Although stand-alone games can be great, phenomenal even, it is more likely that you’re going to spend a lot of time playing a game from some popular, high-budget franchise. With that in mind, we have prepared a list of franchises which are the most popular with players, based on the data from G2A Marketplace.
Before we present the list, we want to explain that we did not mention the Nintendo giants such as Mario, Pokemon or Sonic the Hedgehog video game series as well as classics like Tetris or Pacman as the games from those franchises will be discussed in other articles.
Without further ado, we present the ultimate list of the best video game series of all time
Grand Theft Auto (GTA)
|Developer:||Rockstar North, Rockstar Leeds|
|The latest main release:||Grand Theft Auto V (2013)|
Although it has always been popular, the Grand Theft Auto franchise really took off with GTA 3 and has been on the rise ever since, with GTA 5 being the bestselling individual piece of entertainment in history.
That’s a success. Universally, Grand Theft Auto games are about the lives of criminals: both “professional” and private, when they are not on a job.
The cities, usually mimicking some well-known city in the USA, are open for the protagonists to explore. They are always full of various activities to perform: earning pocket money driving a taxi or delivering pizza, playing a golfing minigame, or just riding around, enjoying the views. Ultimately, the GTA games are story-driven, however, and the tales of Tommy Vercetti, Nico Bellic, or Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are what helped people become engaged by the world and the story.
|The latest main release:||World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth (2018)|
For years Warcraft was Blizzard’s most visible franchise, at least until Overwatch came along.
The story about the endless conflict between the Alliance and the Horde has given us three single-player real-time strategies, as well as an MMORPG which in 2018 saw its seventh expansion, Battle for Azeroth.
With millions of players engaged deeply in the conflict, and identifying with the side that resonates with them. Warcraft games also have a cartoonish style, which helps them look less dated than its 14 years of history would suggest.
|Developer:||Digital Illusions CE (DICE, EA DICE)|
|The latest main release:||Battlefield 2042 (2021)|
Battlefield is one of the long-running military shooter franchises, which began in 2002 with Battlefield 1942, and in 2018 saw the release of Battlefield V.
Although hanging tight onto the military themes (barring the police-related Hardline), it has always been comfortable with turning away from World War II to a modern setting, and even a futuristic one in Battlefield 2142.
Battlefield tends to shine in multiplayer and is typically approached as the more tactically-minded game, compared to Call of Duty perceived as the one that’s the most about individual players’ twitch reflexes.
The Elder Scrolls
|Developer:||Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios|
|The latest main release:||The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim|
The series began with Arena in 1994, followed by Daggerfall in 1996, but it wasn’t until Morrowind that the franchise really hit its stride.
The identifying landmarks of The Elder Scrolls franchise are vast open worlds (depicting one of the regions on the continent of Tamriel), free-form character progression, and the freedom to ignore the main plot for as long as one wants to.
The most recent main release is TES V: Skyrim, set in a harsh quasi-Scandinavian region. It was released for all the popular platforms, and saw upgraded rereleases addressing technological improvements that have been made since its original release in 2011. The Elder Scrolls video game series is considered as one of the best, if not the best, Action-RPG video game franchise of all time, with Morrowind and Skyrim being viewed as revolutionary games that took the genre to a whole new level. The TES series can also boast a quite popular MMO in the form of The Elder Scrolls Online and with a new The Elder Scrolls VI in the works, the future looks bright for the franchise.
|The latest main release:||Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer (2017)|
The Diablo franchise can probably be placed among games that created a genre.
For years many productions copied the formula with their own unique spins on progression or level design, but Blizzard’s game remains the king of action RPG/hack’n’slash for many people. Shown from an isometric camera, the action is unrelenting and brutal, with a breadth of available equipment and depth of character builds.
Diablo 3 graphics lost some of the crisp edge of the previous two installments, but mechanically it’s more robust than ever, and the overall experience remains familiar.
|Developer:||Maxis, The Sims Studio|
|The latest main release:||The Sims 4: Get Famous (2018)|
The Sims at its core is a game about building a household and helping its inhabitants (the eponymous Sims) survive the day without setting themselves on fire or drowning in a pool.
Each edition offers robust tools for constructing a household in any way the player sees fit, complete with furniture, decorations, and amenities.
