Prior to Elden Ring, FromSoftware’s most prominent games were the action role-playing Dark Souls series, which initially saw only niche success before becoming a cult classic years after release. As of May 2020, the Dark Souls series has sold more than 27.5 million units worldwide. The Dark Souls games take place in a dark, medieval fantasy setting – an aspect they share with Elden Ring and FromSoftware’s other major titles Bloodborne and Demon’s Souls. This and many other shared concepts, such as similar gameplay mechanics and themes, have led to fans referring to this group of games as “Soulsborne” (a portmanteau of Souls and Bloodborne).
Games by FromSoftware are renowned for their high level of difficulty. This has led to both criticism and praise in equal measure and saw rise to the soulslike genre, where repeated player character death is expected and part of the gameplay experience. A major part of the soulslike gameplay challenge is the usage of an in-game experience currency which may be permanently lost or regained between character deaths.
FromSoftware is not the only soulslike gaming publisher – the Nioh series, Code Vein (2019), and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019) are other recent video game titles that deploy similar mechanics of players losing unused in-game experience points between deaths.
From niche titles to major success
Elden Ring was instantly a smash hit on release and there are many factors that caused the title to be immediately popular with gamers. Firstly, the collaboration with George R.R. Martin caused much online buzz before its release, and some writers from the Game of Thrones tv series were also hired to participate in the development of the game.
Secondly, FromSoftware’s last Souls game release was Dark Souls 3 in April 2016. Despite the studio’s most recent game release, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019), also being part of the soulslike genre, it had a very different setting, leaving hardcore Souls fans hungry for more. Finally, early reviews praised Elden Ring to be the most accessible of the Soulsborne games in terms of gameplay, leading to new players finally connecting with the series.
Lifetime unit sales generated by Elden Ring worldwide as of March 2022
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VGChartz. (May 11, 2022). Lifetime unit sales generated by Elden Ring worldwide as of March 2022 (in millions) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved June 28, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1300663/elden-ring-sales-worldwide/
VGChartz. "Lifetime unit sales generated by Elden Ring worldwide as of March 2022 (in millions)." Chart. May 11, 2022. Statista. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1300663/elden-ring-sales-worldwide/
VGChartz. (2022). Lifetime unit sales generated by Elden Ring worldwide as of March 2022 (in millions). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: June 28, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1300663/elden-ring-sales-worldwide/
VGChartz. "Lifetime Unit Sales Generated by Elden Ring Worldwide as of March 2022 (in Millions)." Statista, Statista Inc., 11 May 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1300663/elden-ring-sales-worldwide/
VGChartz, Lifetime unit sales generated by Elden Ring worldwide as of March 2022 (in millions) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1300663/elden-ring-sales-worldwide/ (last visited June 28, 2022)