Toy Corner

Best Selling Board Games of All Time

Jun 03, 2024

Best Selling Board Games of All Time

Despite the rise of new technologies, board games continue to thrive, with the global market valued at an impressive £11.88 billion in 2022. It's fascinating to see how these timeless games have evolved and maintained their charm across generations. In this article, I'll dive into the best selling board games of all time, exploring why they remain so beloved.

Evolution of Board Games

Board games have ancient roots. Did you know that the oldest known board game, Senet, dates back to around 3100 BC in Egypt? Games like Chess and Go have been around for centuries, each carrying rich cultural significance. Chess, for instance, originated in India around the 6th century and spread across the world, becoming a symbol of strategic prowess and intellectual challenge. Go, an East Asian game, has been played for over 2500 years, prized for its depth and simplicity.

Key Developments Over the Decades

The 20th century was when board games really became popular, this period is where the most popular board games were invented, such as Monopoly in the 1930s, which has now had over 200 million copies sold worldwide. It was in the final part of the 20th century when games like Trivial Pursuit and Catan appeared, these were considered revolutionary due to their theme and style of play. Finally, in the 2000s we had classics like Carcassonne appear, where on top of the board game, there were expansions made to add on to the game.

1. Monopoly

One of the classics of all time, Monopoly was created in 1935, the premise was to buy land and build properties and the winner would be the player with the most money in the end. When it first came out, there was a lot of mixed reviews on Monopoly but fast forward to today and it is the most sold board game of all time.

Over the years, Monopoly has evolved. The classic board is timeless, but there are countless other editions tailored to different interests. This year's new releases, like the Monopoly Nightmare before Christmas and the Super Mario Movie edition, add fresh twists to the game. And if you're up for a bit of rule-bending fun, there's even a Monopoly Cheaters Edition where you can break the rules – as long as you don't get caught. There was also different versions created, like Monopoly Junior for younger kids and Monopoly Deal, which is a faster version of Monopoly.

2. Scrabble

Coming in at second is Scrabble, a true classic that has captured the hearts and minds of players across generations. Launched in the 1930s, it remains one of the most beloved board games of all time, having sold over 150 million units.

The game consists of players taking turns placing letter tiles on the board, aiming to form words and score points. It's not just about making any word; you have to link your new word to existing ones on the board. This creates endless possibilities and challenges. The board is designed to encourage skilful play, with special tiles like double letter scores and triple word scores to boost your points, different editions have been made over the years, such as Scrabble Harry Potter, which has become real popular with enthusiast of the franchise.

According to Google Trends, we can see that Scrabble is still the second most popular game worldwide, just behind chess.

3. Clue/Cluedo

Invented in 1949, this classic “whodunit” game has sold over 150 million copies worldwide. What makes Clue/Cluedo stand out? Let’s break it down.

The game thrusts players into a murder mystery scenario. Everyone acts as different characters gathering clues to solve the crime. It’s set in a sprawling mansion, and the goal is to figure out who committed the murder, where it occurred, and with what weapon. You achieve this by moving around the mansion, collecting clues, and making educated guesses. Your detective skills get tested every single game!

As with the other most sold board games, there have been different editions and spin-offs released. These versions of Cluedo have been based on popular TV shows, very well known movies and also video games.

4. Battleship

Battleship is an absolute classic. Introduced in 1931, this strategic game has sold over 100 million copies. It's a game of naval warfare where two players face off, trying to sink each other's fleet.

The game consists of placing five ships of varying lengths in different positions on your board, then players take turns calling out grid coordinates, trying to hit their opponent's ships. You respond with "hit" or "miss" accordingly. Once a ship has been hit on all its spots, you announce "You sank my battleship!" It's really satisfying when you finally sink your opponent's prize vessel.

While the original Battleship remains popular, there are numerous versions and variations. Electronic Battleship adds sound and light effects, making the experience more immersive. Travel editions are compact, perfect for long car rides. I've even tried the Star Wars-themed set, which adds a fun twist with iconic ships and characters.

