The 50 Best Selling Videogames of the 1990s Worldwide

by Jacob Mazel, posted on 03 July 2009 / 208,645 Views

Remember the 1990s? The big three consisted of Nintendo, Sega and Sony back then. Bill Clinton was president. A lot was very different. Some things haven’t changed much though – an enormous amount of software was sold in the decade beginning January 1, 1990 and ending amidst Y2K fears on December 31, 1999. Software totals in some cases are similar to volumes seen in the current 2000s decade. Those of you who grew up in the 1990s have probably wondered what the best selling videogames of the decade were. After looking through the data for systems still selling huge quantities of software, Vgchartz has assembled a list of the top fifty selling video games of the 1990s. The list only includes video game software, which for this period is NES, SNES, N64, Game Boy, Genesis, and PS1 as no other systems had games sell well enough to chart amongst the biggest hits of the decade. All figures are in millions of units sold worldwide. Debut is when the game first launched somewhere, sometime. The squiggly line denotes sales figures between two points where an exact figure is not readily available. Figures are from the Vgchartz database – and may be missing a few hits.

  Games Sales 1990-1999 Worldwide Publisher Platform       Debut    Sales
1 Tetris Nintendo GB Jun-89   ~26.50m
2 Pokemon Red/Green/Blue Nintendo GB Feb-96   ~23.50m
3 Super Mario World Nintendo SNES Nov-90     20.61m
4 Super Mario Brothers 3 Nintendo NES Oct-88     15.00m
5 Super Mario Land Nintendo GB Apr-89   ~14.00m
6 Super Mario Land 2 Nintendo GB Oct-92     11.18m
7 Super Mario 64 Nintendo N64 Jun-96     10.70m
8 Super Mario All Stars Nintendo SNES Jul-93     10.55m
9 Donkey Kong Country
Nintendo SNES Nov-94     9.30m
10 Final Fantasy VII Square PS1 Jan-97     9.25m
11 Super Mario Kart Nintendo SNES Aug-92     8.76m
12 Gran Turismo Sony PS1 Dec-97     8.60m
13 Mario Kart 64 Nintendo N64 Dec-96     8.50m
14 The Legend of Zelda: OoT Nintendo N64 Nov-98     7.10m
15 Crash Bandicoot 2 Sony PS1 Oct-97     7.00m
16 Crash Bandicoot Sony PS1 Sep-96     6.80m
17 Goldeneye 007 Nintendo N64 Aug-97     6.75m
18 Street Fighter II Capcom SNES Jun-92    6.30m
19 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Sega Gen Nov-92    6.03m
20 Final Fantasy VIII Square PS1 Feb-99    6.00m
21 Tekken 3 Namco PS1 Mar-98    5.70m
22 Crash Bandicoot 3 Sony PS1 Oct-98    5.50m
23 Tekken 2 Namco PS1 Mar-96    5.45m
24 Dr. Mario Nintendo GB Sep-90    5.34m
25 Super Mario Land 3 Nintendo GB Jan-94    5.19m
26 Donkey Kong Country 2
Nintendo SNES Nov-95    5.15m
27 Kirby's Dreamland Nintendo GB Apr-92    5.13m
28 Pokemon Gold/Silver Nintendo GB Nov-99    5.09m
29 Resident Evil Capcom PS1 Mar-96    5.05m
30 Metal Gear Solid Konami PS1 Sep-98    5.00m
31 Dr. Mario Nintendo NES Sep-90    4.85m
32 Spyro the Dragon Sony PS1 Sep-98    4.65m
33 Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past Nintendo SNES Nov-91    4.61m
34 Gran Turismo 2 Sony PS1 Jan-99    4.50m
35 Diddy Kong Racing Nintendo N64 Nov-97    4.50m
36 Tomb Raider Eidos PS1 Nov-96    4.45m
37 Tomb Raider 2 Eidos PS1 Oct-97    4.35m
38 Sonic the Hedgehog Sega Gen Jun-91    4.34m
39 Pokemon Yellow Nintendo GB Sep-98    4.20m
40 Resident Evil 2 Capcom PS1 Jan-98    4.15m
41 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Nintendo SNES Aug-95    4.12m
42 Street Fighter II Turbo Capcom SNES Jul-93    4.10m
43 Donkey Kong Land Nintendo GB Jan-95    3.91m
44 Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening Nintendo GB Jan-93    3.83m
45 Star Fox 64 Nintendo N64 Apr-97    3.65m
46 Frogger Hasbro PS1 Sep-97    3.60m
47 Donkey Kong Country 3 Nintendo SNES Nov-96    3.51m
48 F1 Race Nintendo GB Nov-90    3.41m
49 Super Smash Brothers Nintendo N64 Jun-99   ~3.30m
50 WWF Warzone Acclaim PS1 Jul-98     3.25m

