The 20 Most Popular Video Game Franchises In The Industry

The 20 Most Popular Video Game Franchises In The Industry

Lucrative video game franchises have been the bread and butter of the industry for decades now. Generally comprised of the most noteworthy and beloved characters in pop culture, franchises have become a reliable source of income and fanfare for gaming’s most prominent industry giants. Although many have come and gone, these are the 20 most popular video game franchises of all time. 

1. Resident Evil

A cornerstone in the beloved survival horror genre, Resident Evil has been a pillar in gaming since its first release back in 1996. With a healthy mix of action, puzzle-solving and spine-tingling horror, Resident Evil has spanned several games and even a popular film franchise as well. 

JillWilliam Tung on Wikimedia Commons


As the most realistic and immersive football experience out there, fanatics routinely turn to FIFA for their soccer gaming fix. As an annual series, the game routinely improves upon its predecessors with better graphics, tweaked mechanics, updated rosters, and an active online fan base, making it one of the most popular sports gaming franchises on the market.

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3. Call of Duty

An undisputed mainstay of the saturated first-person shooter genre, Call of Duty has remained at the forefront of gaming since its introduction in 2003. What was once a celebrated WWII military shooter has now morphed into an online multiplayer phenomenon, spanning several time periods and locales. 

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4. Fallout

Thanks to its charming retro-futuristic style, biting wit, and immersive gameplay, Fallout has become one of the most popular and celebrated open-world RPGs of the last two decades. Its compelling post-apocalyptic wasteland has drawn in millions of players over the years, even spawning a massively popular Amazon series as well. 

1024Px-Bethesda - Fallout 4 Booth At The Eb Games Expo 2015 (2) (23462758740)Philip Terry Graham on Wikimedia Commons


5. Assassin's Creed

A blend of compelling historical fiction and addictive gameplay mechanics — what’s not to love? From the Crusades to the Italian Rennaissance, the Assassin’s Creed series has expertly recreated a number of notable historical periods, giving players an open-world experience unlike any other. 

1024Px-E3 2011 Assassin's Creed RevelationsDoug Kline on Wikimedia Commons

6. Grand Theft Auto (GTA)

Known as the progenitor of the modern-day open-world sandbox genre, Grand Theft Auto has been an undeniable force in gaming since the release of Grade Theft Auto III in 2001. Its expert world-building, addictive gameplay, and unbridled freedom have left fans clamouring for more after over a decade has passed since the release of Grand Theft Auto V. 

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7. Doom

Often credited with defining the first-person shooter genre as we know it, id Software’s perennial classic has stayed true to its roots while cleverly adapting its formula to fit modern standards, making it an enduring franchise that millions of gamers still flock to. Its fast-paced and over-the-top gameplay has consistently made it a standout in a sea of generic military shooters. 

1024Px-E3 2019 (48045181601)Sergey Galyonkin on Wikimedia Commons

8. Pokémon

A global phenomenon since the late 90s, Pokemon went from being an ambitious GameBoy title to a multi-billion dollar franchise spanning several games, films, and television series. Its fun and creative premise, massive roster of characters, and limitless charm have made it an unwavering force in the gaming industry. 

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9. The Elder Scrolls

A deep, rich lore combined with immersive open-ended gameplay has made this enduring series a fan favourite for over two decades. Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series not only wrote the playbook for games like Fallout but also the open-world RPG genre in general. 

1024Px-Wikia-Gamescom-2016-330 (28475794273)Tim Bartel on Wikimedia Commons

10. Final Fantasy

Known for its complex characters, intricate plots, and groundbreaking visuals and music, the Final Fantasy series has been at the forefront of the RPG genre since the late 80’s. With over 16 numbered main releases to date, Final Fantasy is easily one of the most enduring franchises on this list and is still going strong to this day. 

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11. Mortal Kombat

Known for its brutal gore-infused combat and eclectic cast of characters, the Mortal Kombat series took the early 90’s arcade scene by storm. Often the target of scorn and controversy for its over-the-top violence and Fatalities, Mortal Kombat has become a mainstay of the gaming industry, even spawning several feature-length Hollywood films. 

1024Px-Gamers Playing Mortal Kombat At A Nexgen Gaming Event In NairobiHilary Murugu on Wikimedia Commons

12. Halo

Known as the Xbox’s first “killer app”, Halo single-handedly capitulated Microsoft's foray into the console gaming stratosphere. Its epic sci-fi narrative and refined shooter mechanics — in tandem with an expertly crafted online multiplayer mode — have made Halo nothing short of a phenomenon that is still going strong today. 

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13. World of Warcraft (WoW)

As the definitive MMORPG and most popular game in the genre, World of Warcraft changed gaming forever when it came out in 2004. With its vast fantasy universe and numerous expansions, Blizzard Entertainment created an unmatched phenomenon that is still massively popular almost two decades after its release. 

1024Px-World Of Warcraft Legion Gamescom 2017 (36455139760)TrustArc on Wikimedia Commons

14. The Legend of Zelda

Know for its intricate puzzles, unique open worlds, and distinct art style, the Zelda series has been going strong since the days of the NES. With each new release, Nintendo has masterfully expanded on its deep storytelling and inventive game design, leading to one of gaming’s most storied and celebrated franchises. 

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15. Street Fighter

One of the most celebrated and tenured franchises in gaming, Street Fighter paved the way for competitive fighting games and completely redefined the genre with the release of Street Fighter II. With its iconic cast of beloved characters and smooth mechanics, the Street Fighter franchise remains stronger than ever. 

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16. The Witcher

Faithfully rooted in the rich and sprawling narrative of the Polish book series of the same name, CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher franchise has taken the gaming world by storm. With its complex characters, enthralling narrative, and immersive world, The Witch series has quickly become a fan favourite among action RPG fans. 

1024Px-Ciri Cosplay (The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt) • 2Makar Vinogradov on Wikimedia Commons


17. Super Smash Bros.

Worlds collide in Nintendo’s brilliantly executed all-star brawler. Ensembling an eclectic cast of Nintendo’s most beloved characters, Super Smash Bros. combines simple yet intricate fighting mechanics with unique platforming levels to create a fighting game experience unlike any other. 

1024Px-Eb Games Expo 2015 - Super Smash Bros. Nintendo StagePhilip Terry Graham on Wikimedia Commons

18. Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima’s lauded espionage thriller series found its stride in 1998 with the release of its first 3D iteration on the original PlayStation. Since then it’s had countless sequels and remakes that have not only expanded the depth and scope of the franchise’s cinematic storytelling but have significantly impacted the stealth genre as a whole. 

1024Px-Solid Snake Cosplayer At 2010 Nccb 2010-04-18 2BrokenSphere on Wikimedia Commons

19. Sonic the Hedgehog

An iconic figure in 90’s gaming, Sonic the Hedgehog made Sega into a gaming empire. As Sega’s answer to the phenomenon of Mario, Sonic has endured decades of massive success, spanning several gaming generations and genres. Most recently, the franchise has found even more success in Hollywood, with the third film in the Sonic series slated for release later this year.

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20. Mario

Who ever thought an overall-sporting plumber would not only save the gaming industry but also stand the test of time and be just as relevant almost 40 years later? The staple franchise in Nintendo’s exhaustive roster, Mario has successfully traversed years of change in the industry while always remaining at the forefront. Spanning several genres, lucrative merchandising, and a feature-length film, the Mario franchise is showing no signs of slowing down.

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