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Minecraft (likely) becomes the best-selling game of all time on its 10th birthday

What you need to know

  • Minecraft has sold over 176 million copies.
  • You can purchase the game for $20 on the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab).
  • Minecraft appears to have surpassed Tetris in terms of sales.

Minecraft is an incredibly popular survival game which focuses on gathering resources, building shelters, and exploring a procedurally-generated world. The title has become a cultural sensation in recent years along the lines of Fortnite. This is mostly due to the fact that it features open-ended gameplay and has received excellent post-launch support over the past decade.

The same version of Minecraft is available across a number of devices like the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, allowing users to play together. In a recent post on Xbox Wire (opens in new tab), Microsoft started that the game has sold over 176 million units as of its tenth birthday. The company said the following.

This is an incredibly exciting time for Minecraft. Ten years ago today, the game launched on PC. Now, Minecraft has sold more than 176 million copies to-date in virtually every country in the world. As a way to celebrate ten years for the franchise, we announced today a brand-new Minecraft game… Minecraft Earth.

Minecraft Earth is a Pokémon Go-like experience which allows you to build together in an augmented reality environment. It takes cooperation and communication to another level because you have to work with other players to build complex structures.

Given the fact that Minecraft has sold 176 million units, it might be the best-selling game of all time. Tetris seems to be its closest rival, but it's not an exact comparison because a lot of different versions of Tetris exist with different visuals and features. If you analyze all Tetris purchases — and remove the copious free-to-play versions — it turns out that past iterations have sold 70 million copies. This figure appears to contain partial phone sales because in 2010, EA announced that the mobile version crossed 100 million copies sold. The 70 million figure was reported in 2009.

Around the same time, EA adopted a free-to-play model for Tetris on smartphones. Instead of purchasing the game outright, you have to buy microtransactions which give you coins and the ability to remove advertisements. Even if we combine the 70 million figure with the 100 million figure — though there might be overlap — Tetris sales are still lower than Minecraft sales.

Minecraft Earth at Windows Central

Minecraft seems to be the best-selling game of all time if you take all of these factors into account. Even though estimates suggest that Tetris has been downloaded over 500 million times, the fact that it's fragmented among so many different spin-offs means that a direct comparison between the two games can never be made. A better comparison would be between Grand Theft Auto V which is at roughly 110 million units sold.

Awesome Minecraft merch

Love Minecraft? We're fairly certain you'll love these accessories equally.

Minecraft Sprites Premium T-Shirt (opens in new tab) ($19 at Amazon)

Show off your Minecraft pride with this premium tee from Jinx, showcasing many of Minecraft's iconic mobs.

Minecraft Lego: The End Battle (opens in new tab) ($20 at Amazon)

Who doesn't want a Lego Ender Dragon?

Minecraft for Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab) ($30 at Amazon)

Minecraft for Nintendo Switch features full cross-play between Xbox, Windows 10, mobile phones, and even VR!

Minecraft shades (opens in new tab) ($8 at Amazon)

You might think you're cool, but are you cool enough to wear these?

