The most popular video games of 2022 have one thing in common — nearly all are multi-player games and free-to-play.

It is a unique fact which perhaps explains why titles such as Overwatch 2, which was released on 4 October 2022, were among the most highly anticipated video games of the year. The game allows numerous players to battle against each other either solo or as teams — a style that is described as battle royale.

This Player vs Player (PvP) concept is present in nearly all the popular video games such as PUBG, Counter Strike and Dota 2.

The idea of bringing hundreds of players together from around the world in a single game is so appealing and saleable that even traditional single-player games have been releasing special multi-player extensions with the main game. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is one of the best examples of such popular video games.

Apart from sales figures, which could be a tad difficult to verify even for the most expensive games of all time, the popularity of any video game can be best measured from the number of players playing it. Thankfully, Steam, the platform where nearly every PC game in the world is playable, keeps a daily track of players playing any title in their store. They also have an all-time list of games with most concurrent players, as in the maximum numbers who may have played a title at a time.

Again, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is the most prominent game on that list. No other title released in 2022 has been able to touch the extremely high player count set by the game within months of its release.

Other major games that made a mark

Several games that are constantly climbing in popularity since their release in 2022 are neither free-to-play nor battle royale. These were released not just for PC or mobiles, but also for consoles such as Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 as well as Nintendo Switch.

Among the best of such games are Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga — the latest addition to LEGO Star Wars games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, a host of Final Fantasy games, Stray, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök.

The genres not only include the widely loved first-person shooter but also survival games with horror themes such as Signalis, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me and The Callisto Protocol. And many of the most anticipated titles, including Hell Pie and Saturnalia, did not even come from major studios but from Indie game makers.

Here are some of the popular video games of 2022 that kept gamers hooked

PUBG: Battlegrounds

PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS popular video game
Image credit: PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS US/@pubg_us/Instagram

No battle royale game has captured the attention of the masses as much as PUBG: Battlegrounds. It rules Steam’s all-time played games by concurrent players with a peak of 3.25 million players.

Among its seven Guinness World Records is the honour for the ‘Fastest Early Access Game on Steam to Reach 100 Million Dollars in Sales.’

As of December 2022, around 226,000 to 440,000 players battle it out in the acclaimed free-to-player title on a daily basis on Steam.

The game was developed and published by South Korean company KRAFTON, Inc. Its mobile game adaptation was made by China’s Tencent Games. It was released on 21 December 2017 and receives frequent updates, with new maps, weapons, avatars and other features which help keep the game exciting and almost always new all year round.

It is essentially a player vs player shooting arcade, with the basic objective of survival and kills. The last to survive, whether in solo mode or team mode, is the winner.

Lost Ark

Lost Ark popular video game
Image credit: Play Lost Ark

The massively multiplayer (MMO) game Lost Ark made its debut on Steam in February 2022. Within a week, it was played by over  1.325 million concurrent players. The game is thus the second-most played title of all-time on Steam, only behind PUBG: Battlegrounds.

The game was originally launched in 2018 as a Korean-language MMO by developer Smilegate RPG. It instantly became one of the most popular video games in Japan and Russia — the two markets other than South Korea where it was initially available.

The game was later localised into English and released in North American, South American and European markets in partnership with Amazon Games.

Lost Ark is essentially a free-to-play role-playing game where players have to develop their characters through various actions within the game environment as well as battles with other players. The game is set in a fantastical world, populated, among other creatures, by demons and fairies.

Experts say that the game is like Blizzard Entertainment’s smash hit Diablo 3 getting an MMO makeover.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter Strike
Image credit: CS:GO/@CSGO/Twitter

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is an online multiplayer game launched in 2012 and it has remained phenomenally popular with fans of first-person shooters every year ever since.

The game ranks third on the all-time concurrent players list with a peak of 1.308 million players. But despite being a decade old, the game is so popular that it continues to register a daily player count of around 900,000 players on Steam as of December 2022.

Moreover, the free-to-play game has spent over 540 weeks (as of 14 December 2022) in the Top 100 selling games list on Steam, which is in itself a phenomenal achievement.

Published by Valve and developed in association with Hidden Path Entertainment, the game basically pits two teams —  Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists — against each other in multiple game modes.

