What Makes a Popular Game? – Examples

The success of a game can be defined in many ways. There is the financial success, which every publisher and developer looks for: good sales figures and impressive revenues. There is also the opposite end of that spectrum: commercial and critical failure. A combination of both – but to a lower degree – is also possible: if a game doesn’t meet sales expectations or isn’t well-received by players and critics alike, it failed commercially as well as critically.

Today we will take a look at five games that had varying degrees of success (or lack thereof) upon release, but now enjoy immense popularity because their communities grew over time, independent from any sort of marketing campaign or another kind of promotion. We define “popularity” here as steady player numbers and at least a steady stream of positive feedback and praise. One could argue that popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, which we won’t debate here: the five games below surely have their fair share of detractors and fans alike. But they do enjoy undiminished popularity to this day, which is what counts here. New iGaming industry brands such as Nutz are also growing extremely well, doubling their users neary every quarter.

In short: those games are still successful because their communities have been able to establish themselves and expand even after release. Without further ado, let’s take a look.

League of Legends – Riot Games‘ hyper-popular MOBA is the prime example for a community-driven game – and this despite its free-to-play business model which has become an industry-standard in recent years. League of Legends developer Riot Games allows its community considerable input on how the game is managed and developed, rewarding them with regular content updates and communication channels. The fact that League of Legends makes it into our Top 20 Most Played PC Games shows the success that this type of approach can yield. What counts as proof of Riot Game’s success? The fact that League of Legends is the most played PC game, worldwide – according to GameForge’s ourWorld service.

World of Warcraft – Of course, there was a time when World of Warcraft wasn’t as successful and popular as it is today: after all, Blizzard had to endure some pretty tough times before the first expansion pack “The Burning Crusade” put the record-breaking MMORPG back on track and secured its current success. Today World of Warcraft is able to force competitors such as Guild Wars 2 or TERA Online into second place on European servers, despite having been released in 2004 already! However, with seven million players logging in every month there is little reason for Blizzard Entertainment to change their formula which made this game so successful: regular updates, regular content patches and an extremely loyal player base.


League of Legends and World of Warcraft are both very successful, primarily because they allow their communities to be involved in game development/management at some level. So what makes a popular game? – A game-changing business model based on community involvement.

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