One of the reasons this game is so popular is that it’s inherently silly: the Sims are stupid by design and require guidance to keep themselves out of trouble, and the game tends to have alien abductions played for laughs, and the literal Grim Reaper chilling on your sofa. Add to that numerous wacky mods and organic insanity resulting from Sims doing whatever they want, and watching the Sim family turns into a fascinating experience. One feels like an omniscient god watching its subjects fumble their way through life.
|Developer:||Extended Play Productions, EA Vancouver, EA Bucharest|
|The latest main release:||FIFA 22|
While there are many sports games, few manage to reach popularity even close to the EA-published FIFA series.
A twenty-years-old franchise dedicates itself to bring to its fans a new, updated, and improved simulation of football (or soccer if you’re in the USA), both on the pitch and from the manager’s side of things.
A new edition is released every year with graphical and mechanical updates, as well as up-to-date lists of players and teams covered by the license. It’s the closest competitor is Pro Evolution Soccer, although Konami’s football simulator lacks certain licenses EA is always able to secure for FIFA.
FIFA can be also considered an international phenomenon as it is both considered a popular Esport and is enjoyed by professional footballers at the same time. The introduction of the FIFA Ultimate Team mode as well as the Become a Legend – the Alex Hunter story, were some of the most praised latest additions into the franchise.
Call of Duty
|Developer:||Infinity Ward, Treyarch, Sledgehammer Games|
|The latest main release:||Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (2018)|
Battlefield’s biggest contender, Call of Duty usually offers a dual experience.
One part are the heavily scripted single player campaigns, featuring a tightly controlled, spectacular storyline full of cinematic moments you get to play through. Story campaigns have carried the CoD series for many a player across the years.
The other part is the intense, fast, and brutal multiplayer. Whether in one of the competitive modes or in a cooperative Zombies mode present in most installments, the CoD multiplayer is exciting and a great way to spend some time if you like fast and brutal matches. The recent Black Ops 4 lacks a singleplayer experience but makes up for it with a story-based Zombies co-op.
|Developer:||Interplay Productions, Black Isle Studios, Micro Forté, Bethesda game Studios, Obsidian Entertainment|
|The latest main release:||Fallout 76 (2018)|
The post-apocalyptic role-playing game has been around since 1997, and the first three installments (FO, FO2, FO Tactics) were isometric, while the subsequent ones were the first-/third-person perspective built on the same engine as The Elder Scrolls.
Typically the Fallout games are focused on a journey of a single character forging their life on the unwelcoming post-nuclear wasteland, juggling the interests of numerous factions, and with many plot-defining choices to be made. The last singleplayer release is Fallout 4, which relied heavily on a robust settlement-building system to give the player a way to rebuilt civilization from scratch, given enough patience.
|The latest main release:||Resident Evil 2 remake (2019)|
Resident Evil is a survival horror franchise with a reasonably convoluted storyline spanning numerous titles, but virtually always following the fallout of the Umbrella Corporations’ experiments and failures.
Zombies, mutations, and stunning betrayals await players in Resident Evil games.
While technically their most recent release is the remade version of RE2, brought up to speed with modern standards, the last entry chronologically is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and it competently brought the series back into the horror territory. The Resident Evil franchise is widely considered the best horror video game franchise and is one of the best-selling video game series of all time. Both these factors contributed to the creation of a successful movie adaptation franchise starring Milla Jovovich.
|Developer:||numerous, most recently: EA DICE, Lucas Arts, Raven Software|
|The latest main release:||Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017)|
First thing that needs to be cleared is that we count Star Wars video games as one franchise.
One of the biggest franchises in entertainment, the Star Wars license has given rise to many different games, ranging from strategies, flight simulators, to many action games. There are dozens of games, anyone is going to find something for themselves.
Fans of strategies may want to check Empire At War, while action game enthusiasts are recommended to check the Jedi Knight series or The Force Unleashed. People drawn to the online shooters will likely want to check out Star Wars Battlefront, including its recent reboot from 2015 and 2017. There’s also a quite interesting, heavily story-driven MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, which gives the players eight unique storylines, four per side of the conflict, in addition to your usual post-World of Warcraft gameplay mechanics.
|The latest main release:||Football Manager 2022|
Football Manager is one of the best and most popular simulator video game series of all time.
The game started as Championship Manager in 1992 by brothers Paul and Oliver Collyer that created what would become Sports Interactive in their bedroom as a passion project. From then, Championship Manager became the most popular football simulator of 90’s and early 2000’s.
