Ranking the best-selling Resident Evil games of all-time (2021)
The Resident Evil franchise has sold millions in over two and a half decades of its existence. Indeed, the franchise actually ranks as Capcom’s best-selling series of all time, having sold over 105 million units sold. To give you a better scale at things, Capcom’s Monster Hunter series comes a far second, selling only 65 million units in total. Street Fighter comes in third at only 45 million, followed by Mega Man with 36 million. But not all of Resident Evil‘s games managed to sell well. Here, we rank the games from the series based on their total sales to date, using the latest sales figures as of 2021. Ready to see which Survival Horror game sold best? Read on.
PENDING: Resident Evil Village: 3M shipped
The most recent release of the franchise, Resident Evil Village, received very good reception upon release. Capcom happily reported that they have shipped 3 million copies over its first weekend, which is a strong showing. The global sales of Resident Evil Village can catapult this game to the top of this list. But until Capcom releases official figures on how much revenue they got from this game, we can’t include it in the list yet. Predictions say that at this rate, it will easily take over Resident Evil 7, which currently stands in the top 5 of the list. However, in spite of its global performance, Japanese Resident Evil fans didn’t seem to like this entry so much.
#22 Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica: .1M sold, grossing about $7.3M
Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica starts our list. The light-gun shooter didn’t sell very well, but still raked in millions. In fact, the game’s dismal sales just show how strong the franchise is. Even with just over a hundred thousand units sold, it’s still considered by the Japanese magazine Game Machine as the most successful dedicated arcade game of the month in August 2001. If this game with these figures can already be considered a success, then what more for the rest of the series?
#21 The Darkside Chronicles: .15M sold, grossing about $13M
If you’ve never heard of the Darkside Chronicles, then it’s okay. There’s no reason to revoke your fan badge. In fact, not a lot of Resident Evil fans remember this game. There are two reasons why: the game only released on the Nintendo Wii and the PlayStation 3. But more importantly, it didn’t feel like a Resident Evil game at all. It was a light-gun shooter, kind of like the shooting games you play in the arcades. The format made the game utterly forgettable, and really drained the survival horror elements of the series down the drain. It’s a shame, though. For a light-gun shooter, Darkside Chronicles actually played well.
#20 The Mercenaries 3D: .17M sold, grossing $10.34M
It sold more copies than #22, but The Mercenaries 3D didn’t really cost much. It was an expanded version of a mini-game, packaged as a complete game. But even Capcom knew that this game didn’t really offer a full game, offering The Mercenaries 3D at only $20 on retail. While the Mercenaries Mode of Resident Evil enjoys widespread popularity among fans, buying an entire game for a mini-game just didn’t feel worth it for many.
#19 Outbreak: File #2: .2M sold, grossing $30M
Outbreak and its sequel Outbreak: File #2 may be considered to be ahead of their time. The two games featured an online multiplayer experience with the Resident Evil feel. However, having been released in the advent of strong internet connections, these two games didn’t do well. In fact, the internet connectivity problems many encountered with the first game drastically affected the sales of its sequel. While the concept for both games was novel; a group of survivors has to cooperate to escape Raccoon City at the outbreak of the T-virus, the technical limitations of the time prevented these games from enjoying mainstream success.
#18 Survivor: .5M sold, grossing $30M
The first light-gun shooter game for the Resident Evil franchise didn’t do really well. The survival horror theme that the series is known for doesn’t really fit well with the on-the-rails shooter kind of gameplay. It’s unsurprising that the game barely sold half a million copies.
#17 Code: Veronica: 1.1M sold, grossing $167M
Code: Veronica was the series’ first attempt to veer away from its roots. It’s the first game to be set outside the United States, and its survival horror elements incorporated a lot of gothic horror themes. This game is considered by many as one of Capcom’s best, although it didn’t sell well because it was originally released for the Dramcast. Low sales of the console affected the sales numbers of this classic. It also didn’t help down the line that this game isn’t a numbered title, making it very easy for fans to forget.
