The 20 Biggest New Video Game Franchises of the Current Era - News

by VGChartz Staff , posted on 19 August 2010 / 32,313 Views

Since November 2004, when the DS launched, many things have begun to change in the video game industry. The clearest evidence of this can be seen by looking at software sales. While major franchises from previous eras continue to sell well - think of  games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Grand Theft Auto IV, Pokémon, Mario Kart, and Metal Gear Solid  - a lot of very different content is now performing well too. VGChartz has compiled a list of the 20 biggest new franchises in the current era of gaming. These are video game franchises that begun their life on Wii, DS, PS3, X360, and PSP - not on earlier systems. It isn't strictly new IP - spinoff franchises from powerful brands, such as My Sims (from The Sims), Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (from Mario, Sonic, and Olympic games), and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (countless Star Wars games already exist) are included. PC sales are not included, but sales on other systems, such as PS2, are included in software totals so long as the new franchise began on Wii, DS, PS3, PSP or X360. With all that in mind, these are the twenty biggest new franchises in gaming.

After an expanded look at the top ten, you'll find overall sales for the biggest new franchises below.

#1) The Wii Series

The Monolith

To be clear, this is the combination of Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, Wii Music, Wii Play, and Wii Party. Each one of these titles is exclusive to Wii, and a 3m+ hit save for Wii Party which will be by the end of 2010. These figures would put each game, even seperately, amongst the top 40 biggest new franchises for this era. Wii Music is the red-headed step-child of the mix selling only a few million. Wii Party, while only recently released in Japan, looks like it will be a multi-million seller in the Americas, Others, and Japan. There is a distinct possibility that due to their accessibility and branding, six of the seven Wii Series games will find their way into at least 10 million homes. The first five titles in the series, Wii Sports, Wii Play, Wii Fit, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus will all reach at least 15 million homes. This series alone is 7% of all software sold for the Wii, PS3, X360, DS, and PSP.

#2) Brain Training

People Want to Learn!

Nintendo only released two Brain Age/Brain Training games. But they were essential in defining the DS. Much like Tetris did for the original Game Boy, these games gave busy adults a reason to play on a portable, offering quick but addictive experiences on the go. Even though the 3DS will reportedly utilize a touch-screen, Nintendo probably will not continue this franchise, as there were countless copy-cats that shamelessly ripped off Nintendo's winning formula once developers saw how big Brain Training was. The market oversaturated and essentially collapsed. Fortunately, by that point, the DS was supporting a wide variety of games and well on its way to beating the PSP. The Brain Training series is over 30 million units to date.

#3)  Nintendogs

Nintendogs: Puppy Domination

Say hello to the new hotness: Unlike every other breakout series in the top ten, Nintendo has only released one Nintendogs game - although it did come in three versions. The one version of Nintendogs stands at over 20 million units and should make a run at 25 million units. Unlike Brain Training, there was no oversaturation of Puppy-simulations and so Nintendo has already announced a new version of Nintendogs for the 3DS. Over the long term, this series probably has similar potential to Pokémon, as new animals, dog species, and addictive elements can continually be introduced. Additionally, while Pokémon tends to appeal to boys more than girls, Nintendogs appeals more to girls then to boys. The series balances Nintendo's portable offerings quite nicely.

#4) Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games

Sega's Mega Hit

The Wii began to really take off in late 2007 on the backs of four games: Super Mario Galaxy (Nov 2007), Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Oct 2007), Mario Party 8 (May 2007), and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Nov 2007). The story goes that Sega had approached Nintendo about combining their mascots in a single title. Nintendo approved, and before Sonic appeared in Smash Bros., there was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Sega predicted over 10m units for the game - across Wii and DS - and the game easily cleared that. The sequel, for the Winter Olympics, has also done well. Combined, the two games for Wii & DS are approaching 20 million units worldwide. More importantly, the franchise looks like it may be repeatable over the long term if Sega is careful with it.

#5) Imagine Series

Imagine That! Huge Sales

Ubisoft has released a ton of Imagine games for the DS. They are generally aimed at girls and women and generally don't set the world on fire with stellar sales. But there are alot of them, and when DS was setting all-time hardware records in Europe and North America, some of the Imagine games became million sellers. Just about all of the Imagine games sold several hundred thousand copies - more than enough to profit on DS. As with Just Dance on Wii, Ubisoft discovered a way to serve an underserved audience on the massive DS base, and turned its new series into nearly 18 million units of software sold. With so many Imagine titles out there, Ubisoft should eventually sell over 20 million units of Imagine games on DS.