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

44 Comments
  • Wait, MS are announcing sales numbers?
    I guess sales numbers are useless unless they make MS or a MS product look good. :)
  • IS that why Apple stop saying their iPhone sales numbers?
  • @VHMP01
    Maybe, but honestly I don't care enough about Apple and iphones to know that information...
  • Everyone does this, not just Microsoft lol
  • @real
    You should look at financial reports by Sony. They communicate on loss or profit. They communicate on the number of PSNow and PS+ subscribers.
  • You are saying... MS doesn't do financial reports (or they lie about the numbers)? And Sony announces how many copies they sell per game annually?
  • No I'm saying MS doesn't communicate on profit/loss of the XB division. They never communicate on the number of game pass and gold members. They stopped communicating on number of consoles sold soon after the launch of the XB1.
  • They definitely talk about profit and loss. They definitely talk about Xbox users. Phil Spencer has also revealed Xbox Game Pass subscriber counts in the past.
  • Do you even understand how the corporate world works?
  • He doesn’t get it. Microsoft will release whatever they want. Whatever makes them look good.
  • Well yes. I think so. And you know what? I think I also understand how company fans work. These people will tend to defend and do damage control work for the company they worship no matter how hypocrite these companies are. The classic whataboutism as an argument to defend any practice is so common.
  • Just like you and your sony/playststion worship.
  • Worship Sony/PS? I just criticised MS's communication. Are you that upset/hurt that I criticise a company?
    But what you're doing is another classic. Instead of discussing on the topic and keeping it gaming, you decide to discredit the person who criticise by making it personal with baseless accusation.
  • Why don't you try using a valid argument next time. Any time ANYONE disagrees with you, it's instantly that they are a MS fanboy and you're correct no matter what. The truth is, MS is a company. Companies are designed to do one thing, make money. When a product is involved, it's smart to make that product as attractive as possible, and if advertising your product as "best selling" makes it look attractive (and that should) then it makes sense to do that. On the flip side, you'd be foolish to advertise your product as second best selling, in a market with so few competitors. This is literally just good business. I'm not sure why you have an issue with good business.
  • Right and I criticise the hypocrisy. I understand that they possibly felt humiliated when their sales were compared to the competition and perhaps it's ok to try to hide facts that hurts an image and try to make people think that a product is more popular than it actually is with bs stats. But the thing here is that to justify that they say sales are irrelevant. Ok fine.
    So logically, they should not talk about sales.
    But your marketing and PR looks like total hypocrites when they go crazy about the XB1 sells more than the PS4 for 4 months, when forza sells well, when the Scorpio is the fastest selling xbox,... Even PR and marketing needs to be coherent/consistent and not all over the place. You cannot say resolution is subjective and just a number in 2013 and hype it as if it's the only thing that matters five years later.
    Consistent messaging is also important in any company... Do you understand my point or will you once again say I don't understand the corporate world?
  • "Even PR and marketing needs to be coherent/consistent and not all over the place." This is absolutely not true, not even a little bit. PR and marketing are there to do nothing but sell to a customer. They do nothing but make every product they product they provide look better than their competitors, while avoiding direct lies. That is literally it. You can hate a company for it, but literally every single PR and marketing campaign does it to some extent. THAT is why you don't understand the corporate world. It's nothing personal against you what Microsoft is doing. It's just because they have a legal responsibility to make as much money as they can. If you don't like it, fine, don't buy their product, but to incoherently claim anyone did anything wrong is just, well, wrong.
  • Well that's your opinion. If you think it's ok that a company can say something one day and then claim the opposite the next day then fine that's your vision. But it comes down to the trust factor. I would suggest you to look up Trust-based marketing. If you think it's ok, that companies can be are hypocrite and it's ok for them to say anything and even mislead consumer with bs and that their public image doesn't matter as long as they do it to make money then it's fine. But that's just your opinion. I think a company's image is very important. Me as a consumer has EVERY RIGHT to criticise and even make fun of their double standard and hypocrite messaging. You may not like my criticism and think I should not do it. Maybe you think that when I expose the hypocrisy I'm making them look bad... But honestly as a consumer I have every right to do it... And there isn't really much you can do about it.
    So if you don't like my criticism, you can either try to prove that they are not being hypocrites with actual facts or just ignore my comment.
  • It's not my opinion, it's literally what companies are designed to do, make money. I'm not sure where you feel Microsoft is misleading it's customers here btw, nor do I see why you are calling MS a hypocrite. If you want facts, the fact is Microsoft specifically stated the following: “We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales,” a spokesperson told Variety. “During Microsoft’s FY18 Q3 earnings, we announced that gaming revenue grew 18% year-over-year, driven by Xbox software and services revenue growth of 24%, and Xbox Live monthly active users grew 1% year-over-year to 59 million. We continue to see strong growth with time spent on Xbox Live, and look forward to bringing more unprecedented experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and mobile.” Nowhere did they say that console sales numbers don't matter or anything like that. So yeah, stating that Minecraft is the best selling game of all time, certainly does fit into not reporting console sales numbers but reporting Xbox software and services.
  • "It's not my opinion, it's literally what companies are designed to do, make money."
    What are you talking about? Your opinion that "it's fine" remains an opinion. I believe it's not is also my opinion.
    Companies are designed to make money. But companies have different ways of making money. while some companies will try to earn trust with their communication (Trust-based marketing), others will do "anything" to sell a product...
