What other medium of entertainment would allow you to switch from being a stealthy assassin one moment to an international spy the next, with simply a couple of clicks? Books! Pfft! You need to go get a book off the shelf, open it and then read it. Also, did you know that most books don’t even have pictures or theatrical cut-scenes? Video Games, however, are a visual cornucopia of explosions, bullets and overly masculinized Alpha Male stereotypes. F-Yeah.
On top of everything else, games are big money, huge money, beyond HOLLYWOOD level money. By 2017 the gaming industry will have an estimated worth of 91.95 billion dollars (and yes I purposefully emboldened the “b” in billion, see I did it again, because a billion bucks ain’t chump change son). There are a few games out there though that have created an empire, and made so much money that their gross profits could finance a military coup in an imaginary country and keep the dictator in power for decades. Here are some of the most profitable video games or franchises.
The O.G. (old gangsta for those that don’t speak gangsta). This is the character that single handedly saved the video game industry during the crisis of 1983-85 (a two year period which the industry saw a 97% drop in revenues from $3.2 billion to $100 million). To this day Super Mario and his embittered lesser known brother Luigi have been featured in over 200+ titles and made the Nintendo an amazing 850 Billion dollars.
World of Warcraft
So in fear that I will be dispatched with an authentic replica weapon from the game, I present you with the sales behemoth and fan magnet WoW. The game has made an unfathomable - for mere-humans - 10+ billion dollars in sales. WoW is known as a [inhales deeply] massively multiplayer online role-playing game. This basically means people play it online using a subscription (either paid or free) to the company’s online servers. You complete quests, raids and other missions with a group of other gamers online. As of last month, the game has 7.1 million users. Hey! Stop throwing plastic Viking helmets at me….look I put it on the list.
Call of Duty
If you’re an adrenaline junky hyper-macho type of guy, then this game was made for you. If you’re a wispy 15 year old with a voice that crackles when you’re angry, then this is game was made for you. If you are a passive aggressive college student with anger management issues, then this was made for you too!
As you can see, the audience of this game is pretty diverse. 10 Billion dollars diverse, which for the slow one’s amongst us, is how much gross sales the franchise has made up to now. Starting as far back as 2003 the game initially put you in the shoes (or combat boots) of WW2 soldiers. From a first person view and using the weapons and vehicles of the period you would mow down Nazis in various locations. Later on the game spun off into a fictional world conflict.
Although the game is immensely popular, the internal communication between players consists primarily of mother insults and other verbal abuse.
Grand Theft Auto
If games were rated on how much controversy they create instead of their gross sales GTA would probably be at the top of the list. Although the game has followed a myriad of characters throughout its history, the game is most famous for its use as a mayhem simulator. In the game, you can steal cars by dragging the driver onto the street, use all kinds of weapons, from barbwire wrapped baseball bats to attack helicopters to massacre innocent and criminal people alike. You can blow up vehicles, get chased by policemen and proceed to kill every single one of them, and you can even pick up prostitutes.
The title is rated Mature and not supposed to be available to younger children…but we all know how well that’s enforced. It’s not enforced. Be honest! How many of you haven’t seen a 7 year old curb-stomping civilians in the video game demonstration areas in the mall?
Anyhow, the Rockstar developed title made 1 billion dollars in the first three days the fifth title of the series was released. That is a disturbingly massive amount of people eagerly paying $60 to creatively run over pedestrians.
Wii (insert text)
Although I mentioned that the Italian plumber has been a pretty significant asset for the Nintendo Company, The Wii console released in 2006 has also seen its fair share of success. Firstly, the Wii revolutionized the video game industry with its motion based gameplay, a gameplay device that would later be adopted by its competitors.
Wii Play has sold 28.89 million units worldwide, and although it wasn’t the most graphically intense game or the most innovate it was immensely entertaining and also familiarized the player with the movement based mechanics of the Wii Controllers. Mario Cart Wii has sold 36.38 million units and the immensely popular and fun game Wii Sports has gone on to sell 82.69 million units. Not bad for a console that is supposed to be marketed to children.
I know that this might make all my console and PC gaming brethren weep into their Flaming Hot Cheetos, but mobile gaming is on the rise. Although I don’t like to admit it, it makes sense. You have a potential gaming device on you at every given moment, and the power of these devices is constantly increasing, inching the graphics towards console quality with each new device.
There is another factor at play here too. Big money studios (both in the movie, television and gaming realms) like to find ways to make money making formulas and to keep making money. However, this results in a saturation of games that could well be the same as the previous game, with just a couple of new features to trick what executives consider their fans: drooling, lazy, sheeple. I hate using the term sheeple, but I’m quite positive that’s how Big Money Companys’ Executives characterize their customer base.
Anyhow, mobile gaming is on the upswing and if you need further proof just take a gander at a company named Supercell. Even though it had just two games on the App store it made a titanic $892 million dollars in sales of which $464 million was pure sexy profit. Even the “historical” company Konami is thinking about transitioning into mobile gaming.
As usual I’m going to use this platform as my soapbox. Please support companies that are doing new, exciting and engaging things. When you all run out to buy the new ’This is the Same As The Last Game 9’ you are ultimately hurting yourself because companies prefer to make money than to be innovative.
Is there another game or franchise you think deserves a place on this list? Let me know in the comment section below.