All-Time Leaderboard: The World’s Most Popular Games

Just about everyone games today. Thanks to the rise of casual games, mobile gaming has taken off, connecting even first-time gamers with their favorite new hit. From match-three hits like Candy Crush to indie puzzles like Unpacking to comedic dating sims like Octodad: The Dadliest Catch, there’s something for every gamer out there.

In other words, as gaming becomes more mainstream, the number of unique titles and subgenres will continue to expand. Even AAA titles that have significantly fewer resources than giants like Nintendo are still churning out hits, from Stardew Valley to Journey. But is it too late for these newcomers to leave a lasting mark in the industry?

Let’s take a look at some of the world’s most popular games. Rather than look at sales alone, we’re going to count down the top games based on their duration of popularity, revenue, and relevance in the world of pop culture.


Poker has been around for centuries—but its recent boom as an online game in the early 2000s has instilled this card game as a timeless favorite. Today, millions of players across the world regularly compete on virtual platforms with the hope of advancing to real-life tournaments. Thousands more keep it casual, unwinding with friends in private games that are more focused on fun than global rankings.

Despite the fact that poker isn’t a traditional video game, most people in the world know the basics of the game. In fact, it remains a hugely popular topic within film and pop culture. Russell Crowe released ‘Poker Face’ back in 2022, while Jessica Chastain headed an award-winning film ‘Molly’s Game’ back in 2017. Toss in hits like Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ and it’s clear this game is truly instilled in the public mind.

Super Mario Bros.

Back in 1981, Nintendo released its very first iteration of the Super Mario franchise with Donkey Kong. Though the game situated Mario as a poor caretaker to a fussy ape, it soon took off. Last year, a major motion picture, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, took the world by storm. Similarly, subsequent releases in the Super Mario world have retained public attention, from Smash Bros. to Mario Kart.

Super Mario Bros


Four years after Donkey Kong was released, Alexey Pajitnov was prepared to release a passion project he called Tetris. The computer programmer had crafted the game based on his favorite childhood games—but no one would have imagined this puzzle would take off. Today, it remains one of the highest-grossing video game series ever released.

But Tetris has bled into pop culture in dozens of unique ways. Not only are there dozens of knockoff versions on the market, but there’s even a medical condition named after this game. The Tetris Effect is a clinical term used to describe a hobby or pastime that starts to leak into our thoughts and dreams. Today, this effect is being explored under the name ‘game transfer phenomena’.


Similar to Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise, its Pokémon releases have been uniformly successful. There are dozens of gaming titles to choose from, including innovative hits like Pokémon GO (which put AR on the map) to its handheld console releases on the GameBoy from the 1990s. Just like Super Mario, Pokémon has spawned dozens of TV shows and even imaginative new films, like 2019’s Pokémon Detective Pikachu—which took the franchise into new emotional territories.

Grand Theft Auto

Though it hasn’t been without its controversies, the GTA franchise is easily one of the most recognizable worldwide. In fact, over the last weeks, there have been dozens of headlines covering leaked images and videos from the upcoming GTA VI release. The series has seen dozens of cameos from major celebrities, from Samuel L. Jackson to Ricky Gervais.

In particular, the UK has lauded the success of this series, as it’s a product of local Rockstar Games. In 2006, the BBC and Design Museum named GTA as an iconic series. In 2013, The Telegraph listed the series as one of the top British exports.

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