#6) Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed

Ubisoft strikes again. The biggest new "core" series this generation is none other than Assassin's Creed. Heading into late 2007, the original Assassin's Creed was one of the most hyped HD titles. For many, it appears to have been the first title with enough improvement in game play and graphics to jump from PS2/Xbox/GC to PS3/X360. Reviews were actually somewhat mixed for the first game, but the second title performed well too and generally had better reviews. With far fewer games than the Imagine series, and the royalty breaks publishers get for selling content in great volume this is easily Ubisoft's most profitable series of the current round of hardware despite expensive development costs. To date, nearly 18 million copies of Assassin's Creed have been sold, and that figure should get much higher, as Ubisoft has AC: Brotherhood and steady catalogue sales for the franchise over the coming years.

#7) Rock Band


Rock Band was partially subsidized by EA to try to kill Guitar Hero, which like Call of Duty, exploded from relatively modest roots on PS2 era machines into an absolute monster on Wii, X360, and PS3. Unfortunately, the plan didn't completely work. Guitar Hero III sold over 15 million copies between Wii, PS3, X360 and PS2 and the sequels have all sold far, far less. But as Guitar Hero fell, so did the music genre. To date, Rock Band games in all their various forms - Beatles, Green Day, LEGO, RB 1, RB 2, etc - have only sold about 17 million units, barely more than Guitar Hero III did all by itself. As has been widely publicized in recent months and years, the music genre itself - despite the growth in Rock Band - has declined mightily and so everyone looking jealously at Guitar Hero III may have done better just letting the genre fall by itself without aiding the oversaturation of music games.

#8) Gears of War

Gears of War

Gears of War was the major push for X360 in the time before Halo 3, Modern Warfare 1-2, and Grand Theft Auto IV. Both the original game and the sequel topped 5 million units. In 2006, Gears of War even pushed X360 over Wii in the United States during the holiday shopping rush - something which has not happened since. To date, Gears of War is the highest ranking current generation core franchise available on only one system - so Microsoft has clearly benefited from Gears. Once the third game arrives in 2011, Gears should become the eighth new franchise of the generation with lifetime sales of over 15 million units.

#9) Cooking Mama


Yep - Cooking Mama, a game where you prepare food in a kitchen using the Wii remote or DS stylus, is the ninth biggest new franchise of the generation. There were of course quite a few releases to reach the 10m+ units the series has sold to date on Wii and DS. Even so, Majesco has to be quite proud overall. As with the Imagine games, the reason for success appears to be that Majesco is serving an underserved Wii / DS audience - women and girls. That may sound hard to do, but the series is just below Gears of War, so it's clearly a good idea when executed well. Without Cooking Mama, there is really no telling where Majesco would be right now - as they've had nothing else that was big in years.

#10) My Sims

Animal Crossing EA

This series has alot of variety. Some of the games are like Animal Crossing, but many others are in wildly different genres and settings. At any rate, these games have been EA's strongest performers on DS, as sports titles, shooters and other traditional fare from Western publishers don't really work on DS (or PSP for that matter). The series is available for both Wii and DS, and is set to expand to X360 and PS3 with Sky Heroes in the fall - but for now over 10m copies of My Sims have been sold on Wii and DS. The mainline Sims franchise, in the form of The Sims 3 returns to consoles this year so it will be interesting to see how this spin-off franchise of games fares with the big kahuna returning.

As with the top ten, the top twenty new franchises for the generation is quite an ecclectic list. Sales are in millions worldwide, and by 'new franchise' using the parameters outlined above.

NEW Franchise Systems Publisher(s) Sales
1 Wii Series Wii Nintendo 148.23
2 Brain Training DS Nintendo 34.10
3 Nintendogs DS Nintendo 23.80
4 Mario & Sonic at the Olympics Wii, DS Sega/Nintendo 18.62
5 Imagine series DS Ubisoft 17.56
6 Assassin's Creed X360, PS3, DS, PSP Ubisoft 17.30
7 Rockband X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS MTV/EA/WB 16.67
8 Gears of War X360 Microsoft 11.91
9 Cooking Mama DS, Wii Majesco 10.49
10 My Sims DS, Wii EA 10.23
11 Big Brain Academy DS, Wii Nintendo 10.04
12 High School Musical Wii, PS3, X360, DS, PS2 Disney 9.58
13 Professor Layton DS Level 5/Nintendo 9.43
14 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS Lucas Arts 7.94
15 Rabbids  Wii, DS, X360 Ubisoft 7.88
16 Uncharted PS3 Sony 6.80
17 Hannah Montana DS, Wii, PSP, X360, PS3 Disney 6.60
18 Carnival Games Wii, DS Take Two 6.40
19 Resistance: Fall of Man PS3, PSP Sony 6.20
20 Left 4 Dead X360 EA 5.62

The top 20 new franchises account for more than 1/6 of all games sold on current generation machines. Working down to the top 40 that figure grows to over 20%. Innovation - at least at the very top of the industry has continued to be rewarded handsomely for Nintendo and most Western publishers. That said, there are very few Japanese publishers in the top 20 or even the top 40 new franchise lists as few new Japanese series are breaking out on a worldwide level.

