The top 10 most-played video games of Q1 2022 have been revealed, and 2022’s best-selling game of the year so far in the US–Elden Ring–did not make it into the chart.
NPD analyst Mat Piscatella shared a list of the most-played games in the US for the January-March period, ranked by year of initial release, and sourced to the NPD’s PlayerPulse survey. As you can see in the chart below, half of the games in the top 10 were not released this decade. As for Elden Ring, it ranked 20th overall for Q1 2022, outpaced by titles like Skyrim (released originally in 2011), the MMO World of Warcraft, and Rocket League.
As for games that made it into the top 10, Minecraft, GTA V, The Sims 4, Fortnite, Among Us, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Call of Duty: Warzone, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Madden NFL 22, and NBA 2K22 all chartered. Again, the graphic below is ranked by year of initial release, not overall popularity. And the games were decided by the percentage of panelists in the NPD’s survey who played in the past month. The list does not include mobile games, which are more popular than console and PC games.
Despite Elden Ring not making it into the top 10 most-played games in the US for Q1 2022, it is not only 2022’s best-selling game so far but the best-selling game of the past year, even topping Call of Duty: Vanguard .
NPD PlayerPulse US Top 10 Most Played* Console/PC Games Q1 2022 Sorted By Initial Release Year
- Minecraft — 2009
- GTA V–2013
- The Sims 4 — 2014
- Fortnite — 2017
- Among Us — 2018
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons — 2020
- Call of Duty: Warzone — 2020
- Madden NFL 22 — 2021
- Call of Duty: Vanguard — 2021
- NBA 2K22 — 2021
Source: The NPD Group’s PlayerPulse
*Percentage of Panelists Who Have Played in the Past Month
Piscatella shared this list and wider commentary in the wake of renewed discussion and debate online in some circles about the popularity and viability of subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and others.
“The big evergreen games, and the huge live service games with deeply embedded social hooks, are gravity wells for player attention, time, and spending,” Piscatella said. “New games big and small facing a daunting challenge trying to break through.”
Piscatella went on to say that Game Pass and the new version of PS Plus should help games find an audience. “Why don’t more AAA games launch day 1 on sub services? They should. But high dev costs and the marketing budgets needed to try and break through this wall of evergreens require aggressive sales targets to get through greenlight. Targets that often are too aggressive, or overly so,” he said. “So folks are forced into ‘what we need to believe’ scenarios for AAA publishing, bets that sales performance will be on the higher end of the possible spectrum, or even outlier. This would require those targets be met for sub service inclusion.”
In this backdrop, the choice becomes obvious, Piscatella said. “Do the traditional release, see if the game is lightning in the proverbial sales bottle. If so, great. If not, then investigate ancillary revenue streams like sub service inclusion or more traditional discounting, among other means,” he explained. “Including a game on a sub service is something not everyone can or wants to do. There are thousands of games released every year, and only a select handful make their way to these services. So blanket statements of sub services good or sub services bad are missing the point.”
Piscatella added: “These services are another tool in the belt for trying to get games funded, released, and to help them break through the barriers of the big evergreen titles. And new games coming into this market need all the help they can get to try and do this.”