Violent video games have attracted attention in recent weeks, being partially blamed for the mass shootings in the United States. Despite this, sales data from some of the biggest retailers in the country reveal that players are actually enjoying a huge variety of video games, and very few of the best sellers in July were violent.
Sales data gathered by Thinknum on video games sold at GameStop, Amazon, and Walmart show that the games moving the most copies in July varied wildly. Largely as a result of sales promotions, older titles like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 cracked Walmart’s top 10, but they were joined by Minecraft: Story Mode and NBA 2K17. Walmart received criticism last week when it began removing displays promoting violent video games, despite continuing to sell firearms and ammunition.
GameStop’s top 10 in July was dominated by Pokémon, including pre-orders for the upcoming games Sword and Shield. While several of the titles included some form of violence, only Call of Duty: Modern Warfare features realistic blood and has not yet been released.
Amazon’s best-sellers for July were also largely family-friendly, with only The Last of Us Remastered and Fallout 76 getting a “Mature” rating from the ESRB. Several others are family-friendly games on Nintendo Switch, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Maker 2.
The NPD Group, which monitors sales data for the industry across both retail and digital channels, does show that for the total of 2019 thus far, there are several violent games included in the charts, such as Mortal Kombat 11 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. However, these are joined by MLB 19: The Show and Kingdom Hearts III. More recently, Minecraft and Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled gained momentum, as well.
It’s impossible to say if violent video games will fall out of popularity yet, but since players are clearly enjoying other types of games, as well, it’s unlikely we actually have an epidemic of young people being desensitized to real-life atrocities. The numbers don’t back up that claim, either, with little evidence to suggest those who play violent games are more likely to commit mass murder.