Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The world of video games has been around for decades, and it has brought us some of the most iconic and beloved franchises of all time. But what about the games that have sold the most copies? What game has reigned supreme as the best-selling game of all time? In this retrospective, we will be taking a closer look at the legacy of Sega and its most gross selling game, a title that has held strong for over two decades. Join us as we explore the history and impact of this legendary game, and discover what makes it a true gaming classic.

The Rise of Sega: From Arcade to Console

The Early Years: From Video Poker to Arcade Success

Sega, originally known as Service Games, was founded in 1940 by Marty Borman and Sam Rosen. The company started as a small business that supplied coin-operated arcade games to military bases during World War II. After the war, Service Games shifted its focus to creating video poker machines, which became popular in bars and casinos across the United States.

In the early 1960s, Service Games was approached by Rosen’s son, Irving, who had an idea for a new type of arcade game. Together, they developed a game called “Periscope,” which involved players using a periscope-like device to shoot at targets on a screen. The game was a hit, and Service Games began to focus more on creating arcade games rather than video poker machines.

In 1965, Service Games was acquired by Borman and Rosen’s sons, David and Martin, who renamed the company Sega (an acronym for Service Games). Under their leadership, Sega continued to create successful arcade games, including “Willy Wanna Pinball” and “Missile,” which featured a light gun that players used to shoot at targets on a screen.

In the 1970s, Sega began to expand its reach beyond the United States, opening offices in Europe and Japan. The company also started to develop home consoles, such as the SG-1000, which was released in Japan in 1983. However, it wasn’t until the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 that Sega became a major player in the home console market.

The Sega Genesis: A Game-Changing Console

The Birth of a Legend

In 1988, Sega released the Sega Genesis, a 16-bit home video game console that would forever change the gaming industry. The Genesis was designed to compete with Nintendo’s popular Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and it did so by offering more advanced graphics and sound capabilities. The Genesis also featured a variety of innovative games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, which helped establish the console as a household name.

A New Era of Gaming

The Sega Genesis marked a significant shift in the gaming industry, ushering in a new era of more sophisticated and technologically advanced games. Its success inspired other companies to enter the market, leading to a period of intense competition and innovation. The Genesis’s impact on the industry was immense, and it remains a beloved console among gamers today.

A Platform for Innovation

The Sega Genesis was more than just a gaming console; it was a platform for innovation. The console’s advanced hardware allowed developers to create games that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the gaming world. Games like Golden Axe and Altered Beast showcased the Genesis’s capabilities, and they continue to be celebrated for their groundbreaking graphics and gameplay.

The Genesis Legacy

The Sega Genesis was not just a successful console; it was a cultural phenomenon. Its impact on the gaming industry was enormous, and it remains a beloved piece of gaming history. The Genesis paved the way for future consoles and set the stage for the next generation of gaming. Its legacy lives on, inspiring new generations of gamers and developers to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of video games.

The Grossest Selling Game: Sonic the Hedgehog

Key takeaway: Sega, originally known as Service Games, was founded in 1940 and started as a small business that supplied coin-operated arcade games to military bases during World War II. In the 1990s, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog, a game-changing console that revolutionized the platformer genre and set a new standard for video game design. Sonic’s impact on the industry can still be felt today, with its influence seen in modern games, with many developers drawing inspiration from its unique weapon system and colorful graphics.

The Birth of an Icon

Sonic the Hedgehog, released in 1991, was a game-changer for the video game industry. Developed by Sega’s in-house team, AM7, the game was designed to compete with Nintendo’s popular Super Mario franchise. The game’s protagonist, Sonic the Hedgehog, was created by Yuji Naka and Naoto ƌshima, who wanted to create a character that was cute and anthropomorphic, yet fast and cool.

The game’s success was largely due to its innovative gameplay, which featured Sonic’s ability to run at high speeds and perform acrobatic maneuvers. The game’s levels were designed to take advantage of this, with multiple paths and secret areas to explore. The game’s soundtrack, composed by Yuji Naka, was also a standout feature, with catchy and memorable tunes that have become synonymous with the franchise.

