with millions of copies in the hands of players.

But that’s not the only interesting trend with this list. It appears that for a couple of years there, music rhythm games were considered hot commodities. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock cleared out millions of copies (and peripherals), becoming a household name for several years. And when Harmonix, the original developer behind the Guitar Hero franchise, introduced Rock Band a year later, it became a sure-fire hit for EA.

Grand Theft Auto has some stature on the list as well between San Andreas, Vice City and GTA V; while Nintendo had its great run in the early years with favorites like Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64. It’s a surprise to see Donkey Kong in there though, as players didn’t quite adapt to that as easily as they did Mario.

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And finally, you see that Madden had a few years on the market as well. That series has since been eclipsed by FIFA in terms of worldwide domination, although many football fans are still enjoying Madden NFL 19 this year.

So where does that leave 2019? Well, some folks are saying Red Dead Redemption 2 is unbeatable in terms of sales, but the holiday season isn’t quite here yet. We’ll see how the season shakes out over the next few weeks!

(Hat tip to Mat Piscatella for the details!)