Elden Ring

Elden Ring Sells 20 Million Copies and Makes a Great Message

It does not have to squeeze us for all we’re worth.

Elden Ring, FromSoftware’s 2022 Game Of The Year For Lots Of People (including the majority of this website’s team), has sold 20 million copies worldwide since its debut a year ago. That’s a lot of information.

You may be asking why I’m bringing this up on Kotaku, a publication that, in 2023, doesn’t give a damn about sales boasts/figures, especially when they come bundled in a press release from the publisher.

It’s because I believe Elden Ring, a tough-as-nails action/RPG that’s essentially a single-player experience, will sell 20 million copies between 2022 and 2023. It demonstrates to publishers and those in charge of their budgets that not every video game launched in the modern era has to be a Forever Game, a live service timesink that not only requires our continual attention but also constantly asks for money while doing so.

You purchase Elden Ring, play Elden Ring, rinse Elden Ring, and then you’re done! There are no Expansion packs, season passes, or multiplayer modes where you can buy skins for $2. What you paid for is what you get. Elden Ring was, conceptually, a near-perfect video game experience for many folks raised on less exploitative games or frustrated of current gaming’s demands (or both!).

I’m aware that I’m not alone. It’s not like every game published these days is a strain on the live service. True, the GOTY list I referred to earlier is dominated by single-player experiences.

Yet, none of them has sold 20 million copies. That is why Elden Ring’s sales are so crucial. They demonstrate that a regular video game can do well, but also that it can be a complete blockbuster. While determining specific sales figures in these days of digital storefronts can be difficult, 20 million places the game in the same ballpark as Modern Warfare 2 and EA’s FIFA series, an extraordinary achievement for a game that’s difficult as hell and received a fraction of the promotional budget those juggernauts—both full-priced retail games that then try to fleece players for even more money—received.

What else is in that sales range? Cyberpunk 2077 sold over 20 million copies despite its flaws and expensive marketing expenditure. Another relatively single-player experience, God of War Ragnarok, published in 2022, has sold over 10 million copies (to Sony’s credit, much of their first-party approach, from Horizon to The Last Of Us, follows a similar pattern). Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the first Star Wars single-player game in a long time? Oh, and it sold over 10 million copies, which is more than enough to support a big-budget sequel that will be released very soon.

These huge sales figures aren’t just success stories for the companies involved; they’re also a sign to other publishers that maybe people who buy and play games are tired of this obsession with duping us at every turn and stripping the heart out of games at a desperate attempt to prologue our time spent with them. I understand that firms are aware that a live service game might possibly earn more money than a regular one—consider FIFA, which has made billions from digital card sales in addition to retail profits—but this is not assured. This is not required in every game. We don’t have the time or the money.

Sometimes people just want to finish a video game, enjoy it for what it was, and go on with their lives. And those people are demonstrating that there are enough of them to not only buy a few million copies of such games but to make them absolute blockbusters.