Dota 2

most popular video games 2022
Image credit: Dota 2/@dota2/Instagram

Like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 is also an old game and comes from the same company — Valve. It was released in 2013 and has since remained one of the most popular games year-on-year. It is one of the most famous video games of 2022, played by around 600,000-800,000 players daily on Steam.

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena which serves as a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA). The game requires players to form teams in order to win. Players get to see new features, heroes and battle simulations with regular updates. This makes the game almost always new to players.

Its all-time peak is around 1.29 million players.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends
Image credit: Apex Legends/@PlayApex/Twitter

Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, Apex Legends is a free-to-play Hero shooter where players have to fight to survive. The game is played by around 190,000 to 325,000 players daily. The game’s all-time high concurrent player count is over 511,000.

Players in Apex Legends can form their own squads to increase chances of survival and eventual victory. The game is set in a planetary world, which is different from the real-world settings of PUBG and Counter Strike and high-fantasy settings of games such as Dota 2 and Lost Ark.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

Call of Duty
Image credit: Call of Duty

Released on 28 October, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is one of the biggest video games of 2022 to have hit the market.

Part of the acclaimed and long-running Call of Duty franchise’s sub-series, ‘Modern Warfare,’ the game has gained highly positive reviews for its plot, player characters, gameplay and highly realistic graphics.

The main Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is originally a non-free-to-play game. But its makers also released a free-to-play battle royale set within the game — Warzone 2.0. This free-to-player version on Steam has a daily player count numbering anywhere around 128,000 to 192,000, with an all-time peak hitting just over 491,000.

The main game’s plot is set in 2022 and sees iconic characters such as Ghost, Price and Soap from its previous games join hands with new characters to form Task Force 141 and take on what is described as their “greatest threat yet.”

Team Fortress 2

most popular video games 2022
Image credit: Team Fortress 2

Created by Valve, Team Fortress 2 was launched in 2007. It has remained one of the most popular games in any given year in the 15-year period since.

With an all-time concurrent player count of over 151,000, the game is usually played by around 95,000 to 120,000 players daily on Steam.

Though the game is like other battle royale titles, Team Fortress 2 differs with its cartoonish graphics and exactly nine distinct classes of player characters — each with its own unique set of abilities. There is always BLU vs Red in any of the five game modes, including King of the Hill and Capture the Flag.

The game gets constant updates with maps, equipment and other attributes.

Grand Theft Auto V

most popular video games 2022
Image credit: Rockstar Games/@RockstarGames/Twitter

DMA Design (now Rockstar North) hit it out of the park when they launched the first Grand Theft Auto game in 1997. Almost every instalment since has been a hit with game lovers.

Grand Theft Auto V is part of the main series of instalments. It was released in 2013 to critical acclaim and follows the main, single-player storyline which is set in the fictional Los Santos and Blaine County.

On 1 October 2013, two weeks after the release of the game, the markers launched Grand Theft Auto Online. Part of the main game and set within its timeline, Grand Theft Auto Online is designed to be played by up to 30 players both solo or as a team. Players can undertake heists — special missions — to advance their criminal careers in the fictional world of the game.

Naraka: Bladepoint

Naraka Bladepoint
Image credit: Naraka: Bladepoint

Up to 60 players can choose from 13 different characters with unique abilities in this battle royale title from Chinese game developer 24 Entertainment.

One of the most popular video games in China, the game is priced at USD 19.99 and is among the fastest-selling Chinese PC games with sales numbering 6 million copies in the first three months since its release on 12 August 2021.

Players in Naraka: Bladepoint can scout the map for equipment and weapons, and can use the environment to formulate attack plans to be last-man-standing whether solo or as part of a team. Player characters wield melee or ranged weapons such as dual blades, spear, longsword, staff, nunchucks, bow-and-arrows, handheld cannon, musket and katana among others.

It records a daily count of around 110,000 players through December, making it one of the most played video games of 2022. The title’s all-time peak record is 187,468 players.

(Main image: Play Lost Ark; Featured image: Apex Legends/@PlayApex/Twitter)

written by.

Manas Sen Gupta

Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.

Subscribe to the magazine

Subscribe Now
Never miss an update

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

No Thanks
You’re all set

Thank you for your subscription.