In our workaday world, we are not always given the chance to play as much as we would like. That’s what makes the best selling board games of all time such a popular reprieve. Without the most popular board games of all time, life would get rather dull, rather quickly. That’s why it is important to always make time for fun and games.
To that end, we are here to tell you all about the most sold board game. Thanks to the top selling board games, we are able to engage in the sort of escapism that we deserve. In addition to serving as a great way to spend time with your little ones without having to spend big, these games also provide adults with a springboard to some hilarious evenings of their own.
The global board game market has now climbed to over $10 billion per year, proving that we are not the only ones who love to unwind in this manner. To learn more about the highest selling board games of all time, please be sure to read on!
We leave no stone unturned when it comes to these lists. We search relentlessly to make sure that we are providing our readers with the most current information and this is something that we take a great deal of pride in.
Attention to Detail
It is not enough to merely do the research. You must also pay proper attention to detail and this is something that we take very seriously. Every list is examined with a fine tooth comb, so that any and all information provided is as accurate as possible.
Choosing The Right Sources
For this particular list, we are using the good folks at Fun.com as our reference point. For lists of this nature, we always strive to choose the most reputable source possible and they certainly fit the bill here. In instances where the games have sold the same number of units, Fun.com gave preference to the ones that were used introduced first, so we will emulate that formula here.
The 20 Best Selling Board Games of All Time
20. Cranium – 1 million copies sold in 2001, yearly numbers unknown since
Richard Tait and Whit Alexander created Cranium in 1988. It is a party game that involves different types of skills. Richard came up with the game since he was fond of playing games during the weekends with friends and saw the need to have a complex game that in cooperates a wide array of skills.
He quit his career at Microsoft to concentrate on the game with his friend Alexander. The game indeed consumes the whole brain, unlike the other board games that require just a single skill but is full of fun. The game is packaged and branded by Giorgio Davanzo.
In 2001 it sold more than a million units leading to it becoming the fastest-selling in the United States. By 2008, the sales were $77 million. The company went on to sell 22 million games and toys before their eventual Hasbro buyout.
19. Blokus – 3 million copies
Blokus is a board game published by Sekkoia and hit the market in 2000. By 2008, it was already being termed as the century’s most awarded board game selling over a million copies each year. By the end of 2007 it had sold at least 3 million copies according to Games Industry meaning that by now, more millions have been sold.
18. Connect Four – 4 million copies
It is a game involving connections that is and also requires two players. The game begins by having the player choose a color and then drop a colored disc from the top into a suspended grid. The grid is made up of seven columns and six rows. The disc falls and occupies the available space in the column.
Each player will struggle to form four-disc that will make a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. The moves that a player makes will determine their victory in the game. Milton Bradley first sold it in 1994, and by 2018, only 4 million copies had been sold globally with most sales being in Finland, the game’s origin.
17. Mancala – 18 million copies
It is one of the ancient games that is played up to date. It started as a game that played with the use of stones or seeds arranged in holes. The objective of the game is to capture the opponent’s stones or seeds. It was later modified to a board game and is widely played today.
The versions of the game existed in the 7th century in Egypt. It then spread to other parts of the world as the people were migrating and in the US, it was the 4th largest board game brand in 2013. Over 18 million copies have been sold worldwide, translating to over $80 million.
16. Stratego – 20 million copies
Stratego is a game played by two players on a board that is made up of ten by ten squares. Each player has 40 pieces that represent officers in an army. The player will control the pieces to capture those of the opponent such that they cannot make a further move.
The game has some simple rules for children and a bit complex ones for adults. There have been modifications on the game to allow the use of few pieces with some versions making use of 10 pieces. With its insight to battlefield strategy, the game has become popular accumulating to more than 20 million copies of sales worldwide.
15. Risk – 25 million copies
Albert Lamorisse, who is a movie director, invented the game in 1957. It is the foundation of computer games such as Age of Kings and Age of Empires. The game makes use of dice rolls to occupy 42 territories in the six continents. Each player must have a strategy and negotiation skills to win the game.
The player who holds as many territories as possible becomes the winner. It is a game that looks much like a political struggle, and in its first year it sold more than 100,000 copies, and according to Games Journal, it has sold millions of copies for the past decades and continues to be a success.
14. Catan – 32 million copies
This game has been described as the most successful board game of all time by Let’s Prowess. So popular is it that at one time Walmart had sold out and the first 5,000 units also sold it so fast that the inventor Klaus Teuber did not get a copy for himself. By 2015, over 22 million copies of the game had been sold worldwide, having reached 15 million copies in 2009.
13. Pictionary – 38 million copies
Robert Angel invented this game in 1985, and Gary Everson assisted him in the design of the game. It is a game that involves playing around with words. The player will guess the words drawn by the teammate. The players should be able to draw and recognize the patterns of the words. To perform in this game, one must have a rich vocabulary, and it also extends an opportunity to expand one’s vocabulary.
Western Publishing first published it before Hasbro bought it in 1994. It has been so successful going from being a board game to a TV game show. By 1988, it has sold over 3 million copies, and in 2001, when Mattel bought it, the sales had gone up to 38 million according to Seattle Times. Although no exact figure is given, its inventor Rob Angel suspects that tens of millions more have been sold since.
12. Othello – 40 million copies
Othello is a board game that needs one to be very keen and observant when playing it. It has been in existence since 1883. In the game, the player tries to turn pieces of the opponent to their color, and it has got the name Reversi. The players are assigned pieces of different but unique colors, and they will be trying to get rid of the opponent’s colors.
