Since its release on Sept. 17, the third-person action game Grand Theft Auto V has become not just the fastest-selling video game of all time, but the fastest selling piece of entertainment in any medium. The sales numbers are staggering: $800 million in 24 hours, $1 billion in three days, for a total sale of 11 million units, or about double what analysts had expected.
Then again, while GTA V is the fastest selling game ever, it’s still not the overall best, in terms of revenue, and certainly not anywhere close in terms of total units sold. It might still eventually top those categories as well, and maybe one day fulfill the BBC’s prediction that the game will ultimately “change… the entertainment business as a whole.” But right now, it’s still just a promising rookie in a genre chock full of established veterans.
While GTA V is indeed a massive success, it’s not changing the entertainment industry without precedent. Here are some other games that have already irrevocably changed the face of the entertainment biz:
The Biggest Game of the 80s AKA the Biggest Arcade Hit: Pac-Man
This quarter-munching contraption might have “only” sold seven million units on home systems, but the game was first a big hit in that bygone era of gaming, the arcade. More than the other games on this list, Pac-Man was at its heart a puzzle game, albeit one that had a ticking clock in the form of ghosts on the warpath trying to get the pellet-munching protagonist before he could eat everything in sight. Its sequel, Ms. Pac-Man, proved almost equally popular, and in some gamers estimation was even a superior product.
Aside from cartridge sales, by the 1990s the game had generated $2.5 billion in revenue – from quarters.
The Best Selling Game, Pre-2000: Super Mario Bros.
With over 40 million units sold since its 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) debut, the story of two plumber brothers on a quest to save the princess has changed the platform probably more than any other game. Among many innovations, Super Mario Bros. notably popularized side-scrolling games, where a player travels through the world left to right.
But perhaps Super Mario Bros. finest contribution to gaming was to prove NES could be unabashedly weird at times and still be hugely popular. From the angry mushroom antagonists and the trippy, catchy-as-hell soundtrack, Super Mario Bros. not only established video games as a viable facet of the entertainment industry, but showed there was a real market for experimental platforms.
The Fastest Selling Video Game of All-Time, Pre-GTA V: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Another billion dollar entry into the gaming canon, Black Ops 2 is the sequel to the blockbuster Black Ops. Like its predecessor Black Ops, Black Ops 2 is a first-person shooter, though it differs in allowing players nonlinear gameplay, otherwise known as the ability to wander around and do stuff without necessarily trying to accomplish a set goal.
Black Ops 2 has proven especially popular with its online component, which allows people to play people across the world. This multiplayer option, popular in all variants of the Call of Duty series, has spawned something of its very own subculture, and arguably is the origin point for everyone’s favorite slang word to describe a neophyte: “noob.”
The Best Selling Game, All-Time: Wii Sports
Another entry from Nintendo, albeit for their active gaming console Wii. Wii Sports benefited from having easy-to-play, simple team games that all played with the basic physicality of the Wii system. Consisting of five sports – boxing, tennis, bowling, golf, and baseball (the kind of sports that don’t require the kind of movement that would take you out of the console sensor’s movements)— the game pack is a lighthearted, fun and proved to be a moderate hit with critics.
More than critical appreciation, the game changed the gaming industry through its sheer volume. Wii Sports would go on to sell 83 million copies, mainly because it came packaged with the Wii system. But regardless, the game itself was certainly a major selling point, and since its 2006 release has endured as a popular party game platform.
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