The Most Popular Video Games That Generated Tons of Cash

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Magnus/Unsplash

Video games have changed over the years. While they started out with simple dots on a screen, they've evolved into incredibly realistic, immersive worlds. With so many games, you can do everything from slay dragons to build an entire city from scratch.

Something many video games do is bring home huge bucks. With growing player bases, studios have a bigger shot at financial success with each game they produce. These games are some of the most profitable to be released in the medium's history.

Fortnite

It's hard to escape anything Fortnite-related anymore. From its dances to its massive tournaments, Fortnite has won over gamers around the world. Released in 2017, the game's Battle Royale mode has led to sleepless nights for many people.

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Photo Courtesy: Fortnite/Epic Games

In 2018, all versions of Fortnite brought in an impressive $2.4 billion combined. The mobile version brings in around $2 million per day. These numbers easily made Fortnite the biggest free-to-play game of 2018. With Chapter 2 finally out, Fortnite shouldn’t be losing momentum any time soon.

League of Legends

Riot Games unveiled League of Legends in 2009. Over time, the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) grew in popularity with over 100 million monthly players. League of Legends also has one of the biggest eSports competitions with its annual World Championship. Nearly 100 million unique viewers saw 2018's League of Legends World Championship.

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Photo Courtesy: League of Legends/Riot Games

Yearly, League of Legends brings in over $1 billion. The game celebrated its 10th anniversary with the announcement of League of Legends: Wild Rift. This mobile/console game will be released to the public sometime in 2020.

Pac-Man

Pac-Man was created as an alternative to the massive number of sports and war games on the market. Developed by Toru Iwatani, the game had a slow climb to becoming a success. Two years after its launch, the game had over 30 million players in the United States.

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Photo Courtesy: Pac-Man/Bandai Namco

The arcade version of Pac-Man has brought in $14 billion in revenue. Luckily, numerous Pac-Man arcade games are still active. Aside from the classic game, newer Pac-Man arcade games are still in production. In 2015, Bandai Namco unveiled The World's Largest Pac-Man.

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Space Invaders

Following the release of Atari's Breakout, designer Tomohiro Nishikado wanted to make a shooting game in its style. After a year of production, Space Invaders was born. One standout aspect of the game was its music. At the time, game music didn't change along with what happened on the screen. This gave Space Invaders an edge over others in the arcade.

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Photo Courtesy: Space Invaders/Square Enix

Four years after its release, Space Invaders had made $3.8 billion worldwide. The game helped the Atari VCS gain a plethora of sales following a sluggish start. Overall, the iconic video game has earned a combined $13 billion through its various ports.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. After catching Pokemon on screen for two decades, Niantic wanted to make the game’s objective realistic. Pokemon Go combines the game's addictiveness with augmented reality for an unforgettable experience.

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Photo Courtesy: Pokemon Go/Niantic

Countless people couldn't wait to get their hands on Pokemon Go. It became the quickest mobile game to reach $300 million in revenue in just 113 days. By the end of 2016, the game had been downloaded 500 million times. Since its release, Pokemon Go has earned around $2.5 billion. Niantic still adds features to keep players entertained.

Dungeon Fighter Online

Inspired by Golden Axe and Double Dragon, Dungeon Fighter Online brings beat-'em-up action to the PC. While 3D games dominated the market, Dungeon Fighter Online stayed true to classic 2D fun. The game spawned an anime series and a manga, too.

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Photo Courtesy: Dungeon Fighter Online/Neople

In 2018, Dungeon Fighter Online earned an impressive $1.5 billion, and since its release, the game has made $10 billion. While it has a low player base in the United States, most of the money comes from Asian markets. This popular game will get a fresh coat of paint with forthcoming 3D installments.

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Wii Fit

The Nintendo Wii was a game-changer with its interactivity and appeal to gamers of all ages. People trying to lose weight found that Wii Fit seamlessly incorporated itself into their daily routines. Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to make working out a family activity. Wii Fit featured a slew of activities to complete atop the Wii Balance Board peripheral accessory.

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Photo Courtesy: Wii Fit/Nintendo

Wii Fit has earned $5 billion worldwide since its release in 2007. While two sequels have been released, they haven't matched the high sales of the original.

Candy Crush Saga

If there's one mobile game parents want banned, it's probably Candy Crush Saga. The game was originally released through Facebook in 2012. Months later, the game made its way to Android and iOS. Following the jump to mobile, Candy Crush Saga saw overnight success with millions of players.

