Since the advent of internet-connected gaming, more time has been spent playing online multiplayer games than the entire span of human existence. Throughout these billions of hours of gameplay, the games in this list have risen above the rest, to become the most popular online multiplayer games of all time.
The games in this list were selected based on a combination of the following factors; total sales, total players, overall reception, and recent trends.
League of Legends
League of Legends not only takes the title of most popular online multiplayer game, but it’s also become the most played PC game of all time. LoL’s arena-based, fantasy combat, coupled with a free-to-play model, have launched it to staggering numbers of 67 million monthly players, 27 million daily players, and as many as 7.5 million people playing, at any given point in time.
World of Warcraft
The king of massive, multiplayer, open-world gameplay – World of Warcraft – still brings in more paying subscribers than any other game on the market. Since it’s launch in 2004, the fantasy role-playing game has been surpassed in overall players, by a barrage of free-to-play competitors, but the seasoned heavyweight still boasts more than 100 million player accounts, and 7.8 million active subscribers.
Grand Theft Auto
Made famous for it’s open-world gameplay and exceedingly mature subject matter, Grand Theft Auto has become one of the most popular multiplayer games online – with it’s most recent installment, Grand Theft Auto V, bringing more than 22 million players online.
Call of Duty
The Call of Duty franchise started as a World War II simulator, in 2003, and first took off as a mainstream title with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, in 2007. Today, CoD’s fast-paced, shoot ’em up, war games are played by more than 100 million people, around the world.
Battlefield – the leading challenger to Call of Duty’s commanding position in the realm of war game shooters – has gained a strong following, with over 60 million games sold, since it’s 2002 debut, for it’s break away from typical shooter style, through the use of large maps, vehicular combat, and co-operative, team-based gameplay.
The Microsoft exclusive series, Halo, which was first released alongside the original Xbox, in 2001, defined the sci-fi combat genre and gained tremendous fanfare. Today, the series has sold more than 50 million copies, and remains a flagship title for the Xbox.
Minecraft – everybody’s favorite block-building sandbox game – has become the most popular indie game of all time, with more than 35 million copies sold. The brainchild of Swedish developer, Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft has reeled in millions of players with it’s endless, dynamic worlds of mining, farming, crafting, and building.
Originally started as a fan-made Half-Life mod, in 1999, Counter-Strike was acquired, and subsequently released by Valve, in 2000 – predating the now more popular Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, which share similar multiplayer mechanics. The Counter-Strike series has sold more than 25 million copies, and is played, both competitively and casually, by up to half a million people everyday.
Starcraft, the real-time strategy series, in which players take control of a sci-fi military, and compete for dominance over an alien planet, has sold 17 million copies. The series has also won 37 awards since it’s 1998 release, and is played competitively around the world, with top players earning six-figure salaries.
Upon it’s release in 1993, Doom was the first 3D, internet-connected, first-person, multiplayer shooter. After setting the stage for countless other online shooters to follow, the Doom series has since sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Honorable mentions that didn’t quite meet the criteria of this list include; Tetris, FIFA, Madden NFL, Mario Kart, and Gran Turismo.