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Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite

Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite

A man steps out of a burning plane and holds a gun.

ScreenshotRockstar Games

As new titles compete for audiences, games like Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Sims 4 are still some of the most played games in the US, with each one nearly a decade or more away from their original releases. In fact, only three of the top ten most played games (Madden NFL 22, Call of Duty: Vanguard, NBA 2K22) launched last year.

The data, coming from the market analysis company NPD group, ranked the top ten list by year of release rather than number of players. So it’s not insinuated Minecraft is the best-played game of 2022 so far, only that it is the oldest of the 10. This also makes sense, as older games have already built up a sizable fan base and accumulated sales for years. But it’s still impressive that these games are so convincingly designed that they sit alongside successful newcomers like Elden Ring† That may change as newer games sell more copies and, of course, increase their audience. From May 2022Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Elden Ring are the number one and two best-selling games respectively.

As Mat Piscatella from NPD notes, many of the mainstays are live service games with some sort of social component. Even if a game is not primarily based on online play, such as Fortnite or Among us (I’m looking at you, Sims 4 and Animal Crossing), a robust social community can extend its lifespan for years after launch. “Traditional” single-player games face stiff competition for money and player attention, especially since the number of games ballooning continues to be available every year on every major platform.

Some games have pushed harder on microtransactions as a result, but poorly implemented monetization can cause this huge play of players† Development studios have tried to ensure their survival by putting their games on subscription services like Game Pass or by signing timed exclusivity agreements with the Epic Games Store in exchange for a chunk of upfront development money (a move so controversial that studios have to) ask players not to bother developers

Piscatella tweeted: “These services are another tool to try to get games funded and released and to help them break the barriers of the big evergreen titles.”