5. Trivial Pursuit

Invented in 1979 by two Canadians, the game exploded in popularity during the early 1980s. It's a trivia game where players answer questions to collect wedges and move around the board. The best part? The questions cover a wide range of topics, from history and geography to entertainment and science.

Despite its mediocre rating of 52 on Board Game Geek, I believe Trivial Pursuit's contribution to the board gaming hobby is immense. With over 100 million units sold and over fifty special versions, each with its own unique set of questions. This paved the way for modern board games like Ticket to Ride to create multiple versions centred around the same core mechanics.

Trivial Pursuit is quite straightforward. Players roll a die to move around the board, landing on different coloured spaces, each representing a question category. Answer correctly, and you earn a slice for your "pie". Collect all six slices to win. It’s a game that tests your general knowledge and can spark friendly competition.

6. The Game of Life

The Game of Life is a classic that’s been around since 1860! This gem invites players to simulate life events, from college graduation to retirement, navigating through joys like marriage and pitfalls like bankruptcy. It's sold over 70 million copies, making it a staple in many households.

You start with choosing between starting a career or going to college. Each choice has its own risks and rewards but remember, fo example, just like in real lif, going to college puts you in debt straight away.

As you journey through "Life," you’ll earn and spend money. Careers, salaries, taxes — it mimics the financial ups and downs we all face.

One of the most exciting parts is building your family. Spinning the wheel to see if you’ll have twins or just one child always adds a touch of suspense. Not to mention, having more kids can sometimes mean more expenses, but also more joy, right?

Buying a house is another critical step. I’ve found that aiming for the more expensive properties often pays off in the end. But it's a risk. Will the market crash, or will you sell your house for a huge profit?

Finally, as you approach retirement, you’ll need to choose between going to Countryside Acres or Millionaire Estates. How you end the game often reflects how you played it. Did you take the safe route or were you a risk-taker?

7. Rummikub

Rummikub's been a household favourite for generations, and there's good reason for it. Introduced in 1950, this game has sold over 50 million units worldwide, making it the seventh most popular board game ever.

First off, Rummikub's gameplay is both straightforward and challenging, which is a rare combo. It uses 104 numbered tiles in four colours, plus two jokers. The objective is simple: create sets of tiles, like runs or groups, and be the first to get rid of all your tiles. Despite the easy-to-understand rules, there's a depth to the strategy that keeps players coming back. You'll often find yourself thinking a few moves ahead, trying to block opponents while setting up your own winning move. Plus, it accommodates 2 to 4 players, making it perfect for both family gatherings and intimate game nights.

8. Candy Land

Candy Land, one of the most beloved children’s board games, has seen enormous success since its creation. This classic game, designed in 1948, has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.

The gameplay of Candy Land is beautifully simple, making it perfect for very young children. You don’t need to read or develop complex strategies to enjoy it. Just draw a card and move your piece to the corresponding colour on the board. The first player to reach the Candy Castle wins.

I can’t talk about Candy Land without mentioning its nostalgia factor. Many of us who grew up playing this sweet journey remember it fondly. It’s more than just a game; it’s a shared experience that spans generations. It’s one of those games that you can pass down to your kids, creating cherished moments and traditions.

9. Cranium

Launched in 1998, Cranium has managed to sell an impressive 44 million copies worldwide. You get a mix of activities in Cranium, from sketching and sculpting to word puzzles and trivia challenges. It’s basically four mini-games rolled into one, so there's something for everyone.

What makes this board game so great is that it was made with the intention of large groups of varying skill levels to play it. With the different tasks needed to be done, it will have something that everyone is good at, plus it's fast-paced playstyle makes it entertaining for both adults and kids alike.

10. Othello

Last on our list is Othello, a classic board game introduced in 1883, has stood the test of time thanks to its simple rules, with over 40 million units sold, it’s a favourite for everyone.

Othello’s beauty lies in its ease of learning yet depth of strategy. At its core, players take turns placing discs on a board, with the aim of ending with more discs of their colour than their opponent.

One of the reasons Othello has maintained its popularity is its broad appeal. Whether you’re eight or eighty, the game offers something for everyone. It’s a brilliant way to engage young minds in strategic thinking and also a great adult game looking for a challenging yet enjoyable game.