Building an empire isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It’s something that takes years of blood, sweat, and tears just to so much as scratch the surface for. And even then, the chances of creating something memorable and worthy of a legacy isn’t a surefire deal. That’s something only a select few can swindle, and even they probably had a lucky draw or winning edge at the right moment in time. But that’s not to say it’s impossible. No, it’s achievable with the right mindset, of course. It’s just that it takes decades of hard work and loyalty.
Accumulating over a billion dollars in profit seems like a pipedream to most. Of course, it does. It’s a billion friggin’ dollars. But, that being said, many have tried and succeeded in building said empire. And, that poxy billion-dollar profit has become mere pocket-change to some first-class franchises over a lifespan of development. Say, thirty-billion, for example. Now that’s a profit. But we’ll get to that soon enough.
Here are the ten current highest-grossing video game franchises of all-time. Try not to let your jaw hang too low when you reach the top five, though. Oh, and if you are one of the many spirited developers in training, try not to let this discourage you from getting out there and crafting a story of your own. Instead, use this as a method of inspiration. And remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your aspiring creation won’t be either. Needless to say, you should probably get cracking because Rome took well over a thousand years to build. But, eh, we’ll move past that.
10. Street Fighter (1987 – Present / $10.61 Billion)
Street Fighter made its arcade debut back in 1987 in Japan. Since then, the fighting phenomenon has gone on to span thirty-five separate titles and accumulate over $10 billion in sales. After Capcom and Bandai (along with several other developers) celebrated the 30th anniversary of the franchise in 2017, Street Fighter released a remastered collection consisting of thirteen titles for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Now, developers will look to build the thirty-sixth segment in the timeline for a hopeful 2020 launch. But that’s not exactly set in stone, we’re afraid. Best be keeping your ear to the ground, though, eh?
9. Final Fantasy (1987 – Present / $10.65 Billion)
Final Fantasy debuted in Japan back in 1987 on the NES. Since launch, Square Enix has produced fourteen sequels in the main timeline plus thirty or more spin-off chapters and movies, accumulating an almost $11 billion platform. Now, Square Enix looks to remaster titles from the golden age of PSX and give the iconic face of fantasy gaming an enchanting makeover. Plus, with the crossover history between other Square Enix franchises, Final Fantasy will likely feature its rota of legendary characters in various upcoming projects, too.
8. Warcraft (1994 – Present / $11.22 Billion)
Blizzard Entertainment tends to have one goal in mind when building a new world. And that is to make things big. And epic. Very, very epic. Take, for example, World of Warcraft; the $9.3 billion game. That’s a universe that’s accumulated so much money over the fifteen years that even Blizzard is struggling to spend it all. But this doesn’t include the bolt-on funds from the several other Warcraft chapters and remasters on top. Oh, no – not at all. Include the full cashflow from the Warcraft franchise, and you’re looking at an $11.22 billion world. Now that’s an epic achievement fulfilled not only by a team of devoted people but also by a fanbase of thirteen-million global players. Now that’s epic.
7. Dungeon Fighter Online (2005 – Present / $11.8 Billion)
Dungeon Fighter Online is probably the game most Millenials have never even heard of next to the likes of Fortnite. Or if they have heard of it, then they probably wouldn’t have thought it was a whopping $11.8 billion world. But, If they didn’t happen to second guess the widespread popularity of the franchise, then they’re most likely one of the three-hundred-million users subscribed to the free-to-play title. Yes, I did say three-hundred-million. And that was a milestone Neople reached way back in 2011, too. But as for 2019, Dungeon Fighter Online still leads the way over League of Legends and other top-tier rivals. So, you could go as far as to say Dungeon Fighter Online is actually in a league of its own.
…I’ll show myself out.