The first point to address is of course which platform was most represented in the decade. With 17 of the top 50 titles, the PS1 is by far the most represented platform on the list. Game Boy software comes next, with 12 out of the top fifty. SNES released in 1990-1991, giving it the whole decade to shift software, but the system had only 10 top fifty hits. Nintendo 64 had seven games reach the top 50 – all published by Nintendo. The dying NES (launched in 1983-1987) and Sega Genesis had two titles in the top 50 each. All fifty titles sold over 3 million units, thirty of which topped 5 million the 1990s. Only eight titles sold over 10 million units for the entire decade, and Super Mario 64 was the only game from the PS1/Saturn/N64 generation to do it.

Roughly speaking, the totals make sense. NES, SNES, N64 and GB game shipments totaled about 1.05 billion in the 1990s, compared to production shipments of about 600m PS1 games over the same period, and an estimated 280m Genesis, Saturn and DC games. PS1 game shipments for the period were higher than both GB (~360m) and SNES (~375m) which were the next most represented platforms. Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, and NES software shipments for the 1990s are estimated at a bit less than half of Game Boy software shipments.

The publisher breakdown is pretty interesting as well. Nintendo occupied 29 of the top 50 positions. Sony had six spots. Sega had two spots. The other 13 positions were split between third parties. Capcom had four top 50 hits on the PS1 and SNES. Square, Namco and Eidos each had two hits in the top fifty. Acclaim, Konami and Hudson each had one top fifty entrant a piece.

Look for the final version of the preliminary “top selling video games of the 2000s” in about seven months once the year and decade are over.

Contact Vgchartz at jmazel@vgchartz.com


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57 Comments

theprof00 (on 07 July 2009)

is this counting bundling as sales too? Because a lot of those games were bundled


Ka-pi96 (on 03 September 2014)

It's nice to see Final Fantasy games selling so well. I wonder if that will ever happen again...


drake_tolu (on 14 March 2014)

Nintendo domination... ._."


NoirSon (on 03 May 2013)

If you told me that the one wrestling game on this list from the 90s would be War Zone, I would have told you to put down the crack pipe.


bunjicord (on 14 February 2013)

The Genesis is unrepresented because SEGA never releases official sale figures. SEGA held about 60% of the video game market in early 90's so I'm sure they would of had more games in the top 50. (Sonic definitely sold more).


gigantor21 (on 08 January 2013)

Jesus Christ, Nintendo.


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Omega_Phazon_Pirate. (on 07 July 2009)

@ aerovirus22, lol what? When you make a statement like that, you yourself make you sound like a "nerd" or "geek" trying to act cool ;).


bardicverse (on 07 July 2009)

#10 - FF7 - in company, Square is spelled wrong


sep85dd (on 07 July 2009)

Sega has no much titles here...from some Games on genesis and Saturn only Japan Numbers are known, so i think Games like Nights into Dreams, Virtua Racing and Ecco had sold more than 2 Mio. in LTD.


c03n3nj0 (on 06 July 2009)

I'm surprised to even see the NES on there...


moondeep (on 06 July 2009)

@ aerovirus22, That's a pretty broad brush you're using. Got any data that backs up your claim that adults didn't play video games before the PS1? You might be too young to remember, but there have been many hardcore games available that kids would never touch, ever since the NES days. The old KOEI games like Nobunaga's and RotTK were tailored to adult gamers. I don't really recall the Atari2600, CollecoVision or IntelliVision having such games tailored to adults.