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Photo Courtesy: Candy Crush Saga/King

Candy Crush Saga has raked in over $4 billion in revenue since its release. While ads were originally present in the game, they were removed in favor of in-app purchases. Candy Crush Saga's influence on freemium mobile games has been felt in the endless clones of its gameplay.

Minecraft

Created by developer Markus Persson, Minecraft brought sandbox gaming to unbelievable heights. Time Magazine listed it as number six on its 50 Best Video Games of All Time list in 2016. A handful of spinoff games were released, including Minecraft: Story Mode. The game's popularity has spawned a forthcoming Hollywood film adaptation.

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Photo Courtesy: Minecraft/Microsoft

Since 2011, Minecraft has made over $4 billion in revenue. In 2014, Microsoft purchased the game and its developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. It's also the best-selling video game ever as of 2019, with 176 million copies sold through all available platforms. After almost a decade, the game still attracts 110 million monthly players.

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Wii Sports

2006's Wii Sports brought friends together for the love of sports. Tennis, golf, baseball, bowling and boxing are available for friendly and competitive play. This game has been the catalyst for parties and competitions worldwide.

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Photo Courtesy: Wii Sports Club/Nintendo

Wii Sports has made $6 billion, with 82 million copies sold. A sequel was made (2009's Wii Sports Resort), but it didn’t sell anywhere near as many copies as the original. In 2013, a remake titled Wii Sports Club was released. This featured HD versions of Wii Sports games.

CrossFire

Released in 2007, CrossFire is a game with a small fanbase in North America. Despite this, the shooter is a huge hit in South Korea and China. The game has around 660 million registered accounts, which is one of the highest numbers for any game. With 8 million monthly players, CrossFire still brings a plethora of action to its fans.

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Photo Courtesy: Crossfire/Smilegate Entertainment

With its massive fanbase, CrossFire earned $1.5 billion in 2018. Overall, the game has accumulated $10 billion since its release. In 2020, the game will arrive on the Xbox One as CrossFire X. This is the game's first console release.

World of Warcraft

Released in 2004, World of Warcraft set the standard for massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) everywhere with its engaging gameplay. Over the years, many expansions were released, including 2012's Mists of Pandaria and 2018's Battle for Azeroth.

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Photo Courtesy: World of Warcraft/Blizzard

With the help of those expansions and subscriptions, World of Warcraft has earned nearly $10 billion in revenue. In 2019, Blizzard released World of Warcraft Classic, which is a recreation of the original game. 2020 should see the release of the Shadowlands expansion, which focuses on the realm of the dead.

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Street Fighter II

Fighting-game fans can't deny the impact of Street Fighter II. Released in 1991, the game arrived at the apex of arcade gaming. Following Street Fighter II's success, many updated versions were released to arcades and home consoles. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition has been the most successful updated version released.

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Photo Courtesy: Street Fighter II/Capcom

All versions of Street Fighter II have earned a combined $10 billion. This makes it the highest-grossing fighting game of all time. To this day, Street Fighter II still makes its way to modern consoles for new generations of players. Recently, it appeared in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection.

Tetris

Without Tetris, where would gaming have gone in the '80s? Created by Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris is the most accessible game ever. People who don't play video games have found themselves racking their brains in Tetris. It even helped launch Nintendo's Game Boy back in 1989.

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Photo Courtesy: Tetris/Ubisoft

Tetris has earned $5 billion through its various ports. The love of Tetris continues to grow with Tetris 99, which has battle royale-style elements. A mobile port of this game titled Tetris Royale is set for upcoming release. It's no secret why Tetris has been named one of the greatest games ever by countless publications.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls series has been filled with unforgettable games such as Morrowind and Oblivion. Skyrim took everything from previous Elder Scrolls games and cranked things up by 100. Fans have spent hundreds of hours traversing the vast universe laid out for them. You don't even have to beat the game to truly appreciate it.

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Photo Courtesy: Skyrim/Bethesda

During its first week of release, Skyrim earned $450 million. Overall, the game has pocketed about $1.4 billion. Although it was released in 2011, that didn't stop Bethesda from sending the game everywhere. Skyrim is available on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch and in VR formats.