Sonic the Hedgehog’s success was not limited to the video game industry. The game’s characters and world became a pop culture phenomenon, with merchandise, cartoons, and movies all based on the franchise. Sonic the Hedgehog has since become Sega’s mascot and one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time.

The Phenomenon of Sonic the Hedgehog

The Creation of Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog was first introduced to the world in 1991 as a video game developed by Sega. The game was created in response to the popularity of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros, and the team at Sega aimed to create a character that would be just as iconic.

The Success of Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog was an instant success, becoming one of the best-selling video games of all time. The game’s fast-paced gameplay, colorful graphics, and lovable characters made it a hit with gamers of all ages. The game’s protagonist, Sonic the Hedgehog, quickly became a pop culture icon, appearing in cartoons, comics, and even a live-action film.

The Impact of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Video Game Industry

The success of Sonic the Hedgehog had a significant impact on the video game industry. The game’s popularity helped to establish Sega as a major player in the industry, and it paved the way for the development of numerous other successful video game franchises. Additionally, the game’s innovative gameplay and graphics set a new standard for video games, and its influence can still be seen in many modern games today.

The Legacy of Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog remains one of the most beloved and enduring video game characters of all time. The game’s success has spawned numerous sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations, and its impact on the video game industry cannot be overstated. Even today, Sonic the Hedgehog remains a beloved character and an icon of pop culture.

The Impact of Sonic on the Gaming Industry

Revolutionizing Platformers

  • Introduction of Fast-Paced Gameplay
  • Integration of Cinematic Graphics
  • Emphasis on Storytelling and Character Development

Competition with Nintendo

  • Emergence as a Major Gaming Competitor
  • Establishment of a Unique Gaming Identity
  • Diversification of Gaming Genres

Influence on Popular Culture

  • Widespread Recognition and Fandom
  • Merchandise and Media Expansion
  • Iconic Status in the Gaming World

Continued Evolution and Innovation

  • Sequels and Spin-offs
  • Adaptation to Technological Advancements
  • Evolution of the Sonic Franchise

The release of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991 marked a turning point in the gaming industry. The game, developed by Sega, revolutionized the platformer genre and set a new standard for video game design. Sonic’s impact on the industry can be seen in its revolutionization of platformers, competition with Nintendo, influence on popular culture, and continued evolution and innovation.

Revolutionizing Platformers

Sonic the Hedgehog introduced a new level of fast-paced gameplay, cinematic graphics, and storytelling to the platformer genre. Its innovative design incorporated elements such as speed, jumping, and collecting, creating a unique and engaging experience for players. The game’s integration of animation and character design further enhanced the gaming experience, making it stand out from its predecessors.

Competition with Nintendo

The success of Sonic the Hedgehog established Sega as a major competitor in the gaming industry, challenging Nintendo’s dominance. The game’s unique gameplay, character design, and storytelling set it apart from Nintendo’s offerings, attracting a new audience and expanding the gaming market. Sonic’s success paved the way for Sega to establish a distinct identity in the industry and diversify the range of gaming genres available.

Influence on Popular Culture

Sonic the Hedgehog became a cultural phenomenon, gaining widespread recognition and fandom. The game’s iconic characters, such as Sonic and Tails, became beloved figures in popular culture, inspiring merchandise, media adaptations, and spin-offs. Sonic’s influence extended beyond the gaming world, making it a significant part of mainstream culture.

Continued Evolution and Innovation

The success of Sonic the Hedgehog led to a series of sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations, showcasing the franchise’s ability to evolve and innovate. The game’s adaptation to new technologies and platforms allowed it to remain relevant and engaging for players. The continued evolution of the Sonic franchise demonstrates its enduring impact on the gaming industry and its ability to adapt to changing trends and technologies.

Other Gross Selling Games from Sega

Altered Beast: A Classic Hit

Altered Beast, released in 1988, was a smash hit for Sega and is still considered a classic today. The game was developed by Sega’s in-house team, AM7, and was directed by the legendary Yuji Naka.

The game’s story revolves around a centurion named Alex Kidd, who is resurrected by a god named Zeus to defeat the evil demon Neff and save his daughter. Players control Alex Kidd as he fights his way through various levels, defeating enemies and bosses along the way.

