Read MoreSee the list: Top selling console video games since 1995
On its most recent earnings call with analysts, Take-Two announced "GTA V" has sold 65 million units life to date, with 5 million unit sales occurring the previous quarter. And the benefits for the company extend far beyond retail sales. Revenues from "Grand Theft Auto Online" have expanded quarter-by-quarter since release, "exceeding expectations every reporting period," notes Mike Hickey, an analyst with The Benchmark Company.
("GTA V"'s sales, incidentally, are more than double those of 2008's "Grand Theft Auto IV" - which is the 20th best selling game of all time, per NPD.)
The list put together by The NPD Groups looks at gross sales and is not inflation adjusted. The company also did not provide specific dollar or unit sale figures for individual titles, since it long ago stopped releasing that information to non-subscribers, nor does it include numbers from digital sales platforms, such as Xbox Live or the PlayStation store — an increasingly relevant platform in the past few years, but one that's slightly less important in the 26 year timeframe of this data dump.
The data also does not include titles that were bundled with game systems. If so, Nintendo's Wii Sports would almost certainly be in a prominent position in terms of both dollar sales and units sold. (The company has sold 41.92 million systems and copies of the game in the U.S., according to the company. Worldwide, the Wi sold just under 102 million units.)
Similarly, "Super Mario Bros." from the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was a bundle game, leading to over 40 million copies being distributed since 1985. (All totaled, the Super Mario series has sold over 310 million units life to date.)
NPD, however, does offer some collective numbers to help investors assess the industry's overall performance. Life-to-date U.S. brick and mortar sales from the top five games in the list came in at $4.4 billion, said Liam Callahan, an analyst with The NPD Group. That's a $700 million improvement from five years ago, when the top five games (three of which have since fallen to lesser spots on the list) took in $3.7 billion.
Collectively, the top five titles have sold 79 million physical units through April of 2016.
Three titles have slipped from the top 10 since it was last compiled in 2011: "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," "Guitar Hero World Tour" and "Mario Kart Wii" all lost ground, but still remain in the top 20.