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Red Dead 2 Was The US's Best-Selling Game In 2018, But Smash Bros. Beat It In December

Smashing records, reaping Redemption, and Calling for Duty.


The NPD Group's analysis of the video games industry in 2018 tells quite a story. Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2 was the No. 1 selling game of the year in the U.S.--but it was another huge, record-breaking year for Nintendo as well, thanks in large part to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

According to a release from NPD analyst Mat Piscatella, the games industry sold $7.1 billion in console, portable, and PC games in 2018, a 7% increase over 2017 and the highest total since 2012, which saw $7.5 billion in sales. October's Red Dead Redemption 2 led the list of best-selling games for year, followed by Call of Duty: Black Ops IV in second, NBA 2K19 in third, Madden NFL 19 in fourth, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in fifth. Marvel's Spider-Man, Far Cry 5, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey made up the rest of the top 10, in order. NPD's report does not include individual sales numbers.

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Now Playing: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - Best Games Of 2018

While Red Dead racking up the most sales of the year is indicative of the huge following enjoyed by Rockstar, the story of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might be even more impressive. Piscatella writes that Smash Bros. set the record for launch month sales for an exclusive title in December 2018, eclipsing Halo: Reach's launch all the way back in 2010. With just a month's worth of sales, Smash Bros. managed to take fifth on NPD's list for 2018--and the analysis firm notes that its figures don't include digital sales of the game, which it currently doesn't track. That means Smash Bros. smashed Reach's record, and eclipsed other major releases, based on physical sales alone.

And while Red Dead Redemption 2 took the top spot for game sales, that position isn't without caveat: NPD doesn't currently track PC digital game sales for Black Ops 4. Piscatella took to Twitter to make note the lack of PC digital numbers, saying it "made all the difference to the rankings."

Smash Bros. wasn't the only console exclusive to have a huge year in 2018. Sony charted twice with two big games that were only released on its PlayStation 4: God of War, from Sony Santa Monica, at No. 8 for the year, and Marvel's Spider-Man, from Insomniac Games, at No. 6. Piscatella wrote that Spider-Man was the best-selling superhero game in more than a decade, since Spider-Man: The Movie 2 grabbed the No. 5 sales spot back in 2004.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Top 20 list for 2018 has some interesting additions. Rockstar's latest entry in another monolithic series, Grand Theft Auto V, managed to be the eleventh best-selling game in 2018, despite releasing in 2013. Nintendo charted with three of its older games for Switch (2018's best selling system): Mario Kart 8 Deluxe came in at No. 12 for the year, Super Mario Odyssey was No. 15, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was No. 17. All three games came out in 2017. Those big hits helped Nintendo become the publisher to generate the highest software revenue of 2018--a title the company hasn't enjoyed since 2009.

The full rankings lists for December and all of 2018 are below, ranked by dollar sales. You might also check out GameSpot's choices for Best Games of 2018 to see how they stack up with NPD's top sellers.

2018 Top 20 Games

* indicates digital sales are not included.

^ indicates PC digital sales are not included.

All Platforms

  1. Red Dead Redemption II
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  3. NBA 2K19
  4. Madden NFL 19^
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  6. Marvel's Spider-Man
  7. Far Cry 5
  8. God of War 2018
  9. Monster Hunter: World
  10. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  11. Grand Theft Auto V
  12. Mario Kart 8*
  13. FIFA 19^
  14. Battlefield V^
  15. Super Mario Odyssey*
  16. Call of Duty: WWII^
  17. Dragon Ball: Fighterz
  18. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  19. Super Mario Party*
  20. Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu*

December 2018 Top 20 Games

All Platforms

  1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  2. Red Dead Redemption II
  3. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  4. Battlefield V^
  5. NBA 2K19
  6. Mario Kart 8*
  7. Madden NFL 19^
  8. Super Mario Party*
  9. Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu*
  10. Marvel's Spider-Man
  11. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  12. Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee*
  13. Super Mario Odyssey*
  14. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  15. Just Cause 4
  16. FIFA 19^
  17. Grand Theft Auto V
  18. Minecraft#
  19. Spyro Reignited Trilogy^
  20. Fallout 76*

Xbox One

  1. Red Dead Redemption II
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  3. Battlefield V
  4. Madden NFL 19
  5. NBA 2K19
  6. Forza Horizon 4
  7. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  8. Just Cause 4
  9. Grand Theft Auto V
  10. FIFA 19

PlayStation 4

  1. Red Dead Redemption II
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  3. Marvel's Spider-Man
  4. NBA 2K19
  5. Battlefield V
  6. Madden NFL 19
  7. Just Cause 4
  8. FIFA 19
  9. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  10. Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Nintendo Switch

  1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  2. Mario Kart 8
  3. Super Mario Party
  4. Pokemon: Lets Go Pikachu
  5. Pokemon: Lets Go Eevee
  6. Super Mario Odyssey
  7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  8. Splatoon 2
  9. Minecraft
  10. Just Dance 2019

Nintendo 3DS

  1. Luigi's Mansion
  2. Mario Kart 7
  3. Pokemon: Ultra Moon
  4. Pokemon: Ultra Sun
  5. Super Smash Bros.
  6. Super Mario 3D Land
  7. Minecraft
  8. Detective Pikachu
  9. Mario Party: The Top 100
  10. New Super Mario Bros. 2

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