Bringing in $35.8 billion and $6.6 billion respectively, PC and console gaming closed out a fairly strong year for the interactive entertainment industry. While a majority of this year’s top-grossing titles were from years past, there are a some new additions that made a lasting impact. From eSports surprises to brutal wars and adorable creatures, here are the top five console and PC video games of 2016.
Activision Blizzard’s fast-paced shooter took the world by storm in 2016—captivating audiences and becoming the top-grossing PC game of the year at $585.6 million. The game also revealed some surprising trends in the Chinese market, proving that players are willing to pay for games upfront—something once believed this lucrative demographic wouldn’t do. “China’s games market may be dominated by free-to-play MMO and mobile titles, but Overwatch’s success indicates the potential for premium games in the country is growing,” said SuperData Research CEO, Joost van Druenen in a report for August video game sales.
A major contributing factor to the game’s success can also be attributed to the way in which Activision Blizzard gets its fans excited for the next update or character introduction. Such was the case with Sombra, a new character that had been teased over the summer with a month-long alternate reality game that Blizzard began in the announcement video for Ana in July. Blizzard proceeded to leave a detailed trail of coded messages, encrypted images and a three-month-long countdown timer leading up to BlizzCon when Sombra, herself “hacked” Blizzard’s keynote for her big reveal.
The announcement of Overwatch League has continued fan the flame of excitement as fans dream of becoming professional eSports players. “The Overwatch League represents not only the pinnacle of Overwatch competition, but also a genuine career opportunity for the most-skilled Overwatch players,” Blizzard CEO, Mike Morhaime, said on stage at the opening ceremony. “We’re building a league that’s accessible to players and fans, sustainable and exciting for everyone involved.”
Pokémon Sun And Moon
Celebrating the franchise’s 20th anniversary, Nintendo enjoyed a record-breaking release of Sun and Moon, hot on the heels of Pokémon GO fever. In fact, Pokémon Sun and Moon debuted at numbers 3 and 4 on revenue charts for the month of November and proved to be the franchise’s most pre-ordered and fastest-selling titles in US history.
Although Nintendo focused almost exclusively on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild during this year’s E3, a livestream demo of Pokémon Sun got fans excited with its new battle interface, setting, features and of course, over 800 Pokémon to collect and train. Since then, a special demo of the game was released exclusively for the 3DS, allowing fans to explore the new Alola region and earn rewards that can be transferred over to the full game. Shortly after the game’s release, the Pokémon Company announced a new anime series called Pokémon The Series: Sun and Moon, debuting on Disney XD next year.
Launched at the end of October, EA’s bloody tale of World War I debuted at number one in console video game sales and in its first week in the UK, Battlefield 1 outsold the combined week one sales of Battlefield 4 and Hardline. Prior to launch, the game’s open beta drew in over 13.2 million total players, making it the biggest in EA’s history.
Anticipation for the title was reinforced by an E3 presentation at the first ever EA Play public event, which showed the three main pillars of exciting gameplay. Following the presentation with a livestreamed 64-player multiplayer match, featuring celebrities Jamie Foxx and Zack Efron alongside prominent YouTube and Twitch streamers must have also helped the game’s popularity.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Ubisoft debuted its brand-new franchise in March with as much marketing fervor as we’ve come to expect from the publisher. Tom Clancy’s The Division was no exception, touting a disturbing map of how fast diseases spread, a live-action miniseries on Amazon Prime and a movie deal with Jake Gyllenhaal attached to star.
As a result of a strong marketing campaign and positive critic reviews, Tom Clancy’s The Division was the fourth top-grossing video game for consoles in 2016 bringing in $261.8 million.
Destiny: The Rise of Iron
Destiny may not have launched this year, but its expansion, The Rise of Iron helped launch Bungie’s MMO to number five on the premium console revenue charts, fetching a cool $214.1 million in 2016.
“Destiny highlights the importance of additional content releases for AAA titles,” noted SuperData CEO, Joost van Dreunen in the company’s August game industry report. Bungie released a trailer for its Destiny: Rise of Iron expansion over Snapchat in June by accident—ahead of the official announcement—but the trailer worked to get fans that much more excited.