Minecraft may have passed Tetris as the best-selling game ever

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Wikipedia has Minecraft in pole position with Tetris in the number two spot with sales of 170 million. As PC Gamer highlights, however, it’s impossible to know Tetris’ true standing in the ranks due to which versions of the game are considered actual descendants and who is doing the counting.

Wikipedia’s entry for Tetris is reportedly only accurate as of January 2010. Surely millions of additional copies of the game have been moved in the more than nine years since.

Either way, it’s an incredibly impressive feat for Minecraft to even be in the top five. Only one other game – Grand Theft Auto V – has managed to break 100 million units sold. Wii Sports is fourth with 82.87 million units sold and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is fifth at 50 million.

Microsoft used the anniversary celebration to announce a new Minecraft-themed augmented reality game called Minecraft Earth. It enters beta this summer on Android and iOS and will further add to Minecraft's impressive resume.

Image credit: Lego Minecraft mini figures by Ekaterina Minaeva

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TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
OK - I was thinking shenanigans with the "best-selling game ever" title. I figured there might be a couple of other games out there that sold more. So did a little research: Atari 2600's top selling game PacMan sold only 7 million copies. Myst sold 12 million copies. Super Mario Brothers sold 41 million copies.

So 176 million sold copies is 1) impressive as hell, and 2) definitely the #1 seller.
 
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Vulcanproject

TS Evangelist
Tetris has as many unauthorised clones as it has falling blocks. Licensed copies perhaps Minecraft can one day match it thanks in no small part to a few billion extra people on the planet and a much larger market for gamers.

However Tetris is so ubiquitous a lot of people will still know what it is when it is 100 years old. Minecraft probably not so much.
 
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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
But does Minecraft have as catchy a tune playing in the background? I think not!

#Tetris4Life

Seriously though, sales include bundles.... so Wii Sports has all those sales because it was bundled with the Wii... same with Super Mario Brothers with the NES, etc....

Of course, Tetris was also bundled with the Gamboy...

Does Minecraft come bundled with Windows now? Because if they're counting those copies of Windows as sales for Minecraft, I call foul.
 
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Tetris has as many unauthorised clones as it has falling blocks. Licensed copies perhaps Minecraft can one day match it thanks in no small part to a few billion extra people on the planet and a much larger market for gamers.

However Tetris is so ubiquitous a lot of people will still know what it is when it is 100 years old. Minecraft probably not so much.
Tetris has a quarter century head start on Minecraft when it comes to familiarity and mindshare. Since Tetris is so simple that it can be ported (and licensed) everywhere, and even your grandma can learn how to play it in about 30 seconds, it stands to reason that it may win the historical mindshare battle.

Who's to say what people in 50 years will be idly playing though. Open world creative and exploring games or simple arcade games, or…?
 

elementalSG

TS Addict
But does Minecraft has as catchy a tune playing in the background? I think not!

#Tetris4Life

Seriously though, sales include bundles.... so Wii Sports has all those sales because it was bundled with the Wii... same with Super Mario Brothers with the NES, etc....

Of course, Tetris was also bundled with the Gamboy...

Does Minecraft come bundled with Windows now? Because if they're counting those copies of Windows as sales for Minecraft, I call foul.
And now the Tetris theme is playing in my head!

lol.
 

MrBread

TS Rookie
Tetris has as many unauthorised clones as it has falling blocks. Licensed copies perhaps Minecraft can one day match it thanks in no small part to a few billion extra people on the planet and a much larger market for gamers.

However Tetris is so ubiquitous a lot of people will still know what it is when it is 100 years old. Minecraft probably not so much.
Those”unauthorized clones” of Tetris are similar to the copied off brand versions of minecraft. SO if you count those as sales, than you must count block world, survival craft, and all the other wanna-be Minecraft’s
 

MrBread

TS Rookie
But does Minecraft has as catchy a tune playing in the background? I think not!

#Tetris4Life

Seriously though, sales include bundles.... so Wii Sports has all those sales because it was bundled with the Wii... same with Super Mario Brothers with the NES, etc....

Of course, Tetris was also bundled with the Gamboy...

Does Minecraft come bundled with Windows now? Because if they're counting those copies of Windows as sales for Minecraft, I call foul.
And now the Tetris theme is playing in my head!

lol.
Minecraft doesn’t come with windows 10. Plus as Lew Zealond said, they came out 25 years before minecraft. Meaning they had the advantage of being bundled with game consoles, AND having a quarter century head start.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Minecraft doesn’t come with windows 10. Plus as Lew Zealond said, they came out 25 years before minecraft. Meaning they had the advantage of being bundled with game consoles, AND having a quarter century head start.
Being older isn't an advantage... people buy WAY more video games nowadays, so being 25 years old is a detriment - I suspect very few people are still buying Tetris today, whereas plenty are buying Minecraft...

The fact that it's still so close is a testament to how popular Tetris really is.

A comparison would be if some movie from the 50s still had more ticket sales than one of the modern blockbusters of today - despite the movie-going population today being so much larger than decades ago...
 
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Vulcanproject

TS Evangelist
Those”unauthorized clones” of Tetris are similar to the copied off brand versions of minecraft. SO if you count those as sales, than you must count block world, survival craft, and all the other wanna-be Minecraft’s
You could, but even then Tetris wins easily. I'm not sure you are aware of the vast scale of Tetris clones. It might depend on your age and travel experience. It's been on an endless array of unlicensed standalone and handheld electronic devices from the 1980s onwards.

Old, cheap phones. Tablets. Ereaders. Personal digital assistants. Graphic calculators. Satellite navigation units. Virtually all of those 101 games in 1 handhelds and cheap Chinese knock off consoles manufactured and sold the past three decades. Pretty much any computer hardware built since the 1990s is capable of running Tetris and so it was everywhere. All sold in flea markets, stalls, dollar store equivalents the world over, in every country imaginable. For every licensed copy there has to be at least 5 unlicensed ones. Probably 10 or more.

I haven't visited a country in the world where natives didn't know what Tetris was, 60 year olds and 5 year olds.

Heard of North Korea tetris? Yep, it's a native clone specially for the hermit kingdom. The great leader himself probably invented and coded it on a rainy afternoon. North Koreans don't even know who Michael Jackson or The Beatles are, but they know Tetris:

Minecraft has massive sales but the cultural reach of Tetris is still a step above.
 
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Being older isn't an advantage... people buy WAY more video games nowadays, so being 25 years old is a detriment - I suspect very few people are still buying Tetris today, whereas plenty are buying Minecraft...

The fact that it's still so close is a testament to how popular Tetris really is.

A comparison would be if some movie from the 50s still had more ticket sales than one of the modern blockbusters of today - despite the movie-going population today being so much larger than decades ago...
But old is an advantage. Old games like Tetris were coded for the old, low compute power game devices of the time so nowadays it can be ported to practically everything more advanced than a calculator, and can be played with a low rez screen and a few buttons.

Minecraft needs at least a medium rez screen, a decent CPU and a reasonable controller or mouse+KB. Entry requirements are higher, but by now almost every phone class APU and higher should manage MC just fine. Another advantage to MC is that they keep updating and expanding the featureset to increase the replay value.