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The Top 15 Best-Selling PC Games Of All Time

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March 21, 2012 4:57:56 AM

I thought Flight Simulator would be on here.
March 21, 2012 4:58:17 AM

I'm first..maybe
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Anonymous
March 21, 2012 5:05:34 AM

Um, you have a screenshot of Starcraft 2, instead of one for Starcraft.
March 21, 2012 5:07:18 AM

Chuck Norris does not play w.o.w. he just stares at the monitor and the enemy gets instantly destroyed.
March 21, 2012 5:13:41 AM

I would assumed that if Cataclysm was up there that every expansion of WoW would be up there. Since there was at least 12 million players during Wrath of the Lich King and whether or not they had the expansion they needed to have at least the original version.
March 21, 2012 5:18:50 AM

Before we hear a lot of complaints, I'm going to head off some concerns. Like most PC game sale reports, we're looking only at retail sales. This doesn't count digital distribution networks or subscription figures. Those numbers are not publically available nor can they be confirmed with original sources. Second, we're counting the sales made at some store, be it online or physical, but it will be the box not the digital copy. Third, we treated expansion packs as separate titles.

I don't mind a bit of lively debate, but please keep your comments constructive or they will be deleted. Personal attacks do not help. If you want to call our choices into account, I'll be happy to listen and perhaps create a part 2 of this series.

Cheers,
Andrew Ku
TomsHardware.com
March 21, 2012 5:21:23 AM

That first picture would have been better suited to the iPad review.
"It's exactly the same as the iPad 2 except for the screen, but is heavier, thicker, runs hotter, has reduced battery life..."
"Shut up and take my money!"
March 21, 2012 5:21:39 AM

Why is the screenshot for StarCraft BW... StarCraft II?
March 21, 2012 5:26:29 AM

lahawzel said:
Why is the screenshot for StarCraft BW... StarCraft II?


Forgive me if I inserted the wrong picture, but I do believe the title says StarCraft II, which matches the StarCraft II picture.
March 21, 2012 5:30:41 AM

Dune 2 to me is the greatest PC game ever made !
March 21, 2012 5:30:47 AM

CoolBOBob1 said:
I would assumed that if Cataclysm was up there that every expansion of WoW would be up there. Since there was at least 12 million players during Wrath of the Lich King and whether or not they had the expansion they needed to have at least the original version.


I suppose I could have just made it 12 million, but we were looking at retail sales, not subscription figures cause that would really mess things up. Does 1 month of subscription = 1 sale? Not exactly. 1 month is like 15 bucks and a boxed game costs 50 odd bucks. That was why it was retail sales only. We should probably do a separate most popular MMORPGs list to cover that unique side of the gaming business.
March 21, 2012 5:30:55 AM

Wow has 12 million subscribers each having bought a pc version of the game. This figure does not include a person who has left his membership.
March 21, 2012 5:32:19 AM

I had a question over the source of this information, since these titles match up exactly with the information on Wikipedia.
March 21, 2012 5:45:37 AM

Not all wow subscribers have the latest expansion remember. And as I stated, we're not counting digital distribution.

As for Wiki, it turns out, a significant number of those sources are misquoted. For example, Battlefield 2 didn't sell 11 million. The original statement by EA games referred to Bad Company series, and the BBC source wasn't a gamer and assumed Bad Company was BF2.
March 21, 2012 5:49:50 AM

I don't understand you argument, when major publishers post their book sales do they disregard the number of books sold on tablets, and e-readers. Not all wow subscribers have the latest expansion but during an earlier expansion when there was no digital distribution for WOW, the game still had over 10 million people playing which means each one of them had bought the game.
March 21, 2012 5:54:51 AM

conquerator said:
I don't understand you argument, when major publishers post their book sales do they disregard the number of books sold on tablets, and e-readers. Not all wow subscribers have the latest expansion but during an earlier expansion when there was no digital distribution for WOW, the game still had over 10 million people playing which means each one of them had bought the game.


Perhaps you're right, but then we'd have to also realign other game sales to compensate for that digital numbers, and that's difficult to do so. Valve for example doesn't publish their Steam sale data, and neither does EA for Origin. Even though it would be in their interests to do so.

As specifically for WoW, there's been a long running thread on this at http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/924016-Sales-number... . While I don't necessarily trust VGChartz when it comes to PCs, the various forum post include arguments from both camps.

I think you raise some excellent points, and it's perhaps something we should try to address better next time.
March 21, 2012 5:58:19 AM

I wonder what the sales figures for the Civilization series are. I allways thought those were high on lists like this..
March 21, 2012 6:00:52 AM

Ahh... I love the title picture.

I've played a few of these games. The Sims I wasted too much time with. Starcraft I did not even legitimately beat. SimCity 3000 I invested plenty of time into. The unlimited version at least.