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hagelt18 (on 12 October 2010)

I'm fairly certain everyone here owns at least 5 copies, if not 7, of Imagine Fashion Designer. It is the true masterpiece of this generation, sales be damned!

Salnax (on 04 October 2010)

@zgamer5 Because this is kind of a website about game sales. Because review scores are per game, not franchise. Because it takes years to determine influence. Because those would simply be games that came out earlier. A good number of these franchises are cross platform. And I love the DS

Jumpin (on 11 September 2010)

@Master Zack "No Zelda, no Mario, no Halo, no God of War ..." Believe it or not, those franchises were around before this generation. That is why they're not on the list off the top selling new franchises this generation. Anyway, I think it is a little funny that people get so offended that people buy games for fun rather than "as a form of art". People play games for different reasons, a lot of the so-called "hardcore gamers" are often very narrow minded on the subject.

mike_intellivision (on 08 September 2010)

This list is for people who say there are no new IPs. Half the list is exclusive to NIntendo units, compared to only two each for Microsoft and Sony. Four published by Nintendo (including top 3) and two others co-published. Three are from Ubisoft, two from EA and two from Sony. The other seven are each from different companies (ranging from Microsoft to Majesco). Mike from Morgantown

fighter (on 21 August 2010)

Mmmh... people complaining about this list should go back to their fandom forums. This is about sales, and actually reflects hardware sales better than most parameters.

KillerBread (on 21 August 2010)

that just shows sales dont mean good games

reaver_x (on 21 August 2010)

pretty pathetic list IMO

Dr.A.Peter.Nintendo (on 21 August 2010)

By the end of 2011, all the top 20 games will be for the 3DS.

SuperAdrianK (on 20 August 2010)

@zgamer Well, this site is mostly about sales and most of the time people don't see quality as everyone else does.

sly777 (on 20 August 2010)

the top 5 is unbelievable !!!

haxxiy (on 20 August 2010)

Most of these are just a bunch of casual crap. I know some people need relief from hard days of working and such with simple fun but is still a bit sad so few or none storyline-driven gems are included. Games like Cooking Mama are working against people seeing games as a legitimate form of art.

MasterZack (on 20 August 2010)

Wow!! No Zelda, no Mario, no Halo, no God of War ...

kratos3390 (on 20 August 2010)

Oh god. I thought this was a list of the BEST new franchises. I got a little worried when i saw the top five

TauKappaNASA (on 20 August 2010)

@ocean, dumb adults do...

HernanDroid (on 20 August 2010)

Holly crap ! I didnt know Nintedo was soooo sucesfull ! ! ! ! Thank god i m a Pikmin and i dont support CLONY

ocean-1984 (on 20 August 2010)

Do people really think "Brain Training" will improve your brain??

irstupid (on 20 August 2010)

i love how even though this is like the millionth thread showing ranking by sales, every single one ALWAYS has someone bitching about wiisports.

Beuli2 (on 20 August 2010)

hiroko "hiroko 7 hours ago wii sportas didnt sell any whas free." You could say that, but it wasn't in Japan, and it still sold over 3 million.

Beuli2 (on 20 August 2010)

Lot's of Wii and DS there

MetalGear_94 (on 20 August 2010)

professor Layton was a revolution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AnthonyW86 (on 20 August 2010)

I know this list is console only, but World of Warcraft should atleast have hade a honourable mention.

Veit (on 20 August 2010)

"If Microsoft released a huge Halo fighting game, or if Halo Wars sold 10m copies, they would be in the list." "Mario & Sonic is in because they never starred in a motion control game - and its clearly a cross-over game for both characters - its not platforming so it counts as a new franchise." And what about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon? The game was born 2005 on the DS (or 2004, can't remember, but it doesn't matter), so It should be count as new franchise and this franchise sold over 10 million copies.

zgamer5 (on 20 August 2010)

why is their a list about sales? why cant it be according to review scores, or to how influential it was, also they could be about games which set up a standard. also their should have been two lists, for consoles and handhelds. i hate the ds :(

kowenicki (on 20 August 2010)

Thats one ugly list ... mostly. Assassin's Creed is so over-rated imo. (and actually sold quite a bit more on the 360).

FreeTalkLive (on 20 August 2010)

@ hiroko, Wii Sports is for sale in every Wii market as far as I know.

