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Minecraft May Have Surpassed Tetris as Best Selling Game Ever

Minecraft May Have Surpassed Tetris as Best Selling Game Ever
Photo by Evenecer Andujar // CC0 1.0
Minecraft has reached 176 million copies sold, making it (probably) the best-selling game of all time

Minecraft is one of the most popular games in the world right now, with around 91 million active users. According to a recent announcement by Microsoft, the sandbox builder game has now sold over 176 million copies, making it (possibly) the best-selling game in the world—ever. The announcement was made on a recent Xbox Wire post celebrating the game’s 10th birthday.

Best-Selling Game Ever?

Minecraft is a 3D creative game that focuses on building, collecting resources, and exploring the process-generated world. It is available on multiple platforms, including PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Players have the ability to play with each other across platforms, and this is certainly one reason for the game’s immense popularity. Minecraft is currently available for $20 at the Microsoft Store.

Not many games have surpassed 100 million in sales. In fact, there have only been two others. Grand Theft Auto V, kept fresh by constant online updates, has reached the milestone of over 110 million copies sold, while Tetris has sold over 170 million copies.

Wii Sports takes 4th place with 82.7 million copies, though many of these sales were due to the fact that the game was bundled with Wii console sales. The game with the 5th highest number of sales is Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds with 50 million copies sold—nothing to be scoffed at, but not a scratch on Minecraft.

Despite Minecraft Fireworks looking to be the new best-selling game of all time, it can be difficult to know for sure. The numbers are ambiguous, and there are so many different versions of Tetris that it’s impossible to know which ones have been, or should be, counted.

Minecraft May Have Surpassed Tetris as Best Selling Game Ever
Photo by William Warby // CC BY 2.0
Tetris is one of the most famous games ever released—and the previous bestseller of all time with Tetris game cartridge inserted

It’s easy enough to compare Minecraft to GTA V sales. Both relied mostly on hard sales of the game, and there’s little confusion when it comes to versions and variants. The official games are counted—nothing more, nothing less.

Tetris presents a different problem. The legendary puzzle game, originally released on the Gameboy, is known as one of the greatest games of the 80s, and indeed of all time. Wikipedia has Minecraft in first position when it comes to sales, with Tetris sitting at around 170 million. However, this figure is only accurate as of January 2010. It’s a fair assumption that Tetris has sold a few million more copies since then.

Add to this the confusion surrounding the different versions of Tetris and you have yourself a statistical nightmare. According to Windows Central, past versions of Tetris, not including free-to-play variations, had sold 70 million copies worldwide by 2009. In 2010, EA said that the mobile version had reached 100 million copies. Although there is likely some overlap in the numbers, this adds up to a neat 170 million, matching Wikipedia’s estimates (though still outdated).

Other figures suggest that Tetris and its numerous spin-offs have been downloaded 500 million times, although this could include free versions that are not technically ‘sales’. In 2010, the mobile version also switched to a free-to-play model with micro-transactions, making sales difficult to record since then.

Minecraft Takes the Lead

On paper, Minecraft has taken the lead when it comes to global sales—at least until new numbers are released to suggest that Tetris has, in fact, sold millions more copies in the last decade. Either way, 170 million copies is an incredible achievement, and given that the game is still as popular as ever, that number will continue to rise as more gamers get on board.

The sales announcement on Minecraft’s 10th birthday also came alongside the announcement of ‘Minecraft Earth’, an augmented reality game that uses the Minecraft dynamics. Players must co-operate in the real world to build complex structures in an augmented landscape. This could be the next Pokémon Go, so if you see groups of people walking around in unusual places while moving blocks around that only they can see, you know what’s going on.

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I'm a published author and proud US Army veteran who happens to be a gamer, so I decided to combine the two and love every minute of it! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments and I'll be sure to get back to you.