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Rocket League

Combining soccer with vehicles sounds like a wild idea on paper. Fortunately, Psyonix made it work with 2015's Rocket League. The game is a sequel to Psyonix's 2008 game Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. While Supersonic didn't hit the mark, Rocket League came at the perfect time.

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Photo Courtesy: Rocket League/Psyonix

Since its release, Rocket League has earned over $1 billion in revenue with around 10 million copies sold. Most of the income earned comes from the various expansion packs. Rocket League found itself working alongside major companies for the car packs. In 2019, Psyonix teamed with the WWE, Netflix and Ghostbusters for some special content.

Lineage

Released in 1998, medieval MMORPG Lineage took some time to gain an active fanbase. By 2006, there were 43 million players involved in the universe. While the game was huge in South Korea, it was completely dead in North America. In 2011, game developer NCSOFT permanently shut down the North American servers.

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Photo Courtesy: Lineage/NCSOFT

Lineage has earned around $5.7 billion since the release. Some of the money came from its subscriptions, which peaked at 3 million. A sequel to the first Lineage titled Project TL is also set for release. This will be the final game for the Lineage franchise following 2003's Lineage II.

Puzzle & Dragons

"Match three" games are extremely common on mobile phones, but Puzzle & Dragons keeps it fresh. Aside from its own story, the game has collaborated with various other franchises. Magic: The Gathering, Final Fantasy and Dragon Ball have been featured in the game. In 2012, Puzzle & Dragons won the CEDEC Game Design award.

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Photo Courtesy: Puzzle and Dragons/GungHo Online Entertainment

It became the first mobile game in history to make $1 billion in revenue. As of late 2019, the game has accumulated $7 billion. This makes it the second-highest-grossing phone app of all time. Puzzle & Dragons spawned a handful of spinoffs, including one with Super Mario Bros.

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Hearthstone

Influenced by Magic: The Gathering, Blizzard decided to make a card game based on World of Warcraft. The end result is Hearthstone, which was released in 2014. The game attracted Warcraft fans and card-game lovers alike. Forbes named Hearthstone's beta the best card game of 2013. The game has become a rising force in eSports.

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Photo Courtesy: Hearthstone/Blizzard

Hearthstone has brought Blizzard over $1 billion since its release. The game's popularity is in part due to live-streamers on the website Twitch. Hearthstone is one of the most-watched games on the streaming service. With big streamers like Kripparrian and Firebat playing, more people have become aware of the game.

The Sims 4

The Sims franchise has given folks a chance to experience digital life in a new way. Released in 2013, The Sims 4 was the best-selling PC game for two years in a row. This installment of the franchise included special Star Wars downloadable content in celebration of 2015's The Force Awakens.

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Photo Courtesy: The Sims/Electronic Arts

The Sims 4 has accumulated $1 billion since its release. As expected, the number of game packs and expansions has helped in bringing in the money. Fortunately for Electronic Arts, more downloadable content will arrive for The Sims 4. At the end of 2019, the Discover University expansion pack was released.

Fallout 4

The award-winning Fallout series has delivered some unique experiences for its players. Following Fallout: New Vegas, there was pressure during Fallout 4's development. Fortunately, the 2014 game brought fans a more advanced world. This was also the first Fallout game in which the hero had an actual voice.

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Photo Courtesy: Fallout 4/Bethesda

Fallout 4 earned a phenomenal $750 million within the first 24 hours of its release. Out of the copies sold, 1.2 million copies were purchased through Steam. Twelve million units were shipped to retailers across the country in anticipation of the release. Overall, the game has made nearly $2 billion in revenue since its release.

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Honor of Kings/Arena of Valor

In 2015, Tencent Games hit the goldmine with Honor of Kings. Unfortunately, the MOBA has been a huge concern amongst parents in China. The Chinese government banned kids ages 12 and under from playing it between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 can only play it for two hours a day.

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Photo Courtesy: Arena of Valor/Tencent Games

Honor of Kings, which has 900 million downloads, has earned around $4.5 billion since its 2015 release. During February 2019, it was rumored to have made $1 billion alone. In North America, the game was repackaged as Arena of Valor for mobile phones in 2017.

Fate/Grand Order

Following the successful anime series Fate/stay night, Delightworks capitalized on the content with the mobile RPG Fate/Grand Order. The game became a hit with anime lovers around the world with over 32 million downloads. The game also became an anime with 2019's Fate/Grand Order - Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia.