Boutros (on 20 August 2010)

Wii Sports should not be considered in my book but even without Wii Sports, the Wii series is still on top.

hiroko (on 20 August 2010)

wii sportas didnt sell any whas free.

trunkswd (on 19 August 2010)

I am suprised Left 4 Dead made the list, I had no idea it sold that well. Gears of War and Rock Band should get a nice boost with the next game in the series. Also I never heard of the Imagine Series must be a casual series.

dunno001 (on 19 August 2010)

rf40928: Please to read the lead-in. It defines what did and did not get in. You are correct, Halo, from 2002, did not debut on the 360. (No current system was out in 2002, you should know that.) Mario & Sonic was also explained- it is a spinoff, a sports series from 2 characters known for platformers. If this was another platformer, it wouldn't have made the list. Aside from that, a part of me cried at Imagine being #5. I knew there were a ton of games in the franchise, but not enough selling well to get it that high...

Mojo (on 19 August 2010)

Maybe biggest in terms of sales, but there sure are a lot of crap titles on this list!

riders42 (on 19 August 2010)

Go Nintendo

rf40928 (on 19 August 2010)

This list included new franchise games of the "current era" of which some were on last generation systems like the PS2 .. So define current era .. ? Gears of War has two games that sold 5 million a piece ( 10 milllion total ).. Halo 3 sold that over that by itself, but I guess since Halo 1 was out in 2002 thats not current?? Guess what? ..Gears of War was released only 4 years later.. Not NEW NEW, but far from Donkey Kong and Mario Era !! GEEZ So... Mario ( VERY OLD SCHOOL ) is in a current game..he's 'racing' Sonic ( VERY OLD SCHOOL - Sega Genesis hello !) .. but Gee its CURRENT !! Mario & Sonic are not new ideas.. So by your reasoning if we put Masterchief in a game against Anakin Skywalker and have these racing pods on Tatooine along side Mario we'd have a winner !! IHalo Reach will likely sell another 10+ Million within 4 weeks.. ( Halo 3 sold 5 million in 2 weeks, and there were about 10 million less Xbox 360's back then ) I suppose if you do a list of "BEST NEW Franchises of the last 10 years" it'd look different.. And when I say NEW franchises I'm comparing it to Twenty year old ones likes Mario and Sonic..

TheSource (on 19 August 2010)

If Microsoft released a huge Halo fighting game, or if Halo Wars sold 10m copies, they would be in the list. But Halo 3 is part of the mainline series began with Halo 1 - the name was built on Xbox. Everyone knows huge old school stuff from previous generations holds up. GTA, Pokemon, 2D Mario, Mario Kart, and others were all huge, 10m+ hits before and are huge again. Mario & Sonic is in because they never starred in a motion control game - and its clearly a cross-over game for both characters - its not platforming so it counts as a new franchise.

elmerion (on 19 August 2010)

I know there is going to be a lot of hate for this list so im going to state my opinion briefly Unlike what some people like to think the Wii series, Brain Age, Nintendogs, Cooking Mana and My Sims are great games, they arent just trash the developers launched to catch casual gamers, they are well thought games which extremely selective market share and thats why they worked so well, i had fun with all those games and i think they deserve their positions on the list remember how few developers took the so called casual b00m seriously and took the risk Congratulations Majesco, EA Games and Nintendo, the casual game inside of me is happy, keep doing polished games for every market out there and youll do fine! PD: Hannah Montana and High School Musical can GTFO!!

oniyide (on 19 August 2010)

just looking at this list makes my heart sink, half of the list is nothing but pure crap, IMAGINE, Hana Montana?? Kids sure like crap this gen I blame the parents

Bman54 (on 19 August 2010)

@Ninten78 Actually 9/10. Assassin's Creed has had two games on the DS. Probably didn't sell that much, but they were still on it. ALso, I didn't know Force Unleashed sold so much.

Hradekal (on 19 August 2010)

The key is "biggest" and not "best."

Ninten78 (on 19 August 2010)

8/10 are on Nintendo Platforms

axumblade (on 19 August 2010)

Do they still make Imagine games? They released one every month for a while and now I haven't seen one in a really long time.

Carl (on 19 August 2010)

@ Carl Learn to read :-P

ioi (on 19 August 2010)

@Carl "These are video game franchises that begun their life on Wii, DS, PS3, X360, and PSP - not on earlier systems. It isn't strictly new IP - spinoff franchises from powerful brands, such as My Sims (from The Sims), Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (from Mario, Sonic, and Olympic games), and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (countless Star Wars games already exist) are included. PC sales are not included"

Carl (on 19 August 2010)

Shouldn't "My Sims" be a part of the Sims franchise? Just saying... Because if we can count Spinoffs from main series stuff... Then I think World of Warcraft and it's expansions deserves a spot on the list. Surely. Apart from that... I like what we have seen this gen! :-)

Machina (on 19 August 2010)

Interesting article. Can't say I like any of the top 10 though :/