TheSource (on 06 July 2009)

Actually, PS1 sold nearly identically to NES in Japan and the Americas. PS1 did ~35m in the Americas and 19m in Japan, NES did 53m between Americas and Japan. PS1 was the first huge console (40m+) in Europe though and that is where it obliterated NES figures.


aerovirus22 (on 06 July 2009)

also remember one thing to keep in mind that most NES SNES and N64 were bought for kids and adults PS1's for themselves thats why more PS sold so much it was the first mainstream adult system whereas before that only "nerds" and little kids played video games


nordlead (on 06 July 2009)

@zzyoshiman this is only sales within 1990-1999. Some games launched before 1990 and some sold after 1999 so the numbers you see here won't always equal the totals.


SHADYVILLEQUEENSNY (on 05 July 2009)

i am impressed with nintendo but they do have 4 differnt consoles here while sony only has 1 and sony is not to far behind nintendo on this list


zzyoshiman (on 05 July 2009)

goldeneye 6.75m i thought it sold 8.09m


SaviorX (on 05 July 2009)

A lot of these sales must've trickled into the year 2000. Goldeneye is at 6.75m but VGC has it at 8.09m in the database. That is only one example. I guess these games had serious legs.


CatFangs806 (on 05 July 2009)

To salaminizer, The whole point of this list is how many copies were sold in the 90's and that's it. It would ruin the point of this list if you counted sales in 2000 and beyond.


disolitude (on 04 July 2009)

@NightDragon83 I get that its single games we are looking at...but I am certain MK1 on genesis and MK2 on snes outsold SF2T and SSF2. yet both are on this list. This is mostly because sales data for Japan is widely available...and mk never sold well in Japan, SF series did however. I honestly don't think there is data for Europe available anywhere...Europe was Sega genesis dominant land...and if we had that data I'm pretty seure we would see a few more genesis titles up there.


atma998 (on 04 July 2009)

@riders42 Even without Mario, Nintendo rules this chart (Tetris, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Zelda, etc)


bobbo19 (on 04 July 2009)

yeah but the whole point is that Nintendo DO have Mario


salaminizer (on 03 July 2009)

not including software sales beyond 2000 is unfair to a lot of games...


sonicshuffle (on 03 July 2009)

Go Sonic!


riders42 (on 03 July 2009)

Go Nintendo!...... but i agree without Mario Nintendo would be in trouble


iWarMachine (on 03 July 2009)

Mario, Mario, Mario, Mario, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Mario Mario Mario... damn, nintendo should thanks that little guy, without him, they will be in ruins.


Gilgamesh (on 03 July 2009)

Holy sh*t at Crash Bandicoot, what happened to it?


Kenryoku_Maxis (on 03 July 2009)

This list is missing certain things. Or it might just be focusing on titles that did well in all regions. Games such as Dragon Quest V, VI and VII, all which did over 3 mil in sales in its history, aren't represented.


NightDragon83 (on 03 July 2009)

@disolitude... that's a good point... at the height of its popularity the MK games were selling like hotcakes, but i guess according to the charts none of them managed over 3 mil on any individual platform since this chart is going by each individual game's sales, not the total of every version that was released for each installment of MK. I'm also somewhat surprised to see that DKC3 charted in the top 50... not bad for a game that was released at the tail end of the SNES's life cycle in late '96, not to mention also being overshadowed by the launch of the N64. Plus, unlike the first 2 games, 3 was never sold as a pack-in game, so that makes it's sales even more impressive.


el_rika (on 03 July 2009)

Hmmm, never knew Donkey Kong Country sold that much. It was one of my favourite Snes games and by far the best looking game of that era. How the hell did they manage those graphics it is beyond me, it looks amazing even today ! Good job on the article VGCh.


jasond (on 03 July 2009)

#3-8 are all super!


disolitude (on 03 July 2009)

I somehow doubt this list is complete. Games like MK2 sold amazingly well in north America and Europe on both snes and genesis.


