GTA 5 key art
GTA 5 – the game of the 2010s (pic: Rockstar Games)

FIFA and Call Of Duty dominated UK retail sales in 2019, but Fortnite is still the biggest free-to-play game in the world.


2019 is over, and so are the 2010s as a whole, but despite all the hundreds of games that have been released in the last 10 years we don’t think anyone is going to be surprised by what the biggest seller was.


Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 5 has rarely been out of the UK top 10 since it was first released over six years ago (it’s still at number six this week) and it’s now been confirmed by GfK as the best-selling game of the whole decade in the UK.


You can see the whole top 10 below, with 2010’s Call Of Duty: Black Ops the second biggest seller and Minecraft at number three.





Best-selling video games of 2010s - UK retail

1. Grand Theft Auto 5

2. Call Of Duty: Black Ops

3. Minecraft

4. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

5. FIFA 14

6. FIFA 13

7. FIFA 15

8. Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2

9. FIFA 11

10. FIFA 12





As with all GfK data that only includes retail sales and ignores digital, which accounted for only a small percentage of sales at the beginning of the decade but is now well over 50% for most titles.


That may help to explain why FIFA 14 is the highest ranked FIFA title, at number five, although FIFA 20 certainly did well this year – easily beating Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to become the best-selling retail game of 2019 in the UK and earning around £73 million in revenues.


Pokémon Sword and Shield may have been the third best seller, but without sales numbers for Shield, and the dual packs, it’s impossible to know for sure what the final total was.



Unusually, the ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association) provides actual sales number, showing how far ahead FIFA and Call Of Duty are from the rest of the pack – with only Rockstar Games usually coming anywhere close.


That’s what happened in 2018, when Red Dead Redemption 2 only just lost out on the number one spot to FIFA 19. Call Of Duty’s sales were up in 2019 and FIFA down, but overall the UK market fell by 3.4% to ‘just’ £3.77 billion.


That’s the first year without growth since 2012, which was also the year just before the introduction of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – so this downward cycle before a new console generation is all part of the usual pattern.


Nevertheless, physical game sales fell 21.7% in 2019 to £702.5 million, with spending on online and mobile gaming increasing by only a modest 1.1% to £3.17 billion.





Best-selling video games of 2019 - UK retail

1. FIFA 20 – 1,502,191

2. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare – 1,192,211

3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – 465,062

4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – 438,465

5. Red Dead Redemption 2 – 306,392

6. FIFA 19 – 278,417

7. Pokémon Sword – 273,991

8. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled – 267,285

9. Grand Theft Auto 5 – 247,357

10. The Division 2 – 237,226




Hard numbers are even more difficult to come by for digital-only games like Fortnite, but according to analyst group SuperData free-to-play games accounted for 80% of all digital sales in 2019.


Fortnite was the most lucrative game for the second year in a row, making a staggering £1.4 billion from in-game purchases in 2019. Although on a worldwide basis that was only a little behind Korean game Dungeon Fighter Online on £1.2 billion.


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In terms of paid-for games, FIFA 19 (not 20) was the most successful, making £601 million from microtransactions. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare was only just behind though, on £494 million, with Grand Theft Auto 5 on £455 million.


In-game purchases did see an overall drop though, with sales declining by 5%. This was primarily blamed on the smaller number of major new releases, which is another common side effect of an approaching new generation of consoles.


Overall digital sales still saw growth of 3% though, bringing in a total of £91.9 billion in 2019. Of that mobile accounted for the biggest slice at £49.3 billion, with the PC on £22.7 billion, and consoles on just £11.8 billion.



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