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The 20 Highest-Grossing Video Game Franchises of All

The world’s biggest computer and video game companies wait all year to showcase their newest consoles and games at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — and now it’s finally here. From June 14 to June 16, the gaming community will gather at the Los Angeles Convention Center for E3 2016.

The E3 convention gives gamers a peek at brand new video games, as well as anticipated updates to popular franchises. At E3 2015, over 52,000 visitors marveled at 1,600 new products, which were put on display by more than 300 exhibitors. And this year, those numbers are expected to rise.

Here’s a look at history’s most successful video game franchises — many of which will make an appearance at E3 2016.

Arguably the most popular and easily identifiable character in video game history, Mario first appeared in the original Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981. Mario games are by far the best-selling video games. The Nintendo mascot has appeared in more than 200 games in a franchise that has sold more than half a billion copies, with Super Mario alone selling just shy of 300 million copies since 1985, according to Tech Times. Super Mario Maker for the Wii U was featured at E3 2015, and though it’s rumored Nintendo will announce a new Super Mario Galaxy game at E3 in 2016, according to IGN, it’s not likely.

2. Pokémon

What started as a pair of Gameboy games in 1996, the Pokémon brand went on to become one of the best-selling franchises of all time, with more than 270 million units sold, according to Tech Times. The game spawned a mega franchise, which included anime, trading cards, one of history’s most popular TV shows and many films. The Pokémon Company is a joint venture between Nintendo, Game Freak and Creatures Inc. They are expected to demo Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for Nintendo 3DS at E3 2016.

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3. Call of Duty

Verified by Guinness as the best-selling first-person shooter in history, the Call of Duty franchise’s newest installment, Infinite Warfare, is one of the most highly anticipated E3 games. Activison first released Call of Duty in 2003 and has announced they’ve since sold 250 million copies. In 2009, Modern Warfare 2 sold nearly 5 million copies and grossed $320 million in just 24 hours, making it the most successful entertainment launch in history, according to Giant Bomb. Fans can expect Infinite Warfare to be in stores on November 4, 2016.

5. Wii

The Wii series — including games like Wii Fit — was created to boost the first Wii console, which was released in 2006. Since release, Nintendo has announced nearly 200 million copies sold. The series included the original Wii Sports, which was shipped with the first Wii console and was responsible for more than half of all Wii sales. Nintendo, a fixture at E3, will focus on Zelda for Wii U at this year’s conference.

6. The Sims

The Sims by EA is the granddaddy of all life-simulation games. The game sold 175 million units since it was first released in 2000 and The Sims 3 alone sold 10 million copies, according to With four central games and several expansions, it is the most successful PC gaming franchise of all time. The last time The Sims appeared at E3 was in 2014.

9. Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has produced enough gems to make the top 10 with 150 million games sold, according to The franchise included comic books, manga, movies and cartoons. Released in 1991, the original game served as Sega’s flagship game during the ’90s console wars. The franchise’s best-selling game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, sold six million copies.

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16. Tom Clancy

The 56-game Tom Clancy franchise goes all the way back to 1990 with the release of Red Storm Rising. More than a quarter century later, Ubisoft announced the series has sold 82 million games. Splinter Cell remains the best-selling game of the franchise, shipping more than five million units between XBox and PlayStation. Ubisoft is expected to announce the details of their newest game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, at E3 2016.

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