Anyways the picture for SimCity 3000 doesn't come from it. It looks like it comes from something much newer such as maybe SimCity 4 (never played don't know) or that yet-to-be released one.
March 21, 2012 6:05:47 AM

ibigs said:
I wonder what the sales figures for the Civilization series are. I allways thought those were high on lists like this..


As of 2008, I think the Civ series as a whole was 8 million. Don't quite remember the breakdown across each title though. They sold well in the first year, but some other games had better staying power so to speak, as far as sales go. I still think the earlier Civ games are a lot of fun myself.
March 21, 2012 6:07:21 AM

Quote:
I knew all those sales that the Modern Warfare series couldn't have been PC sales, considering how terrible they're getting :p 


Yeah it was nearly all consoles according to NPD. But while BF3 did better on PCs, MW3 had better total sales cause console sales tipped the scales in its favor... sad I know.
March 21, 2012 6:09:55 AM

weatherdude said:
Ahh... I love the title picture.

I've played a few of these games. The Sims I wasted too much time with. Starcraft I did not even legitimately beat. SimCity 3000 I invested plenty of time into. The unlimited version at least.

Anyways the picture for SimCity 3000 doesn't come from it. It looks like it comes from something much newer such as maybe SimCity 4 (never played don't know) or that yet-to-be released one.


Hmm. I could have sworn I uploaded a pic from SC3k, I'll upload a new one just to be sure. Thanks for pointing that out.

de5_Roy said:
Chuck Norris does not play w.o.w. he just stares at the monitor and the enemy gets instantly destroyed.

That is so true!
March 21, 2012 6:11:33 AM

Cool :D  Didn't realize Blizzard was such a titan
March 21, 2012 6:17:20 AM

ackuHmm. I could have sworn I uploaded a pic from SC3k, I'll upload a new one just to be sure. Thanks for pointing that out.That is so true!


Nope, that's a shot from SimCity4. The roads are a dead give away along with the Police station in the top right corner. Yes, I've played a lot of SimCity 4...

As for the SC2 pic, that is from one of the very first release videos from like 2008. It was the one that demonstrated the new protoss units/abilities.
March 21, 2012 7:27:28 AM

Where is FIFA, GTA ???
March 21, 2012 7:40:00 AM

Age of Empires series didn't make it? Age of Kings was pretty neat because of all the amateur developers making great scenarios for it.
March 21, 2012 8:00:40 AM

I would have thought Doom would have been in here!
March 21, 2012 8:28:21 AM

How about Call of Duty series?
How about Heroes Might and Magic series?
How about CnC series like Red Alert?
How about Age of Empires series?

Maybe I am wrong but this list doesn't look too correct to me.
March 21, 2012 8:58:48 AM

This article is made redundant by the fact that digital sales are not counted.
March 21, 2012 9:39:03 AM

Wow have over 15-25 millions users over time but its not first. OKAY and how come the sims across all platform and sims 2 count in the same chart...
March 21, 2012 10:02:23 AM

I am so surprise about SimCity 3000... and The Sims 2... and The Sims...
I always thought they were boring, simplified version of real life simulator that has stupid boundaries and insane rules...
I am also very surprised none of the Age of Empires made it into the chart.
March 21, 2012 10:19:22 AM

Cataclysm sold 11 million copies not 4.7, in may 2011 the were 11 million active WoW players (not including trials) and you needed a copy of Cataclysm to play the game properly.
March 21, 2012 10:19:24 AM

Not surprised that Blizzard made 4 of the slots. I was expecting to see at least one of the Bethesda Softworks titles or even one from the CnC series.
March 21, 2012 10:26:03 AM

ackuI suppose I could have just made it 12 million, but we were looking at retail sales, not subscription figures cause that would really mess things up. Does 1 month of subscription = 1 sale? Not exactly. 1 month is like 15 bucks and a boxed game costs 50 odd bucks. That was why it was retail sales only. We should probably do a separate most popular MMORPGs list to cover that unique side of the gaming business.

To play any MMO you need to purchase the game AND pay the subscription, so that 12million is really 12 million (-trial users who never really played past the trial to pay for the game).

At any rate, in a day and age where there is so much digital distribution this article really is kinda dumb (sorry, that was as constructive a word I could think of at the moment). This is not the '90s and a great many people do not pay retail, or buy at a retail store.

