2013's Best-Selling Video Games--So Far


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2013's Best-Selling Video Games--So Far

By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com | CNBC – Thu, Jun 13, 2013 8:13 AM EDT
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2013's Best Sellers

While video game sales totals have been anyone's guess for the past few years, the rankings on the video game industry's sales charts have been fairly predictable.

Megafranchises like "Call of Duty" and "Assassin's Creed" have been at or near the top—with family friendly "Just Dance" not too far behind when the final rankings come in. And the midyear check typically doesn't show a lot of divergence from that pattern.

As the industry prepares to shake up the hardware field, though, there are signs of change in software as well. One of those three franchises is absent from the list of the year's best-selling games at retail outlets. Rankings were taken from sales figures from January through the end of April, the most recent reporting period for NPD Group.

Because of agreements with publishers, NPD does not publicly release hard sales numbers—but the changes in the lineup indicate players are ready for something new—which is certainly music to the ears of console makers and publishers that are preparing to debut fresh franchises in the months to come.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II

After slipping to No. 2 in last year's midterm rankings, "Call of Duty" climbs back on top this year. The near-future setting of "Black Ops II" was sufficiently different from past games that even skeptical players returned. Helping matters was Activision's decision to turn the "Call of Duty: Elite" online service into a free offering, which has extended buyer interest in "Black Ops II". And analysts say the game is on track to be the best-selling entry in the 10-year-old franchise's history.

2. Bioshock Infinite

This "true" sequel to the 2007 hit "Bioshock" by the original developers was one of the year's most anticipated titles so it's no surprise to see it this high in the year-to-date rankings. In mid-May, publisher Take-Two announced sales had topped 3.7 million copies. Reviews have been sufficiently strong to ensure the game will be on several "best of" lists this year, which could give it another sales spike in the holiday season.

3. NBA 2K13

Take-Two's premiere sports game has become a franchise on par with EA's Madden NFL series. It consistently ranks high among critics and players—and with EA having abandoned its efforts in the NBA space for the past three years, it has had a chance to build incredible loyalty among players. EA has said it will have an NBA game this year (though it has made—and broken—that promise before). If so, it's going to be hard pressed to win audience back from this series, which this year broke first-week sales records (though Take-Two declined to give specific numbers).

4. Injustice: Gods Among Us

Take the "Mortal Kombat" fighting style and substitute in the heroes and villains of the DC Comic universe and you have a recipe for chaos. Warner Bros. bet big on this fighting game and has seen good returns so far. In just one month, it managed to leapfrog above games that have been out for much longer periods to become one of the year's top sellers to date.

5. Tomb Raider

Because of a series of mediocre—and truly terrible—sequels, the "Tomb Raider" franchise was in danger of losing its triple-A status—but this reboot has made it a force to be reckoned with once again. The game introduced a young, inexperienced and vulnerable Lara—with nary a pair of short shorts in sight. And players saw her grow into a strong female character, whose intelligence and strength weren't overshadowed by her bustline. Publisher Square Enix had unrealistic expectations, but with first month totals of 3.4 million copies, the game's sales were strong enough to make competitors envious.


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6. Dead Space 3

The third entry in EA's horror/sci-fi series hit its stride in terms of storytelling, with generally strong reviews. It topped the February sales chart, but didn't manage to match its predecessor's sales. That's normal at this point in the console cycle, but it still led to some alarmist headlines in the enthusiast press. EA has voiced its support for the series, indicating more installments are still forthcoming.

7. Just Dance 4

Ubisoft's hit dance series has lost a little of its staying power as the current generation ages. A year ago, it was the fourth-best-selling title at the midyear point. This year, it's No. 7. That contraction doesn't necessarily mean the series is losing appeal with casual gamers, though. Ubisoft reports the game's life-to-date sales have topped 8.5 million copies.

8. Gears of War: Judgment

Like "God of War: Ascension," the latest "Gears of War" game hit store shelves in March—rather than the customary holiday time period. This, too, was a prequel. And players once again seemed less interested. Analyst firm Cowen and Company noted that first month sales of the game were just one-fifth of the game's predecessor ("Gears of War 3"). Microsoft, though, likely has no plans to de-emphasize the franchise.

9. God of War: Ascension

"God of War" has been a powerful franchise for Sony since before the PlayStation 3 made its debut. This latest installment—which served as a prequel to the series—hasn't been the breakout hit of its predecessors, though. Some critics noted the story wasn't as compelling as earlier games and there was some controversy around one of the game's achievements. Still, expect to see plenty more of Kratos as the PlayStation 4 matures.

10. Far Cry 3

The "Far Cry" series has always been popular with core gamers, but it broke through to more mainstream players with this installment, thanks largely to a compelling villain. Pirate lord Vaas was psychotic—and truly frightening—adding a layer of drama to what could have been just another shooter. The strong sales could set it up as an even more powerful (and profitable) franchise with next-generation systems. Since the game's release last year, Ubisoft says it has

Gorilla Pimp

Popped a molly i'm sweatin, WOO
NBA2k13 is a great game for people who like sports games.


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Bioshock: Infinite is really great. Buries the previous 2.

The new Tomb Raider is nothing short of fantastic. GotY contender. Too bad GTA V is coming out this year.


LDAR, bitch.
Bioshock: Infinite is really great. Buries the previous 2.
I'm playing it now on PC and I like it. As far as graphics though, they really skimped. It's more apparent with all graphics maxed out.

I'd give it an 8.5/10.


Registered User
Bioshock: Infinite is really great. Buries the previous 2.
I'm hoping it does really well because if people lose even a little interest in these types of moderately unique games then all we're going to see on the PS4 is modern military shootzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Registered User
I'm a nba2k fan, it's a great sim. If you don't like sports games and have no idea how to run basketball plays, I'd skip it. I liked god of war, although I agree, it's a cash grab game. And no sex minigame thus time? booooo! I've not played any of the other games on this list.


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
I'm a nba2k fan, it's a great sim. If you don't like sports games and have no idea how to run basketball plays, I'd skip it. I liked god of war, although I agree, it's a cash grab game. And no sex minigame thus time? booooo! I've not played any of the other games on this list.
The only game you played on this list is the shitty sports game?