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How violent were July's best-selling video games? Not very, according to new data

3 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in

Following a mass shooting in one of its Texas stores, Walmart ($NYSE:WMT) said its stores would remove displays and ads for violent videogames. The move was in reaction to critics and pundits relating the sale of violent video games to mass shootings.

Whether this will work is the subject for another story and perhaps another site. But we can look at some objective data here: exactly what games is Walmart selling that could be deemed 'violent?'

Of the 30 best-selling games at the three retailers (top-10 for each), just 7 were categorized as "Mature" by the ESRB (Entertainment and Software Ratings Bureau). Of those 7, 4 were sold at Walmart, one was sold at GameStop, and two were sold at Amazon.

We took a look at the best-selling games at Walmart, GameStop, and Amazon in the weeks leading up to the tragic shooting at an El Paso Walmart August 2 to understand how many violent videogames are being sold at Walmart (and other places), and how this might affect those games' product placements moving forward. For context, we also looked at July best-sellers for GameStop and Amazon.

Of the 30 best-selling games at the three retailers (top-10 for each), just 7 were categorized as "Mature" by the ESRB (Entertainment and Software Ratings Bureau). Of those 7, 4 were sold at Walmart, one was sold at GameStop, and two were sold at Amazon.

Walmart July top-10

Name

Walmart Sales Rank

Days Ranked

ESRB Rating

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Activision, PlayStation 4, 047875878556

1.00

31

Mature

NBA 2K17 for PlayStation 4

6.00

31

Everyone

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo, Nintendo Wii U, 045496904159

7.00

31

Everyone 10+

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, 045496590420

8.00

31

Everyone 10+

Battlefield 1, Electronic Arts, PlayStation 4, 014633733891

10.00

31

Mature

Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games, PlayStation 4

16.97

31

Mature

HELLO KITTY PARTY NDS

17.97

31

Everyone

Dying Light: Following Enhanced Edition, WHV Games, Xbox One, 883929530502

18.97

31

Mature

Minecraft Story MODE Season Pass Disc - Xbox 360

19.97

31

Everyone 10+

NBA 2K17, 2K, Xbox One, 710425497728

20.97

31

Everyone

At Walmart.com, four of the store's ten best-selling videogames — including the #1 best-seller — are rated "Mature" by the ESRB. Interestingly, the best-serller, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, is a 2018 release, but its discount price ($10 as of today) vaulted it to the top of Walmart's sales ranks. Other mature titles in the top-10 included Battlefield 1, Grand Theft Auto V, and Dying Light, a zombie survival game. This chart can be downloaded as an image below.

GameStop July top-10

Name

GameStop Sales Rank

Days Ranked

ESRB Rating

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

13.90

31

Teen

Madden NFL 20

36.26

62

Everyone

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

37.65

31

Teen

Pokemon Sword & Pokemon Shield Double Pack

53.94

31

Everyone

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

58.00

62

Mature

Madden NFL 20 Superstar Edition

70.34

62

Everyone

Madden NFL 20 Ultimate Superstar Edition

85.35

31

Everyone

Pokemon Platinum Version

91.55

31

Everyone

Pokemon Sword

92.87

31

Rating Pending

Pokemon SoulSilver - Game Only

95.90

31

Everyone

At GameStop ($NYSE:GME), a store that specializes only in videogames, only one of the top-10 sellers was rated "Mature". That one game was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that comes out in October 2019 (GameStop includes pre-orders in its sales ranks).

Amazon July top-10

Name

Amazon Sales Rank

Days Ranked

ESRB Rating

Super Mario Maker 2 - Nintendo Switch

16.19

32

Everyone

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

16.50

32

Everyone 10+

Fallout 76 - PlayStation 4

17.80

10

Mature

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

18.84

32

Teen

Marvel’s Spider-Man - PlayStation 4

19.31

32

Teen

The Last of Us Remastered Hits - PlayStation 4

21.69

13

Mature

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Nintendo Switch

24.19

32

Everyone 10+

Minecraft for PC/Mac [Online Game Code]

25.13

32

Everyone 10+

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch

25.97

32

Everyone

Snk Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy - Nintendo Switch

28.50

2

Teen

At Amazon ($NASDAQ:AMZN), two of the top-10 videogame sellers were rated "Mature" by the ESRB. Those included Fallout 76 and The Last of Us Remastered.

What to make of the data

The lists included here are the best-sellers at three of the largest videogame retailers in the world. As such, they represent what was being played by gamers in the past few weeks. As for whether or not 7 out of 30 games is too many - or too little - or if playing violent videogames has the effect some people would hold they do, we can't answer that. It's already clear that Walmart has removed signage for violent games, which will likely affect sales. So, given that, perhaps the most important result of this data is yet to come: will there be fewer violent videogames on Walmart's best-sellers list come next month? We'll let you know.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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