Now that 2015 is yesterday’s news, it’s time to tally up the numbers and see which video games were major successes and which ones fell short of expectations.
When it comes to reporting video game sales numbers, the NPD Group is the organization all the big companies trust, so that’s the one we’ll use. Without further ado, here are the top 10 best-selling video games of 2015.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
- Madden NFL 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Fallout 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
- Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Minecraft (360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4)
- FIFA 16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Mortal Kombat X (PS4, Xbox One)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
First off, that’s a fine list that’s full of fantastic games. It’s especially impressive that games like Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft made the cut, because they’ve been around for years on other platforms. But let’s take a look at some of the notable AAA games that didn’t make the cut.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This game has racked up over 160 “Game of the Year” awards from sites all around the web. After putting nearly 100 hours into it (and I have a family), I can safely rank it among my favorite games of all time. To find out why, you can read my review of it here.
But despite the game’s enormous breadth, depth, and astounding level of quality in all of that content, it didn’t crack the top 10 in terms of game sales. That’s a shame, but developer CD Projekt Red doesn’t seem too stressed about it as it pumps out downloadable content for it. No harm done, apparently.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
This game was series creator Hideo Kojima’s swan song! By nearly all accounts, it’s an absolute masterpiece! It caps off one of the most important franchises in the history of video games! How could it languish below the top 10 in sales for the year?
I have a few ideas. For one thing, it’s very different than previous entries in the series. Although it has possibly the best stealth controls of any game ever made, it moves away from the focus on story that all of the previous games have. This is a game about sneaking into bases and completing missions. It’s not trying to weave a complex narrative through 20 hours of cut scenes.
It also came out in the fall, when dozens of other blockbuster games were being released, which means some gamers might not get to it until this year. In any case, Kojima has since left Konami and created his own studio. So even though he won’t be able to make any more Metal Gear Solid games, he’ll be able to stay busy.
3. Batman: Arkham Knight
That this game didn’t make the list is pretty surprising, not only because it’s a great open-world action game, but also because it came out in June, when gamers were thirsty for just about anything to play.
That said, the game was an all-out disaster on PC for months after it launched. It was so buggy and sluggish that Warner Bros. actually pulled the game until the issues were fixed. Whether those lost sales were the reason Arkham Knight didn’t crack the top 10, we’ll never know.
4. Super Mario Maker
Nintendo had a rough year in 2015. Not only were the games it released worse overall than in any of the past five years, but even the good ones didn’t sell in numbers that would make the Japanese company uncork the champagne and party with shareholders.
The best new title Nintendo put out was Super Mario Maker, a game that lets you make and play all the Mario levels you could ever want. It’s a fantastic game (as long as you avoid these terrible types of levels), and it sold in high enough numbers that Nintendo bragged about it. In 2016, the company will likely move its focus to a new console. Here’s hoping it sells better.
So maybe you wouldn’t expect stratospheric sales from a game that’s so challenging it’ll kill you for looking at it sideways. But here’s the thing: Bloodborne got to capitalize on the ever-growing success of the Souls series from which it springs. It also launched in March, when it didn’t have much heavy-hitting competition. And it’s an exclusive game on the PlayStation 4, a console that’s outselling its nearest competitor two to one.
This game probably should have flown off the shelf, and yet it didn’t make the top 10 in 2015. If any exclusive game had a shot, it was this one. With all the PS4s out there, maybe Uncharted 4 can manage to land on the top 10 best-selling list next year.