The RetroBeat: 2010’s best-selling games show how the industry has changed (or not)
It’s 2020, which means that anything that happened in 2010 is now retro. And since The NPD Group has sent us a list of the best-selling games of each year through the last decade, I thought it would be fun to look at the 10 games that were the best-sellers in the U.S. in 2010.
I know that this may seem like a bit of a random exercise, but I believe that we can learn something by looking at 2010’s biggest hits. It’ll be a fun way to see how far (or how little) the industry has changed in the last 10 years.
10. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Battlefield is one of EA’s biggest franchises these days, but the series was still doing a fair amount of experimentation and identity-searching earlier in 2010. Bad Company 2 was the second, and last, part of a sub-series that had a story-driven solo campaign and destructible enviroments. It was also the last time the series had any sort of single-player content that got much praise. Bad Company 2 was a high point for the franchise. With the last Battlefield game underperforming, maybe we’ll finally see Bad Company 3.
9. NBA 2K11
The big thing to notice here is just how far the NBA 2K series has come during the 2010s. The No. 9 spot was respectable back in 2010, but NBA 2K20 was the No. 2 best-selling game of 2019. The franchise has seen an immense growth in popularity that has seen it surpass Madden NFL, which was long the king of sports games in the U.S.
8. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Can you believe that this was just the third Assassin’s Creed game? I think we’re on, what, the 17th one now or something? Brotherhood remains my favorite entry in the franchise. Ezio is a charming and likable hero, and I spent hours just exploring the open world of Rome. Also, remember when it seemed like the Assassin’s Creed franchise was on the decline? Well, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was the No. 10 best-selling game in 2018, the year it came out. The franchise is holding steady.
7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Man, it’s crazy to remember how popular 2D Mario games became again after New Super Mario Bros. launched for the DS back in 2006. This sequel for the Wii was a huge hit. 2010 wasn’t even its first year of release! It came out in 2009. This was one of those games that it feels like just about ever Wii owner bought. I’ve always been more of a fan of Mario’s 3D outings, myself, so I’d much rather take Super Mario Odyssey over any of the New games.
6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Before you think “wow, this is actually kind of low for Call of Duty,” know that this was the franchise’s 2009 entry. And it still ranked this high. Call of Duty has been a powerhouse throughout the entire decade, and that doesn’t look to be stopping any time soon.
5. Red Dead Redemption
Hey, look! It’s my favorite game from 2010! The original Red Dead Redemption is an epic story of regret, revenge, and (of course) redemption. It’s one of my favorite video game narratives of all time. Back in 2010, it’s success was something of a surprise. It was, after all, the sequel to a game few played, Red Dead Revolver. Red Dead Redemption distanced itself from its mediocre predecessor and became one of gaming’s greatest treasures.
4. Madden NFL 11
Yup, here’s Madden. If you look at The NPD’s charts, you’ll find a Madden game floating around something around the No. 3 or No. 4 spot for every year. Now, the last Madden game I played much of was Madden 97, so I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about Madden NFL 11. I’m sure it had some nice footballs.
3. Wii Fit Plus
Wii Fit was a big deal in the later part of the 2000s. It was another one of those Wii games that became something of a phenomenon. Heck, Wii Fit Plus came out in 2009, and still charted this high in 2010. It’s amazing to see how far Nintendo has come since then, from a company investing in casual experiences to one that has doubled down on its most recognizable characters and brands. As someone who loves my Mario and Zelda, I prefer our modern Nintendo.
2. Halo: Reach
Reach was the last Halo game from Bungie, the franchise’s creator. After this, Bungie would begin working on Destiny while Microsoft created 343 Industries to take over the Halo series. Halo 5: Guardians would chart at No. 8 in 2015, suggesting that series has lost a bit of its sales power since it was riding high in the Reach days.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops
And here it is, the other Call of Duty game. This one actually came out in 2010, at least. I’ll admit, this is one of the better entries in the franchise. The Cold War setting made for an interesting campaign, and the zombies-based co-op mode still felt fresh. Also, care to guess what the No. 1 game for 2019 was? Yup, it was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The industry changed a lot throughout the 2010s, but it didn’t change that much.
So, what did we learn? Well, Call of Duty has been king for a long time and isn’t done yet. Halo is slightly less popular than it used to be, people are over 2D Mario games a bit, and gamers like basketball more than football now.
Although, I must admit, I think I may become a bit depressed if a Call of Duty game is still the No. 1 best-seller in 2030.