Special Edition cover of Red Dead Redemption 2 sitting on top of the opened out map for the game.

Physical popularity and my lack of experience

Sometimes I read about games that I have never heard of, in fact that isn’t that uncommon an occurrence when you read gaming blogs from such a variety of bloggers.  One article that came out earlier this year was focused on games that I had definitely heard of.  The article in question named every game that sold over 1 million copies in the UK.  A huge amount of games, and whilst this is not an unsurprising list I realised how few of them I had actually experienced myself.

I tend to think of myself as quite a plain, common game player.  It’s only really when I stumble on to something or someone recommends something or if it has a cool cover that I look at other games.  That and if it is a game that I have access to as part of a service, gifted games and, of course, the games I borrow.  Or at least that is how I used to see it a few years ago.  


The start of a backlog
A small pile of games.


Now, I realise that I will try most genres, with the exception of horror as I will not put myself through that if I can help it.  I’m an open gamer, I will try any games, if I get a good feeling or an interest for it.  If a game turns out, for whatever reason, to not be to my tastes then I have still tried it and got some form of experience from it.  That experience could be knowledge of a new genre, seeing the work from a developer that I hadn’t before or a new way of playing amongst other possibilities.    


Reading through this list of high selling games it shows a rather predictable list that have sold over one million copies by individual format.   Though they each deserve their spot on this list it is a shame to see the majority of the list being these games. 


FIFA, for example, has several mentions, in fact most years two mentions with one for the generations Xbox console and a corresponding mention for the equivalent PlayStation console.  Interestingly, the only years where this is not the case are FIFA 14, with only a mention for Xbox 360, and FIFA 18 and 19 only had a mention for PlayStation 4. However, most noticeable from the FIFA part of the list was that FIFA 15 was not mentioned at all.  I have never played a FIFA game so I clearly do not have any insight but these are games that I would expect to sell well across the board and this list seems to corroborate that suspicion.  Whilst these games are similar each year from what I have seen, their popularity is clear and undeniable.  Each year the excitement in the build up to the next iteration of FIFA is always noticeable.  


Special Edition cover of Red Dead Redemption 2 sitting on top of the opened out map for the game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 and map

The next most obvious mention was Red Dead Redemption 2.  This was one of the most anticipated games of 2018 and one that you could not avoid hearing about in the run up to release day and in the aftermath.  In fact I still see things about this game regularly though perhaps this says more about me and the gaming news, blogs and the people I follow on social media.   A fantastic game by pretty much all accounts and the world it creates appears so detailed.   


A selection of Just Dance game boxes partially sitting on each other.
A selection of Just Dance games.

The Nintendo Wii has several games on this list, which due to the high sales of this console is not surprising.  The games mentioned for the most part are active games which was a key selling point, and the most exciting part of the Wii for me.  What pleases me is that the Wii Fit games, Just Dance games and Zumba Fitness did so well. I loved Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus. They made things fun and were so different to other games I had played on console because they got you moving and using the selling points of the Wii as part of your game.  I still love Just Dance games although I never played them on Wii.  They would have been at home on the Wii and I now wish I had experienced the earlier games that way so I could compare with the Kinect experience.  They continue to be fun and whilst there are no recent versions on this list I still maintain that they are enjoyable and very welcoming if you want an active game.


In a surprise to precisely no one Grand Theft Auto V has four mentions on the list for selling over 1 million copies.  As GTA V remained in the charts for so long after its initial release, and then after the releases of the game on PS4 and Xbox One it was clear that this would have pride of place on a list such as this.  Sometimes a game just endures in its popularity. Even now GTA V is still talked about and yet there are still people like me who haven’t played it. It does exist in this household, as my other half owns it multiple times like many other people we know.  


As a Brit, I enjoyed seeing what of the British games managed to sell over 600,000 copies per format.  The British Games Industry is so inspiring and some of the big games that end up covered in the media and on blogs, Twitch and social media are on this list.  Obviously some of the games I have already mentioned are on this, namely GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2.  However, there are some games close to my heart from the British games industry on this list.  My favourite is Forza Horizon 3 since the Horizon games are fantastic for just driving around and enjoying a beautiful part of the world.  Whilst Forza Horizon 3 is not my favourite Forza Horizon game it is a fantastic one to be on this list.  