One of the game’s most unique features was its use of a unique “blue sky” background that stretched across the entire level, giving the illusion of a seamless world. This was a groundbreaking feature at the time and helped to make Altered Beast stand out from other platformers.

Another notable aspect of the game was its innovative use of a “power-up” system, where players could collect items such as magical potions and power-ups to increase their strength and abilities. This system added a layer of strategy to the gameplay, as players had to carefully choose which items to collect and when to use them.

The game’s soundtrack was also a standout feature, with a catchy and memorable theme song that has remained iconic to this day. The music was composed by Yuji Okunishi, who would go on to compose music for many other Sega games, including Sonic the Hedgehog.

Altered Beast was a critical and commercial success, and helped to establish Sega as a major player in the video game industry. Its legacy can still be felt today, with the game’s characters and music continuing to be referenced and homaged in modern gaming culture.

Golden Axe: A Hack-and-Slash Adventure

Golden Axe is a classic hack-and-slash game developed by Sega in 1989 for the Sega Genesis console. The game is set in a fantasy world and follows the story of three warriors as they fight against an evil sorcerer who has taken over the land.


The gameplay of Golden Axe is typical of the genre, with players controlling one of the three characters – Gilius, Ax Battler, or Tyris Flare – each with their unique fighting styles and special moves. The game is divided into several levels, with players fighting through hordes of enemies, including monsters and other creatures, to reach the final boss.

One of the most notable features of Golden Axe is its use of a unique weapon system. Players can collect various weapons throughout the game, including swords, axes, and maces, each with their unique attack patterns and strengths. Players can also use magic spells to help them in their quest, with different spells available for each character.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics in Golden Axe are colorful and detailed, with each level featuring unique backgrounds and enemies. The character sprites are well-designed and animated, making them easy to distinguish from each other. The sound effects in the game are also well done, with each weapon and spell having its unique sound effect.


Golden Axe was a critical and commercial success, with its unique weapon system and colorful graphics helping it stand out from other hack-and-slash games at the time. The game’s success led to two sequels, Golden Axe II and Golden Axe III, both of which were also well-received by fans and critics alike.


Golden Axe is often considered one of the greatest games for the Sega Genesis and a classic of the hack-and-slash genre. Its influence can still be seen in modern games, with many developers drawing inspiration from its unique weapon system and colorful graphics. The game’s legacy continues to live on through its inclusion in various compilations and re-releases, as well as its status as a cult classic among gamers.

Streets of Rage: Beat ‘Em Up Bliss

  • Introduction:
    Streets of Rage is a beat ’em up game that was developed and published by Sega in 1991. The game was released for the Sega Genesis and was designed by the legendary Yuji Naka. The game’s success was a result of its engaging storyline, smooth gameplay, and high-quality graphics.
  • Storyline:
    The game’s storyline revolves around the protagonist, Adam, who is a police officer trying to save his city from a crime lord named Mr. X. The player takes on the role of Adam and fights their way through the streets of Rage City, using a variety of weapons and fighting techniques to defeat enemies.
  • Gameplay:
    The game’s gameplay is smooth and fast-paced, with the player moving through various levels, fighting enemies and bosses, and collecting power-ups and weapons. The player can perform punches, kicks, and special moves, and can also use weapons such as baseball bats, chains, and guns.
  • Graphics:
    The game’s graphics were groundbreaking for their time, with detailed and colorful characters and environments. The game’s soundtrack was also impressive, featuring catchy and energetic tunes that added to the overall excitement of the game.
  • Legacy:
    Streets of Rage was a huge success for Sega, selling millions of copies and becoming one of the best-selling games for the Sega Genesis. The game also spawned two sequels, Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3, which were also critical and commercial successes.
  • Impact:
    Streets of Rage had a significant impact on the gaming industry, paving the way for future beat ’em up games and inspiring many other games in the genre. The game’s success also helped establish Sega as a major player in the gaming industry, solidifying their reputation as a innovative and successful video game developer.

The Decline of Sega: From Dominance to Irrelevance

The Failure of Sega Saturn

The Launch of Sega Saturn

In 1994, Sega released the Sega Saturn, a 32-bit console that was intended to compete with Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s N64. The Saturn was marketed as a more powerful and technologically advanced console than its competitors, with features such as a dual-CPU architecture and a built-in memory card system.

