Video game franchises are not just a series of games. They are cultural phenomena that capture our imaginations, bring people together, and change entertainment. Many of these franchises are considered some of the greatest video games of all time. Here are the top 15 video game franchises that have made a lasting impact on the gaming world and our lives.

How Sales Figures Determine Success

When we talk about the “best” video game franchises of all time, sales figures are one of the most reliable ways to measure their popularity. Here’s a look at the top 15 best-selling video game franchises and a glimpse into why they’ve captivated players across generations.

Top 15 Best-Selling Video Game Franchises of All Time

FranchiseEstimated Total Sales (Units)Publisher(s)
Mario765+ millionNintendo
Pokémon480+ millionNintendo / The Pokémon Company
Tetris500+ millionMultiple
Call of Duty425+ millionActivision
Grand Theft Auto405+ millionRockstar Games
FIFA325+ millionEA Sports
Minecraft300+ millionMojang Studios
Lego200+ millionTT Games
The Sims200+ millionEA
Assassin’s Creed200+ millionUbisoft
Wii Series145+ millionNintendo
Final Fantasy173+ millionSquare Enix
Resident Evil140+ millionCapcom
Monster Hunter90+ millionCapcom
Sonic the Hedgehog90+ millionSega
focus photo of super mario luigi and yoshi figurines

What Makes a Franchise a Mega-Success?

Several factors contribute to the incredible success of these franchises:

  • Iconic Characters: From Mario and Pikachu to Master Chief and Lara Croft, many top franchises feature memorable characters that players love.
  • Engaging Gameplay: The best franchises offer fun, challenging, and innovative gameplay that keeps players hooked for hours.
  • Accessibility: Popular franchises often appeal to a broad range of players, regardless of skill level or age.
  • Brand Recognition: Successful franchises build a strong brand that players recognize through clever marketing and consistent quality.

These are just a few of the elements that help cement a video game franchise’s place in gaming history. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative and captivating franchises emerge in the years to come.

Top 15 Best-Rated Video Game Franchises of All Time

FranchiseRelease Date(s)ConsolesDeveloper/PublisherGenre
Mario1981 – PresentNintendo & variousNintendoPlatformers, Puzzle, Racing
The Legend of Zelda1986 – PresentNintendo & variousNintendoAction-Adventure
Grand Theft Auto1997 – PresentPlayStation, Xbox, PCRockstar GamesOpen-World Action-Adventure
Final Fantasy1987 – PresentPlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo & variousSquare EnixRole-Playing
Metal Gear Solid1987 – PresentPlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo & variousKonamiStealth Action-Adventure
Resident Evil1996 – PresentPlayStation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo & variousCapcomSurvival Horror
Half-Life1998 – PresentPCValveFirst-Person Shooter
Halo2001 – PresentXbox, PCMicrosoft StudiosFirst-Person Shooter
Portal2007 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxValvePuzzle-Platformer
Red Dead Redemption2004 – PresentPlayStation, Xbox, PCRockstar GamesOpen-World Action-Adventure
Pokémon1996 – PresentNintendo & variousNintendoRole-Playing, Simulation
The Elder Scrolls1994 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxBethesda Game StudiosAction Role-Playing
Metroid1986 – PresentNintendo & variousNintendoAction-Adventure, Platformer
Uncharted2007 – PresentPlayStationNaughty DogAction-Adventure
God of War2005 – PresentPlayStationSanta Monica StudioAction-Adventure

A Look At The Titles

1. Mario

Nintendo’s iconic plumber has been jumping into our hearts since the 1980s. From ‘Super Mario Bros.’ to ‘Mario Kart’, this franchise is synonymous with gaming itself, boasting an array of genres and unforgettable experiences.

The brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, the Mario franchise is the epitome of family-friendly gaming. Since its debut in 1985 with Donkey Kong, Mario has starred in countless platformers, puzzle games, and kart racers, becoming a global icon recognized by people of all ages.

2. The Legend of Zelda

Zelda Breath Of The Wild Logo
Zelda Breath Of The Wild Logo

A cornerstone of adventure gaming, ‘The Legend of Zelda’ combines exploration, action, and puzzle-solving in rich, immersive worlds. Each entry is a masterpiece in its own right, from ‘Ocarina of Time’ to ‘Breath of the Wild’.

Another Nintendo masterpiece, The Legend of Zelda, has enchanted players with its blend of action, adventure, and puzzle-solving. From the expansive landscapes of Hyrule to the enigmatic hero Link, the series has captivated audiences with its immersive storytelling and timeless gameplay.

3. Grand Theft Auto

Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto franchise has redefined open-world gaming, offering players a vast sandbox to explore and a plethora of activities to engage in. From the adrenaline-fueled heists to the satirical social commentary, the series has pushed the boundaries of content and gameplay.

Known for its open-world design, satirical take on American culture, and groundbreaking gameplay, each title pushes boundaries in storytelling and player freedom.

4. Final Fantasy

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series is a landmark in RPG gaming, captivating players with its intricate storylines, memorable characters, and innovative battle systems. Each installment has introduced new worlds, characters, and gameplay mechanics, making it a beloved franchise among RPG enthusiasts.

This series has defined a genre with its intricate stories, memorable characters, and innovative gameplay. From the epic ‘Final Fantasy VII’ to the online world of ‘Final Fantasy XIV’, it’s a franchise that continually evolves.

5. Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise has redefined the stealth genre, blending action, espionage, and thought-provoking narratives. The series has introduced iconic characters like Solid Snake and Big Boss, while exploring themes of war, technology, and the nature of humanity.

A staple in gaming. Known for its cinematic presentation and philosophical themes, it’s a series that challenges and entertains.

