February 3rd 2011 4:59 am PT

Top Xbox LIVE Games of 2010


After much time in various SQL data bases and Excel Pivot tables, I am pleased to present the Top LIVE lists of 2010.


Please note that the rankings are based on the games’ first seven days of activity on the Xbox LIVE service and only include games released in 2010.


Xbox 360 Top LIVE Titles of 2010 (based on UU’s during the first week of launch)

1    Call of Duty: Black Ops
2    Halo: Reach
3    Red Dead Redemption
4    Fable III
5    Battlefield: Bad Co. 2
6    Medal of Honor
7    Mass Effect 2
8    FIFA Soccer 11
9    Fallout: New Vegas
10  BioShock 2
11  Madden NFL 11
12  Splinter Cell Conviction
13  Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
14  Dead Rising 2
15  Kinect Adventures!
16  NBA 2K11
17  Crackdown 2
18  Aliens vs Predator
19  Mafia II
20  Army of TWO: TFD


Top Arcade Titles of 2010 (Based on full versions purchased during the first week of release)

1    Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
2    LIMBO
3    Perfect Dark
4    Toy Soldiers
5    Monday Night Combat
6    Deadliest Warrior

7    Dead Rising 2: Case West 
8    X-Men Arcade
9    Castlevania Harmony of Despair
10    Plants vs Zombies
11    Scott Pilgrim
12    Sonic 4 Episode 1
13    Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
14    Blacklight: Tango Down
15    Hydro Thunder Hurricane
16    RISK Factions
17    Super Meat Boy
18    World of Keflings


Top Indie Games of 2010 (Based on full versions purchased during the first week of release)

1    Baby Maker Extreme
2    Avatar Showdown
3    Avatar Paintball
4    Avatar Ninja!
5    Avatar Racedrome
6    Try Not To Fart
7    Nuclear Wasteland
8    Avatar Onslaught
9    Yet Another Zombie Defense
10    Zombie Estate
11    Breath of Death VII
13    Get Rich or Die Gaming
14    Avatar Bumper Cars
15    Avatar Meet Up Live!
17    Shoot 1UP
18    Toy Stunt Bike
19    The Impossible Game
20    So Many Girls So Little Time


Archive By Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson

  • cliftonJONES

    happy to see me2 is still being played well…

  • CrazyCake

    this is the oddest list i’ve seen of top live games played all year.

  • Major Nelson

    Why is it odd?

  • rawkerdude5012

    @CrazyCake you do realize that list is for the ENTIRE year of 2010 right? And not just the latest week like major normally does, or at least did before the holiday and new year.

  • CrazyCake

    I didn’t except Aliens vs Predator to be up on it, and Army of Two didn’t either i guises its because i’ve seen lots of shooters up on it like Reach, and COD around fall of 2010 when Reach and Black Opps came out and people were still playing COD Modern Warfare 2. I guise it was just mostly shooters for a while and now its a little bit everything.

  • HsitH

    I’m surprised that Super Meat Boy is at #17, the game at least deserves to be on the top ten.

  • CrazyCake

    @rawkerdude5012 yep i do.

  • BeeDizz

    It does seem odd to only rate the activity of the game off the first 7 days after launch. I’m personally interested in seeing which games had staying power for the year.

  • BeeDizz

    And why am I still showing up as a silver account? I was silver for 1 day while I set up my family plan for me and my kids a month ago.

  • a1984darkboy

    I expected Monday Night Combat to be the most played given that it’s a multiplayer game and has a pretty thriving community. People put some long hours into Limbo and Case Zero.

  • Reluctant Hero

    @Major Nelson – It’s odd because it’s only based upon the first 7 days of data. Why not base the list on all data in 2010?

  • Rykin Poe

    Wow I only purchased 2 of the top 20 arcade titles last year. Year before last year I probably purchased 6 of the top 10. Guess that explains why it felt like a weak year for arcade titles to me.

  • Major Nelson

    I did the first 7-days since that is a way to normalize the data and give all games a fair chance.

  • Reluctant Hero

    @Major Nelson – I believe your previous lists for 2008 & 2009 included the year’s worth of data based upon unique players.

    2008: http://majornelson.com/archive/2009/01/04/the-top-20-live-games-of-2008.aspx

    2009: http://majornelson.com/archive/2010/01/10/the-top-20-live-games-of-2009.aspx

  • Stryke42

    @beedizz That award would definitely go to MW2

  • AutomaticOcelot

    Hah, nice to see an XBL list without Trials HD for once. ;)
    @HsitH: What you’re really saying is Super Meat Boy deserves to have sold more. And I agree. But do realise it’s #17 of what… 100+ XBL games that came out last year? And why no 19 and 20 on that list, Major?

