The most wonderful time of the year is once again upon us. The shops have already brought out their Christmas merchandise in time for the holiday – Halloween, that is. Soon, they might be bringing out their Christmas decorations in time for Easter… but let’s focus on the task at hand, shall we. Christmas usually means a time when people tend to spend more on gifts, tech, and video games, which makes timing game releases around this time of the year a logical choice. And many publishers do so, pushing out their games in late November. Which is, most of the times, a good idea – many gamers dream of having the latest shooter, adventure game, RPG or racing game inside the sock or under the Christmas tree. Some prefer to get into the Christmas spirit with the online slot machine game called Deck the Halls, others prefer to dive into more complex – and far more expensive – games during the holidays.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was one of the best-selling games released in time for the holiday shopping craze. Launched between November 8 and November 23, 2011 (in various markets), the game was a critical and commercial success, selling over 6.5 million copies within a day from becoming available. Its sales haven’t slowed down for a while, grossing over $400 million in the US and the UK alone. Although its launch day performance was overshadowed by Call of Duty: Black Ops II, launched in the next year (also in November), its overall sales outdid its darker counterpart by around 300,000 units.
The fifth game in the Elder Scrolls series, the action-RPG that has become famous by the name “Skyrim”, was also released in time for the Christmas shopping season. And it was a great idea, it seems: the game was sold in over 3.4 million physical copies within two days of the game’s launch, and during the first day of its availability, Steam statistics have shown over 230,000 people from all over the world playing it at the same time. By December 16, 2011, over 10 million physical copies of the game were sold, and Valve has confirmed that it was the fastest-selling Steam video game of all time (so far).
Back in the 1980s, video game sales statistics were not as public as they are today. Still, I think we can all agree that Super Mario Bros. was one of the best-selling video games to be released in time for the holiday shopping season in 1985. The highly influential and insanely popular platformer has become one of the best-selling Nintendo releases ever, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide (excluding those for GBA and Virtual Console). It was only outdone by Wii Sports.
Speaking of Wii Sports – it was the best-selling game Nintendo ever released, and the third best-selling video game ever, with over 82 million copies sold worldwide. Nintendo has timed its release perfectly – it launched the game in North America on November 19, in time for the 2006 Black Friday, and in early December in the rest of the world. Its sales have reached 81 million (and then some) by March 2017.
Last but not least, let us mention the granddaddy of all sandbox games, Minecraft. The number of Minecraft users exceeded 1 million within a month from its beta release in January 2011, and the number of users grew to over 16 million by the time the final version of the game was released in November 2011, in time for Black Friday. All this with no commercial advertising – its fame spread through the word of mouth. After its final version was released, the game continued to sell like hot cakes, becoming the 6th best selling video game of all time by March 2012 and second only to Tetris, by February 2017.