6. Space Invaders (1978 – Present / $13.93 Billion)
Who would’ve thought something as ancient and as simplistic as Space Invaders would be a $13.93 billion franchise, eh? Well, most people, to be fair. Let’s not forget the fact that we’re looking at over forty years of arcade quarters and spin-offs here, people. Throw in a sackful of money accumulated by arcade-dwellers and developers, and you’ve got yourself a multi-billion dollar platform. However, these figures were taken from the last quarter of 2017, so we fully expect the franchise to be over the fourteen-billion checker by now and on par with our next iconic franchise. But, for the sake of a clean list – Space Invaders will remain our sixth highest-grossing game of all-time.
5. Pac-Man (1980 – Present / $14.1 Billion)
Pac-Man. Of course, it’s Pac-Man. Everybody who’s so much as touched a TV remote or joystick knows of this little yellow bundle of nostalgia. That, in itself, sort of explains why Bandai Namco has made over $14 billion in the past forty years. Similar to Space Invaders, Pac-Man has taken home a rather tidy stack thanks to the arcade generation of gamers. Plus, thanks to the several spin-offs such as Mrs. Pac-Man and various 3D editions, Pac-Man has managed to profit beyond belief in regards to long-term sales. That’s pretty incredible considering the concept is just a four-year-olds dream and design combination. Still, it hasn’t stopped hungry developers from milking it for all its worth these last forty years.
4. Wii (2006 – Present / $14.8 Billion)
Nintendo has made quite the packet from its immortal worlds over the years. With the likes of Mario and the spool of wondrous faces they’ve produced, it’s no surprise that they’ve profited from their works. But, one of the franchises that have made a major impact on the market is the Wii universe. That’s right – the Wii. This library of consoles and games, including the Nintendo Wii, Wii U, Wii Sports, and Wii Fitness, has accumulated almost $15 billion in just over thirteen years. That means the franchise has secured its place as the fourth highest-grossing platform of all-time. Top stuff, guys.
3. Call of Duty (2003 – Present / $17 Billion)
Known for its impressive online community and throat-stuffing microtransactions; Call of Duty sweeps in the bronze for the third highest-grossing game of all-time. That sort of makes sense, you know, considering half of the human population pretty much binge Modern Warfare like it’s the only game this year has provided us. But Activision and the strategic dev crew seem to know how to tease a crowd whenever launching something fresh. This, along with some tactical groundwork, has brought them several years of flushed-out sales and $17 billion of thirsty fans eager for a killstreak.
2. Pokémon (1996 – Present / $17.13 Billion)
Pokémon has released more video games than The Nerd Stash has articles in the last three years. I can’t say the exact amount, but we’re looking at about a thousand plus here. And we’re only half-joking, too. Pokémon has spanned eight generations and one hundred and twenty-two unique titles in its twenty-three-year stretch. Okay, so not exactly a thousand, but you have to admit that’s a lot of games. Plus, let’s not forget the popularity of the franchise and how in-demand every single launch is every year. This, along with millions of aging fans, has racked up a gut-busting $17.13 billion in marketing. That’s a feat most developers will never even step foot near in a lifetime. Good job, Nintendo. Of course, it’s Nintendo. It had to be Nintendo, didn’t it?
1. Mario (1981 – Present / $30.25 Billion)
The face of gaming, you might say. Mario and his fluorescent world of joyful buddies are, in fact, the $30 billion franchise that has and will continue to soar higher than any rival known to humankind. With an incredible $13 billion lead over silver medalist franchise Pokémon (also owned by Nintendo), Mario and the team are estimated to be worth $30 billion in total. But, again, these figures are truly expected to skyrocket as we scope even more additions to the already amazing two-hundred counted in the current library.
From Mario Kart to Super Mario, Mario Party to Paper Mario, Nintendo has poured out more wacky material than any other franchise in the industry. But, when you hold a $30 billion world in the palms of your hands – would you let it slip through your fingers? Nope, we didn’t think so. That is why Mario is our number one contender of 2019. And, chances are, he’ll be in the exact same position next year, too. Just watch.