The beauty of these lists is whilst there are predictable mentions it shows that the industry is doing well.  These are solely based on physical game sales in the UK on an individual format.  Therefore the number of games mentioned is impressive to me, especially when the games are perhaps more niche than others, ie Zumba Fitness in comparison to Call of Duty.  It shows that there are options for gamers within the UK with a range of preferences and shows that there is a market on all consoles with the potential to reach sales of this volume.  Personally, I would love to see what games would be mentioned on an equivalent lists for digital only sales and combined sales (digital and physical).  Where the differences lie could be fascinating.


For now, I will simply wonder what will the next game to hit 1 million sales in the UK by individual format.  There are several much anticipated games due to be released in the next year or so and perhaps one of them will hit this milestone.

A line drawing of a PlayStation platinum trophy drawn by myself for Inktober.


What do you think will be added to this list?  Or do we think the drop in physical sales is significant enough to mean that future games simply won’t be added to this list?  Let me know in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Physical popularity and my lack of experience

  1. While these lists are inevitably predictable by their very nature, it’s reassuring to know that physical releases are still alive and well, even if they’re primarily for games that aren’t particularly to my taste.

    What’s been quite nice over the last year or two is that small-scale, niche publishers are cottoning on to the fact that their audiences are actually quite keen to collect physical versions of their games, so we’re starting to see a bit of a resurgence in smaller games getting in-store releases too, rather than confining them to the digital-only space. I’ll always buy physical where the option exists as I love having a collection I can look at and admire even when I’m not playing.

    It would be interesting to compare the physical vs digital performance of the big hitters of the year such as FIFA, CoD and Battlefield — particularly now that Microsoft has come out with that digital-only Xbox. But, thankfully, I think we’ll still have packaged releases for a good while yet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I love about this as well. Physical is still popular and new games are still making it to this sort of list.

      I agree that it is so wonderful seeing some publishers realise that people still want to collect physical versions. I’m also one who takes the physical option over digital where the option is available, though I do have some digital games it is mostly where I can’t get physical copies. I love looking at my collection as well and there is just something more special at looking at the boxes to choose your next game over scrolling down a screen.

      I would love to see how those games compare as well. As well as generally what games do and don’t match on a digital only version if this list. The digital only Xbox One will be interesting to see, like in terms of its sales and how that affects digital sales.

      I think we will still have physical games for a while as well. At least I hope so but signs are still good at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really interesting! PS4 seems to be dominating this list in terms of current gen consoles and I think it would be really interesting to drill down and see what we would get at the next rung of sales figures, say 500k – 1m.

    Having had a look over the list, I was surprised to discover that I don’t own any of these games, and have only actually played one of them – Mario & Sonic at the Olympics – and that was at a friend’s house. I need to get with the program!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We need to work on playing the ones that sell well in physical versions! It just shows how even the most popular games can be avoided by so many as well. PS4 definitely seems to have higher physical sales than Xbox, but what would be interesting to know is if Xbox has higher digital sales.

      It would be interesting to see what appears at the next rung down in general, not just UK games industry. The ones that just miss out on million physical sales could be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the soft reboot of the Call Of Duty franchise is going to do very well – when I worked in retail, they always went incredibly.

    I don’t game myself but enjoy trying to find games for my husband, and he tends to get things second hand or as gifts. He has one FIFA game but I can’t think why he would need to get a new one each year. He wasn’t keen on Red Dead either, but he loves anything Bioware puts out for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it will do well as well. Call of Duty always has such a buzz leading up to the release so I think that will continue to do well. Maybe one day I will actually try a Call of Duty game!

      I have the same feeling with the FIFA games as I just don’t necessarily think you need one every year. I understand that players change and move teams etc but if you waited a couple of years then had a big change in clubs/players etc as well as the graphical improvements then it might be better. Then again as I have very little interest in them as games or the actual game of football I may not be the best judge for that.


  4. There are some pretty great games on this list. Personally, I love Red Dead! Have been playing the online part of it on X-box since it came out. This may or may not have to do with the fact that I love horses and any game that lets me have a stable of them makes me happy haha


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