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Is It True That The Most Violent Games Sell The Best? Well...Yeah

We all like to remind the video game haters that violence isn't always the focus of a game.

At the same time, are we being a tad hypocritical if the best-selling video games of the past decade are all immensely violent? Not all well-selling titles are violent, of course, but it's pretty obvious when you look at the top of the heap.

Call of Duty is the biggest name in the industry today and has been for the past six or seven years. The entire purpose of the game is to shoot other people; the multiplayer, which is one of the most popular online multiplayer draws in the country, is about killing as many people as possible. And the latest game to break records set by CoD is Grand Theft Auto V, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more violent game. The bottom line is that the two biggest franchises in the industry today are also two of the most violent, unless you count World of Warcraft.

Assassin's Creed is another huge-selling series but as for violence, well...it's right there in the title. It's a good deal more intelligent and complex than either CoD or GTA but then again, it can only sell about 1/3 as many copies all told. Sure, critics really can dictate sales to some extent, which is why amazing and progressive titles like Heavy Rain and Journey have sold well, but neither is even in the same universe as CoD, GTA, or AC in terms of sales. Yes, I know the two examples I gave are PS3 exclusives so they don't have the same size audience but really, it wouldn't matter much. Double the sales of Journey or Heavy Rain and you're still nowhere near those other IPs. I mean, it's not even remotely close.

Battlefield is super big...more shooting people. Lots more shooters are on the horizon, of course. Action games are getting flashier, more dynamic, more visceral, and almost by default, more glaringly violent. With better realism comes more believable and more horrific violence. So, while we always leap to defend the industry because we know a great many fantastic titles exist that aren't about violence, the results seem to be clear: Violence sells. But wait, maybe that isn't a fact that only applies to video games...hmm...might be on to something there...

Tags: violent video games, violent games, violent game sales, video game sales

10/10/2013 10:05:27 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (35 posts)

Wrote
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:35:14 PM
Reply

Ironically I just asked my friend to name one game he has where you don't kill people, or at the very least kill creatures. We both don't have any. I've had a couple racing games but don't anymore and his roommate has the thatgamecompany collection, but as far as genres its basically racing,sports,and puzzle games that have no killing. I said creatures cuz I have a bunch of jrpgs and that's technically violent. Interesting topic though, I really enjoy psxe's opinion pieces.

Wrote

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Temjin001
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:46:42 PM

racing and sports are often portrayed violently as well. true there's not often killing in our contemporary forms of them but they're still often violent.

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daus26
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:18:51 PM

Well, I don't know about sports or racing being oftenly portrayed as violent. Sure there are accidents, but I've never heard that one personally.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:44:50 PM

so like in Burnout Paradise, Ridge Racer Unbounded, and NFS you don't see it as violent to violently force other cars into the wall to cause them to crash while getting points and perks for doing it?

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/11/2013 3:45:24 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 10:58:20 PM
Reply

Yeah that's the truth, but at least we aren't alone. ALL kinds of violent media sell really well. Even poorly written sexually violent books like Fifty Shades are a national phenomenon and nobody bats an eyelash.

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homura
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:18:26 PM
Reply

But most games in the top ten of all time in VGChartz are Mario and wii games, Pokemon and Tetris. Haha.

But seriously, violent mature games are just much more popular today. And when GTAV got the Guiness record for fastest selling game in 24 hrs, that confirms it. Personally I like violent mature games but I also like games considered as kiddie games and artistic games (I want to play rain). And hopefully those kind of games still flourish in the next gen.

And I hope David Cage will still be stubborn and keep doing he's own things.