RolStoppable (on 03 July 2009)

29 out of 50 isn't too bad for Nintendo. If I counted right, they had 31 out of 50 in the preliminary 2000's list, so they improved this decade. Booyah!


largedarryl (on 03 July 2009)

After seeing this list, there should be no confusion as to why there are so many Nintendo fans around this gen.


tastyshovelware (on 03 July 2009)

i've never understood why several pokemon games are counted as one sku. Sure, most people probably just grabbed one version, but there were plenty of people out there who bought 2 or 3.


tallgnome (on 03 July 2009)

Where the pc at?


TWRoO (on 03 July 2009)

@Okey... Mario Kart 64 too, sold 1.3 million after 1999. Gran Turismo extra 2.2 million is impressive given GT2 released in 1999 too... I suspect it became a cheap alternative for the casuals.


Munkeh111 (on 03 July 2009)

Still surprised to see Crash up there, even though I know ND were the most successful US developers in the PS1 era


arsenicazure (on 03 July 2009)

umm.. where is mortal kombat 1/2? those were def bigger than WWF.. FIFA and NBA Jam are missing too


WiiRHardcore (on 03 July 2009)

WWF Warzone? That's the best selling wrestling game of the 90's? That makes me sad. That game is terrible, I remember buying it and wishing WWF games were as good as the WCW games. Then AKI switched and made wrestlemania 2000 and no mercy. I guess it's because of the lower install base of the N64.


shio (on 03 July 2009)

where are the PC games? I can think of a few that would be in the top 50.


Simulacrum (on 03 July 2009)

15 Crash Bandicoot 2 Sony PS1 Oct-97 7.00m 16 Crash Bandicoot Sony PS1 Sep-96 6.80m 19 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Sega Gen Nov-92 6.03m 32 Spyro the Dragon Sony PS1 Sep-98 4.65m Who would have thought back then, that Sonic,Spyro and Crash Bandicoot would crash to so low..


Paperdiego (on 03 July 2009)

software hasnt changed much. Nintendo still dominates.


DirtyP2002 (on 03 July 2009)

"Sqaure" :D


johnsobas (on 03 July 2009)

what the hell is frogger doing on that list, that game is horrible.


ithis (on 03 July 2009)

No PC?


YoshMaster (on 03 July 2009)

Wow it's crazy to see how Nintendo ruled the software sales!!! 29 out of 50?? Man... Even if the end of the N64 and the Gamecube weren't best sellers like the NES/SNES, I wouldn't be surprised if they also ruled the 2000s list! They really do print money....!


NightDragon83 (on 03 July 2009)

I'm actually very surprised at some of the games that are up there... F1 Race on GB did over 3.4 mil? I guess cuz it was one of the few games that supported the 4 player link at the time. Frogger on PS1 was that popular back in the day? Diddy Kong Racing outsold both Starfox 64 AND Smash Bros? And only 2 Genesis games on that whole list? (Both Sonic of course) Wow! Not really surprised to see a WWF game up there since that was the height of wrestling's popularity in the late 90's... would have expected to see Wrestlemania 2000 or No Mercy on N64 instead since they were the best ones of that time period and also sold really well.


--OkeyDokey-- (on 03 July 2009)

Gran Turismo '97-'00: 8.60 million Gran Turismo LTD: 10.85 million Long legs O_o


--OkeyDokey-- (on 03 July 2009)

Mario 64, Gran Turismo and Final Fantasy VII were still selling after 2000? O_o


TheSource (on 03 July 2009)

Digg please...the 2000s version of this was much easier to assemble.


johnsobas (on 03 July 2009)

most of those games in the top 10 were bundled, some quite heavily but i guess that's fair game.


johnsobas (on 03 July 2009)

the second DKC must be DKC2


sguy78 (on 03 July 2009)

Why is Donkey Kong Country represented twice?


9Chiba (on 03 July 2009)

loved super mario world xD


grimygunz (on 03 July 2009)

sega really didn't have that many mega hits as i thought they did.


sep85dd (on 07 July 2009)

By the way, one decade has 10 years, 1990-2000 would be right.