    Can you understand the difference? "I'm not sure where you feel Microsoft is misleading it's customers here btw, nor do I see why you are calling MS a hypocrite."
    Well, this is what you said "On the flip side, you'd be foolish to advertise your product as second best selling, in a market with so few competitors. This is literally just good business."
    Many pro-MS fans here clearly thinks that they are not showing the numbers because it looks bad compared to the PS4's numbers. And that's fine but Spencer clearly said that wasn't the case. Here is what Spencer said "Our partners and gamers, they want the largest collection of active gamers who are buying and playing games.".
    Again that's totally fine. But why doesn't that SAME rule that THEY fixed is no longer applied with Minecraft sales or just when the XB1s sells more than the PS4 for 4 months? And let's talk about these MAU. These include people millions of people playing on non XB platforms or others playing solitaire. How is that what gamers want? Wouldn't a XB1 owner wants to know how many gold active users are there?
    https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-says-xbox-one-sales-number-not-an-impo... You keep saying that every company hides numbers that makes them look bad but that's not true. Look at Sony reports they tell the number as they are. They just won't change the number communicated just because it makes their product look bad.
    Looks at how they communicate profit and loss.
    Look at company making statement about how games sold poorly. Square Enix isn't hiding how badly Just Cause 4 sold. Major publishers like EA Activision... Valve and Sony communicates when sales for Steam machines and PSVR are below below expectation or below expected growth.
    I'm struggling to remember MS ever communicate about a game or a product still in the market by telling it's selling badly.
    Now you may say that's great marketing/PR. It remains your opinion.
  • "What are you talking about? Your opinion that "it's fine" remains an opinion. I believe it's not is also my opinion.
    Companies are designed to make money. But companies have different ways of making money. while some companies will try to earn trust with their communication (Trust-based marketing), others will do "anything" to sell a product...
    Can you understand the difference?" First off, I never stated that "I'm fine" with anything as part of my argument to any of this, so no, I haven't stated an opinion on anything here. Second, you keep using the term Trust-Based Marketing, as well as try to use Sony as an example of how Microsoft should advertise their product. The issue here, Sony regularly provides biased information about the PS4, including multiple claims of resolution being displayed higher than it really is, crossplay, and more. "Many pro-MS fans here clearly thinks that they are not showing the numbers because it looks bad compared to the PS4's numbers." This isn't a discussion about what other "pro-MS fans here clearly thinks" so leave that out of it. "Here is what Spencer said "Our partners and gamers, they want the largest collection of active gamers who are buying and playing games."." Again, how is this hypocritical? Did someone suggest this statement isn't true? Are you somehow saying this means MS says "sales numbers don't matter" (which you haven't provided any proof MS said that btw, and no, a clickbait article title is NOT a MS quote) "Wouldn't a XB1 owner wants to know how many gold active users are there?" If you're making that claim, why don't you provide some facts to back it up. "You keep saying that every company hides numbers that makes them look bad but that's not true. Look at Sony reports they tell the number as they are. They just won't change the number communicated just because it makes their product look bad." Don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say companies hide numbers that make them look bad. I said in a market with 2 competitors, you don't advertise that you're in second place. "Looks at how they communicate profit and loss." Microsoft publishes an earnings report, and they report the profit of the Xbox division on it. "I'm struggling to remember MS ever communicate about a game or a product still in the market by telling it's selling badly." Like how the let people know Windows 10 didn't meet their expected numbers? "Now you may say that's great marketing/PR. It remains your opinion." Again, don't put words in my mouth, I never said it was great marketing, I said it was what PR departments do, FACT not OPINION.
  • Microsoft is a corporation. They do whatever it takes to make them look good. I don’t think you understand that. You can’t apply your standard to every action.
  • What do you mean I don't understand that? That's exactly what I said. lol
    And yes, they can communicate on whatever they want. They can be hypocrites if they want to... And I'm a consumer and a gamer, I can criticise any company for their hypocrisy. I hope you understand that.
  • That's why everyone announces sales numbers, no company is going to go out and make a press release that their product did poorly. This is pretty much business 101, you big note your achievements for the shareholders, this isn't a new thing.
  • They used to share console sales number and even the number of gold subscribers in the past but then changed saying that these sales numbers were not important. The point is that they end up looking like hypocrites when they again talk of sales numbers.
    For most of this gen they and their "fans" kept saying sales number don't matter but the year the XB1s was launched, it was the best selling console for 4 months in the NA NPD numbers. And oh did we hear them and their fans dancing and celebrating those "wins".
    So what is it? Are they important or not? Another thing, if MS only communicates on numbers when they are happy with them, does that mean that whenever they don't communicate the numbers they aren't happy with the sales numbers? Logically that's what it means.
    Similarly, if you never talk about the profit your company makes but would rather talk about the number of zombies killed then we could also think that XB is not really making a profit.
  • Logically it means they don't see it as an achievement, based on what I said. However, having the highest selling game in history is an achievement. Regarding profits, that topic always seems irrelevant unless you are talking to your shareholders. Why would a person playing video games at home care about a companies profits? I know I don't, I don't care if Dyson makes more money than Hoover, or Samsung is beating LG. It has no bearing whatsoever on me. As an aside, Microsoft does still discuss Live users as their metric for player rates.