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Bonampak
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:26:43 PM
Reply

Well, lets look at the Top 25 best selling videogames (on a single console) list:

1. Wii Sports - 81 million
2. Wii Sports Resort - 31 million
3. Wii Play - 28 million
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii - 27 million
5. Wii Fit - 22 million
6. Wii Fit Plus - 21 million
7. Kinect Adventues! - 20 million
8. CoD: Modern Warfare 3 (360) - 15 million
9. CoD: Modern Warfare 2 (360) - 13 million
10. CoD: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3) - 12 million
11. CoD: Black Ops II (360) - 12 million
12. CoD: Black Ops (PS3) - 12 million
13. Super Mario Bros. Brawl (Wii) - 11 million
14. Halo 3 - 11 million
15. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) - 10.8 million
16. CoD: Black Ops II (PS3) - 10.7 million
17. Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) - 10.5 million
18. GTA IV (360) - 10.4 million
19. GTA V (360) - 10.3 million
20. CoD: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3) - 10.2 million
21 - GTA V (PS3) - 10.1 million
22. Just Dance 3 (Wii) - 9.89 million
23. GTA IV (PS3) - 9.88 million
24. Halo Reach (360) - 9.46 million
25. Just Dance 2 (Wii) - 9.43 million

The top 7 spots were taken by non-violent videogames this generation.

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Temjin001
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:36:35 PM

hey, games bundled with consoles don't count! like Wii Sports =)

EDIT: And woo hoo for GT5! The only PS exclusive. It happens to be the worst rated GT too.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2013 11:38:55 PM

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Temjin001
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:41:02 PM

of a similar note. While Nintendo's individual titles rake in many millions. Those numbers are largely ALL of the Wii's software sales. If we saw total volume of software sold under PS3 or 360, hehe, no contest.

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Bonampak
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:49:08 PM

@Temjin001 - Why not? Halo and several other games on that list were also bundled with consoles. Besides, Wii Sports was not included with the Wii in every region and was eventually sold by itself in NA.

But the biggest reason as to why Wii Sports deserves to be on that list, is because people bought a Wii just to play that game.

The numbers speak for themselves. Think about that one ;)

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Wrote
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 1:56:57 AM

Damn the casual market is huge. Arguably the top 13-16 are "casual" but especially the top 7 minus Mario cuz that game is tough as nails in the later levels

Damn GTA has only been out leas then a month and its on this list, I bet it'll end up higher then any cod on this list..

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:00:29 AM

i don't think 81 million discs would even fit in my home. yah, no way.

I dunno. $250 for just Wii Sports. I think it'd have sold a lot less if it didn't have the illusion of offering a lot more than it had initially. that being it would have this long life of appealing games.
but there's no denying grandmas and little kids got pretty excited for some Wii bowling.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/11/2013 2:02:20 AM

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Wrote
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:32:36 AM

I'm actually one of the VERY few Wii supporters left. I originally got it for Zelda and tthe free Wii sports. But I've known at least 3 couples that have gotten It on Wii sports alone. Its a powerful system seller. Casuals love it. Its honestly too bad they couldn't capture that magic for Wii u, cuz I hate to see Nintendo fail, we kinda need them in the current demographic, not saying Sony doesn't but ninty provides the innovation.

Also Nintendo's first party games are generally non violent and often get the e for everyone rating. That's rare nowadays. And it doesn't mean their kiddy games, Mario Zelda pokemon etc are beloved by all ages. Sony got close with lbp but they let that die, we need more age ambiguous games on Sony platforms.

Last edited by Wrote on 10/11/2013 2:36:33 AM

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 10:23:51 AM

81 million Wii Sports discs. You'd think someone would just stumble across one laying around just while walking down the street. Better yet, random people would be carrying a disc on their person.
I could ask a guy for some change, "hey man, got change for a pop?" and he'd respond, "nah, sorry. but I got this crappy Wii Sports disc on me. Want that?"


=p

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/11/2013 10:24:14 AM

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daus26
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:23:00 PM

Yeah, I doubt people buy the Wii for the Wii Sports game. Infact, several of my friends don't even know about the game till they discovered they received a free game. If Wii Sports count, then so should Sony's PS4 Playroom.