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Photo Courtesy: Fate/Grand Order/Delightworks

Fate/Grand Order has earned the studio over $3 billion in revenue. On average, the game makes $2.5 million per day on microtransactions. One Japanese man named Daigo made the news by claiming he dropped $70,000 on purchasing characters. While it's a massive amount of money, Daigo is having fun with his favorite mobile game.

Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle

Dragon Ball Z is one of the most recognizable anime franchises ever. With numerous games under its belt, another one wouldn't hurt. Released in 2015, Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle merged card games, board games and puzzle games for an intriguing experience. Developer Akatsuki Inc. was chosen to work with Bandai Namco Entertainment for this game.

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Photo Courtesy: Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle/Akatsuki

With 300 million downloads worldwide, Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle has earned over $1.6 billion in revenue. The game did gain controversy with the release of the character Kefla. With the character's low drops, many blamed Akatsuki Inc. for trying to get more money from players.

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Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans was one of the most-talked-about mobile games of 2015 following its Super Bowl ad. The commercial, which starred Liam Neeson, was one of the most-watched ads during the event. The strategy game allows players to go to war in epic battles ranging from 5v5 to 50v50 players.

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Photo Courtesy: Clash of Clans/Supercell

Since its launch, Clash of Clans has earned about $6.4 billion. Daily, the game can earn around $1.5 million in revenue. With 500 million downloads worldwide, Clash of Clans has become a huge hit for the Google Play Store. Developer Supercell keeps fans entertained with major updates.

Mobile Strike

Mobile Strike got its big break following a Super Bowl ad featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ad, which launched months after the game's release, brought countless eyes to the product. Gaining 100 million views, Schwarzenegger's involvement caused many people to hop onto Mobile Strike. People who never touched a mobile game found themselves getting hooked.

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Photo Courtesy: Mobile Strike/Epic War

Mobile Strike has earned around $1 billion since its 2015 launch. The following year, it became the second-highest-grossing game on the App Store. In recent years, the game has found itself slipping on the Google Play and App Store charts. Luckily, it still has a loyal fanbase.

Clash Royale

In 2016, mobile strategy game Clash Royale exploded onto the market. Numerous cities across the country have weekly Clash Royale tournaments. In 2018, developer Supercell unveiled the Clash Royale League for its world championship. The winning team was awarded a $1 million prize.

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Photo Courtesy: Clash Royale/Supercell

Clash Royale earned $1 billion within the first year of release. Aside from the high revenue, the game earned the Best Game award at The Google Play Awards. So far, it’s earned around $2.5 billion worldwide. Thirty percent of that money has come from the United States.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Months before Fortnite stepped in, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was the battle royale king. The beta version earned the game the Best Multiplayer Game Award at The Game Awards in 2017. Upon its official release, almost everyone on Twitch played the game.

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Photo Courtesy: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds/PUBG Corporation

The PC and console ports have earned a combined $1 billion with 50 million copies sold. PUBG Mobile brought in an additional $158 million. Altogether, 400 million people are typically playing PUBG in some way. Due to the game’s high system requirements keeping some people from playing, PUBG Corporation has unveiled a version for low-end computers.

Donkey Kong

After Nintendo couldn't license a Popeye video game, Shigeru Miyamoto had to come up with a new title. Inspired by King Kong, the director worked on a new character called Donkey Kong. In 1981, the Donkey Kong game hit arcades to loud fanfare and a failed lawsuit by Universal Studios.

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Photo Courtesy: Donkey Kong/Nintendo

All versions of the original Donkey Kong game have brought in a combined $4.4 billion worldwide. The game led to clones such as Crazy Kong, Killer Gorilla and Donkey King. As expected, these games failed to ride Donkey Kong's rising momentum.

Grand Theft Auto V

You might be hard-pressed to find a more controversial franchise than Grand Theft Auto. When news of Grand Theft Auto V broke in 2011, people cleared their calendars. On launch night, thousands waited in line to dive into this mayhem before everyone got their hands on it.

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Photo Courtesy: Grand Theft Auto 5/Rockstar Games

During the first 24 hours after the game’s release, Grand Theft Auto V grossed $800 million in sales. In three days, it made $1 billion. With the introduction of GTA Online, the money kept coming for publisher Rockstar Games. Grand Theft Auto V has made around $6 billion.

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