Still, I did enjoy the reminder of some of those games, especially Cossacks Europian Wars. That game was EPIC, and was one of the last games you could copy and give to your friends without dealing with all that peskey anti-piracy stuff :p 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__zpUpkg9TI
March 21, 2012 10:44:24 AM

Article regarding MystIt was the best-selling computer game of all time until The Sims was released nine years later

This is not correct. It might be for PC (IBM AT compatible systems), but it's not the best selling computer game of all times. Nintendo hold that record.
In fact wii sports has a sales figure of over 100 million, and the mario franchise almost half a billion - I'm quite confident that at least one product has exceeded 6 million sales in that franchise. Hell even gta with its over 100 million franchise sales might have a gta 3 or 4 for pc that has hit 6 million - especially with those excessive sales numbers that steam just doesn't want to release.
March 21, 2012 10:48:26 AM

cs 1.6 sold over 40m of copies. Simply check the newest steam_id. It's 49 xxx xxx now, meaning there is over 49m of accounts in total.
March 21, 2012 10:52:00 AM

tmk221cs 1.6 sold over 40m of copies. Simply check the newest steam_id. It's 49 xxx xxx now, meaning there is over 49m of accounts in total.

by far not all steam accounts have cs
Anonymous
March 21, 2012 11:35:51 AM

Lol....Warcraft has more subscribers than the #1 game. Before you can subscribe, you have to buy the full retail game. And the subscriber list doesn't count the millions of sold copies which are no longer subscribed either. Clearly should have been a wow win.
March 21, 2012 11:45:20 AM

SimCity 3000 is the best! Age of Empire II also a great game, but not in the short list.
March 21, 2012 11:45:40 AM

Battlefield 3 is incredible (MW3 nowhere to be found, hmmm?). There really is nothing like it.

Sim City has been great since the 80s. I played the original in black, white, cyan, and magenta. Never graduated to the newer editions, but they look great.

Diablo 2 is great in its simplicity of play while offering a lot of suspenseful moments. It has a great storyline.

I burned a lot of time with the original Sims. It was very demanding of the hardware when it was released. Always took a long time to start the game. It was intriguing so I spent a lot of time with it.
March 21, 2012 11:50:02 AM

You guyz forgot about Call of Duty MW3 with over 25 million copies sold. The game made more than a billion dollars.
March 21, 2012 12:02:34 PM

If you do one on MMO's in general, you should probably get in touch with http://mmodata.blogspot.com/ they seem to know about such things.
March 21, 2012 12:03:27 PM

Not only does the list go up in order, it's hugely mislead and makes 0 sense.

I don't get how Cataclysm has outsold the original wow, given the original is a prerequisite to playing.

Something is wrong with this article.
March 21, 2012 12:21:57 PM

I was shocked to see Sim City 3000 and no Diablo 2 or even Original Everquest. Interesting
March 21, 2012 12:22:02 PM

This article is an epic fail for the simple fact that you listed Diablo II with 4 million copies sold when I bought a retail box that stated right on the front "Over 5 million copies sold"

LOL do better research next time.
March 21, 2012 12:24:06 PM

It's difficult to get all of the actual sales numbers from throughout the years.

12 million WoW subscribers (a couple of years ago) does equal at least 12 million copes of WoW sold, and that is most likely just retail and not digital distribution. WoW has not always been available digitally. 1 subscriber equals 1 copy of WoW, that is pretty easy to figure out. The WoW expansions require a copy of WoW to have been bought. Also, even if WoW numbers are dipping to around 10 million, it's quite possible since the game is 8 years old that there have been more than 12 million copies of WoW (not the expansions) sold over time, probably something closer to 14-18 million with digital distribution (without it is probably around the 12 million mark). You have to remember that not every person that bought the original WoW or any of the expansions stuck with the game to create the different 6/8/10/12 and now back down to 10ish million players worldwide subscribing figure, but they did purchase the original WoW.

The easiest way to put it for somebody to (hopefully) understand is that when WoW dips down to 4-6 million subscribers in say maybe a few years, does that mean only 4-6 million were ever sold of WoW over the past decade? No.

Warcraft III, W3 expansion, D2 expansion, SC expansion, Orange Box, and a few others probably at least eclipsed the 4 million mark.

I imagine it is also difficult to get actual sales numbers. I recommend putting an additional note stating to the best of your ability these are the numbers that you could find, they do not reflect all of the possible games and/or numbers sold throughout the past few decades.
March 21, 2012 12:24:47 PM

ibigsI wonder what the sales figures for the Civilization series are. I allways thought those were high on lists like this..


Civilization was a big seller but most plays who played it where on college campuses and most of the time it was bootlegged.
Anonymous
March 21, 2012 12:25:57 PM

I bewildered that you find this so confusing.

You have Cataclysm on the list. It is an expansion to WoW. Therefore, WoW must have more sales than Cataclysm. Furthermore, the other expansions BC and WotLK are also perquisites to Cataclysm, so they must be on the list also.

There was no digital distribution for any of the games up until Cataclysm.

I don't know why you're mentioning the cost of subscriptions, this is still about sales. It had 12 million active subscribers at one point, all of which must have bought at least the original game.

You also mentioned MMOs should be handled separately. I don't know in what definition they wouldn't be considered PC games, but even so, why did you include just Cataclysm then?

We're all scratching our heads here, this is really basic and we can't understand why you don't get it.
March 21, 2012 12:27:22 PM

What about the first Diablo?

I am surprised GTA is not on this list considering GTA 4 made over a 1/2 billion it was released.
March 21, 2012 12:39:37 PM

Modern Warfare 2 not there? I thought it had record sales that year.
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