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SirGameOver
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 12:41:22 PM

Wii's high numbers have to do with number of consoles it had out on the market. At a cheaper price people went with it, guarantee you aren't seeing that same trade with their newest generation because not as many people have a wii u. Other than that violence is usually a top seller, thats why the dark knight wrecked, Mortal Kombat sold more sega consoles than sonic did just because it featured the blood code.

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Bonampak
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:22:56 PM

@Daus26 & @Temjin001 - I think even Ben defined the Wii as a "Wii Sports machine". Meaning that people were willing to spend $250 just to play Wii Sports.

Remember, Wii Sports was incredibly popular. So much so that it was even featured at The Oscars. Jon Stewart played tennis during the live show. That was the first time a game console had ever been featured at The Oscars. Such exposure was great PR. Considering how many people watch the Oscars worldwide(at least a billion people).

About the list, you can see that a lot of the non-violent games this generation were actually the top sellers. Selling a lot more than the violent ones.

So it isn't a black and white thing. We cannot say that violent games sell the most, because non-violent games have proven that they sell just as good if not better.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:38:20 PM

well, crap, if Ben defined it as such it must be a fact =p

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:58:29 PM

hasn't Wii Sports been included with EVERY Wii console since launch? I think if Sony or MS always had a GT or a Halo in every PS3 and 360 since launch we'd see the #2 and #3 slots taken by a Halo and GT.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/11/2013 2:58:48 PM

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Bonampak
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 10:07:58 PM

@Temjin001

Once again, the Wii was merely a Wii Sports-playing console.

Most mainstream people bought a Wii just to play Wii Sports and nothing else (I'm not including hardcore gamers in that bunch. And who probably got a Wii for Mario, Zelda, etc.)

And it wasn't bundled with the Wii in every region either. It was sold by itself, even in the US.

Either way, Wii Sports was really a $250.00 game that sold over 80 million copies. Which is something quite amazing when you think about it.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:08:44 PM

that's just wonderful you feel that way, but I still wouldn't count a bundled game that appears to have existed bundled for it's entire life span. I see the Wii's on Amazon STILL have WIi Sports bundled with the Wii. you can have your special list of games and i can have mine so be happy.

...and i honestly don't care why people bought wii's in the first place.

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PC_Max
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:31:06 PM
Reply

Hmm what can I say... humans are violent people and love to either watch it, play it and in some really dark part of our worlds participate in it. Whether physical or verbal violence. The primitive man/woman is in us all, no matter how much we try to enlighten ourselves or believe that we are enlightened.

And its now a part of pop-culture. Violence is made to be cool. No one seems to be bothered by it... well not until its on their door step. Mind you its also how violence is portrayed, but one might say violence... is violence.

In this day and age its almost become a fixation of people to watch violence and in games... violence has become a necessity of entertainment.

The gaming industry would not survive if it did not have people killing people. Well... virtual people killing people. Unless the human mindset changed and I don't see that happening in my life time.

Regardless, glad people like David Cage wants to go against the popular grain. Although he does have violence in his games... but he doesn't make it cool. He tries to show their are consequences... as he does in B2S in parts.

Anyway, keep safe.... keep playing!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 10, 2013 @ 11:49:28 PM
Reply

I like violence.

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Wrote
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:54:53 AM

Almost all of my fav games this gen (rdr, gta5, fo3, Inf2, demon/dark souls) all feature violence if not hyper violence. So I'm inclined to agree with you.

Last edited by Wrote on 10/11/2013 2:55:19 AM

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:04:28 PM

..in games and sometimes movies/books. :)


Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 10/11/2013 3:05:23 PM

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Knightzane
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 1:23:47 AM
Reply

People are angry at each other. Then you have the people who are getting paid to make people angry. Then you have children who have rage issues making other children angry due to the lack of help via parental absence. Then, you have the teenagers who feel obligated to win and have temper issues when losing or something doesn't go their way. Then you have competitive people, and adults who never grew up and still want to act like children and so scream and yell at the tv.

