ByDan O'Halloran, writer at Creators.co
Writer. Father. Gamer. Geek. Not necessarily in that order. @danoh
Dan O'Halloran

The surprising thing about this list is not the games on it. You'll recognize almost all of them instantly (except for maybe #7.) It's the number of genres they span. Everything from dungeon clickers to MMOs to first person shooters to procedurally-generated world builders are represented here.

Note that this list is based on total copies sold for Windows, MacOS and Linux-based computers. It doesn't include free-to-play games like League of Legends that have no sale price, but calculate their popularity based on the number of unique players who have tried the game.

7. Garry's Mod

  • Publisher: Valve
  • Release date: December 24, 2004
  • Total copies sold to date: 10 million

Originally a mod of Half-Life 2 released in 2004, Garry's Mod was converted into a stand-alone game that turned the popular FPS into a sandbox world for amateur game designers.

Players can place NPCs, triggers, mod weapons, create maps, custom design props, and more. You'd think after tinkering around for a bit they would get bored and go back to the original game to snipe noobs, but instead their imagination ran wild.

13 years and 10 million copies later, to the personal level of a "virtual doll house" and gamers couldn't get enough of it. Nor could housewives, celebrities, teenagers, and just about every person that owned a computer.

6. StarCraft

  • Publisher: Blizzard
  • Release date: March 31, 1998
  • Total copies sold to date: 11 million

Blizzard's first, but not only entry, on this list is their RTS trailblazer StarCraft. Starting with a modified Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness game engine with its release in 1998, the game and its expansion, Brood War, went on to sell 11 million copies.

More importantly, it nurtured the beginnings of the eSports culture in South Korea for a generation with its competitive play modes and dedicated fan base.

It went on to spawn a three-title sequel, multiple novels, and tons of merchandise. And who can forget those high quality cinematics that the original game help popularize in video games?

5. The Sims

  • Publisher: Maxis
  • Release date: February 4, 2000
  • Total copies sold to date: 11.25 million

Game designer Will Wright took SimCity to the personal level of a "virtual doll house" and gamers couldn't get enough of it. Nor could housewives, celebrities, teenagers, and just about every person that owned a computer.

The original game, released in February 2000 by Maxis, has sold a little over 11 million copies, but the entire franchise has moved 175 million units. Not bad for a sandbox game about playing virtual God.

4. Diablo 3

  • Publisher: Blizzard
  • Release date: March 31, 1998
  • Total copies sold to date: 12 million

Blizzard's next entry on the top games list is not one of their original games, but one their long (oh so long) awaited sequels. Thirteen years after Diablo 2 was released in 2000, Blizzard finally dropped Diablo 3 in 2013 and to say players were ready would be an understatement.

This hack-and-slash RPG title racked up its 12 million units sold (30 million if you add in the Reaper of Souls expansion) in just three short years, not the decade or more the other titles on this list have had. Not only that, but it set the record for the fastest selling PC game ever when it was released: 3.5 million copies sold in 24 hours.

Now let's just hope we don't have to wait another decade for Diablo 4...

3. Counter-Strike

  • Publisher: Valve
  • Release date: February 4, 2000
  • Total copies sold to date: 12.5 million

This title started as a player-made mod of Half-Life, released in 1999 for Windows, acquired by the creators of Half-Life and quickly became a fan favorite. Playing as either a terrorist or counter-terrorist, gamers couldn't get enough of this multiplayer first person shooter.

17 years and multiple titles later (including the popular CS:GO), Counter-Strike has racked up 12.5 million units sold. Not bad for a mod created by two fans of Half-Life.

2. World of Warcraft

  • Publisher: Blizzard
  • Release date: November 23, 2004
  • Total copies sold to date: 14 million

No surprise here that Blizzard's final entry into this list is their MMO juggernaut, World of Warcraft. The initial launch of the game in 2004 and all six expansions since have sold a combined 14 million units.

Another example of Blizzard's philosophy of taking a game genre and polishing it until it shines paid off big time for the company as most players not only pay for the box, but a hefty $15 a month as well.

And though the game has declined in popularity from its peak of 12 million subscribers monthly in the Wrath of the Lich King days, it's still going strong enough to keep pumping out expansions to keep the money flowing and the players coming back for more.

1. Minecraft

  • Publisher: Mojang
  • Release date: October 7, 2011
  • Total copies sold to date: 24 million

A game for all ages, this procedurally-based sandbox world of mining, building, and destroying is by far the number one PC game of all time with 24 million units sold. In fact, it has sold over 100 million copies across all platforms.

Whether playing in survival mode, adventure mode, or creative mode, there is a game style that seems to appeal to everyone. And if you can't find what you like, there is a hugely popular modding scene to fill in the blanks.

No wonder Microsoft paid $2.4 billion for the rights to the game. It's destined to remain popular for years to come.

Enjoy this list? Check out our By The Numbers: Most Popular Online Games Right Now!