The Battle for Market Dominance

Sega initially gained a significant lead in the Japanese market, with several high-profile exclusive titles such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Virtua Fighter.” However, this lead was short-lived as Sony’s PlayStation quickly became the dominant console in the market.

The Downfall of Sega Saturn

The Sega Saturn’s downfall can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the console’s high price point compared to its competitors made it less attractive to consumers. Additionally, the lack of third-party support from major game developers and publishers also hurt the console’s market appeal.

The Impact on Sega’s Legacy

The failure of the Sega Saturn marked a turning point for the company. It was the beginning of Sega’s decline from its former position as a major player in the video game industry. The company would never regain its former dominance and would eventually exit the hardware market altogether.

The Struggle of Sega Dreamcast

Despite its promising start, the Sega Dreamcast was unable to maintain its momentum in the market. Released in 1999, the Dreamcast was Sega’s last effort to compete in the console gaming industry before transitioning to a software-only company.

The Dreamcast faced several challenges, including stiff competition from rival consoles like the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo GameCube. In addition, Sega struggled to secure third-party game developers to create games for the platform, leading to a limited library of titles.

However, despite these challenges, the Dreamcast did have some standout games that showcased its capabilities. Games like “Shenmue” and “Power Stone” were praised for their innovative graphics and unique gameplay mechanics.

In the end, the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001, just two years after its release, due to poor sales and a lack of support from game developers. The console’s demise marked the end of an era for Sega, which would soon pivot to a software-only company.

The Rise of Sony and Nintendo

Sega, once a dominant force in the gaming industry, suffered a decline that led to its eventual irrelevance. The rise of Sony and Nintendo played a significant role in this decline.

Sony, with its PlayStation console, emerged as a major competitor to Sega in the late 1990s. The PlayStation offered a superior gaming experience with its powerful hardware and a strong lineup of exclusive games. The PlayStation 2, released in 2000, was an even greater success, becoming the best-selling console of all time.

Nintendo, on the other hand, had a different approach to the gaming market. While Sega focused on creating powerful hardware, Nintendo concentrated on innovative game design and unique franchises. The Nintendo 64, released in 1996, featured groundbreaking games such as Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The success of these games helped establish Nintendo as a leader in the industry.

Sega’s failure to adapt to these changes ultimately led to its downfall. The company struggled to compete with the technological advancements of Sony and the innovative game design of Nintendo. By the early 2000s, Sega had lost its position as a major player in the gaming industry.

The Legacy of Sega: A Retrospective

The Impact of Sega on Modern Gaming

Revolutionizing the Video Game Industry

Sega’s impact on modern gaming can be seen in the many ways it revolutionized the video game industry. From its early days as a hardware manufacturer to its eventual transition into a software developer, Sega’s contributions to the industry have been significant.

Pioneering Innovative Technology

One of Sega’s most significant contributions to modern gaming was its pioneering of innovative technology. From the creation of the first-ever 3D fighting game with “Streets of Rage” to the development of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise, which introduced a new level of interactivity and speed to games, Sega was always at the forefront of technological advancements in the gaming world.

Creating Memorable Characters and Worlds

Another significant impact of Sega on modern gaming is the creation of memorable characters and worlds. The “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise, in particular, has become a cultural phenomenon, with its blue hedgehog mascot appearing in countless games, cartoons, and movies. Other Sega franchises, such as “Phantasy Star” and “Shinobi,” have also left a lasting impact on the gaming world.

Shaping the Future of Gaming

Finally, Sega’s impact on modern gaming can be seen in the many ways it has shaped the future of gaming. From its early arcade games to its console and PC releases, Sega has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the gaming world. Its influence can be seen in the many modern games that have borrowed from its iconic franchises and gameplay mechanics.

Overall, Sega’s legacy on modern gaming is significant and enduring. Its contributions to the industry have shaped the way we play and experience games today, and its impact will be felt for years to come.

