July 3, 2022

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NPD: The top 20 best-selling games of 2021 in the U.S.

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Industry-tracking firm The NPD Group has revealed the top 20 best-selling games in the United States for 2021. And this list looks a lot like last year’s. If you were guessing Call of Duty came out on top, you are right twice over. NPD only includes games it actively tracks, so don’t expect to see something like Valheim on here. Take a look at the chart, and then scroll down to see the top 20 best-selling games for each platform.

Rank 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation, STEAM and Xbox platforms for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
4 Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl* Nintendo
5 Battlefield 2042 Electronic Arts
6 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
7 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
8 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
9 MLB: The Show 21^ Sony (Corp)
10 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
11 Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
12 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
13 Minecraft Multiple Video Game Manufacturers
14 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
15 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
16 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
17 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
18 Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
19 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
20 Forza Horizon 5 Microsoft (Corp)
* Digital sales not included
^ Xbox Digital sales not included

Call of Duty’s momentum is undeniable even after 13 years of topping the charts in the United States. Other franchises, like Pokémon, Madden, and NBA 2K, follow a similar pattern, and they are also on the list. Pokémon had an especially good year thanks to the success of multiple games.

“The 2021 dollar sales of Pokémon franchise’s physical software reached its highest annual total since the year 2000,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.

One thing that is happening with Pokémon is that sales begin to stack up over time. While millions of people show up to purchase a new release in the series, many people are still returning to Switch Pokémon games that debuted in previous years. Resident Evil is experiencing this same trend, and it led to a new record for Capcom’s horror series.

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“Resident Evil: Village finished 2021 as the year’s No. 8 best-selling game,” said Piscatella. “Resident Evil franchise dollar sales reached a new all-time annual high for the U.S. market.”

MLB The Show 21, meanwhile, set a record by debuting on Xbox for the first time. It was able to outsell its predecessors even though NPD does not track digital MLB sales on Microsoft’s hardware.

Of course, the most notable aspect of the top 20 is its familiarity.

“Seven of the top 20 best-selling games of 2021 also ranked among the top 20 best-sellers of 2020,” said Piscatella. “Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mario Kart 8, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Mortal Kombat 11 all appeared on both the 2021 as well as 2020 best-selling titles charts. Mortal Kombat 11, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and Mario Kart 8 also appeared on the 2019 top 20 best-sellers chart.”

Gaming has changed from a medium where games age out quickly to one where a five-year-old Mario Kart game can outsell the newest smash-hit Resident Evil game.

Let’s do the platform charts.

Nintendo

Rank 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl* Nintendo
2 Mario Kart 8* Nintendo
3 Super Mario 3D World* Nintendo
4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons* Nintendo
5 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* Nintendo
6 Monster Hunter: Rise Capcom USA
7 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild* Nintendo
8 Mario Party Superstars* Nintendo
9 Pokemon: Sword/Shield* Nintendo
10 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword* Nintendo
11 Metroid: Dread* Nintendo
12 New Super Mario Bros.* Nintendo
13 New Pokemon Snap* Nintendo
14 Minecraft* Nintendo
15 Super Mario 3D All-Stars* Nintendo
16 Super Mario Party* Nintendo
17 Super Mario Odyssey* Nintendo
18 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo
19 Mario Golf: Super Rush* Nintendo
20 Luigi’s Mansion 3* Nintendo
* Digital sales not included

 

PlayStation

Rank 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
3 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
4 Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony (Corp)
5 MLB: The Show 21 Sony (Corp)
6 Battlefield 2042 Electronic Arts
7 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
8 Ghost of Tsushima Sony (Corp)
9 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
10 Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
11 Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Sony (Corp)
12 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
13 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
14 Minecraft Microsoft (Corp)
15 Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
16 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
17 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
18 Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Square Enix Inc (Corp)
19 Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Electronic Arts
20 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

 

Xbox

Rank 2021 Top 20 Games (Physical and Full Game Digital for publishers in the Digital Leader Panel) ranked on dollar sales Publisher
1 Call of Duty: Vanguard Activision Blizzard (Corp)
2 Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War Activision Blizzard (Corp)
3 Madden NFL 22 Electronic Arts
4 Battlefield 2042 Electronic Arts
5 Far Cry 6 Ubisoft
6 Forza Horizon 5 Microsoft (Corp)
7 Halo: Infinite Microsoft (Corp)
8 Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Ubisoft
9 FIFA 22 Electronic Arts
10 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) Activision Blizzard (Corp)
11 Resident Evil: Village Capcom USA
12 Mass Effect: Legendary Edition Electronic Arts
13 NBA 2K22* Take-Two Interactive
14 Mortal Kombat 11 Warner Bros. Interactive
15 Forza Horizon 4 Microsoft (Corp)
16 Madden NFL 21 Electronic Arts
17 Back 4 Blood Warner Bros. Interactive
18 MLB: The Show 21* Sony (Corp)
19 Minecraft Microsoft (Corp)
20 It Takes Two Electronic Arts
* Digital sales not included

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