Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite

A man gets off a burning plane and holds a gun.

Screenshot: rock star games

As new titles compete for audiences, games such as Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, and The Sims 4 are still among the most-played games in the United States, each being nearly a decade or more removed from their original releases. In fact, only three of the ten most played games (Madden NFL 22, Call of Duty: Vanguard, NBA 2K22) launched last year.

The data, sourced from a market analysis company NDP Group, ranked the top ten list by release year rather than player count. So it’s not insinuated Minecraft is the most played game of 2022 so far, just that it’s the oldest among the 10. It also makes sense because older games have already built up a sizable fan base and racked up years of sales . But it’s still impressive that these games are crafted so compellingly that they stay on players’ rotations alongside hit newcomers such as Ring of Elden. That may change as new games sell more copies and grow their viewership, of course. From May 2022, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and Ring of Elden are the number one and two best-selling games, respectively.

Like Mat Piscatella of the NDP Remarks, 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 like fortnite or Among us (I am looking at you, The Sims 4 and animal crossing), a strong social community can extend its lifespan for years after launch. “Traditional” single-player games face fierce competition for player money and attention, especially as the number of parts available every year continues to swell on all major platforms.

As a result, some games have become tougher on microtransactions, but poorly implemented monetization can lead to massive player reaction. Development studios have tried to ensure their survival by putting their games on subscription services like Game pass or by signing fixed-term exclusive contracts with the Epic Games Store in exchange for an initial amount of development money (a move so controversial that studios have to ask players not to harass developers).

Piscatelle tweeted: “These services are another tool in the belt to try to fund, publish games and help them break through the barriers of big evergreen titles.”