[This article was updated on October 26 . Updates are in square brackets.]
This year is shaping up to be a great one for video game sales. Normally, most of the gaming studios wait until late fall to release big titles just in time for Christmas. In 2016, that trend is being bucked for earlier release dates that catch kids at home during summer break. I mean why go outside right?
It’s nice that studios have started to spread the wealth, and it makes financial sense on some levels. Why go up against the likes of FIFA and Call of Duty at Christmas if you don’t have to? Video game addictions need feeding at all times of the year, especially when pesky homework and after-school activities don’t get in the way.
Also, let’s not just pretend kids are the only target market. According to Pew Research, around 58% of Americans between the ages of 30 to 49 play video games, along with 40% of those aged 50 to 64, and 25% of those 65 and older. You can see why the video game industry is #1 in sales, worldwide, when it comes to entertainment.
Earlier this year, we predicted what would be the top-ten best-selling video games of 2016. Unfortunately, at the time, details were sketchy on what games would be coming out this year and what could get the push into 2017. For instance, the hugely hyped Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been delayed until next year after Nintendo teased a late 2016 release.
The word “hyped” also applies to No Man’s Sky, which was in development hell for years before being released to a dull thud. The game wasn’t well received by gamers or critics. Things happened, words were said, and dreams of money-making potential died.
Meanwhile, Tom Clancy’s The Division started selling units like gangbusters but sales are plummeting due to some “technical glitches.” I fully expect The Division to remain in the top-ten at year’s end, but people are jumping off in droves.
Disappointments like No Man’s Sky and The Division have made room for some surprise hits. Overwatch has been a massive title; I’m not saying that people expected Blizzard’s new game to flop, but its status as one of the top-selling games of 2016 comes as a bit of a shock. It’s my early Game of the Year pick.
Battlefield 1 is another interesting 2016 release. EA DICE is taking the game back to where it all began with a huge WWI map and there has been a lot of positive buzz. Could it actually dethrone the reigning first-person shooter king, Call of Duty?
Speaking of COD, the latest installment – Infinite Warfare – has been getting the opposite of positive buzz. Developer Infinity Ward and publisher Activision have been taking it on the chin over the game’s trailer.
Negativity aside, COD: Infinite Warfare will make bucket loads of cash. But will a wait-and-see approach from gamers make it drop slightly? Probably not. Those clever reps at Activision are bundling Infinite Warfare with a remastered version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to help nudge the sales numbers up. Never underestimate the power and popularity of this first-person shooter.
Pokemon is another title we’ve learned not to underestimate this year. As we’ve seen with the hit mobile game app Pokemon Go, you can never write off Pikachu. Will the Pokemon Go popularity push Nintendo’s new Pokemon Sun and Moon into the top-ten? It’s inspiring to see the Nintendo 3DS continue to be the little handheld device that can hang with the big consoles.
Now that we are halfway through the year, and we have a better idea of the overall gaming landscape, including what games are coming out and when, let’s hit the reset button and predict what will be the top selling video game in North America this year.
To generate the numbers, I looked at what platforms the game is being released on, past performance of recurring titles, 2016 sales (to date), plus my overall hunch on what the trends will be.
By all means, if you think I’m crazy (as the voices in my head say I am) let us know in the comment section below and provide your own predictions!
Odds to be the top-selling video game of 2016
FIFA 2017 (September 27, 2016): 3/1
Battlefield 1 (October 21, 2016): 4/1
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (November 4th, 2016): 4/1
Final Fantasy XV (November 29, 2016): 10/1
Pokemon Sun and Moon (November 18, 2016): 12/1
Overwatch (May 24, 2016): 15/1
[Madden NFL 17 (August 23, 2016): 15/1]
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (May 10, 2016): 16/1
Tom Clancy’s The Division (March 8, 2016): 40/1
Gears of War 4 (October 11, 2016): 50/1
Far Cry: Primal (February 23, 2016): 55/1
Feature Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment