Top 20 PC Games of 2008. In N. America. In Retail.

We’re not going to let a little fact like us strenuously and repeatedly arguing against the validity of NPD’s statistics regarding PC Gaming cause us to not post something fun like this. NPD have provided IGN a list of the Top 20 PC Games sold in… oh, you can read the post title, yeah? You’ll find them and a little commentary beneath the cut…

1. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Expansion Pack
2. Spore
3. World of Warcraft: Battle Chest
4. Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
5. Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning
6. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
7. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe
8. World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Exp Pk Collector’s Ed
9. Fallout 3
10. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack
11. Call Of Duty: World At War
12. The Sims 2 FreeTime Expansion Pack
13. World Of Warcraft
14. Sins Of A Solar Empire
15. Warcraft III Battle Chest
16. The Sims 2 Apartment Life Expansion Pack
17. Crysis
18. Left 4 Dead
19. Diablo Battle Chest
20. The Orange Box

Yes, it appears that Blizzard are very rich.

Worth re-stressing that none of this includes online sales. That’s clearly going to impact people like Valve who you suspect have a more-than-average level of sales through that channel – Left 4 Dead’s actually a top 10 game on the 360 where there’s no online sales to worry about, for example (Which I suspect has surprised quite a few people – there was an assumption that Left 4 Dead would fall on its face amongst many console journalists I know. The power of a really fucking good game, eh?).

Back to Blizzard… yeah, they’re very rich. World of Warcraft’s positions are to be expected, perhaps – those millions of players have to come from somewhere – but seeing Warcraft III remain the second-best selling RTS of the year is enormously impressive. While it’s always been successful, you suspect that the Brand-value of the whole World of Warcraft phenonema is leveraging into Warcraft III’s continuing success. In the same way that they sell Warcraft books and comics and whatever, they’re selling Warcraft III. That it’s a really good RTS game, of course, can’t hurt.

Most heart-warming position has to be Sins of a Solar Empire. Also another big online seller by all accounts, but it being the biggest RTS game of the year is incredible news for Stardock and Ironclad. It’s about as PC a game as you can get, and a novel and unique experience. Yay them.

Biggest selling FPS? Call of Duty 4, which shows what a juggernaut it is. While not the monster it was on the 360, that’s a lot of money for them. Call of Duty: World at War also shows its face. And Crysis and Orange Box are two other 2007 releases which has continued to sell. I think it was Jim who suspected Crysis would have some legs to it, as people who buy PCs buy it just to see what their new beasts can do.

The third and fourth positions are interesting – Age of Conan beating Warhammer Online. Probably worth remembering that Age of Conan had a good five months lead over Mythic’s game to get those sales, but still noteworthy. With Fallout 3 down in ninth place, the predominance of the MMO over more traditional RPGs continue. And that Fallout 3 is the closest thing to a traditional RPG on the list also says much.

And people are still buying the Sims.


  1. RLacey says:

    Given the fact that the Warcraft III Battlechest is *still* selling loads of copies in America, I find it slightly odd that it hasn’t been available over here for a few years now…

  2. Paul Inc says:

    People are still buying Diablo? That speaks a lot for Blizzard and their quality pc games. You can have mixed opinions about WoW(WoW destroying the pc market), but blizzard know how to make very good games, market them and then sell them in huge amounts. And by huge amounts, i mean shitloads.

  3. Ging says:

    RLacey: I saw a couple of copies in my local game over the summer, it is about – just not in such large numbers. Doesn’t help that W3 is now a “budget” title (you’ll find it in the 2 for £15 offer at game for instance) – so retailers aren’t overly interested in stocking larger full price versions of it.

  4. El Stevo says:

    You realise that’s a top 20, not a top 10, right?

  5. gbarules2999 says:

    Look at the ratio between very high-end game sand low-end games on that list. Does that have anything to do with it?

    I buy Blizzard games because if they don’t work, I don’t deserve to play them. I mean, you can get Diablo running on a piece of cardboard with “Windows” written on it.

  6. Butler` says:

    Diablo box set nearly sold as much as Crysis? lol

    Why is it only Blizzard that can make a good PC game atm?:/

  7. Tei says:

    Is this “retail” a list that ignore digital downloads?

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    Retail, for the purposes of this report, means “sold in a physical box”.

  9. Kieron Gillen says:

    Tei: Read the article.


  10. Heliocentric says:

    This list is fucking terrifying.

    Npd have a whole host of rules about what “doesn’t count” for years rollercoaster tycoon would have won pc npd but it was budget so it didn’t figure. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn creature creator was robbed of its place here. Nice showing by cod4, wonder if your at war will have legs. As much as i like sins i wish a better rts like company of heroes had shown up, ww2 is hella played out though.

    That a space rts did well might finally have relic make homeworld 3.

    …fucking mmos

  11. Pags says:

    14. Sins Of A Solar Empire

    The power of IGN-approval.

  12. Sithinious says:

    That “W” word sure seems to pop up a lot.

  13. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    The interesting thing about L4D selling well at retail is, now all of those people have Steam on their computers, and yes, a lot of them will be people without enough bandwidth to download games, or like me who just wanted to save cash, but a big chunk of the sales will be to people who haven’t used Steam before, and who are now being exposed to wonders like all of XCOM for cheap and downloaded in minutes, or whatever else floats their boat.
    Long story short, for Valve, every retail copy of L4D (or the Orange Box etc.) is a potential convert to Steam.

  14. JKjoker says:

    Paul Inc said : “People are still buying Diablo? That speaks a lot for Blizzard and their quality pc games.”

    i think it says more about the LACK of quality of the other games.
    if you cant beat games released 5 years ago that were pirated to hell and back 5 years ago (and you can still find them pretty easily), you are doing something wrong, and its not the pirates fault …

  15. Dreamhacker says:

    Is it safe to admit not at all liking Sins of a Solar Empire now?

  16. manintheshack says:

    ‘…fucking mmos’

    The fact that a genre I despise is very much keeping PC gaming alive istough one to swallow. I only wish I could get some enjoyment from such high profile releases.

  17. Rei Onryou says:

    Helio’s made a good point. What retail games weren’t included on that list? Budget titles are big sellers, but apparently don’t count for the list, but Sims expansions do? You could practically argue that Blizzard commissioned the list.

    Speaking of, if it was a UK list, it wouldn’t have Diablo or W3 since all we get are the budget versions. I wonder what exactly the UK list would end up like…

  18. Pags says:

    Is it safe to admit not at all liking Sins of a Solar Empire now?

    As soon as IGN named it as their PC game of the year, it became compulsory not to like it.


  19. K says:

    I have bought exactly one of those games. I don’t know whether to feel cool or sad.

  20. Nelson says:

    I don’t get Blizzard games. Just not my thing. I guess that makes me somehow less than human, huh?

  21. AceCrikey says:

    I’m moderately surprised Mass Effect isn’t up there.

  22. Rich_P says:

    The NPD data isn’t necessarily invalid. It reports retail sales. What’s invalid is using them to draw conclusions about the health of the PC gaming industry as a whole. That’s all.

  23. Zoey Death Scream Spammer says:

    “Why is it only Blizzard that can make a good PC game atm?”

    Blizzard? Good games? More like Blizzard has made a few mediocre titles that managed to obtain cult followings (see Starcraft) suddenly your run of the mill RTS is apparently the pinnacle of RTS and it’s successor Starcraft 2, despite being nothing more than a flat out rehash with Warcraft 3 graphics and bloom, will probably snuff out any other RTS games released this year.

    Long story short, Blizzard games are what Halo was to the Xbox and Xbox360. Nothing special but immensely popular.

  24. Larington says:

    Blizzard certainly knows how to market its games, thats for sure.

  25. skizelo says:

    Larington, who would have thought the promise of playing with Ozzy Osbourne was that compelling?

  26. Psychopomp says:

    “Long story short, Blizzard games are what Halo was to the Xbox and Xbox360. Nothing special but immensely popular.”