#16 The Umbrella Chronicles: 1.1M sold, grossing $65M
Another on-the-rails shooter that precedes The Darkside Chronicles, Umbrella Chronicles did very well considering that it released in just two platforms. The Wii version of the game made good use of the Wii remote. It received a positive reception from fans and critics. However, the game’s very short story prevented it from becoming a classic. The game’s longevity is an issue, and its genre prevents it from being part of any definitive Resident Evil games lists.
#15 Outbreak: 1.5M sold, grossing $73M
The PlayStation 2 exclusive arrived years before online multiplayer is the norm. Hence, it was very bold for Capcom to even make a multiplayer game, much less for the PS2. Its intriguing gameplay design allowed it to perform well in the market. However, the technical issues players had with its need for internet connectivity only frustrated them. With the release of Outbreak: File #2, it was clear that fans weren’t ready for this kind of game yet.
#14 Revelations 2: 2.7M sold, grossing $100M
The first Revelations game was a fantastic return to form. Revelations 2 did just as well. However, its weak implementation of a 2-player system made critics annoyed by this unnecessary feature. While this game still had a great story, featuring well-loved characters like Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, its graphics were behind the curve. It also had a lot of technical issues at launch, which made fans steer away from this title.
#13 Operation Raccoon City: 2.7M sold, grossing $156M
This non-canon entry to the series explored possible stories between 12 different characters. Set during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3, players get to experience the events from the perspective of Umbrella. It featured the opposing Umbrella Security Service team and the US Special Ops Team. The game signaled the start of the franchise’s path towards more action-oriented gameplay. It’s best played with friends, as it encourages four-player gameplay as one of the two teams. The gunplay was satisfying, but its non-canonical nature makes it an easy pass for many of the series’ fans.
#12 Revelations: 2.9M sold, grossing $103M
Revelations saw the return of series protagonist Jill Valentine at the helm of a title. It’s an interesting game, set almost completely within a single cruise ship. While many games prior to this already saw the series favor action-oriented gameplay, this one went back to the series’ roots: survival horror. The game’s availability on multiple platforms also helped it increase its reach. It’s also hailed as one of the best games ever made for the Nintendo 3DS. Its success prompted Capcom to port it to even more platforms, making it accessible to fans and mainstream audiences alike.
#11 Resident Evil 3: Nemesis: 3.6M sold, grossing $167M
The third game from the original trilogy appears as the first numbered game from the series in this list. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis caps off the saga of Raccoon City, which saw its destruction at the end of this game. It’s the last game on the PSOne, and the last game to be played with tank controls and a fixed camera. However, many felt like this game was developed just to cash in on the success of the series so far. Its very short story was criticized, especially compared to the first two games in the series.
#10 Resident Evil 3 Remake: 3.6M sold, grossing $216M
Same with its original version, Resident Evil 3 Remake faced the same criticisms. It was too short, and while the game showed a very beautiful rendering of Raccoon City and its characters, its low replay value just lowers the game’s score by a lot. Still, the game performed really well commercially, grossing over $200 million for Capcom. It’s the weakest commercially among the series’ latest releases, but it’s a great game nonetheless.
#9 Resident Evil Zero: 4.1M sold, grossing $104M
Many fans of the series will call Resident Evil Zero the ugly duckling of the numbered titles. The prequel still delivered in terms of gameplay and horror. However, its story was just too inconsequential to the bigger picture. It gave the spotlight to Rebbeca Chambers and allowed her to shine, but the game’s story only raised even more questions than answers. It’s yet another title that many fans would tell you to skip. Still, the game sold ridiculously well.
#8 Resident Evil: 5.3M sold, grossing $299M
The original game of the series set Capcom on a path of dominance in the survival horror category of games. Resident Evil was so successful that it was remade mere six years after its first release. The importance of this title cannot be denied. It was the grandfather of survival horror games and set the standard for the genre for years to come. For its time, its multiple endings and two parallel stories gave the game an enormous replay value. While fans still laugh at this game’s horrible voice acting, it can’t be denied just how much influence this title has had over the entire video game industry.
