The Top 20 Best Selling Games of 2022

    Where are Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Stranger of Paradise? I demand a recount!

    Video game sales tracking service The NPD Group has released its list of the 20 best selling games of 2022 in the United States. While some of the titles featured are new entries in yearly mainstays (Call of Duty, Madden, NBA), and some are titles that simply refuse to stop selling (Minecraft, Mario Kart 8), there are indeed some surprises on the list. There are some important caveats for some of the games listed, and we’ll be addressing those as well. Here’s the list, measured in dollar sales:

    Top 20 Best Selling Games of 2022

    1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)
    2. Elden Ring
    3. Madden NFL 23
    4. God of War Ragnarok
    5. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
    6. Pokemon: Scarlet/Violet*
    7. FIFA 23
    8. Pokemon Legends: Arceus*
    9. Horizon: Forbidden West
    10. MLB: The Show 22^
    11. Mario Kart 8*
    12. Call of Duty: Vanguard
    13. Gran Turismo 7
    14. Kirby and the Forgotten Land*
    15. NBA 2K23
    16. Sonic Frontiers
    17. Gotham Knights
    18. Minecraft
    19. Nintendo Switch Sports*
    20. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*

    Before we begin analyzing the list, I’ll explain the symbols. An asterisk means a game didn’t have its digital sales included. This means titles with an asterisk may have actually ranked higher, but NPD was not given digital sales data by the publisher. MLB: The Show 22 didn’t have its digital sales included for Xbox or Nintendo Switch, but did have PS Store sales taken into account.

    Elden Ring key art

    God Slain – Call of Duty Defeats Elden Ring

    Once again, Call of Duty tops the American sales charts. Elden Ring proved to be a cultural phenomenon. It was featured in copious memes, written about in news magazines, played by non-RPG fans, enquired about by non-gamers, and earned enough Game of the Year awards to dethrone the previous record holder for most awards, The Last of Us Part II. And still, it still couldn’t manage to surpass a COD game with a middling reception. There’s no better proof of the military shooter’s insane brand power.

    LEGO Star Wars Foreshadows Hogwarts Legacy‘s Success

    In a year of incredible releases, an E10+ rated game based on Legos that are based on Star Wars managed to chart at number 5, toppling juggernauts like FIFA 23 and Gran Turismo 7. User-friendly games set in popular, familiar worlds and franchises are doing very well for themselves, and it looks like Hogwarts Legacy is set to follow in Lego Star Wars‘ footsteps. The T-rated Harry Potter title is currently at the top of Steam and PlayStation presale charts.

    Pokémon Charts Twice, Even Without Digital Sales

    Pokémon Scarlet/Violet and Pokémon Legends: Arceus find themselves at number 6 and number 8 on the list respectively, and this is without Nintendo providing digital sales numbers for the titles. With digital purchases making up the majority of game sales these days, both Pokémon titles could actually be ranked 3 and 4 for all we know.

    Both Pokémon releases in 2022 faced hurdles of their own. Pokémon Legends: Arceus was a spin-off that was a major shake-up to the series’ established formula, and Pokémon Scarlet/Violet borrowed elements from this side story to great effect but was plagued with bugs and glitches. Consumers didn’t seem to mind the differences or the defects, though, as they showed up to stores in full force. Pokémon Scarlet/Violet had the best selling console exclusive launch of all time. Whether the Nintendo Switch’s status as a handheld-console hybrid negates this record is a debate for another time. What’s irrefutable is that it was Nintendo’s biggest launch ever.

    Gran Turismo 7 update 1.27

    PlayStation’s Cross-Gen Strategy Pays Off

    While the backpedaling of Sony’s messaging of “believing in generations” is embarrassing, it seems to have been a good business decision. First-party PlayStation Studios titles God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, MLB: The Show 22, and Gran Turismo 7 all landed in the list of best selling games of 2022. Though it’s worth noting, in the case of God of War, Horizon, and Gran Turismo, it’s been reported that sales for PS5 copies surpassed those of PS4 copies, even with PS5’s smaller install base.

    Also worth mentioning, God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West‘s numbers are from individual sales; these numbers haven’t been inflated by PS5 hardware bundles. Those sales are counted in NPD’s hardware tracking rather than software.

    Nintendo and Sony Had a Great 2022; Where’s Xbox?

    Xbox did manage to chart thanks to 2011’s Minecraft, which they own as of their 2014 purchase of Mojang. Xbox is likely to have a much better 2023 thanks to releases like Starfield and Forza Motorsport being on the horizon, but it’s unlikely these games will chart very high since they’ll be accessible without purchase through Game Pass.

    Kirby and Sonic Are Back

    Kirby the Forgotten Land charts at 14 with Sonic Frontiers coming close behind at 16. Both of these titles are huge comebacks for their respective franchises. Forgotten Land is Kirby’s best-selling game of all time, revitalizing a franchise that had gone from a Nintendo mainstay to a somewhat niche platformer. Sonic Frontiers was released to a “fair” rating on OpenCritic, but more importantly, it pleased longtime fans with a banging soundtrack and a shakeup to the series’ traditional gameplay.

    What About Hardware?

    The Nintendo Switch led the pack in total units sold, while Sony did the best in dollar sales with the PlayStation 5. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S consoles sold the fewest units and in turn had the least sales.

    That’s a Wrap

    Overall, 2022 was a fantastic year for gaming, and many of the year’s best experiences are rightfully featured on the best sellers list. However, many of our favorites didn’t make the cut: you can check out Final Weapon’s 2022 GOTY selections here. Stay tuned to Final Weapon for more news and industry analysis.

    BusterSwordBoy is a video game enthusiast who writes about them here, plays them live on Twitch, and talks about them endlessly to anyone who will listen. Subjectively believes that the PS2 is objectively the greatest console of all time, but also loves games from far older hardware, and new releases as well.

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