As of September 2006, Nintendo had sold 275 million Mario games worldwide easily making the little Italian plumber the best selling game character of all time. To put that into perspective, imagine all other notable game characters, combine them, and you still won’t account for half of what Mario has sold. Not Halo, not Gran Turismo, not even Nintendo’s own Pokemon or Zelda come close.
And he’s still selling. “Mario is a gaming icon that has had and continues to have a huge impact on the gaming world,” admits once Nintendo rival Takashi Iizuka of Sega. But even though single game sales may never resurface to the level of 1980s gaming, Mario isn’t the only franchise character still thriving. The franchise formula continues to work to this day assuming the playable characters maintain their appeal.