  • add: DAU and MAU are both figures devs care.
  • @Hirox
    Right. I don't know about you but me as a dev my priority is to provide a working software for the user. A good user experience...
    I really don't think game developers care that much about how many people opened solitaire, how many players (on android, ios, switch...) launched minecraft... at least once on a certain month.
  • @Sin Ogaris
    Ok thanks that actually made sense. Only communicate on outstanding achievement.
    The thing that I talk about if the double standard and hypocrisy.
    Let's face it, MS most probably changed their manner of communicating console numbers because they were constantly getting massively outsold by the competition.
    Ok, I understand that they wanted to change the message. I understand that it was probably easier to make XB look better if they just counted a bunch of players connecting at least once to a game on a whole bunch of different platforms and label it active XBL users. Ok, their excuse is sales are irrelevant. But my point is when their marketing and PR teams goes crazy because a newly released XB1s outsells the PS4 for 4 months. Ok, outselling the PS4 may be a great achievement but their marketing and messaging looks like total hypocrites. Knowing if a company is profitable or not is good for a customer to know if that company is likely to continue to invest more in gaming. That's the same for a game. A successful game will more likely get a sequel than one that sells poorly. In case of console sales it provides a very important for gamers to know how big the user base is. Bigger base will most likely mean more games, more support, devs would less likely ignore the system when it comes to exclusivity. There are other advantages.
    And as for number of gold or PS+ subscribers. It tells the number of potential players you'll find in a multiplayer game. The number of XBL active user includes the number of people opening solitaire (on Win10) or the number of people who would open Minecraft (on win10, iOS, Android, Switch...) once in a certain month. Now on the contrary I would say that is more irrelevant.
  • Again, the focus is on achievements and as Axmantim said above flip flopping on things is what PR departments, and companies in general, do. It's no different to a Company one generation pushing for cross platform support between consoles and then the next generation shunning it. Ok, fair point re: profitability... so why then are so many people up in arms about micro transactions? The very nature of that system lends itself to much higher profits for the Developers and Publishers which, by what you are saying, is what the people want. Why then is the public outcry against such money making tactics so large? Actually Simple Solitaire (that comes preloaded in Win 10) isn't attached to XBL, in fact, the vast majority of games on the Windows store aren't either. Sure there are some games that do connect to it, but a lot of the time it's like Facebook connectivity, it's not required.
  • Marketing doesn't have to be and is not always about flip flopping. There are companies that focus in a trust-based marketing, where they will be honest to their customers in their communication. And again when it comes to financial results and publishing actual numbers whether good or bad, other company/brands do it.
    I've stated somewhere else where companies don't even hesitate to tell when a game sells poorly.
    My whole point is that even if everyone does the same thing it's still the same, I don't support the idea. I see their marketing as hypocrites.
    And I make fun of it. People are up in arms about microtransactions is because there are other companies that make profitable games without the need to pollute your game with microtransactions and loot box. When devs are made to focus on trying to make more money out of a AAA game that was already sold at full price then it's not generally a great thing. In that case we aren't talking about making a profit but making a MUCH bigger profit.
    Yes, the game may be a financial success and we would get more games of the franchise but this could lead to even more focus on microtransactions and less on making a good game. well, yes it is attached. Ive connected on XBL when I played on the Solitaire Collection. It has XB achievements and everything.
    https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • And I don't care, If I buy a product I do so because i want it, not because millions of other buy it.
    Ok, it could be a bit different with multiplayer games, no good having a multiplayer game and no one else playing it. As real0395 posted every company play the sale figures game.
  • You cared enough to comment.
  • Becoming the biggest game of all time is a milestone worth respecting.
  • Kudos to the game's original dev team, not Microsoft
  • That goes without mentioning.
  • I'd imagine MS provided resources (time = money & man power), tech and tech support...
  • The game's original dev team is still there... at Microsoft.
  • @zizu
    Microsoft should be given the credit for introducing microtransactions and paid mods in minecraft.
  • Microsoft deserves credit for continuing to make massive improvements to the game in the past few years. The Update Aquatic and the recent Village and Pillage updates make it feel like "Minecraft 2.0" without having to pay money for an update. Also, kudos to them for giving content creators the ability to earn money for their hard work on the Bedrock edition.
  • The comment about Tetris is odd because aren't there also different versions of Minecraft?
  • Totally agree. And from this article dating from 2014 it included paid original versions from Sega and EA.
    (425m at the time)
    https://e27.co/tetris-downloaded-whopping-425m-times-paid-mobile-game/ How can this massive number be discredited when there hasn't been that many official paid versions of Tetris?
    And also like you said why should different versions of Tetris be ignored while different versions of Minecraft be allowed?
    At this stage it just looks like moving the goal post.
  • There are basically only 2 version of Minecraft now. Bedrock, which powers all of the consoles, mobile, and WIndows 10 versions, and the original Java edition. Even between those two, the game itself is almost identical, with differences coming down mostly to which new features are available on which edition first. With Tetris, there are not just different versions of the same game, but sequels and spinoffs that are truly different games.
  • Did you read the link I posted (about the 425m)?
  • Now, imagine the market share between Minecraft's and Tetris' merchants...