Call of Duty is still a big deal, but Star Wars: Battlefront II is … less so. It’s time to go over the 10 best-selling games in the United States in 2018, as tracked by industry data firm The NPD Group. This includes full game sales at retail and through digital stores (for publishers that share that data), but it does not take into account revenue generated from in-game purchases.
This is a great way to get a snapshot of the dynamic gaming industry. It’s also the same data that major publishers are looking at to help inform how they pursue future projects. But that means sometimes games are missing — and that’s especially true this year.
We’ll get to the top 10, but first — let’s talk about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. NPD doesn’t have the exact numbers, but if developer PUBG Corporation shared its sales data with NPD, the battle royal shooter would shoot to the top half of this list and would have a decent shot at making No. 1. PUBG has surpassed 30 million copies sold worldwide on PC and has already had more than 3 million copies sold on Xbox One.
NPD’s analysts do not try to extrapolate and estimate, so PUBG isn’t on here. What is? Let’s check it out.
NPD’s 10 best-selling games of 2017
- Call of Duty: WWII
- NBA 2K18
- Destiny 2**
- Madden NFL 18
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
- Star Wars: Battlefront II**
- Super Mario Odyssey*
- Mario Kart 8*
* Digital sales not included
** PC digital sales not included
After years of declines, Activision confirmed that Call of Duty: WWII sold more this year than any entry in the series since 2012. That was more than enough to ensure that it landed the No. 1 spot on this chart. This is the ninth year in a row that Call of Duty has landed the top spot.
Activision’s only other game on the top 10 is Destiny 2, the sci-fi shooter from Halo developer Bungie. It landed at No. 3, and that means 2017 was huge for Activision.
“Activision Blizzard drove the highest consumer spending for the year,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said.
Take-Two Interactive (and its subsidiaries, like 2K Games) also had a strong 2017. The company’s NBA 2K18 was the second best-seller of the year. That’s up from the No. 4 spot in 2016. But Take-Two Interactive’s crown jewel, Grand Theft Auto, was still massive last year.
GTA V debuted in 2013, but its age didn’t count against it. The open-world crime game was the No. 6 best-seller for the second year in a row. This is the sixth straight year that GTA has made the top 10.
But while GTA V is a miracle of consistency, the Star Wars games from Electronic Arts are less so. In 2015, the sci-fi multiplayer shooter Star Wars: Battlefront ended up as the No. 4 best-selling game of that year. That put it one spot ahead of GTA V. But in 2017, Star Wars: Battlefront II only made it to No. 8. That’s behind GTA V, a game that is now two years older. EA’s other game on the chart, the football sim Madden NFL 18, was No. 4.
Only two other publishers had games on the top 10, and those are Nintendo and Ubisoft. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands landed at No. 7. That open-world cooperative shooter debuted in March, and it was one of the biggest hits of the first half of the year.
The final publisher is Nintendo. The company had a resurgent 2017 with the launch of its Switch console along with a new Mario, Zelda, and a refreshed Mario Kart to go along with it. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe is essentially the Wii U game with some extras, and it made the list at No. 10. Super Mario Odyssey, which launched at the end of October, made it to No. 9. Finally, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ended the year at No. 5.
What’s especially impressive about Nintendo’s games is that they are the only entries on this list that include no digital sales. If you added in that revenue, it stands to reason that they would have ended up even higher.