The popularity of a game can be decided by many factors. It can be based on total sales, total player count, or viewership on streaming platforms. Popular games are seen in a much different light now than they were even just five years ago.
The rise of streaming and free-to-play games has caused some skews. Number of games sold and number of players isn't always the deciding factor on what makes a popular game. A lot of people consider the number of views and what streamers are player to determine what makes a game popular.
Most popular game of each of the last five years
2015 – Call of Duty: Black Ops III
The third edition of COD: Black Ops was the most popular game of 2015. It sold the most copies and gave players the first full futuristic look into COD game play. The new edition of Zombies is what really excited the Treyarch COD fans. It was a solid entry into the COD franchise that players obviously enjoyed.
2016 – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Following Black Ops III, COD: Infinite Warfare took the title of 2016's most popular game. Fans didn't take to Infinite Warfare like they did with the previous COD title. Even though Activision stated that sales were down, as expected, it is still impressive that it topped every other game in copies sold.
2017 – Call of Duty: WWII
The COD trend continued into 2017 with COD: WWII being the most popular game. COD: WWII was the best selling game of that year, making over $1 billion by year's end. That's with it being released in November. This version of COD went back to its World War II roots, giving players a feel of nostalgia that had been missing with the progression of the series.
2018 - Fortnite
Fornite was 2018's most popular game by far. This is the year that player base and viewership truly started to matter. 2018 saw the rise of Fortnite with the first Celebrity Pro-Am and several other competitive events. Ninja became a superstar. The battle royale genre was blowing up. So many factors contributed to Fortnite taking over the world.
2019 – League of Legends
League of Legends was released in 2009. A decade later and it saw over 115 million monthly players. Nearly that same amount of people watched the League of Legends Worlds Finals. The MOBA has always been a popular game, but it just continues to grow. It may honestly be the most popular game in the world overall.
2020 – Among Us
LoL, COD, Fortnite, and CS:GO are all hugely popular games with massive monthly player counts. In 2020, though, a social deduction multiplayer game took over. After Fall Guys exited its honeymoon phase, Among Us was there to replace it. At any time this year, it could very well be the most viewed game on Twitch and YouTube. Streamers often play with other big names and give viewers entire days worth of Among Us content. This game is truly something else.