The goal of the game is to have many pieces as your color when the last square is played. It is doing well in the market with 40 million units sold by 2016.
11. The Game of Life – 50 million copies
Rob Daviau created the game, and Hasbro published it in 2002. The game revolves around what usually happens in our daily lives. The game starts with each player deciding whether to get a job first or go to college and get the job later. They then complete the goals by playing with the cards that they fill their hands.
They pay for the cost of their goals in terms of time or money. The money and time that a player will have to pay get assigned at specific points and the player that will have the most points at the end becomes the winner. Upon its release, this game sold 45,000 copies in the first year, and the number had risen to 50 million copies by 2015.
10. Rummikub – 50 million copies
While others referred to it as the chairman of the board, others were asking if you were playing it since the rest of the world was. Rummikub is among the most played and highest-selling board games of all time. There was a time it was sold door-to-door, yet by 2003, the sales were 30 million. By 2018, the units sold had increased to 50 million, and this figure is bound to hike over the next few years.
9. Candy Land – 50 million copies
Eleanor Abbo designed the game in 1948 when he was recovering from polio. Children who were in the hospital tested it, and due to the interest that they got in the game, they suggested that it gets published. Candy land is a game that does not require many skills.
Anyone can play the game provided that they know how to count. The simplicity of the game makes it suitable for young children. The players are not required to make any choices in the game but follow the directions of the cards. Shuffling of the cards determines the winner in the game. Since it hit the shelves in 1949, by 2009, over 40 million copies had been sold according to AJC and continues to sell at least a million copies yearly.
8. Backgammon – 88 million copies
It is one of the ancient game that has existed since 3000 BC, according to Shahr-e Sukhteh’s excavations in Iran. It involves the use of several tactics as well as probability. A player can move his pieces over several spaces depending on the toss of a dice. The toss of the dice makes it utilize the probability function since it falls on any side.
The pieces move as the player counters the moves that the opponent makes. The sales of the game have risen over the years. By 1953, 1 million copies had been sold, and by the beginning of 2005, almost 88 million copies had been sold according to Encyclopedia.
7. Trivial Pursuit – 100 million copies
It was invented out of the game of scrabble by two journalists from Canada. The two journalists, Scott Abbott and Chris Haney realized that some parts were missing when they wanted to play scrabble. They went ahead to create trivial pursuits with the help of Ed Werner by dividing the questions into different categories.
The game later gained popularity and sold over twenty million copies in 1984. There are several editions of the game. The rights to the game were bought for $80 million in 2008 by Hasbro and by 2010, over 100 million copies had been sold with sales estimated at $2 billion.
6. Battleship – 100 million copies
It is a game played by two players and involves guessing. It played mainly by pencil and paper and started during World War I. Each player has their fleet of battleships in the form of drawings on the paper. The opponent will try to conceal where the battleships are located and destroy them.
The winner is the player who manages to destroy all the battleships of the opponent. From being a paper game in the 1930s, it was published as a board game by Bradley in 1967. Video games, apps and electronic versions of the game have developed, and sales as of now are over 100 million copies according to Battleship Wiki.
5. Clue – 150 million copies
The game needs excellent reasoning skills. Anthony Pratt invented it in 1949 and published by Waddington in Leeds. In this game, players move to different rooms in a board intending to find weapons used to kill Dr Black. The winner of the game is the one who locates the weapons first; hence, one needs to reason out and find the weapons. As per Mental Floss, the owner has sold around 150 million units of clue game.
4. Scrabble – 150 million copies
Scrabble has been in existence since 1938. Alfred Butts designed it and published by James Brunot. The game requires a deep understanding of vocabularies. The players place their pieces to form letters towards any direction, whether left, right, or downwards.
The players earn different points depending on the words formed. In 1954, it sold 3.8 million copies, and by 1998, 100 million copies had been sold worldwide. By 2017, more than 150 million units of scrabble had been sold.
3. Monopoly – 275 million copies
Parker brothers introduced this game in 1934 from The Landlord’s game that was created by Elizabeth Philips in 1903. It involves the practice of real estate since the player moves around trying to purchase property as much as possible. The player then collects rent from the opponent and the player who becomes bankrupt is out of the game.
That is why it has the name monopoly, as it involves outshining all the players in the ownership of property. Upon its release, 35,000 copies were made every week, and by 2011, the sales had reached nearly 275 million units.
2. Checkers – 50 billion copies
The game is also known as draught. It has existed since 3000 BC since a board of the game was found in Ur. It is a game for two players who move their pieces diagonally and capture the opponent by jumping over their pieces. Once a player jumps over a piece belonging to the opponent, the opponent’s piece is removed from the board.
The winner is the one who manages to remove all the pieces of the opponent. There have been several versions of the game with some people playing it on a ten by ten board while others use a 12 by 12 board. Currently, it is played worldwide due to the ease of designing the boards. According to Reddit, the sale of checkers sums up to 50 billion units.
1. Chess – total unknown/3 million copies per year
The origin of the game cab is traced back to 1200, so when you do the math on those yearly numbers, they get staggering quickly. It is played with 16 pieces that are of six different types. Each piece has a unique way of moving in the board, and it involves capturing the opponent’s king. The queen and the other pieces mainly protect the king from being captured, and the player whose king is captured loses the game.
Cases of a draw in the game are common since sometimes no moves by either player can lead to the capture of the king. It is the highest-selling board game of all time, according to the Richest. In the US alone, around 3 million copies are sold every year, and by 2022, the chess market is estimated to be worth $40.5 million in North America alone.
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Written by Allen Lee
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