For the first time, GTA 5 did not make NPD’s year-end best-seller list (but there’s a reason)

I like to think GTA removed itself from the sales charts so other games could have a chance

The NPD has released its monthly breakdown of videogame sales in the US, and since the most recent month was December, this means we get to look at the top-selling games of the year. 2020 presents us with a massive milestone for the annual NPD charts, though: it’s the first time that Grand Theft Auto 5 has not been among the 20 best-selling of the year.

GTA 5 was the eleventh best-selling title of the year in both 2019 and 2018, and its place was (naturally) even higher in previous years. But its absence from the 2020 chart doesn’t mean it’s stopped selling. In fact, on this year’s UK charts GTA ranked in third place, just behind Black Ops – Cold War.

So why is GTA completely missing from the 2020 US charts? Because digital sales of Rockstar parent company Take-Two’s games are no longer included in the tracking group’s list of best-selling titles – presumably at the publisher’s request. This does mean that retail sales of physical game copies, which are tracked, were not enough to get GTA 5 to chart, but it’s likely the game still would’ve made the top 20 if digital sales were included.

It looks like the days of Rockstar’s open-world games dominating the NPD charts are over – but only because Take-Two took itself out of the race.

As for what did top the charts in 2020… It’s Call of Duty, and more Call of Duty. Black Ops – Cold War was the best-selling game in the US for 2020, followed by Modern Warfare. (And then, of course, Animal Crossing.)

For your convenience, here’s that list in a text form, ranked from one to 20:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Madden NFL 21
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • The Last of Us Part 2
  • Ghost of Tsushima
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Super Mario 3D All-Stars
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • NBA 2K21
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • FIFA 21
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
  • MLB: The Show 20
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

The fact that Cyberpunk 2077 made the list at all is pretty impressive since it came out so late in the year, and CD Projekt does not share its digital sales numbers, and nearly three-quarters of the game’s pre-sales were digital. Maybe sales numbers are tracking has too many variables and caveats for us to glean concrete insight from them and we should all stop caring about. (Nah, just kidding.)