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VOICE OVER: Ricky Tucci
In the 21st century, these video games have been more popular than any others. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down the most widely played and lucrative games of the century so far. Our countdown of the most popular video games of the century includes “Minecraft” (2011), “Fortnite” (2017), “Genshin Impact” (2020), “Grand Theft Auto V” (2013), and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down the most widely played and lucrative games of the twenty-first century.

#10: “Overwatch” (2016)

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Though the tables have arguably turned for “Overwatch” since the release of “Overwatch 2”, which completely replaced the original game with an inferior version, for a few years, “Overwatch” was everywhere. It hasn’t had the staying power of some of the century’s other most popular games, but you have to give it props for being completely inescapable for a year or two. With a wide variety of heroes and lightning-fast, objective-based FPS gameplay, “Overwatch” was a blast in its golden age. It looked and played great on consoles and PC and was celebrated for its inclusivity and deep lore just as much as for how fun it was. But even Blizzard has admitted that the “Overwatch 2” release was a failure.

#9: “Minecraft” (2011)

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It started life as a ground-breaking indie title, a deep crafting game that pretty much every computer could run. “Minecraft” has only gone from strength to strength since then, especially since being bought by Microsoft in 2014 and having the benefit of all that Windows money. What’s great about “Minecraft” is that it’s as complex or as simple as you like, and the difficulty is highly customizable, too. You can turn off enemies, build without worrying about resources, or you can play it more like a survival simulator. It provides so much freedom and infinite possibilities to its players, helped by expansive mods and constant updates that finesse the gameplay and improve the visuals.

#8: “Dota 2” (2013)

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Starting life as a “Warcraft III” mod, the original “DotA” eventually got so popular that a standalone sequel was made in 2013. But just as the original mod was time-consuming to install, “Dota 2” also isn’t very friendly to new players. Despite that, it’s become one of the biggest eSports games out there, with a huge scene of exceptionally skilled players. This can definitely make it intimidating for a new player, since you’ve got to contend with a very steep learning curve to get into “Dota” at all on a mechanical level, and you’ve also got to go up against people who have been playing for years. But few things are as rewarding as being one of those top players.

#7: “Grand Theft Auto V” (2013)

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“GTA V” is still one of the most profitable entertainment products in history, a money-printing machine Rockstar happened upon when they developed “GTA Online”. But there are huge caveats attached this – namely, that plenty of fans don’t like Rockstar’s single-player experiences taking a backseat to “GTA’s” ageing online mode. Still, “GTA Online” is constantly updated and remains hugely popular, as does the base game and its numerous re-releases. It’s another game with an enormous modding scene, too, further adding to its popularity, while a role-playing scene has also built up around it. Rockstar has even bought various role-play servers, suggesting that this element will have official support in “GTA VI”.

#6: “Genshin Impact” (2020)

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It’s pretty astonishing that “Genshin Impact” is free-to-play, given how much content the game has when you get into it. And unlike many other popular games, “Genshin” is an ARPG that you can get plenty of enjoyment out of even if you’re playing alone. Its monetization also isn’t too intrusive; yes, you can spend far too much money unlocking in-game items if you want, but you can also have just as much fun not doing any of that and saving your hard-earned cash. It’s been hugely profitable for its creators, enabling them to keep rolling out high-quality updates that expand the story and world – and even putting out a sci-fi sibling to “Genshin”, “Honkai Star Rail”.

#5: “Call of Duty” franchise (2003-)

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Over the years, “Call of Duty” quickly turned into a tentpole release, and a highlight of the gaming calendar each year. Though some would argue that the quality of “COD” games has been declining, with more misses than hits, they’re still immensely popular games that make hundreds of millions of dollars for Activision each year. Activision may keep bumping up the price and adding more and more microtransactions, but to its credit, we also have “Warzone” now, which is massive and free-to-play. “Warzone” is maybe even more enjoyable than the mainline games that go out of date every twelve months.

#4: “Counter-Strike” series (2000-)

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This intense, FPS strategy game has stood the test of time, and has been resoundingly popular for over twenty years. The beauty of “Counter-Strike” has always been its simplicity. You have teams and clear objectives, but limitless ways to achieve those objectives – while unlocking plenty of unique skins along the way, of course; Valve has to keep the lights on somehow. You don’t have to be the best player to enjoy it, but its years of high-level play mean that mastering the series is extremely rewarding. The only way to get good at “CS” IS to get good, and it takes time and patience to become one of the greats.

#3: “PUBG: Battlegrounds” (2017)

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One of the games that ushered in the era of battle royales and their consistent popularity, “PUBG” remains fun even years later. It also eventually adopted a free-to-play model, making it even more popular, though it’s still raking in plenty of cash. It’s really the classic battle royale experience, and you know exactly what you’re getting into when you launch a game. But like other multiplayer games, this is what makes it so addictive and replayable. Unlike its competitors in the battle royale space, “PUBG” also aims for a higher level of realism, meaning it captures the large groups of players who love military games and military sims. This has ensured its enduring popularity.

#2: “Fortnite” (2017)

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Though its player base has dwindled, and it’s not even got as many active players as “PUBG”, you can’t overstate the impact “Fortnite” had on the world throughout the 2010s. It’s absolutely still popular and has a healthy fanbase, but nothing really compares to its heyday in the latter half of the last decade. Every single popular IP – and even a lot of not-so-popular ones – had a skin in “Fortnite”; Epic Games was making unprecedented money selling lootboxes and those coveted skins to kids who stole their parents’ credit cards; and stores everywhere were full to bursting with “Fortnite”-themed Funko Pops. Love it or hate it, “Fortnite” was unavoidable for years.

#1: “League of Legends” (2009)

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Like “Overwatch”, a core part of “League’s” appeal is the huge roster of interesting characters with unique playstyles. But it’s had a lot more success and, in 2021, got a hit Netflix show based on it. It’s remained an eSports titan for over a decade at this point, with new players joining all the time and boasting the biggest competitive scene of any multiplayer game in the world – going by tournament viewership. Like many huge games, “League” is also free-to-play and funded by in-game microtransactions. To Riot’s credit, continuous support and updates have led to “League” being hugely improved in the years since its initial release, and it’s now almost unrecognizable. Let us know which of these hit games you still can’t put down.