After a dispute with CM publisher, Eidos, the series split into two separate ones. Sports Interactive retained its team, database, game engine and the true spirit of Championship Manager by creating Football Manager while Eidos tried to continue with the original name with a different developer but failed miserably both in sales and fan opinion.
Since then, Football Manager became not only the best sports video game simulators but also one of the best overall sports games. Millions of fans each year buy the game feeling they could do a better job than Jose Mourinho, Zinedine Zidane or Jurgen Klopp and guide their favorites clubs to glory. The game not only updated its database of players and clubs, with time, the game engine and the number of features increased.
At this moment, gamers playing Football Manager can do everything a classic football coach does, from managing training sessions, team talks, buying and selling players, negotiating contracts, handling press interviews and even talking to their players one-on-one. The game also introduces a better graphics features such as 3d match simulations with realistic stadiums, player motions, kits and even ad banners. This all makes FM a total simulated sports experience.
Need for Speed
|Developer:||Numerous, most recently: Ghost Games, Firemonkeys Studios, Criterion Games.|
|The latest main release:||Need for Speed: Payback(2017)|
Throughout over twenty releases, Need for Speed has kept its core clear: it’s a game that’s all about racing beautiful sports cars across country roads and city streets.
Frequently it’s all about illegal racing, like the ones from the Fast and Furious film franchise, and sometimes features thrilling chase sequences against the police. The latest release, NfS: Payback features more story when compared to other games, which doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but it is otherwise a ride as enjoyable as ever.
|The latest main release:||Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)|
One of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises at the moment, the Assassin’s Creed series prides itself on reconstructing historical settings for the purposes of their SF/political thriller/fantasy fiction.
At the moment of writing, the series’ settings range from Ancient Greece (Odyssey) to Victorian England (Syndicate), and all have period-appropriate architecture, tweaked so that the second core idea of the series can be expressed.
By which we mean free running. Each protagonist of AC is nimble like a monkey and can quickly climb virtually any building on the map. If you ever wanted to get on the Sistine Chapel, or hang from Notre Dame’s gargoyles, that the way to do it.
|Developer:||Crytek, Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Toronto|
|The latest main release:||Far Cry 5 (2018)|
The other of Ubisoft’s big hits started out with Crytek before being bought by Ubisoft.
Since then the features which have been present in the games were large open world, flexible mix of viable playstyles (notably: stealthy and guns-blazing), and tons of things to do, discovered by accessing radio towers or similar structures putting markers on your map.
The most recent release was Far Cry 5, which was contentiously set in rural USA, and set up its 2019 direct sequel, called Far Cry: New Dawn, taking place sometime after the closing events of FC5. In the Far Cry series you make your own chaos, and then do the story mission to get access to more reasons to and tools with which to cause chaos.
|The latest main release:||Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017)|
Mass Effect began as a third-person perspective RPG, and while mechanical character customization was simplified in the sequels (barring Andromeda), it retained its strong focus on delivering a space opera-like storytelling, with memorable characters and multiple excellent set-piece scenarios.
Structured around story-based missions peppered with cover shooter-based action sequences, it allows the player some choices regarding the way they resolve situations. Many of these choices have consequences in sequels, should the player decide to import their game save. The last release was ME: Andromeda, which took the story to another galaxy with a brand new cast of characters. It was controversial due to troubled launch, and it has a somewhat different structure than the classic trilogy, but is worth checking out nonetheless.
|The latest main release:||Forza Horizon 4 (2018)|
A part of the larger Forza series, it revolves around a fictitious Horizon Festival: a massive event for in-universe fans of cars of all kinds.
Much like the older Forza Motorsports series, Horizon featured highly detailed models of cars (usually officially licensed), and a realistic physics engine.
What makes this series unique, is the use of the open-world as opposed to defined courses. The latest release, Forza Horizon 4 also has robust multiplayer capable of supporting up to 72 players per instance of the world, which makes for interesting races.
Heroes of Might and Magic
|Developer:||Various, notably New World Computing, Limbic Entertainment|
|The latest main release:||Might & Magic Heroes VII (2015)|
The series has been with us for 24 years now, and has taken several turns, which didn’t always resonate well with fans.
Generally speaking, HoMM are turn-based strategy games set in fantasy land. The players begin each game holding a town of a specific alignment (which defines available units), and on their turn they need to issue orders to their forces to capture resources, attack other factions, etc.