  • Reluctant Hero

    @Major Nelson – Thank’s for the explanation, much appreciated. But I’d be interested, and I’m sure other would as well, in seeing a list of all top LIVE games in 2010 based upon all annual numbers.

    I’m sure it’s a lot of work to put together these lists, but I hope it’s possible to see such a list.

  • BeeDizz

    @Stryke42 I have no doubt it would be on top. I’m still interested in seeing what else had decent staying power. I assume most of 2010 would have been games released in 2009. Or possibly a few too many demos like previous years. So they made the list ONLY games released in 2010. And the only way to make it fair then would be to base the activity off a predetermined amount of time. Which is why this list is for the first 7 days. It’s still an interesting list. But I’d like to see what actual games were played most in 2010 regardless of when they were released.


    @a1984darkboy: As it says in the title, the Arcade list is based on on full versions purchased, not length of time played.

    I also agree that it would be nice to see the lists based on full-year stats, especially for the Arcade games, since many of those games got some significant sales boosts due to all the discounts throughout the year.

  • RainbowDespair

    Rather disappointed that there’s no overall charts, but I’ll take what we can get. Very pleased to see that one of our games made the list.

    Our game, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning, sold a little over 4,000 copies in its first 7 days and made #11 on the XBLIG first week sales chart which should give some perspective. Our second RPG, Cthulhu Saves the World, sold just under 4,000 copies in its first week and would have definitely made the chart, however it came out on December 30th so most of its first week was in 2011.

  • Stephan1237

    Hey there, so this list is from the first 7 days from every month?

  • DUDI1969

    and no ALAN WAKE…? that’s bad… :-(

  • DUDI1969

    and no ALAN WAKE…? that’s bad… :-(

  • PastLife666

    Whoa! I felt like I bought a lot of games this year, but according to the list I only bought a handful of the mainstream tittles. I take pride on supporting those smaller games that deserve a little more appraisal. ALAN WAKE!!!!!

  • dreri

    Excellent list, I love stats :). I would maybe do it for the first 2 weeks or first 30 days. I think it might have given slightly different results.

  • bullka LT

    All those lists of purchases and UU during the first 7 days doesn’t show much about the game quality.

    It just show how big marketing campaign was. And how much money publishers spend on shows, ads, teasers etc. And all the noobs by following the hype made an instant purchase.

    Me as well: I’ve got Black Ops but played it just and hour maximum. So I’m in the Major’s statistics, but… I feel my money were thrown away.

    More complex method of calculation should be done. For instance take Kinect Adventures. It was released together with Kinect – 2 months. So let’s take 2 months and not 7 days. And I bet we will see a totally different figures. I bet Halo won’t be on the second place for sure!


    Arfff, It’s not a surprise but my Halo is only 2nd… I have to try one day this Call of Duty series just to see what’s so great…
    Question : Are 1st weeks always with the most UUs that you choose to rank 2010 games this way ?

  • chiruno99



    I think we have just been shown a way to prevent multiple COD games from choking out the top of the charts.

  • Stephan1237

    I would like to see a Most Played game of 2010 . I really want to know what place Halo 3 / Cod 4 is on that list

  • MrT820

    Does this first 7 days limitation account for games that were released on different dates in different regions? Since half of those games didn’t have a single worldwide release date, they would have been released on a Tuesday in the USA and a Friday in the UK (and either Thurs/Fri for the rest of the EU iirc).

  • Thiago123

    Definitely some surprises here, most notably to me, how low AC Brotherhood, FIFA and Madden are and that MOH and Fable beat them all. This is interesting, and I appreciate the effort, but I’ll echo the sentiments that an overall list would be more meaningful even if we see multiple instances of COD, Madden, FIFA, and Halo. Or better yet, how about a return to form with weekly or biweekly lists ;P.

  • ushman360

    @ Major Nelson, I see why you went with 7 day period, but its going to be off. For example I didn’t purchase Red Dead within the 7 day grace period. I just didn’t have the time to buy a lot of games right away. So it really isn’t that fair.

  • Shadow0810

    The indie list makes me cry. BOD VII should be #1

  • Major Nelson

    Great discussion here. There are many ways to look at the data, I choose this one since it allowed for some level of normalization.

  • NBA Kirkland

    It is an interesting look at how much of a splash a game made when it came out. Games released on a crowded release date have an inherent disadvantage (Alan Wake just can’t catch a break!). Wouldn’t showing the UU over the course of the entire year provide a more normalized look than this?