6. Resident Evil

Capcom’s Resident Evil franchise has set the standard for survival horror gaming, immersing players in terrifying environments filled with zombies, mutants, and other bio-weapons. The series has mastered the art of suspense, creating a truly unnerving gaming experience.

Pioneering the survival horror genre, ‘Resident Evil’ terrifies and captivates with its tense gameplay, horrifying creatures, and gripping stories. It’s a franchise that continually reinvents itself, as seen in ‘Resident Evil 7’ and ‘Village’.

7. Half-Life

Valve’s Half-Life franchise is a landmark in first-person shooter gaming, renowned for its groundbreaking story, immersive world-building, and memorable characters. The series has revolutionized the FPS genre, influencing countless titles that followed.

Combining shooting, puzzles, and storytelling in a way few games have ever achieved – both ‘Half-Life’ and ‘Half-Life 2’ are seminal titles that have influenced countless other games.

8. Halo

Microsoft’s Halo franchise is a pillar of console gaming, introducing players to the iconic Master Chief and the vast universe of the Covenant. The series has redefined first-person shooter gameplay, combining thrilling combat with epic sci-fi storytelling.

This franchise redefined first-person shooters on consoles, with its epic sci-fi storyline, iconic Master Chief character, and revolutionary multiplayer modes. ‘Halo’ is a cultural icon in the gaming world.

9. Portal

Valve’s Portal franchise has redefined puzzle-platform gaming, blending clever mechanics with dark humor and a captivating narrative. The series has introduced the iconic characters of Chell and GLaDOS, while challenging players with mind-bending puzzles and a unique sense of humor.

A testament to innovative game design, ‘Portal’ and its sequel blend mind-bending puzzles with a darkly humorous story. It’s a compact, yet profound experience that leaves a lasting impression.

10. Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption franchise has redefined the open-world action-adventure genre, transporting players to the Wild West with stunning visuals, engaging characters, and a captivating story. The series has captured the essence of the frontier, blending thrilling action with a touch of Western mystique.

This series has delivered some of the most compelling narratives and immersive open-world experiences. Both games in the series are praised for their storytelling, gameplay, and attention to detail.

11. Pokemon

Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise is a global phenomenon, capturing the hearts of children and adults alike. The series has revolutionized the concept of collecting and battling creatures, creating a vast universe of Pokemon to discover and a rich mythology to explore.

‘Pokemon’ is a cultural phenomenon. With its simple yet deep gameplay, the series has evolved across generations, expanding into every medium imaginable.

12. The Elder Scrolls

Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls franchise has defined the open-world RPG genre, offering players vast landscapes to explore, countless quests to embark on, and a deep lore to delve into. The series has redefined freedom in gaming, allowing players to forge their own paths and shape their own destinies.

Known for its expansive open worlds, rich lore, and freedom of choice, ‘The Elder Scrolls’ series, especially ‘Skyrim’, has set the standard for open-world RPGs.

13. Metroid

Nintendo’s Metroid franchise is a pioneer in action-adventure gaming, blending exploration, puzzle-solving, and a unique sense of atmosphere. The series has introduced iconic characters like Samus Aran and the haunting Metroid creatures, creating a truly memorable gaming experience.

A pioneer of the action-adventure genre, ‘Metroid’ combines exploration, platforming, and shooting in unique sci-fi settings. It’s a series known for atmospheric worlds and strong, silent protagonist.

14. Uncharted

Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise has redefined cinematic storytelling in video games, combining thrilling action sequences with a captivating narrative and memorable characters. The series has set a new standard for adventure gaming, taking players on globetrotting adventures filled with treasure hunting and danger.

Renowned for its cinematic storytelling, likable characters, and thrilling set pieces – each ‘Uncharted’ game is a blend of exploration, puzzle-solving, and action.

15. God of War

God Of War
God Of War

Santa Monica Studio’s God of War franchise has redefined action-adventure gaming, combining brutal combat, epic storytelling, and a unique blend of mythology and modern storytelling. The series has introduced the iconic Kratos, a complex and

This series has evolved from a brutal hack-and-slash into a narrative-driven journey. The latest ‘God of War’ titles not only provide thrilling combat but also a profound story of fatherhood and change.

Honorable Mention

These franchises have changed the world in their own ways, from fighting games to action and first person shooters. You’ll see a lot of your favorites on this list as well:

FranchiseRelease Date(s)ConsolesDeveloper/PublisherGenre
Castlevania1986 – PresentNintendo & variousKonamiAction-Platformer
Sonic the Hedgehog1991 – PresentSega & variousSegaPlatformer
Street Fighter1987 – PresentArcade, variousCapcomFighting
Assassin’s Creed2007 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxUbisoftAction-Adventure
Call of Duty2003 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxActivisionFirst-Person Shooter
Mass Effect2007 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxBioWareAction Role-Playing
Dark Souls2011 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxFromSoftwareAction Role-Playing
Minecraft2009 – PresentPC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo & variousMojang StudiosSandbox
The Last of Us2013 – PresentPlayStationNaughty DogAction-Adventure
The Witcher2007 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxCD Projekt REDAction Role-Playing
Forza Horizon2012 – PresentXbox PCTurn 10 StudiosRacing
Gears of War2006 – PresentXbox PCThe CoalitionThird-Person Shooter
Overwatch2016 – PresentPC, PlayStation, XboxBlizzard EntertainmentTeam Shooter

These franchises have not just shaped the gaming industry; they have become a part of our cultural fabric. They’re not just games; they’re gateways to worlds we’ve grown to love and characters we’ve come to cherish. As the industry evolves, these franchises stand as beacons of creativity, innovation, and storytelling.

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