#7 Resident Evil Remake: 5.3M sold, grossing $126.2M
At #7 comes the next-generation remake of the original. While staying true to the series’ roots, the remake also introduced new features and gameplay mechanics that kept the game fresh for a new audience. It revitalized the original and retold the story of the Spencer Mansion so splendidly that this became the definitive way to play Resident Evil. Up to today, it’s still considered by many critics and fans to be the scariest game throughout the entire franchise. A high-definition version released in 2015 further increased the sales for this title and brought the game up to modern standards.
#6 Resident Evil 2: 6.1M sold, grossing $436M
The second game in the series may be its most iconic. The game introduced two of the most popular characters in the series: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Just like the original, having the choice between playing as Claire and playing as Leon gave the game a lot of replay value. The success of the original game launched Resident Evil 2 to the stratosphere, making it the most successful game in the series until the release of Resident Evil 4 almost a decade later.
#5 Resident Evil 2 Remake: 7.8M sold, grossing $432M
Among all of Capcom’s remakes, Resident Evil 2 sold the best. And why shouldn’t it? It’s an excellent retelling of the Raccoon City Police Department saga. Its fantastic rendering of rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and badass Claire Redfield made fans love the series all over again. It also made the game much more palatable to new fans and had a widespread mainstream appeal. Apart from remaking the old game, the remake also introduced new areas, weapons, and puzzles. This made the game fresh again even for old fans.
#4 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: 8.5M sold, grossing $394M
Many long-time fans got turned off by Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 because of their action-oriented gameplay. Resident Evil 6 was abhorred by fans because of its overreaching attempt to appeal to the mainstream. While this strategy worked to get more people to buy the game, the gameplay alienated the fans of the series. Hence, Capcom decided to take the series back to its horror roots in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Still, Capcom dared to change things up, releasing the first game in the series to be played in the first-person perspective. This added to the horror of the game, which really endeared it to the fans. If anything, Resident Evil 7 won back the trust of fans. Its success led to the development of Resident Evil Village, a direct sequel, which releases on May 7, 2021.
#3 Resident Evil 4: 10.8M sold, grossing $378M
Resident Evil 4 shook things up for the series. It was the first game to feature an over-the-shoulder camera and third-person perspective. It featured probably the most popular character in the series, Leon S. Kennedy. Its gameplay and graphics ushered the franchise to the modern era of video games. It received critical acclaim for its atmosphere and story, while also receiving praise for the innovation that Capcom gave the game. However, the success of Resident Evil 4 actually led to one undesired consequence for fans: Capcom realized that more action-oriented gameplay sells better than the old school survival horror gameplay.
#2 Resident Evil 6: 11.5M sold, grossing $670M
While universally agreed upon by fans that Resident Evil 6 is one of the worst games in the franchise, it still is the second best-selling game in the series. The reason for its financial success is the same reason that it’s hated by fans. The popularity of games like Call of Duty prompted Capcom to shift the game to more action-oriented gameplay, featuring urban warfare and heavy weaponry. Fans of the series didn’t like this, but it did help the game appeal to a wider audience. Hence, it sold a ton of copies while also alienating the fans. Thankfully, Capcom realized that they need to win over their fans. The ire of their long-time followers led to their decision to have Resident Evil 7 return to its roots. And so, fans got back what they’ve been asking for Capcom to return to them, while also making Resident Evil much more appealing to the wider gaming community.
#1 Resident Evil 5: 13.34M sold, grossing $700M
Last but not least is Resident Evil 5. The game, just like Resident Evil 6, tried to appeal to the wider mainstream audience. It was successful in that regard. At this point, fans still trusted the series, and they still bought the game. The influx of new players trying out the series for the first time and the fan base led to record-shattering numbers for Resident Evil 5. Its success prompted Capcom to double down on action in Resident Evil 6, but fans decided that enough was enough. While mainstream fans still bought Resident Evil 6, old-school fans of the series instead opted not to. Hence, Resident Evil 5 outsold Resident Evil 6 because it still had the support of fans at this point. Regardless, Resident Evil 5 was a fantastic game all throughout, which even featured an exciting two-player mode that was new to the series. It’s just a shame that it’s not the same kind of experience that fans of the series wanted.