Consumer research firm NPD Group has published the ten best-selling games of 2020 to date, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare tops this list.
However, The Last of Us: Part II, which launched in June 2020, is already up to third and is likely to threaten the top spot later this year.
The other entry in the top three is popular Nintendo Switch title Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Notably, Grand Theft Auto V continues to rank in the top ten despite being published in 2013.
According to further research done by NPD, gaming has increased significantly in popularity over the past two years.
This includes an increase of 32 million gamers in the US alone, who are playing an additional two hours per week compared with NPD’s last report in 2018.
The COVID-19 pandemic also saw gaming time increase, with 35% of gamers reporting increased playtime compared to earlier this year.
“Video games are one of the primary ways friends and family are staying connected through a difficult time,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella.
“The growth in both the number of players across all gaming segments, as well as time spent gaming or watching gaming-related content, reflects the variety and depth of gaming experiences available regardless of device preferences, gaming interests or budget.”
The ten best-selling games of 2020, as detailed in NPD’s latest report, are below.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The latest addition to the Call of Duty franchise is an unsurprising member of this list.
The Call of Duty franchise has become the default name when it comes to the first-person shooter genre and offers its games across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Launched in October 2019, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is set in the midst of a fictional conflict between a combined team of CIA and British army forces, and rebels from fictional country Urzikstan.
There is also a co-op mode available, as well as competitive multiplayer and online modes.
The game also includes a free-to-play battle royale game called Call of Duty: Warzone.
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a “life simulation” game for the Nintendo Switch console which has taken the platform by storm.
After moving to a deserted island, you are enabled to explore, create, and customize “your own paradise.”
The game sold five million digital copies in its first month, which broke the record for the most digital units sold of a Nintendo Switch game within a single month, and became the best-selling game in the Animal Crossing series after only six weeks – with 13.41 million copies sold.
The timing of the game’s March 2020 launch is touted as a big reason for the game’s success, as it provided gamers with an avenue for escapism as the COVID-19 pandemic was forcing countries and industries to shut down and people to stay at home.
3. The Last of Us: Part II
The Last of Us: Part II was released in June 2020 and became one of the top three most purchased games of 2020 within two weeks.
The highly anticipated sequel to the popular 2013 game, The Last of Us is now the fastest-selling PlayStation exclusive game ever, selling over four million units in its release weekend.
The game was praised by critics for its improved graphics, gameplay, and audio, although the narrative implementation within the game saw mixed responses.
The game was also review bombed on Metacritic, with reviews complaining about the game’s focus on social justice politics as well as the plot of the game.
4. Final Fantasy VII: Remake
The remake of popular 1997 title Final Fantasy VII has seen great success since being released in April 2020.
Final Fantasy VII: Remake is not just a rehash of the old game but with better graphics; it is an in-depth reworking of the first section of the original game and differs from the original game in some respects while still keeping the core narrative intact.
The action RPG has been complimented for how it has aligned itself with the original game and has also received praise for the overall quality of the new version – including its graphics, gameplay, and score.
The game shipped 3.5 million copies within its first three days and was the fastest-selling PlayStation 4 exclusive until The Last of Us: Part 2 beat it two months later.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V was launched in 2013 but continues to record incredible sales and player numbers seven years later.
This is in large part thanks to its rich and popular online mode, which allows for endless hours of interactive gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto V creator Rockstar Games continually adds new content to the online version of the game to keep it fresh.
Within 24 hours of its 2013 release, it had sold about 11.21 million copies, while physical copies of the game shipped in the first six weeks of the game’s release date totalled nearly 29 million.
As of May 2020, the game had shipped over 130 million units across all platforms.
In contrast, viral sensation Red Dead Redemption 2 had shipped 31 million units.
6. NBA 2K20
NBA 2K20 is the most recent instalment of 2K Games’ popular basketball game.
The game offers a variety of modes, including MyLeague, MyGM, and MyTeam.
The most popular game mode, however, is MyPlayer, which lets the player create their own basketball player who competes for an NBA team, as well as in “the park” against other online players.
Your MyPlayer first progresses through a prequel which comprises an in-depth story of how your player makes it to the NBA – before being able to compete as a member of the player’s chosen team.
The game has an extensive range of purchasable in-game items which can be used to customise their MyPlayer character, while those who play on the multiplayer “Park” can earn Rep – which allows them to unlock additional in-game items and is an in-game ranking mechanism.
Not only is NBA 2K20 the dominant basketball video game in the world; it is also the highest-ranked sports game on this list.
7. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot brings the popular anime series to RPG gamers across Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
The game was released in January 2020 and sold over 1.5 million copies in its first week following its release.
The game follows Goku and transcends the traditional fight-only style of previous Dragon Ball Z games by offering a full RPG experience – including fishing, eating, and training.
The game follows the storyline of the Dragon Ball Z series but adds its own twist and narratives.
While the RPG functionality isn’t quite as extensive as many other modern games, the game still holds great appeal to gamers who are fans of the Dragon Ball Z series.
8. MLB: The Show 20
MLB: The Show 20 is the latest iteration in the popular baseball video game.
The game is published by Sony and is therefore only available on the PlayStation 4.
Despite this, the game has been incredibly successful since its launch, due in large part to having extensive licenses across both Major League and Minor League players.
It includes popular game modes such as Franchise Mode, Road to the Show, and March to October, while new features include Showdown and Custom Leagues.
As the premier baseball title, MLB: The Show 20 continues to be one of the most popular sports games in the world.
9. Resident Evil 3
The April 2020 remake of the popular Resident Evil 3 game from 1999 has been tremendously successful.
The game shipped two million copies within five days of its release and received significant praise for its graphics and gameplay.
The addition of an online game mode, Resistance, allows players to work together against a mastermind and is a nice touch.
However, some complained that the game didn’t have the depth that had been hoped for and argued that the game is too short.
Despite this, the game’s success is unquestionable and follows the trend of remakes being highly successful this year.
10. Madden NFL 20
The popular NFL series continues to be one of the most sports popular games in the world with its latest entry, Madden 2020.
While Madden 2021 is set to go live in August 2020, Madden 2020 has managed to make the top ten most purchased games in the world in the interim.
The game has a new personalised career mode called QB 1, which follows the journey of the player’s custom-made player from college to the NFL.
The game scored fairly strong ratings, including an 8/10 rating on GameSpot and 8.1/10 on IGN.