author: Michael Grygorcewicz
What's the Most Popular Game? List of Most-played Video Games
Call of Duty, Minecraft, or Red Dead Redemption 2? The most popular games in the world are much less obvious than it might seem to regular players.
What are the world's most popular games? This is a much more difficult question than it might seem. In the past, we would have compared sales results to find an accurate answer, and that would be it. It's no longer a viable method, though. Among the most popular games in the world, there are console, computer, and mobile games, free or online, the sales of which are distributed over many years. That the game sold like hot cakes eigth years ago, doesn't mean it's still the case. The creators are often reluctant to share accurate data.
Still, we decided to name a dozen titles that can be considered the most popular games of recent times. Since the data on which we based the ranking were quite different – sometimes it was the number of downloads, sometimes – registered accounts, in other cases the maximum number of concurrent players – we are not listing these games in any particular order. But they all are played by countless legions of people.
Before you start reading about how many people are playing various popular games, we would like to throw a few figures at you – just to give you a sense of the scale.
- 103,329 – that's how many people simultaneously played The Witcher 3 on Steam in the record time .
- 1,054,388 – that's how many people played Cyberpunk 2077 on Steam at the same time in the record time.
- 8,336,817 – the population of New York City.
- 132,000,000 – the number of unique users of Steam in each month in 2021.
- 220,670,000 – that's how many people in the world paid for Netflix according to data from July 2022.
At the end of April, the list was updated with fresher, but often unofficial data (unfortunately, the creators rarely share these figures) and one new title. The update was carried out by our friend Rassi.
Scale of popularity:
- one billion app downloads as of April 2019;
- in 2022, the production generated a revenue of $703.7 million (source);
- the number of active players in March 2023 was almost 80 million, the record for one day is over 5.3 million people (source);
In 2015, the mobile Pokémon were mostly a thing for the most devoted Nintendo fans. A year later, a wave of "Pokémon madness" made a lot of technologically savvy people for their Pikachu on hikes. A relatively simple application developed by Niantic, based on the use of GPS and to some extent augmented reality, which is full of technical flaws, has taken the world by storm. Suddenly, it turned out that we all suppressed the need to "travel across the land, Searching far and wide (...) to understand the power that's inside" for years.
Pokémon Go within three months of the app's debut, in May 2016 it was already downloaded by half a billion people. Until February 2019, this figure was doubled. We can fully appreciate the astronomical scale of the game's success when we compare the sales with the number of the world's population – in 2018, it was 7.6 billion people. More than one in eight of Earth's inhabitants played Pokémon Go.
The first wave of craze for the game took place in its early months on the market. Over time, the monotonous pursuit of creatures and their painstaking preparation tired most players out. However, even with a fraction of its peak popularity, the game was still a huge hit, with data going back to May 2018 claiming 147 million monthly active users.
When a pandemic locked the entire world indoors, it seemed that the popularity of the motion-based app would drop dramatically. Nothing more wrong. Developers have responded to the unglamorous situation with updates that allow you to play from the comfort of your home, giving Pokémon Go a second life. Between January and August 2020, the active player base increased by 45%, and profits for Pandemic year turned out to be a record high for the title at almost $2 billion (in total, the creature-catching game over those few years brought more than $6 billion to the developers).
In 2021, the number of active creature hunters dropped to about 70 million a month and remains at a similar level to this day. However, these numbers do not come from official sources.
In the case of Pokemon Go we have some reservations. First, the number of downloads is a very unreliable way to determine popularity. First of all, many players could have download the game more than once, if only because they changed the phone or restored it to factory settings. Secondly, this number says nothing about how many people are still playing and whether they do it regularly. But it's still hard to have doubts about one thing – Pokemon Go is definitely a phenomenon. Especially considering the estimated spending of the players.
- Learn more about playing Pokemon GO