    You’re 50% right. Blizzard knows how to make nothing special, and then polish the living fuck out of it to make it special.

    Also, Starcraft II and Warcraft 3 have COMPLETELY different playstyles, one is focused on putting together small warbands, the other is LOL RESOURCES!

  27. Butler` says:

    Zoey Death Scream Spammer, at the risk of sounding like a Blizzard fanboy, I think you’re talking trash. Particularly so likening Blizzard games to Halo… give me a break.

    There was nothing ‘run of the mill’ about SC as an RTS when it came out. The only thing that came close was Total Annihilation.

    Don’t mistake ‘popularity’ for ‘mainstream crap’.

  28. Ian says:

    Golly. I am indeed Very Surprised at all the MMO loathing.


  29. drewski says:

    I agree, Butler.

    Halo’s way better than Blizzard’s games.

  30. JKjoker says:

    the whole “everything needs multiplayer” idea should just die, DIE! i say, even worse they keep making LAN play either difficult or impossible killing the only reason i might have to use the feature

  31. SwiftRanger says:

    Blizzard got a great lead with WarCraft 1, 2, were smart to dump Pax Imperia (and several other projects later on) and to buy Condor for Diablo 1. They just never gave it away after that, despite many other crew departures and being sold two times.

    StarCraft looked like a disappointment (Ron Millar left to a direct competitor, ’97 had already delivered more technically and graphically impressive RTS’s, etc.) and it really was WarCraft in space if you only sticked to the multiplayer/skirmish (the “extreme” race diversity and great balance were only important to a few online elite players) but that singleplayer still holds up as one of the best sci-fi stories in any game. Can’t blame people wanting to rediscover the old glories.

    They’re not Bungie, they’re just in a league of their own, not only in quality/finishing but in support as well (many publishers could learn a thing or two from the Blizzard support website and support/respect for older titles). With three different active franchises some might say they play it safe but that’s the only grudge one could really hold against them if you ask me. And no, I don’t like all their games but that’s mostly due to the (sub)genre itself, not because they couldn’t make a proper PC game. Blizzard isn’t the only one making quality games on PC of course.

    About Age of Conan being up so high; surprised me as well but then again it was the first really big PC title of last year, some console ports aside. Publishers should have learned their lesson about filling up the gaps by now I hope for 2009 because first of half of 2008 wasn’t really a period to get excited about on PC.

  32. Heliocentric says:

    If a planetside type action mmo was up there or eve with its economy? But no, substandard tactical turn based combat mmo’s. I don’t mind them getting rich from subs. But that they sell more than quality non mmo games horrifies me.

  33. Tworak says:

    Comparing Bungie to Blizzard? Jesus chirst I may have a long fucking cry now on your behalf.

    Bungie with 1 average game and the rest incredibly shitty.
    Blizzard with 1 shitty game and the rest incredibly awesome. (Wow being shit)

  34. Oak says:

    Popular games! Divergent opinions! Expressions of disbelief!

  35. Gassalasca says:

    Zoey Death Scream Spammer said: “Blizzard? Good games? More like Blizzard has made a few mediocre titles that managed to obtain cult followings (see Starcraft)”

    Of all the games Blizzard made you picked Starcraft to ilustrate the point?
    Starcraft is to me still pretty much the best RTS of all time.
    Although, with WC3 in mind I can’t say i expect too mumvh from Starcraft2.

  36. malkav11 says:

    Bungie has had at least three incredibly awesome games. Five or six if you’re better at the Myth games than I am. Those being Marathon, Marathon 2, Marathon: Infinity, Myth, Myth II, and Pathways into Darkness, in nonchronological order.

    Halo doesn’t enter into it.

  37. Eli Just says:

    I just love that Sins beat Left 4 Dead at retail. Of course everybody bought Left 4 Dead on Steam, but I’m sure Sins sold quite a bit on Impulse. I really need to pick that game up.

