Games have been played by humans since around 3,500 BC when it is believed a game called Senet was played in Ancient Egypt. This game has been found in Predynastic burials and also displayed in a fresco from a tomb dating back to 3,200 BC.
Things have evolved somewhat since then and games such as chess came along around 1,500 years ago. Nowadays, chess is played on boards, mobile phones, and PCs by up to 800 million people across the globe.
Then, of course, there are video games. The evolution of video games is very distinct from the early days of Pong in 1970 up to last year’s huge release, Cyberpunk 2077, although maybe console owners would rather forget that one.
With so many people across the world playing games for entertainment, creativity, education, and sometimes for revenue, what are the most popular games out there?
When it comes to shooting people…
According to The Esports Observer, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had the biggest total prize pool of 2020 with nearly $15 million on offer to contestants.
Even though CS: GO was released back in 2012 it has somehow maintained its popularity and peaked in March 2021 with 1,198,581 concurrent players. According to Steam, there are around 46 million CS: GO players.
Despite being one of the most popular esports games, these numbers do not come close to other FPSs such as Fornite and PUBG. A Wikipedia entry that is noted to have multiple issues lists Fortnite as having 350 million registered accounts.
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds tops the list with more than 1 billion downloads. So, does this mean that PUBG is the most popular game in the world? One factor that this figure doesn’t take into account is that many people download the same game for multiple devices and again if they upgrade their hardware.
Creating things is popular…
Not everyone wants to shoot people and for many, creation and survival games offer more depth. There are quite a few stand-out options to pick in this genre, Little Big Planet, Terraria, and Super Mario Maker all have their fans. Some say that Minecraft is the greatest game ever made and Roblox keeps adding to its fan base.
Roblox has grown its active monthly user base from 35 million to 150 million in just three years and is highly popular with younger age groups. Like many internet-based forms of entertainment, Roblox benefited from the recent lockdowns by adding another 50 million active players.
For games sold though, Minecraft cannot be beaten. Statista recorded Minecraft sales at 200 million as of May 2020 putting it in the top 3 biggest selling games. Other reports put Minecraft as the biggest selling game ever.
The world is your oyster…
One of the biggest changes in video games over the years was the arrival of open-world games. Instead of following a linear path or side-to-side platform jumping, players were unleashed and allowed to roam through top-down or 3D worlds.
Zelda and RPG games brought us the early top-down versions and Mercenary is considered by many gamers as the first 3D open-world game. This early home computer game dates back to 1985 and while impressive at the time cannot compare to GTA V which is considered one of the best open-world games ever.
GTA V is also considered to be in the top 3 selling games ever along with Tetris, and perhaps comparable to Minecraft with sales around 120 million. The reason that GTA V is closer to Minecraft than figures suggest is that it is priced much higher and available on fewer platforms.
Bringing down the house…
Of course, some people like to gamble and there are plenty of offline and online games to do this with. Slots are extremely popular and millions of these apps are downloaded monthly. When it comes to seeing how popular they are it is difficult to judge as the abundance of options means their downloads are diluted.
Many slot machine games rack up millions of downloads and if you multiply that by 100, which is an extremely conservative estimate of how many games are available, you could easily outstrip Minecraft.
Online casinos are also extremely popular these days as they offer a wide variety of games such as poker, craps, roulette, and blackjack. Once again, the pandemic and lockdowns increased the popularity of this type of online gambling.
It is hard to determine how popular this type of gaming is but one study concluded that at least 17% of the UK’s population gambled online and many used a kasyno online to play poker. In the USA it was much lower with only 3%. However, as the world has around 1.6 billion regular gamblers it is fair to say that online casinos and slots are some of the most popular games.
Something different from the far East…
Although this game is not played online, it would be hard to ignore its strange popularity. Pachinko is extremely popular – and almost exclusively – in Japan. This strange hybrid pinball and slot machine are one of the few ways that the Japanese can gamble legally and it is said that the industry makes more money than all Las Vegas games combined.
At its height it had around 30 million active players and when you consider the whole population of Japan is just over 120 million that makes it an incredibly popular game. At least in one country, it does.
The most popular game ever…
Of course, it is debatable which game is the most popular but it is highly arguable that an FPS from way back in 2007 is number one.
CrossFire was developed for Windows and released first in South Korea only before spreading to 80 countries. It was the highest-grossing online game in 2014 and still stands as one of the biggest moneymakers with more than $12 billion.
Its popularity in China, South Korea, and other Asian countries has helped push its lifetime user base to 1 billion. The reason it beats PUBG is that it is highly probable that users have downloaded multiple copies of the game making their total users far less than a billion.
Games will always be popular with people from all countries and the internet has pushed more players to try online gaming. Esports are becoming more popular and with the growing popularity of online casinos, it may not be long before these two gaming areas combine. In fact, Las Vegas casinos have already built esports arenas for use once Covid dies down.
Whether you like FPS games, creating in Minecraft, playing Las Vegas slot machines in a casino, or exploring vast open worlds, there is something for everyone.