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The 20 Most Popular Video Games of 2022

video games

Determining the popularity of a video game is difficult. Theoretically speaking, interested parties could add up the total number of hours people spend playing each video game. In practice, that is impossible, not least because plenty of people still play offline. Instead, interested parties have to look up relevant information such as the best-selling video games in a particular period. Even then, this information isn't a perfect indication of popularity.  But below you'll see we've done our best.

20. Dying Light 2: Stay Human

Dying Light 2 is the follow-up to 2015's Dying Light. This time around, the zombie outbreak wasn't limited to a single city. Instead, a mutated version of the virus killed most of humanity, meaning the survivors now live in a small number of isolated settlements. That said, Dying Light 2 is still set in a single city, presumably because the park system is so integral to the series. Regardless, GameSpot says the game sold 5 million copies in its first month.

19. Mario Party Superstars

Mario Party Superstars is the 12th home console release for the series. It features five remade boards from the N64 titles. As a result, Mario Party Superstars has a fair amount of nostalgic value, particularly since it also features a curated list of 100 mini-games from past releases. This game is impressive because it secured a spot on this list even though it came out in October of 2021.

18. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War

Of course, games are now selling well for longer and longer periods. They get more support, thus making it easier for them to bring in interested individuals. Some of those are returning players. In contrast, others are new customers. According to VentureBeat, NPD said Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War was the best-selling game in the United States in 2020. As a result, its longevity makes sense.

17. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Speaking of which, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is another title with long-lived marketability. It also came out in 2020. Moreover, NPD said it was the third best-selling game in the United States that year. That means Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare were the only games to beat it then. The latter presumably failed to do so because it came out even earlier in 2019.

16. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out in December of 2018. Subsequently, it received DLC until October of 2021, thus providing it with more longevity than otherwise possible. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of Nintendo's best-selling releases ever. The company itself reported more than 28 million sales as of March of 2022.

15. Monster Hunter: Rise

Monster Hunter: Rise isn't the same kind of monster as its immediate predecessor, Monster Hunter: World. That would need it to become Capcom's best-selling release ever, which isn't happening based on current numbers. Still, it seems safe to say that the Monster Hunter series has found a home in international markets. After all, Gematsu says it has sold more than 10 million copies, thus making it the second most successful release in the series.

14. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales came out in November of 2020. Naturally, it was one of the launch titles for the PS5. Furthermore, a somewhat toned-down version came out for the PS4 on the same day. The game has performed spectacularly on the whole. For proof, look no further than how it is still on this list even though it came out in November of 2020.

13. FIFA 22

People complain about the repetitiveness of EA's sports titles regularly. Even so, it is clear that they have managed to find receptive markets. Without that, FIFA 22 wouldn't have sold more than 9 million copies by December of 2021, as reported by GameInformer. Success is success in the end.

12. Nintendo Switch Sports

It is a well-known fact that people don't necessarily flock to the highest-profile titles. The mobile market is booming because people care about what they find fun rather than what they find most impressive. Similarly, the remarkable success of Nintendo Switch Sports serves as proof of the same.

11. Minecraft

For that matter, Minecraft is another excellent example. Somehow, it has a midway position on this list even though the original version came out more than a decade ago. Granted, Minecraft receives regular updates. Even so, graphics has never been its strongest point.

10. Madden NFL 22

Of course, Madden NFL 22 is another example of EA's success in turning its sports series into cash cows with reliable returns. With that said, one can't help but wonder how this release model impacts the sales of the other titles in the same series. Interested individuals sometimes buy older games in the same series even though they already have the latest title if those titles are significantly different from one another. However, EA's sports titles are more step-by-step improvements than huge jumps forward, so it makes sense for people to buy the latest titles for the best results so long as they have the necessary hardware.

As a result, while each series can sustain a high release rate, each new release presumably drives down the sales of its predecessors. It is an interesting approach to the market. In some ways, it seems like a forerunner to the games as a service model, though with sufficient momentum to carry over into the present. Sadly, it is impossible to test whether EA could've put this model into place if it was trying to set it up now rather than running something already in place.

9. Mario Kart 8

Amusingly, Mario Kart 8 came out in 2014. Thanks to that, it started as a Wii U title rather than a Nintendo Switch title. Mario Kart 8 is one of the best-selling releases ever. Still, this is presumably on this list because of the enhanced version released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Just that alone has sold more than 48 million copies, thus making it the best-selling Nintendo Switch release so far. Combined with the Wii U version sales, that is enough to make Mario Kart 8 one of the best-selling games ever.

8. Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby isn't in the top tier of Nintendo franchises. That consists of Mario, Pokemon, Wii Series, and The Legend of Zelda, all of which have broken the hundred million mark. Despite that, Kirby is making good progress. Kirby and the Forgotten Land came out in March of 2022. In that short time, it has sold more than 4.5 million copies, pushed on by a general acknowledgment of it being one of the best games ever released for the franchise. That feat is extra impressive because Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first one to feature fully-3D gameplay. Certainly, plenty of other games for other series have managed to botch similar transitions.

7. Gran Turismo 7

Amusingly, Gran Turismo 7 is the eighth main installment rather than the seventh main installment in the series. This is because of 2017's Gran Turismo Sport, which didn't receive a number. In any case, Gran Turismo received a fair amount of praise from the critics. Then, consumers review-bombed it because of its grinding and its microtransactions. These things often go hand-in-hand. Essentially, grinding takes time and effort, so excessive grinding is an effective way to convince people to pay up. Microtransactions also bring up an important point about how the number of copies sold doesn't necessarily say much about the actual popularity of games nowadays. Many games make money using in-game transactions, so the number of copies sold paints an incomplete picture of how people are spending their money.

6. Call of Duty: Vanguard

Activision releases new Call of Duty titles at a steady rate. As mentioned earlier, Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War came out towards the end of 2020. However, Call of Duty: Vanguard came out about a year afterward. The game failed to meet expectations. Reportedly, Activision blamed it on poor execution. The game did indeed suffer from such issues. Still, the marketing for the game started at around the same time as revelations of widespread worker mistreatment at Activision Blizzard. It seems reasonable to speculate that also had an impact.

5. MLB The Show 22

MLB The Show 22 performed very well. Partly, this is because it received good reviews. Besides this, it seems MLB The Show 22 also benefited from a lack of competitors in the baseball game market.

4. Horizon Forbidden West

Open-world action RPGs have been hot for some time. Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best releases in the genre of recent times. Thanks to that, there was enormous interest in the follow-up Horizon Forbidden West. Sometimes, much-anticipated sequels are nothing but disappointments. Other times, they either meet or exceed expectations. Horizon Forbidden West is an excellent example of the latter, as shown by the widespread opinion that it is an improvement on the original in many respects.

3. Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Main Pokemon games tend to be big sellers. People grumble about this or that issue. At the end of the day, they still rush out to buy these games in droves. Pokemon Legends: Arceus is extraordinary because it is the biggest shakeup to the series's formula ever. Yes, many people have been asking for changes. Still, their support for changes is contingent on those changes being good. Pokemon Legends: Arceus wasn't perfect in this regard. Interested individuals can find plenty of complaints about this issue or that. On the whole, it is seen as a positive step forward for the Pokemon franchise. Something particularly notable because said franchise is quite conservative in most cases.

Naturally, consumers responded. Nintendo Life says it was the best-selling game in the United States in January of 2022 even though it came out towards the end of the month. Subsequently, Pokemon Legends: Arceus became the best-selling game in the same country for another month.

2. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

LEGO-themed action-adventure games are popular. There wouldn't be multiple sub-series based on licensed properties if they weren't. Out of the lot, the LEGO Star Wars games are the most popular, though to be fair, they benefit from the enduring popularity of the Star Wars franchise itself. Regardless, it seems safe to say LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga benefited from its basic premise. It isn't based on a single Star Wars movie or a single Star Wars trilogy. Instead, it adapts all nine of the movies included under the so-called Skywalker Saga. As a result, the game can appeal to the fans of the originals, the prequels, and the sequels, which is extremely valuable when the fandom has such gulfs in opinion about these movies.

1. Elden Ring

The Souls series is very popular. Generally speaking, games don't inspire the creation of entire sub-genres unless they are popular. That means high expectations were riding on Elden Ring, which was supposed to be FromSoftware's refinement of the Souls formula. It is a bit much to call the game perfect. There are mistakes here and there, with an excellent example being a mistranslation of one of the endings. Elden Ring nonetheless came closer to that peak than most games ever manage. Thanks to that, PushSquare states it sold more than 13.4 million copies in its first five weeks. Since then, that number has increased to more than 16.6 million. In other words, FromSoftware hasn't lost its touch, which bodes well for the fans of the Souls series.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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