  38. TowelGnome says:

    Sins being listed does indeed warm the ol’ ticker, yes. But Stardock already gave me Sci-fi nirvana with GalCiv 2/Dark Avatar/Arnor etc; Sins just wasn’t my cup of Darjeeling, no.

    Oh, and guys, exactly what breed of journalist thought Valve + Co-op + Zombies would = Fail? Do these people even play computer games? Poor show.

  39. Rich_P says:

    I think retail sales surpassed Impulse sales, but each copy sold on Impulse gives Stardock 2x as much money.

  40. caesarbear says:

    Blizzard, like Apple, has a mindless cult following. Plus best selling does not mean best quality, by any measure. Just because the mouth breathing Blizzard fanatics don’t know anything about them, doesn’t mean there aren’t much better games available.

    Simply compare this list with a top 20 in movies or books and you’ll see a very similar pattern of “people” mostly liking fluff with the occasional gem. It’s good to see Sims and Warcraft still selling high. It just means there’s more new and casual gamers that might some day buy some real games.

  41. Pidesco says:

    Personally, I think the only truly great Blizzard games were Starcraft and Lost Vikings. Warcraft III was a fairly bad RTS, redeemed by the fact that everyone was playing it and that, like very Blizzard game, it was polished from release to eternity.

  42. subedii says:

    With regards to Diablo II, I think it’s also important to bear in mind that the announcement of Diablo III will have certainly given it a sales boost this year. Heck, I remember reading that when Starcraft II was announced, Starcraft briefly [i]re-entered[/i] the PC top 10. These are brands with an incredible following.

    Personally I’m actually looking forward to Diablo III. From what I’ve seen they’re making changes that’ll make it more accessible to less hardcore players like myself.

  43. Jubaal says:

    One thing I’m surprised about is that that no-one has really mentioned what a fantastic showing Left 4 Dead has made here. If you take into consideration how late in the year Left 4 Dead was released and the fact that a massive proportion of the sales would have been via Steam which are discounted from the figures, this really is an impressive effort. It certainly deserves it in my book.

  44. Gassalasca says:

    Gravatar Pidesco says:
    “Personally, I think the only truly great Blizzard games were Starcraft and Lost Vikings. Warcraft III was a fairly bad RTS, redeemed by the fact that everyone was playing it and that, like very Blizzard game, it was polished from release to eternity.”

    I agree completely.
    RnR racing was also cool. :D Though they did that one with Interplay.

  45. Caiman says:

    Calling anyone who thinks Blizzard make great games a “mouthbreathing fanatic” is what I’d expect from one. Blizzard has never made a bad game, and while that doesn’t explain their enduring popularity (which clearly comes off the back off brand recognition) it shows they understand the business like few others.

  46. Putter5 says:

    WC3 is getting too much hate. It might not be your gameplay style, but I guess it is mine, as it’s probably my favorite RTS of all time. Wayyy better than Starcraft. These sales probably don’t reflect it’s quality though: it’s most likely a mix of WoW fans and potential DoTA players, not RTS fans buying this.

    This is actually a pretty good list, all things considered. Only 3 Sims titles? Not that bad, especially considering the rest are mostly respectable. Next year Sims 3 will probably be at the top.

  47. JKjoker says:

    i think the problem was that wc3 was originally designed for playing just with heroes and a few units, but then turned it into a reskinning of starcraft and it just sucks because almost every unit is melee based and any battle between groups of them looks like a clusterfuck with dudes running in circles and however has more units wins

    for what ive seen of starcraft2 its the same thing with improved AI to take care of the micromanagement because you couldnt possible find a specific unit inside all that bloom

  48. spacedoubt says:

    This may have already been mentioned but I was gutted I couldn’t get a retail copy of Sins of A Solar Empire outside of North America. It’s cropping up here and there now, but the first time I saw its box was after xmas =/

  49. shinygerbil says:

    Nobody here has even mentioned Spore. :O

    Spore is second, but it’s also top of the piracy lists.


  50. qrter says:

    That would clearly indicate that all the former Spore pirates then went along and bought legitimate copies. Obviously.