The Most Popular Video Games in the World
What’s your country’s favorite video game?
Data not available for all countries.
From Pong to Overwatch, the astounding growth of video games has spawned an industry. First commercialized in the early 1970s, video games have since grown into big business, generating over $90 billion in revenue in 2016 alone. As games jockey for positions across platforms and genres, some become fan favorites, while for others it’s game over.
Everyone has their favorite FPS (First Person Shooter), RTS (Real-Time Strategy), or RPG (Role Playing Game), but could your taste in video games relate to your location on the globe? We tapped Google’s search data related to video games to discover which games are the most popular in which countries.
- Costa Rica
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
The widespread international popularity of the FIFA 17 video game shows that soccer truly is the world’s favorite sport. Furthermore, many of the countries on the above list have also experienced some soccer success.
Of the twenty-six eligible national teams from these fifteen countries (fifteen men’s teams and eleven women’s teams), twelve rank in the top fifty, and twenty rank in the top 100 in their respective FIFA rankings. But that’s not all. These countries’ men’s teams also hold 35% of all the FIFA World Cup titles since it began in 1930, with Italy owning four of those. And the women’s team from England ranks fourth among FIFA women’s teams—the highest ranking among all twenty-six countries’ national teams.
Interestingly, none of these countries’ men’s teams currently rank in the top ten. The highest-ranking men’s team is Italy at number twelve. Conversely, none of the women’s teams in these countries have won a World Cup (granted there have only been seven FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments thus far).
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
Battlefield 1 is a war game set during World War I. Ten of the thirteen countries on this list participated in World War I, although most of them were under different rule at the time. Croatia and Slovenia were parts of Austro-Hungary; Finland was under Russian rule; Iraq, Israel, and Turkey were parts of the Ottoman Empire; New Zealand and Pakistan were under British rule; and Saudi Arabia was fighting as a group known as the Arab Revolt. Those countries saw a major change in sovereignty surrounding WWI. Perhaps for people in these countries, playing Battlefield 1 is like reenacting their respective wars for independence.
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
Horizon Zero Dawn, an open-world, action RPG, takes place in a post-apocalyptic future with mechanical dinosaur-like creatures. The protagonist in this game is Aloy. She’s a strong, charismatic character with a fun sense of humor. If you think this game sounds similar to anime, that may explain why it was the most popular game in Hong Kong and especially Japan, the birthplace of anime.
The post-apocalyptic narrative of the game may also draw Japanese gamers due to the destruction their country faced in the wake of World War II. That type of narrative might also explain why the game resonates in Austria, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, all of which saw WWII battles on their home soil.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Although its popularity has waned slightly, League of Legends still takes the top spot in these nine countries. At first glance, these nations may not seem to have much in common; however, they all have an average income well below the global average. Video games can be much more expensive outside the United States, especially in South America, but League of Legends is a free game. So, the popularity of this game may be related to its affordability.
- Dominican Republic
Persona 5 is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game), so we were surprised this was not the number-one game in Japan. This game has a long story with a lot of dialogue, meaning players will spend a lot of time reading while playing this game.
Persona 5 is a single-player game, not an online battle. This lack of internet dependence may help explain the places this game is popular. Six of the countries listed above—Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Malaysia, Peru, and Venezuela—have average internet speeds slower than the global average, and Mexico’s speeds are barely above the average. And, while Indonesia has above-average internet speed, it suffers from notoriously high ping rates, which leads to undesirable slower reaction times with online games.
World of Tanks is a free, tank combat game developed in Belarus. Given the volatile history of land-based conquests in eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R., these countries’ interest in a game like World of Tanks makes sense.
- Puerto Rico
- South Korea
Most of the countries in which Overwatch is the most popular are in southeast Asia, the heart of the eSports world. The fact that these gamers opt for Overwatch ahead of games like League of Legends (LoL) or Dota 2 is remarkable, especially in South Korea. You may have seen the stories of Overwatch replacing LoL and StarCraft 2 in Korea’s gaming cafes, and our data only confirms those reports. Considering LoL is free and Overwatch isn’t, this change is remarkable.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, also known as CS:GO, is hugely popular in the eSports community. The countries in which it’s the most-popular game also show well in CS:GO competitions.
Argentina was the runner-up in last-year’s CS:GO World Championships. Algeria and Tunisia are two of only six countries that participated in the CS:GO World Championships African Qualifier. Tunisia won that qualifier. Slovakia placed ninth in the European Qualifier, just missing out on tournament play. And while Romania came in twenty-fourth at the European Qualifier, the combined monetary winnings of players from Romania ranks among the top twenty-five in the world.
- United Sates
Considered by many the worst of the Call of Duty (CoD) series, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare still ranked as the number-one game in four countries, including the United States. The game’s popularity undoubtedly benefitted from the CoD branding and marketing: Activision, the game’s developer, spent over $100 million on marketing alone.
Most popular video game in three countries:
Dota 2 is another free game like League of Legends (LoL), but some say it’s more difficult. Again, the free factor may help explain why it’s popular in these particular countries. While LoL is far more popular around the world, gamers in these three countries prefer Dota 2. Additionally, each of them has an average income far below the world average.
These three countries all also neighbor China. We would love to see if Dota 2 is the most popular game there as well, but unfortunately that data is unavailable.
If you thought everyone had moved on from World of Warcraft, you were almost right. But raid night continues in Bolivia, Georgia, and Latvia. All we can say is WoW.
Are you surprised by any of these results? What’s your favorite video game? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this map with your friends.
Special thanks to Jonathan Deesing of The 3-Bit Gamer Show for providing insights on this article.