clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tumblr’s year-end gaming lists reveal a Minecraft boom, Wooloo love, and the power of dating sims

What do Pikachu, Arthur Morgan, Overwatch, and Choices: Stories You Play have in common?

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

The end of the year means it’s time to buzz about what’s been buzzed about for the past 12 months.

Tumblr has unveiled its most popular gaming topics, with lists of the most talked about traditional and mobile games of the year, as well as lists revealing favorite characters and Pokémon.

Tumblr tracks topics through sheer volume, which means a very popular game on this list might also be one that incites a lot of online discourse, both good and bad. Overwatch, for instance, is the site’s most popular traditional game, though a dive into the tag reveals not only fan art and videos, but also more critical posts regarding Blizzard’s politics.

Overwatch was Tumblr’s top game last year, and continues to hold that spot, but a new challenger emerged for second place. Rising 27 places in ranking since last year? Minecraft.

a gif of a minecraft sword with the words “Tumblr Year in review” around Tumblr

Amanda Brennan, head of content insights on Tumblr, attributes some of this popularity to the game’s ten year anniversary, with popular YouTubers streaming Minecraft.

Indeed, Minecraft experienced a renaissance this year, with many YouTubers opting to stream not just because of the anniversary, but also because the game is family-friendly — making it friendly for advertisers as well. Specifically on Tumblr, Minecraft is one game that transcends the boundaries of subcultures.

“There’s a lot of aesthetic content around [Minecraft], like the beautiful gifs and beautiful sceneries, people building things in Minecraft. Those kinds of communities, like the shading community, we’ll see that kind of bleed over into aesthetic Tumblr,” Brennan explained to Polygon. “It surpasses the boundary of the typical people in a gaming community.”

She cites The Sims as another game that breaks the mold, with Tumblr users posting builds of nicely decorated houses and pictures of their Sims showing off custom outfits and hairstyles.

“They edit the photos to look like an influencer photo. It’s really interesting to see the line between influencer and Sims starting to get blurred,” Brennan said.

Siena Nahl, who heads up gaming and esports at Tumblr, pointed out the high amount of indie games on the year end list, especially in comparison to bigger titles like Fortnite.

“We have a lot of developers who do their dev logs on Tumblr, which get a lot of engagement. We’ve noticed that about 30% of our video game top trending lists are indie games,” Nahl explained. “You’ll see games like Deltarune, Undertale, and Untitled Goose Game really take the stride here and outperform other games you’d see more popularity on other platforms such as like PubG or Fortnite. You just see indie games dominating on Tumblr.”

The full traditional gaming list is below (numbers indicate how much the ranking changed):

  1. Overwatch (no change)
  2. Minecraft (+27)
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (new)
  4. Undertale (-1)
  5. Pokemon Sword and Shield (new)
  6. The Sims 4 (+1)
  7. Persona 5 (-1)
  8. Deltarune (no change)
  9. Danganronpa (new)
  10. Sally Face (new)
  11. Devil May Cry 5 (new)
  12. Red Dead Redemption 2 (new)
  13. Hollow Knight (new)
  14. Splatoon (-9)
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (+1)
  16. Final Fantasy XIV (new)
  17. Stardew Valley (+6)
  18. Borderlands 3 (new)
  19. Kingdom Hearts III (-15)
  20. Dead by Daylight (+7)
  21. League of Legends (-12)
  22. Detroit: Become Human (-20)
  23. Apex Legends (new)
  24. Flight Rising (+1)
  25. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (-10)
  26. Ace Attorney (new)
  27. The Walking Dead Game (new)
  28. Super Smash Bros Ultimate (+18)
  29. Five Nights at Freddy’s (new)
  30. Untitled Goose Game (new)
  31. Team Fortress 2 (-10)
  32. World of Warcraft (-21)
  33. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (new)
  34. Destiny 2 (new)
  35. Bendy and the Ink Machine (-18)
  36. Cyberpunk 2077 (new)
  37. Final Fantasy XV (-16)
  38. Warframe (-19)
  39. Dragon Age Inquisition (new)
  40. Fortnite (-11)
  41. Cuphead (-29)
  42. Smile for Me (new)
  43. Far Cry 5 (-18)
  44. Monster Prom (-27)
  45. Bayonetta (new)
  46. Bloodborne (new)
  47. Fallout 4 (new)
  48. Life is Strange (-25)
  49. A Hat in Time (new)

When it comes to mobile games, visual novels and dating sims dominated the list. Choices: Stories You Play and The Arcana, both visual novels with a focus on romance, surged to the top of the list. In fact, Brennan says that if both traditional and mobile games were combined, the two titles would be in the Top 5, with Choices as third and The Arcana as fifth.

a gif of a mobile phone with the words “Tumblr Year in Review” around Tumblr

Other trends in the mobile game sphere include games tied to existing franchises, such as Fire Emblem Heroes, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and Pokémon Go. Among those, a few newcomers like Love Island: The Game, based on the UK reality show of the same name, and BTSWorld, where you play as a manager of the hit Kpop boy band, managed to break into the top 30.

