2016 was a relatively innocuous year for the gaming industry. Although the release of commercial grade virtual reality made it stand out to some degree, when it came to traditional gaming products it was nothing out of the ordinary, and dominated by releases in well-established franchises.
That isn't to say that it doesn't offer interesting data. Actually, there's a lot to be learned by looking at how hardware and software performed during the year, providing insight into the state of the industry for risk assessment and general discussion.
The Entertainment Software Association has published a report containing sales, demographic, and usage data during the year of 2016. Among its more than a dozen pages of findings are the final results for best-selling games during the 12-month period. They are as follows:
2. Battlefield 1
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. Madden NFL 17
5. NBA 2K17
6. Tom Clancy's The Division
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
10. FIFA 17
11. Pokemon: Sun
12. Pokemon: Moon
13. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
14. Star Wars Battlefront
15. Final Fantasy XV
16. Titanfall 2
17. NBA 2K16
18. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege
19. Far Cry Primal
20. Dark Souls 3
Shooters dominated the charts with 27.5% representation, followed by Action at 22.5%, RPG at 12.9%, and Sports at 11.7%. In addition, the top six games were all from high profile IPs. Game of the year favorite Overwatch alongside Minecraft made sure that wasn't the case for the entire top 10.
Interestingly enough, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was regarded as an "underperformer", totaling at 13% fewer units sold than forecast by experts. Even then it was by far the best-selling game of the year. It was supported by Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which managed to sell more than eight million units after its debut year. Both games faced tough competition in the FPS space with Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 achieving far greater critical acclaim.
Representation by Grand Theft Auto V, Tom Clancy's The Division, Minecraft, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim indicate continued demand for older releases. Grand Theft Auto V in particular is confirmed to have sold over 75 million copies at this point, making it the fourth best-selling game ever.
Final Fantasy XV's #15 spot on the chart marks the first time the series has made an end of year sales chart since 2006. Final Fantasy XIII failed to achieve similar results.
It is estimated that Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and For Honor are currently the best-selling games of 2017.