The series used to have a companion series called Might & Magic, a dungeon crawl-style role-playing game set in the same universe and referencing certain set events in its plot. Although Might & Magic came first, it was Heroes that survived to the modern era.
|Developer:||MicroProse, Activision, Firaxis|
|The latest main release:||Civilization VI: Rise and Fall|
A video game series dating back to 1991, Civilization has never lost its core idea across six main releases and several spin-offs.
In every game the player controls a historical nation (or a faction in the spin-offs) and takes them from a single-city budding culture to a highly developed civilization which runs the world through science, cultural dominion, or conquest (specific victory conditions vary by installment).
The game is turn-based, so each nation has time to issue orders, assign research and develop technologies before watching the others to the same. There are multiple win conditions, and although the games are quite complex, they make sure to ease a new player into the experience.
Gears of War
|Developer:||Epic Games, The Coalition|
|The latest main release:||Gears of War 4|
The first Gears of War game may be singlehandedly responsible for popularising cover-based shooters, and made cover mechanics so popular in games for a long while.
GoW is a series about humans fighting against the invasion of a hostile species known as the Locust. The leading role in the story is taken by Marcus Phoenix, a gruff and heavily muscled military man with a troubled past.
The story isn’t innovative, but thanks to a certain storytelling panache it provided a great and engaging pretext to coordinate assaults with your NPC or player-controlled squadmates. It had one of the most engaging co-operative modes at the time, which helped Xbox 360 immensely.
|The latest main release:||StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void (2015)|
StarCraft is a series of real-time strategies set in the distant future, in which humans have left the Earth and went exploring the outer space, meeting other species along the way: psychic Protoss and insectoid hive-mind Zerg.
For years StarCraft has been the strategy to be played professionally, and the 2017 Remastered edition of the first SC made sure to keep all systems intact and update only the graphics, for fear that any meddling would cause problems to lifelong StarCraft professionals’ tried and tested playstyles. The most recent release, Legacy of the Void (including the story DLC Nova Covert Ops) closed a lot of long-running story arcs, effectively closing an important chapter of the Terran-Protoss-Zerg conflict.
|Developer:||Square, Square Enix|
|The latest main release:||Final Fantasy XV (2016)|
The Final Fantasy games tend to very different from each other in the worlds they depict, and often even in specific game mechanics, but one can always count on the bird-like chocobos (useful as mounts) to be somewhere in the world.
Otherwise, the games range from fantasy to a blend of fantasy and science-fiction, each installment with a new number has a new cast of characters, a new setting, and a new leading motif. The latest release, FFXV was, for the most part, a road trip story about a young prince of a conquered kingdom traveling in the company of his friends while working to reclaim his birthright.
Tom Clancy license
|Developer:||Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft|
|The latest main release:||Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands|
Tom Clancy’s license comes in four flavours. There is Rainbow Six series of tactical shooters, a hybrid of Far Cry and Call of duty in the form of Ghost Recon, an exciting espionage Splinter Cell series and of course a popular co-op experience of The Division games.
There are many others, but these four sub-series of Tom Clancy video game universe are the most popular and critically acclaimed.
One is Rainbow Six: a series about an elite response team taking on tactically challenging scenarios such as hostage rescue missions. It puts more emphasis on efficient teamwork and good planning rather than using overwhelming firepower. The last R6 so far is a highly competitive and tactical multiplayer class-based shooter with many unique operatives.
The second is Ghost Recon, which changes the scope of operations from tight scenarios to managing fireteams on a battlefield. Its latest incarnation takes place on a huge map of Bolivia, with players picking their battles on their own.
Finally there’s Splinter Cell. This one is about aggressive espionage. Its protagonist, Sam Fisher, receives assignments to infiltrate secure locations without being seen, and accomplish goals like intel acquisition or sabotage. For years it went head to head against Metal Gear Solid and both franchises made nods acknowledging the competition.
The fourth game to bear Tom Clancy’s name is The Division, an MMO based around roughly open-world urban landscapes set in a version of the USA ravaged by an outbreak of a deadly disease. It revolves around squad-based combat, collecting new gear, and building a base. At the time of writing a sequel set in Washington D.C. awaits launch.
The list could go on
This concludes a list of game franchises (or licenses) that are selling really well on G2A Marketplace, and we could probably safely extrapolate and consider them the bestselling franchises in general. There are of course more series and franchises out there, many of them deserving of mention as well, but here we’ve focused on what’s the most popular.