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Most popular gaming characters based on search trends

From Sonic the Hedgehog to Pikachu to Halo's Cortana. Where do gaming's popular characters rank based on search trends criteria online?
Most popular gaming characters based on search trends

Gaming features many heroes and villains,  including speedy protagonists, wisecracking sidekicks, underrated supporting characters, and stoic icons. They have shaped the industry for their grounded portrayals, great dialogue, and memorable in-game moments.

But which captured the attention of gamers throughout 2021? According to research conducted by Currys in conjunction with Oled, these ten gaming characters garnered the highest search volumes, online and social media, to become trendsetters in the digital sphere.

Search trends proved strongest for older gaming characters

Gaming has grown exponentially over the years, with advanced gaming software and hardware improvements, bringing our favourite (and most hated) characters to life.

popular video game characters search trends master chief halo infinite
Master Chief returned in full glory in Halo Infinite during Q4 2021. (Picture: 343 Industries / Xbox Game Studios)

From new generation characters like Fortnite's Jonesy or Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy to gaming legends like Tomb Raider's Lara Croft and the returning Master Chief, all have been digitally enhanced for the modern gamer.

But do these gaming legends still maintain their relevancy in the modern era of gaming? Or has a new generation of gaming characters emerged from the shadows of these giants?

most popular video game character search trends fortnite
Fortnite: Battle Royale is one of gaming's most popular and streamed games in the 21st century. (Picture: Unsplash / Eric McLean)

It appears that the former still lean on the side of nostalgia for gamers as the top ten most searched gaming characters have appeared in video games since the late 80s and early 90s.

According to a research study conducted by Currys in conjunction with Oled, the most searched gaming characters online were determined using a menu of search and engagement metrics.

The following criteria were used to determine the influencers of the on-screen world.

  • Search volume
  • Instagram posts with associated hashtags
  • Dollars earned for each post
  • Number of gaming titles they’ve featured

Top 15 most searched gaming characters

Baring the criteria mentioned above in mind, these are the top fifteen most searched video game characters.

popular video game characters search trends comparison chart
The top 15 ranked video game characters, based on internet search trends and social media. (Picture: Currys)

Placed outside the top ten, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter’s Chun-Li, Bowser, Halo’s Cortana and Final Fantasy VII’s antagonist, Sephiroth, comprised the 15 most searched video game characters online.

popular video game characters search trends final fantasy vii remake sephiroth
Final Fantasy VII Remake's antagonist, Sephiroth, made the Top 15 most popular characters. (Picture: Square Enix)

Interestingly, only three female characters featured in the top 15 (Lara Croft, Chun-Li and Cortana); the latter two have played supporting roles to their male leads, neither making the top 15.

Curry’s also supplied some telling data regarding our favourite gaming characters and their online influence.

For example, the Sonic the Hedgehog character could quickly charge $67,000 for every sponsored post if monthly search volume were equivalent to total Instagram followers.

popular video game characters search trends sonic the hedgehog
If Sonic the Hedgehog became a social media influencer, the "Blue Blur" would make at least $67,000 for every sponsored Instagram post. (Picture: SEGA)

As expected, Pokémon's flagship character, Pikachu, was the most tagged video game character on social media. Accordingly, the electric-type Pokémon was tagged in over 7.4 million posts on Instagram.

Nintendo’s favourite plumber, Mario, may have appeared in more video games (259 games) than other characters on the list; however, the Super Mario game series is second to Pokémon in terms of total revenue generated.

popular video game characters search trends pokemon video game series
Pokémon remains the most lucrative video game series, based on the total revenue. (Picture: The Pokémon Company)

Indeed, gaming has excelled in leaps and bounds over several decades, thanks to the vast advancements in gaming technology.

While they continue to give new life to characters of yesteryear, they also give birth to the next generation of heroes that are worthy of sharing the stage with the legends.

If you're interested in learning more, we encourage you to check out Currys' full research findings here. Otherwise, be sure to check out our article detailing the top gaming accessories used by popular streamers.


Featured image courtesy of SEGA, The Pokemon Company, Bandai Namco, Nintendo and Konami.