In many ways, the video game industry is constantly in motion. There are massive AAA releases month to month, many with live service elements that can roll out new content for years post-launch. Yet despite the constant flood of new content, a new report from the NPD shows that gamers’ attention doesn’t necessarily shift much with trends. In fact, half of early 2022’s most-played games weren’t even released in the past several years.
The oldest game in the top 10 most-played games of Q1 2022, as measured by the NPD, is Minecraft. Minecraft was originally released in 2009, making it the only game on the list over a decade old. While Minecraft has received routine updates year after year, it’s still incredible to see that it remains one of the most-played games of the 2020s. Whether it’s the nature of the game that keeps it popular or if it’s subsisting largely on the size of its community, Minecraft isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Other games released prior to 2020 include Among Us, Fortnite, The Sims 4, and Grand Theft Auto 5. Two games are from long-running popular game franchises, while two are from surging multiplayer genres. Among Us is particularly interesting, as its popularity only peaked in recent years. All four games do have something in common, though. They’ve all seen viral popularity through streaming services like Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube.
The remaining games that round out the top 10 most-played games of Q1 2022 all come from major gaming franchises. NBA 2K22, Call of Duty: Vanguard, and Madden NFL 22 were all released in 2021, with Call of Duty: Warzone launching in 2020. Perhaps the oddest of the group is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which launched during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and remains incredibly popular today.
Adding some perspective to the top 10, it was also confirmed that the most successful new game release of early 2022, Elden Ring, was nowhere near the top 10. Elden Ring was ranked 20th in overall playtime, behind older live service games like Rocket League and World of Warcraft. Even The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim ranked higher than Elden Ring.
Clearly, with Elden Ring having sold at least 13.4 million copies, playtime isn’t necessarily associated with success. As this list shows, virtually no games will ever crack the top 10. The competition from existing live service games is too strong. Dozens, if not hundreds of games, will still be successful month to month each year. Breaking the top 10 is a rarity reserved for major game franchise releases and massive live service titles, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.