The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century

The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century

Next-Gen has ranked the top 100 PC games released since January 2000, based wholly on unit sales. Revenues, aggregate review scores, commentary, franchise information and more are included.

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This list is based on units sold so please do not email us about how such-and-such a game should be higher on the list. For notes on how this list was compiled, go here. This feature is copyright to Next Generation and must not be reproduced or copied without the written permission of the publisher.






Go here for the Top 100 Console Games of the 21st Century
Go here for the Top 50 Handheld Games of the 21st Century

Hard Trucks 2 (Jewel Case SKU)
Publisher: ValuSoft
Developer: Softlab
Released: Dec ‘00
Estimated Sales: 210,000
Franchise Sales: 790,000
Revenues: $2.1 Million
Game ranking: 60.7%
Other Franchise Hits: Hard Trucks, Hard Trucks: 18 Wheels of Steel

The presence of Hard Truck 2 on this list at all really speaks to the eclectic nature of the PC market. This is a hardcore trucking simulator, after all – the player just hops behind the wheel of a big rig and hauls cargo from town to town on a contiguous roadway. The game’s website implies that it could be played in this banal fashion for a straight month, something actual truckers don’t even enjoy. So who’s enjoying this?

Ultimate Hunt Challenge
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Sports
Released: Mar ‘00
Estimated Sales: 210,000
Franchise Sales: 210,000
Revenues: $3.4 Million
Game ranking: 68.0%
Other Franchise Hits: None

This strange compendium of classic hunting games actually contains only one title with previously released content – a special extended edition of 1999’s Deer Hunt Challenge. The set tossed on Turkey Hunt Challenge and Pheasant Hunt Challenge – hardly classics for a litany of reasons, but most technically because this was the first time they were offered to the public. All three games were basically the same game, but to some people it probably looked like a deal.

Slots 2: Betty Boop
Publisher: Masque
Developer: Masque
Released: Oct ‘01
Estimated Sales: 210,000
Franchise Sales: 1.4 Million
Revenues: $3.8 Million
Game ranking: None
Other Franchise Hits: Slots, Slots from Bally Gaming

Seeing a slots-themed simulator on a list of top selling games isn’t really surprising, but this specific slot game’s claim to fame is realistic renditions of the same Betty Boop-themed machines you can find in Vegas. I think it’s fair to say that the idea of using 76-year-old children’s cartoon IP as the major selling point of your video game defies conventional logic (to say the least), but apparently it works in gambling and it worked here.

Jurassic Park III: Danger Zone!
Publisher: Vivendi Games
Developer: Knowledge Adventure, Inc.
Released: Jun ’01
Estimated Sales: 210,000
Franchise Sales: 410,000
Revenues: $4.6 Million
Game ranking: None
Other Franchise Hits: Jurassic Park III: Dino Defender

Kids love dinosaurs, and no dinosaur franchise is bigger than Jurassic Park. This was true even in 2001 as the third movie in the series saw huge profits despite critical apathy, likely an indicator of this entrenched child market. So here’s a children’s game based on the franchise, and one intended for the very young at that – Danger Zone is a Mario Party-like affair that also teaches kids about the ancient beasts. Thanks to the movie tie-in, it hit its mark.

Roller Coaster Factory (Jewel Case SKU)
Publisher: ValuSoft
Developer: ValuSoft
Released: Jul ’00
Estimated Sales: 215,000
Franchise Sales: 430,000
Revenues: $2.1 Million
Game ranking: None
Other Franchise Hits: Roller Coaster Factory 2

Another unusual reality of the PC market that this list will reflect many times is the popularity of games that let you build roller coasters. Of these games, Roller Coaster Factory is the least well-documented, as it was positioned as an impulse buy budget game – those things hardly engender much enthusiasm. What is there however states that there’s no reason to believe this is anything but a weak genre example, and that the emphasis was on the pocket change-level asking price.

Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Firefly Studios
Released: Oct ’01
Estimated Sales: 220,000
Franchise Sales: 590,000
Revenues: $7.8 Million
Game ranking: None
Other Franchise Hits: Stronghold 2, Stronghold Crusader

Real-time strategy has found the best efforts in its genre isolated on PC since Dune 2 set the basic mechanics in two-by-two blocks of concrete, and while there have been a lot of slight variations on the resource collection and army deployment theme, a lot of them have also been quite successful. Stronghold is but a minor example of this success – it focused on castle fortification and maelstrom fortress sieges and in so doing found a large niche audience.

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Released: Nov ’01
Estimated Sales: 225,000
Franchise Sales: 480,000
Revenues: $9.8 Million
Game ranking: 77.1%
Other Franchise Hits: Galactic Battlegrounds Saga, Galactic Battlegrounds Clone Campaigns

Talk about brazen. Galactic Battlegrounds provided the real-time strategy game that fans had been asking about for years, yes, but built it in the Age of Empires II engine. The result wasn’t a bad game (Age of Kings was a great game, remember), but a derivative one – and since this was a science fiction game derived from a medieval game, it also felt kind of weird and lazy. Fortunately for the audience that was going to buy this regardless, it was also fun – a testament to the strength of the core technology and the twists LucasArts chose to make.

James Bond 007: Nightfire
Publisher: EA
Developer: Gearbox Software
Released: Nov ’02
Estimated Sales: 230,000
Franchise Sales: 250,000
Revenues: $5.3 Million
Game ranking: 65.0%
Other Franchise Hits: None

For some unknown reason, PC gamers rarely get James Bond games. They never got them when Rare had the property, and when EA got its hands on it only ever gave Windows this single solitary port of Nightfire. So 007 fans were understandably starving, and this must be why they consumed this version of the game even though it was crippled by a staggering blow to its multiplayer.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: Headgate
Released: Nov ’00
Estimated Sales: 230,000
Franchise Sales: 1.5 Million
Revenues: $5.5 Million
Game ranking: 63.5%
Other Franchise Hits: Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 1999-2006

There are a lot of PCs out there that are built purely for business. Golf is, rather stereotypically, a businessman’s game. This allows us to disregard the fact that critics didn’t seem to like this particular Tiger Woods entry, and besides, it’s probably more important to look at the franchise sales in this case. PC golf games are kind of like those fake office-sized putting greens you buy when Dad makes executive – used sporadically, mostly sitting under a nice plush desk.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Publisher: Universal Interactive
Developer: Surreal Software
Released: Oct ’02
Estimated Sales: 230,000
Franchise Sales: 240,000
Revenues: $7.8 Million
Game ranking: 57.0%
Other Franchise Hits: None

Back when Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies were performing the miracle of making high fantasy a hot mainstream commodity, the franchise’s game licensing was confusing the core audience. EA’s Lord of the Rings game were based on the completely autonomous (legally speaking) films. Universal had the rights to make games based on the books however, and took advantage of this with a game that most seemed to feel was pretty and accurate but completely banal. But then, it did have the One Ring on the box.