Role-playing video game | popularity


The best-selling RPG series worldwide is Pokémon,[56] which has sold over 300 million units as of November 2017.[176][177][178][179] The second and third best-selling RPG franchises worldwide are Square Enix's Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series, with over 110 million units and over 64 million units sold as of March 31, 2014, respectively.[180][181][182] Pokémon Red, Blue, and Green alone sold approximately 23.64 million copies (10.23 million in Japan,[183] 9.85 million in US,[184] 3.56 million in UK).[185] Nearly all the games in the main Final Fantasy series and all the games in the main Dragon Quest series (as well as many of the spin-off games) have sold over a million copies each, with some games selling more than four million copies.[183] Square Enix's best-selling title is Final Fantasy VII, which has sold over 10 million copies worldwide as of 2010.[186]

Among the best-selling PC RPGs overall is the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft with 11.5 million subscribers as of May 2010.[187] Among single player PC RPGs, Diablo II has sold the largest amount,[citation needed] with the most recently cited number being over 4 million copies as of 2001.[188] However, copies of the Diablo: Battle Chest continued to be sold in retail stores, with the compilation appearing on the NPD Group's top 10 PC games sales, list as recently as 2010.[189] Further, Diablo: Battle Chest was the 19th best selling PC game of 2008—a full seven years after the game's initial release;[190] and 11 million users still played Diablo II and StarCraft over in 2010.[191] As a franchise, the Diablo series has sold over 20 million copies,[192] not including Diablo III which was released for Windows and OS X in 2012.[193][Note 5]

The Dragon Quest series was awarded with six world records in the 2008 Gamer's Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, including "Best Selling Role Playing Game on the Super Famicom", "Fastest Selling Game in Japan", and "First Video Game Series to Inspire a Ballet".[196] Likewise, the Pokémon series received eight records, including "Most Successful RPG Series of All Time".[197] Diablo II was recognized in the 2000 standard edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for being the fastest selling computer game ever sold, with more than 1 million units sold in the first two weeks of availability;[198] though this number has been surpassed several times since.[199][200] A number of RPGs are also being exhibited in the Barbican Art Gallery's "Game On" exhibition (starting in 2002) and the Smithsonian's "The Art of Video Games" exhibit (starting in 2012); and video game developers are now finally able to apply for grants from the US National Endowment of the Arts.[201]

Bethesda Softworks' Fallout 3 booth at the Games Convention 2008

According to Metacritic, as of May 2011, the highest-rated video game by reviewers is the Xbox 360 version of Mass Effect 2, with an average metascore of 96 out of 100.[202][Note 6] According to GameRankings, the four top-rated video game RPGs, as of May 2010, are Mass Effect 2 with an average rating of 95.70% for the Xbox 360 version and 94.24% for the PC version; Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition with an average rating of 95.40% for the PlayStation 3 version; Chrono Trigger with an average rating of 95.10%; and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic with an average rating of 94.18% for the Xbox version.[56] Sales numbers for these six aforementioned titles are 10 million units sold worldwide for Final Fantasy VII as of May 2010;[186] 161,161 units of Xenoblade Chronicles sold in Japan as of December 2010;[203] 1.6 million units sold worldwide for Mass Effect 2 as of March 2010, just three months after release;[204] 4.7 million units for Fallout 3 on all three platforms as of November 2008, also only a few months after publication;[205] 3 million units for both the Xbox and PC versions of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as of November 2004;[206] and more than 2.65 million units for the SNES and PlayStation versions of Chrono Trigger as of March 2003,[207] along with 790,000 copies for the Nintendo DS version as of March 31, 2009.[208] Among these titles, none were PC-exclusives, three were North American multi-platform titles released for consoles like the Xbox and Xbox 360, and three were Japanese titles released for consoles like the SNES, PlayStation and Wii.

Final Fantasy VII topped GamePro's "26 Best RPGs of All Time" list in 2008,[209] IGN's 2000 "Reader's Choice Game of the Century" poll,[210] and the GameFAQs "Best Game Ever" audience polls in 2004 and 2005.[211][212] It was also selected in Empire magazine's "100 Greatest Games of All Time" list as the highest-ranking RPG, at #2 on the list.[213] On IGN's "Top 100 Games Of All Time" list in 2007, the highest ranking RPG is Final Fantasy VI at 9th place;[214] and in both the 2006 and 2008 IGN Readers' Choice polls, Chrono Trigger is the top ranked RPG, in 2nd place.[215][216] Final Fantasy VI is also the top ranked RPG in Game Informer's list of its 200 best games of all time list, in 8th place; and is also one of the eight games to get a cover for the magazine's 200th issue.[217] The 2006 Famitsu readers' poll is dominated by RPGs, with nearly a dozen titles appearing in the top twenty;[218] while most were Japanese, a few Western titles also made a showing.[219] The highest-ranking games on the list were Final Fantasy X, followed by Final Fantasy VII and Dragon Warrior III.[218] For the past decade, the Megami Tensei series topped several "RPGs of the Decade" lists. RPGFan's "Top 20 RPGs of the Past Decade" list was topped by Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga & Digital Devil Saga 2 followed by Persona 3,[220] while RPGamer's "Top RPGs of the Decade" list was topped by Persona 3, followed by Final Fantasy X and World of Warcraft.[221]

Lastly, while in recent years Western RPGs have consistently been released on consoles such as the Xbox and Xbox 360,[222][223] these systems have not shown as much market dominance in Eastern markets such as Japan,[223][224][225] and only a few Western RPG titles have been localized to Japanese.[226][Note 7] Further, RPGs were not the dominant genre on the most popular of the seventh generation video game consoles, the Nintendo Wii,[227] although their presence among handheld systems such as the Nintendo DS is considerably greater.[228]

Notable developers

Hironobu Sakaguchi at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California in 2007

Notable early RPG developers include Don Daglow for creating the first role-playing video game, Dungeon, in 1975;[56] Yuji Horii for creating the Dragon Quest series;[56] Hironobu Sakaguchi for creating the Final Fantasy series;[56] Richard Garriott for creating the Ultima series;[56] and Brenda Romero for writing and design work on the Wizardry series.[citation needed] Other notable RPG developers include Bethesda Game Studios, creators of Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and The Elder Scrolls series;[citation needed] Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk for founding BioWare;[56] and CD Projekt, creators of The Witcher series and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.[citation needed] Finally, Ryozo Tsujimoto (Monster Hunter series) and Katsura Hashino (Persona series) were cited as "Japanese Game Developers You Should Know" by in 2010.[229]


Since 2009[230] there has been a trend of crowdfunding video games using services such as Kickstarter. Role-playing games that have been successfully crowdfunded include Serpent in the Staglands (2015), The Banner Saga series (2015-2018), Dead State (2014), Wasteland 2 (2014), Shadowrun Returns and its sequels (2012-2015), the Pillars of Eternity series (2015-2018), the Divinity: Original Sin series (2014-2017) and Torment: Tides of Numenera (2017).[citation needed] Due to the release of Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin, The Banner Saga and Dead State (as well as some more traditionally funded titles such as Might and Magic X, Lords of Xulima and The Dark Eye: Blackguards) 2014 was called "the first year of the CRPG renaissance" by PC Gamer.[231] However, it has been speculated that the spike in funded projects at around this time was the result of a "Kickstarter bubble", and that a subsequent slump in project funding was due to "Kickstarter fatigue".[232][233]

The highest crowdfunded CRPG as of May 2017 is Torment: Tides of Numenera with $4,188,927 raised via Kickstarter.[234] Kickstarted games have been released for the personal computer, video game console, and mobile platforms.[citation needed]

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