The top mobile games this year on Tumblr are below:

  1. Choices (+1)
  2. The Arcana (+3)
  3. Fire Emblem Heroes (+1)
  4. Cookie Run (+2)
  5. Mystic Messenger (-2)
  6. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (-5)
  7. Eldarya (new)
  8. My Candy Love (-1)
  9. Food Fantasy (+1)
  10. Pokemon Go (-2)
  11. Love Island The Game (new)
  12. Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen (-1)
  13. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (-1)
  14. Ikemen Sengoku: Romances Across Time (-1)
  15. Azur Lane (new)
  16. Granblue Fantasy (-7)
  17. Dragalia Lost (new)
  18. Pokemon Masters (new)
  19. Ikeme Vampire Otome Game (new)
  20. Ikeme Revolution: Otome Game (new)
  21. BanG Dream! (-4)
  22. Identity V (new)
  23. Mr. Love: Queen’s Choice (new)
  24. Samurai Love Ballad: PARTY (-6)
  25. Sweet Elite (new)
  26. Moonlight Lovers (new)
  27. Fallen Hero: Rebirth (new)
  28. BTS World (new)
  29. Touken Ranbu (-15)
  30. Idolish7 (-14)

Tumblr also added a category for most popular video game characters. All three main lords and the player character of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as well as almost the entire cast of The Arcana made the list, showing a penchant for romanceable characters. Overwatch, Undertale, and Kingdom Hearts also had multiple characters crack the list, but it is Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2 who snagged the top spot, beating out more meme-able characters like Kirby and Sans Undertale.

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Arthur Morgan close-up Image: Rockstar Games

“People just really love that it’s a well-written narrative and you can choose whether he’s going to be good or bad,” Brennan said. “You just become so immersed at him that I think that really translates to why people, made him the number one character.”

Here are Tumblr’s favorite characters of 2019:

  1. Arthur Morgan (Red Dead Redemption)
  2. Kirby (Kirby)
  3. Sans (Undertale)
  4. Julian Devorak (The Arcana)
  5. Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
  6. Count Lucio (The Arcana)
  7. Byleth (Fire Emblem)
  8. Riku (Kingdom Hearts)
  9. Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd (Fire Emblem)
  10. Vergil (Devil May Cry 5)
  11. Muriel (The Arcana)
  12. Leon S. Kennedy (Resident Evil 4)
  13. Asra (The Arcana)
  14. Sigma (Overwatch)
  15. John Marston (Red Dead Redemption 2)
  16. Papyrus (Undertale)
  17. Kairi (Kingdom Hearts)
  18. Shadow the Hedgehog (Sonic)
  19. Frisk (Undertale)
  20. Edelgard (Fire Emblem)
  21. Claude (Fire Emblem)
  22. Ganandorf (The Legend of Zelda)
  23. Jevil (Deltarune)
  24. Roxas (Kingdom Hearts)
  25. Komaeda Nagito (Danganronpa)
  26. Lucio (Overwatch)
  27. Akechi Goro (Persona 5)
  28. Nadia (The Arcana)
  29. Dutch van der Linde (Red Dead Redemption 2)
  30. Mercy (Overwatch)
  31. Connor (Detroit: Become Human)
  32. Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey)
  33. Gavin Reed (Detroit: Become Human)
  34. Sal Fisher (Sally Face)
  35. Xion (Kingdom Hearts)
  36. Ralsei (Deltarune)
  37. Kokichi Ouma (Danganronpa)
  38. Luigi (Mario games)
  39. Dante (Devil May Cry 5)
  40. RK900 (Detroit: Become Human)
  41. Amamiya Ren (Persona 5)
  42. Soldier 76 (Overwatch)
  43. Hanzo Shimada (Overwatch)
  44. Junkrat (Overwatch)
  45. Ventus (Kingdom Hearts)
  46. Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
  47. Guzma (Pokemon)
  48. Phoenix Wright (Ace Attorney)
  49. Jesse McCree (Overwatch)
  50. Chara (Undertale)

The other new category added this year is Pokémon, which Brennan says was added specifically because of the sheer love for Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Wooloo.

“As we saw Tumblr’s response to these new Pokémon and the immediate “Wooloo is our baby” vibe, I was like we need to look at this list,” she laughed.

Wooloo as it appears in Pokemon Sword/Shield Image: GameFreak/The Pokémon Company

While the list is full of the new Galar region Pokémon, Pikachu and Bulbasaur manage to beat out some of the new favorites. Nahl says that the affinity for these two likely coincides with this year’s Detective Pikachu.

“A lot of people were obsessed with the CGI animation that they did for the Bulbasaur,” she explained.

Tumblr’s most buzzed about Pokémon are as follows:

  1. Pikachu
  2. Wooloo
  3. Sobble
  4. Bulbasaur
  5. Scorbunny
  6. Grookey
  7. Eevee
  8. Squirtle
  9. Mewtwo
  10. Charmander
  11. Meowth
  12. Charizard
  13. Vaporeon
  14. Gengar
  15. Yamper
  16. Umbreon
  17. Sylveon
  18. Incineroar
  19. Espeon
  20. Flareon
  21. Mew
  22. Corviknight
  23. Psyduck
  24. Jigglypugg
  25. Snorlax
  26. Lucario
  27. Jolteon
  28. Vulpix
  29. Rowlet
  30. Leafeon

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.