  • Monhegan

    @Shadow0810 The indie list is indeed sad. None of the quality radiangames series made the list?!? BOD VII and Shoot 1up are the only highlights on there for me.

  • SalarymanDaishi

    Ummm… Isn’t normalization something that is usually done to average everything out, to avoid uncomfortable spikes and stuff? This approach actually takes the biggest spike any release can have (its launch week) and makes it something to define all of 2010. To be honest, that’s more like abnormalization but if that’s the data that was chosen, the easiest fix would be to rename the article as Top Xbox LIVE Launches of 2010.

  • tylerh1701

    Very interesting way to look at the numbers. I assume Major considers this “normalization” because you can compare every game released through the year with it’s 1 week play numbers. Whereas going all year long, a game released in January would obviously have way more UU’s over the course of the year than a game released in December (excluding Uber-releases like COD).

  • tylerh1701

    And the arcade list is just shocking to me! Deadliest Warrior 6th? That’s a ton of first week sales. And TONS of the $15 games near the top of that list, I guess the $15 price point isn’t hurting sales much at all. And the biggest shocker is Super Meat Boy at 17. I thought it would chart way higher, especially considering it was on sale for it’s first week of release.

  • DarkTear81


    “Very interesting way to look at the numbers. I assume Major considers this “normalization” because you can compare every game released through the year with it’s 1 week play numbers.”

    Like someone before said: Not every game has a worldwide release (such as COD). So you take COD and compare it to a game that launched on a Tuesday in the US and on a Friday somewhere else (as an example)… that way the game will end up with less sales cause only 4 days are counted from the sales in germany (Fri,Sat,Mon,Tue).

    Or take a look at Dead Space 2. Every version is out there now, released on January 27th if I’m correct. The german version will be released on February 24th. So those numbers (for the next years report) will be totally missing. ;)

  • RainbowDespair

    Actually, in the case of XBLIGs, choosing the first week of sales can sometimes be misleading. For example, Breath of Death VII lost a lot of exposure during its first week because the Top Downloads list was frozen so it never showed up there. Not only that, but there was a Major Nelson advertisement on the dashboard for the previous Top 5 Downloaded titles which drew additional attention elsewhere. However, Breath of Death VII sales over time ended up being pretty good due to word of mouth and positive reviews (it sold about 40,000 copies in 2010).

  • tylerh1701

    @DarkTear81 – Totally agreed. The varying worldwide release dates are definitely a shortcoming for ranking the games this way, assuming Major didn’t go through and adjust for this in the numbers (It’s a pretty safe assumption that he didn’t because that would require a ridiculous amount of work)

  • trickybuz93

    Disappointed to not see Alan Wake up there :'(

  • I DLord I

    Splinter Cell: Conviction, your my best friee-heh-heh-hend

  • Crimson Shame

    Interesting way to sort the data, for sure. I’m glad you did it this way, if only because it’s new and interesting.

    This is basically a list of which games opened the biggest, and in that sense, it’s really a measure of the effectiveness of the marketing campaign supporting that game. Is it only a measure of the size of that marketing campaign, as bullka suggests? Maybe, and that’s probably easy to look up – but I’m not going to bother, because I’m satisfied enough with the data as-is.

    I would’ve been interested to see this list compared to, say, 6 weeks’ worth of data, to see which games fell the hardest, and which had staying power.

    I’d also be interested in seeing other metrics (a user retention metric would be a more straightforward way of representing what I just suggested above), but at that point things get complicated to collect and present, and complicated for viewers to interpret.

    Thanks for posting, Major. I know this kind of thing can be a pain in the ass to put together.

  • xLoCk 0nx

    When Major says normalized, I think he means giving each game a fair chance – games that came out earlier in the year would otherwise have a massive advantage in being available for much longer. Though clearly that isn’t enough to stop COD and Halo lol.

    I think if we were to get a list of overall activity based on UUs on all games over 2010, it’d go something like this:

    1. Call of Duty Black Ops
    2. Halo: Reach
    3. Call of Duty: Moderern Warfare 2
    4. Halo 3
    5. Call of Duty: World at War
    6. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
    7. Battlefield Bad Company 2
    8. Red Dead Redemption

    …and so on…

  • xLoCk 0nx

    Personally, I’m happy Major chose to focus on 2010 releases only, because a COD/Halo dominated top 10 is a little dull.

  • wolfzero01

    no shock that Black Ops is #1, but I can’t believe Fable III is in the top 5 as it wasn’t that impressive of a game & had some of the most annoying achievements like get all of the legendary weapons, earn 1000 gold in another person’s world, also the combat was too easy

  • fastharry

    how did Forza not crack the top 20?