All in all, I'm starting to believe we as a species are screwed. Maybe in 300 hundred years maybe in 5. Point is, parents are not leaving behind a good example for their children, our future. Tell kids to stop playing violent video games, RPGs would return. WoW would have its biggest claim again. Teenagers start dating real people again, and not people on the internet, video games would have deeper meaning again. Take away the internet and everyone would stop thinking they're a writer or a critic.

GTAV is so violent that when you turn your camera away from in front of you to see if cops are pulling up behind you, and then look back, you can see a cop pop in out of nowhere. Now if anythings violent, its that. Its so annoying! lol Stay warm everyone, its starting to get cold

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Gamer46
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 2:37:17 AM
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I have to admit outside of the MLB The Show and NBA 2K games, most of my favorites do seem to be pretty violent. But if I'm given an option to go stealthy and non-lethal, I take it almost every time, unless the game has a broken stealth mechanic. Still, if a game is as good as GTA V or The Last of Us, I'm not going to avoid it because it's violent.

Last edited by Gamer46 on 10/11/2013 2:40:00 AM

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___________
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:59:40 AM
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thats just common sense though, the WHOLE point of playing games is to do things you couldent do in real life.
or can but, well, dont want to do the time.
not everyones into cars so that renders out car games.
allot of people dont have the patience for platformers and find them a bit simplistic and boring so that renders them out as well.
so what are you left with?
shooters, action games, fighters, RPGs, ie pretty much everything left has you killing something.
so thank you captain obvious for the shot of common sense.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 4:52:00 AM
Reply

violence in general sells i guess in TV,Movies and games it doesn't matter which medium you go to, where there is violence there are ratings, or sales, or sales and thats just how it is i guess i won't profess to be against violence but i like games that are violence i have for a long time whether it be GoW ,battlefield, rachet and clank, jak and daxter,last of us heck even modnation racers and crash nitro kart or crash team racing does.

happy gaming =)

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PSN French
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 6:43:03 AM
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I'm so sick of this crap... gamers continue to defend violence in games instead of pointing out that the medium has been exploited to take away tangible and inalienable rights. I guess as long as you all have a controller in your hand, it doesn't matter what happens in the real world!

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Brighat
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:56:56 AM
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M rated games are here to stay. They are the ones that the North American market for Sony, Microsoft and the PC market look forward to. That doesn't mean non violent games can't sell. Look at Nintendo and the smartphone/tablet companies. I would love to see more games like Puppeteer and Sly Cooper out there but the current market wants M rated games. I only request that these people play something like Angry Birds, Peggle or even Pac-Man and realize that these games can be a nice alternative after 2-3 hours of GTA V. That's what I would do during my time.

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Ludicrous_Liam
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:57:50 AM
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It is bad when you think about it. TLOU, MGS4, Uncharted, GTA, Killzone 2 are some of my favourite games this generation. And what am I doing in these games when I'm having fun? Killing a lot of people. Obviously we're not doing the same things in these games - they vary how exactly you kill people, if you like - but they all share the similar shooting mechanic at the core of the game.

In fact, I think there is only two kinds of games that are certified 'fun': Platformers and shooters. In a way, not much has changed since the early days. We still kill things and jump over stuff. Just think though, try to think up a new game mechanic that is fun without either shooting people or being a platformer? It's hard.

But all mediums have something that just 'works', and stick to it, I guess. We all like action movies right? A lot of my favourite films are action, with guns and at least some killing. Books...well that kind of breaks my argument because they are very varied lol. But gaming is a very young medium, and it's not stupid to think things will change as it gets older.

Last edited by Ludicrous_Liam on 10/11/2013 11:59:15 AM

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bldudas1
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 3:45:02 PM
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That might look like it since the more violent games have been selling recently, but the best selling games of all time aren't violent. Super Mario Bros. isn't violent.

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Underdog15
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 5:17:28 PM

Tell that to my pet goomba.

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Banky A
Friday, October 11, 2013 @ 11:34:16 PM
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I see dead people.

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