The Lessons Learned from Sega’s Fall

As the video game industry continued to evolve, Sega’s fortunes began to decline. Despite the success of its earlier consoles and games, the company was unable to keep up with the changing landscape of the industry. Here are some of the key lessons that can be learned from Sega’s fall:

Failure to Adapt to the Changing Market

One of the main reasons for Sega’s decline was its failure to adapt to the changing market. As the market shifted towards more casual and mobile gaming, Sega remained focused on its traditional console market. This left the company behind its competitors, who were quicker to embrace new technologies and business models.

Over-Dependence on Hardware Sales

Another factor that contributed to Sega’s decline was its over-dependence on hardware sales. While hardware sales were a major source of revenue for the company, they were also a major source of risk. By relying too heavily on hardware sales, Sega left itself vulnerable to market fluctuations and competition from other console manufacturers.

Poor Business Decisions

Finally, Sega’s decline was also due to a number of poor business decisions. These included the development of the Sega Dreamcast, which was released in 1999 and was the last console developed by the company. The Dreamcast was a technically advanced console, but it was unable to compete with the PlayStation 2, which was released around the same time. Sega’s decision to exit the hardware market and focus on software development was also a major misstep, as it left the company without a competitive advantage in the market.

Overall, the lessons learned from Sega’s fall are clear: in order to succeed in the video game industry, companies must be adaptable, innovative, and willing to take risks. By staying ahead of the curve and embracing new technologies and business models, companies can stay ahead of the competition and maintain their position as industry leaders.

The Continued Appeal of Sega’s Classics

While it may be easy to dismiss the enduring popularity of Sega’s classic games as a mere nostalgic craze, there are several factors that contribute to the continued appeal of these titles. From their innovative gameplay mechanics to their impact on popular culture, the lasting legacy of Sega’s classics can be seen in a variety of ways.

Innovative Gameplay Mechanics

One of the primary reasons why Sega’s classic games continue to be popular is due to their innovative gameplay mechanics. Titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, and Golden Axe introduced new ways of controlling characters and navigating levels that were unlike anything players had experienced before. These mechanics were so groundbreaking that they have since become standard in many modern games.

Impact on Popular Culture

Another factor that contributes to the continued appeal of Sega’s classic games is their impact on popular culture. Many of these titles have become iconic symbols of the 90s, and their influence can be seen in everything from fashion to music. Characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Altered Beast have become cultural icons, and their inclusion in modern media demonstrates the lasting power of these titles.

Emotional Connections

Finally, the continued appeal of Sega’s classic games can be attributed to the emotional connections that players have with these titles. For many, these games were a part of their childhood, and they evoke memories of carefree days spent playing video games with friends. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment that comes with mastering difficult levels or discovering hidden secrets in these games can create a strong emotional attachment that keeps players coming back for more.

Overall, the continued appeal of Sega’s classic games can be attributed to a combination of innovative gameplay mechanics, their impact on popular culture, and the emotional connections that players have with these titles. As technology continues to advance and new games are released, the enduring legacy of Sega’s classics serves as a reminder of the timeless appeal of video games and the memories that they create.


1. What is the most gross selling game of all time?

The most gross selling game of all time is a topic of debate, but if we consider the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time, it would likely be the Mario franchise, which has sold over 380 million copies worldwide.

2. What is the legacy of Sega in the gaming industry?

Sega was a major player in the gaming industry during the 1990s, known for its iconic consoles such as the Sega Genesis and the Sega Saturn. Sega’s legacy in the gaming industry includes classic games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, and Golden Axe, which helped to define the platformer and beat ’em up genres.

3. What were some of Sega’s most successful games?

Some of Sega’s most successful games include Sonic the Hedgehog, which sold over 155 million copies worldwide, and Mortal Kombat, which popularized the fighting game genre and sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Other successful Sega games include Aladdin, Altered Beast, and Virtua Fighter.

4. How did Sega’s console business decline?

Sega’s console business declined in the late 1990s due to several factors, including the rise of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, and poor management decisions such as the infamous “Sega Saturn nose” and the overambitious Sega Dreamcast. Despite this, Sega continues to be a major player in the gaming industry, with successful games such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball.

Best Selling Video Games 1979 – 2023

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