10 Games That Changed The Industry Forever

I would never presume to speak for the entire industry, but, objectively, some games have had more of an effect on our gaming experiences than others.  Some games transcend their little worlds, and become something more.  Some titles make themselves known through the influence they have on other games, and these 10 games epitomize that idea.  I realize there is a 95% chance you’re favorite game isn’t on this list, but this is my own (very opinionated) take on the question.

10.  Devil May Cry:   The PS2 was a literal renaissance of gaming that gave birth to a wealth of new ideas and mechanics for us to explore.  Devil May Cry was an early title for the console, and if nothing else it proved that the PS2 could deliver some flashy graphics.  After we finished drooling, we realized that we were looking at the birth of a new mix of kinetic action and 3D platforming.  God of War may have perfected the idea, but it was Capcom’s masterpiece Devil May Cry that truly foreshadowed a significant paradigm shift in the industry, and offered a look at how it was maturing.  Unfortunatly DMC 3 totally dropped the ball, and quickly spiraled Dante in mediocrity in the exploding genre.  Hopefully Ninja Theory can make the cocky demon hunter relevant again.




9.  BioShock:  BioShock was not a technical masterpiece.  The gunplay was a little sloppy, and weapon and plasmid balancing was a null and void concept.  Nevertheless, BioShock proved to be a masterpiece, relying on an interesting story, impeccable level design and, most importantly, environmental storytelling.  The idea that the story be told in ways ancillary to the gameplay had been toyed with before, but BioShock embedded everything you needed to know in the world better than any game before, and the industry was forced to take note.  If BioShock: Infinity lives up to its lofty expectations, we could be in for a real treat.




8.  Mario 64:  The Nintendo 64 was a crucial step for the video game world.  The industry was really starting to mature, and simple game experiences weren’t cutting it anymore.  (It’s interesting to note that, as the industry has further evolved, history is truly repeating itself.  Are simple game experiences not starting to take over?)  The move to a 3D landscape was big and undoubtedly frightening, but Nintendo once again showed its technical prowess, delivering perhaps the finest entry into a new genre with Mario 64.  If you created a platformer after 1997 and you weren’t emulating Mario 64 in some way, you were doing something wrong.  Neither Mario nor Nintendo has lost a step, and our favorite plumber is still doing what he does best.




7.  World of Warcraft:  In the larger scope of the gaming world, World of Warcraft is a true juggernaut.  The sales numbers are outrageous, but we all know that story.  The true impact can be seen by looking at the path Wow has carved along the MMO landscape, and the littered corpses of all the pretenders left in the wake.  There have been a few legitimate attempts by other games to take the thrown but like metal music, it has stricken them all down.  I was skeptical about the upcoming expansion, but the more I see of it the more I believe Blizzard can actually pull it off.  The future may be uncertain, but there is no denting WoWs past.




6.  Halo:  There were a lot of uncertains when Microsoft released their first console, but people’s fears were quickly put to rest when they got a taste of Combat Evolved.  Halo proved that not only could FPSs work on Consoles (GoldenEye 64 did that), but that they could work as well as any PC.  The math behind Bungie’s shooting mechanics makes aerospace look simple, but the genius shows:  Halo was (and is) a smash hit, and 343 by all reports looks to be on target to deliver another quality entry.  Call of Duty has since stepped in and taken the sales crown, but Halo was the first king of the modern FPS.




5.  Tetris: Tetris was not only good, it was something close to prophetic.  A few paragraphs ago, someone wise said that history repeats himself.  You think your mobile phone games and apps are quirky and original, but they are really only an evolved version of the formula Tetris started way back when.  Easy to learn; impossible to master.  The timelessness of Tetris can be attributed to that one statement, and now, decades later, gamers are still enthralled with the simple elegance of it. When Nintendo included it as a pack-in game with the original Game Boy, I wonder if they knew how eerily they were predicting the future.




4.  Super Mario Bros.:  How big a star is Mario?  Well, he’s convinced me that two of his games have had a Top 10 impact on gaming, and I wouldn’t do something like that lightly (trust me).  The way that Nintendo flawlessly introduced people to a new way to game shows the mark of a true master, and while it’s hard to quantify what kind of effect its legacy has had on the industry, nobody can deny that echoes of it can be seen everywhere, even in the current generation.  Mario taught us the language we would need to understand video games moving forward, and it presented it beautifully.  It’s also a language we’ll probably (hopefully) never forget.




3.  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare:   Look, there was competitive multiplayer before Modern Warfare, and there was competitive multiplayer after Modern Warfare, and those two things resemble each other very little.  Infinity Ward showed that dangling a proverbial carrot in front of a player works just  as well in multiplayer as it does in single-player.  After getting a taste of progression, it basically became faux pas overnight not to include it in some way, especially if your game contains a multiplayer component.  One glance at today’s shooter landscape is all you need to know about the impact Call of Duty 4 had on the industry as a whole.




2.  Grand Theft Auto 3:  Did you know there was a time that we didn’t need blood and rocket launchers in our games.  You can scoff all you want, but it’s the truth.  Studies have shown that, after GTA III released in 2001, the blood and rocket launcher levels of the video game world rose by an estimated 519%.  That’s math you can’t argue with.  The shockwaves Rockstar sent through the industry reverberated through the heart of pop culture itself, and has imbedded itself in the framework of our lives.  Few games have stirred as many emotions, both positive and negative, as GTA III, and no title has blurred the lines of games, art, pop culture and media like the Grand Theft Auto series.




1.  The Legend of Zelda:  I’m not sure that, to this day, any game has been more ahead of its time than the original Legend of Zelda.  The number of games it inspired were beyond count, and it’s no mystery why.  The myriad secrets hidden around the game soon fostered a unique game community that, before the rise of that Interweb thing (or whatever), was soon swapping secrets like baseball cards.  What was truly incredible was the scope of the adventure, and, if you were able to finish it, an entire second adventure was waiting for you.  It was mind blowing, and unlike anything else available at the time.  It’s impossible to understate the effect Zelda has had on game development.

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  1. Ryan

    I agree whole heatedly with this list. I was disappointed though that bioshock got higher on that list than Super Mario 64. That was one of the biggest step forwards in gaming since I’ve been alive (1984).

  2. Ryan

    Oops didn’t mean to submit already. Anywho .. World of Warcraft shouldn’t be that low on the list. It was in my opinion a harsh blow to the free gaming content expectations. If you noticed back in like COD4-5 etc there were NO paid downloadable content. You bought a game and for the obnoxious price you’d get updates and even content surprises.

    Now after seeing 10 million people spending monthly fees and even blowing real money for in game items, all the other companies hopped on the milk our paying customers bandwagon.

    I agree 100% on the GTA3 comment. I still remember being in school when this was released, teachers would frown upon even conversing about the highly controversial game. I remember it getting news coverage and was even yanked out of some stores.

    I never really considered it up until reading this article but it did more than push the boarder lines of whats acceptable in a video game, it tore them down.

    Imagine Max Payne, being released in 1990 it would have caused riots.

    Lastly to end my sermon, I am definitely shocked DOOM didn’t make the list.

  3. Kaega

    I thought Super Mario Brothers would have been number one on this list. It was the first side scrolling platformer, and pretty much single handedly brought the video game industry out of the gave Atari had dug for it.

    The Nintendo had come out quite awhile before I had one. My parents had bought me an Atari (don’t know if it was the 2600 or what, just remember playing Adventure!) and weren’t interested in getting me another game console for what they felt was just a toy. Super Mario Brothers is what changed their mind. They realized there could be more to video games than 15 minutes of Adventure or hours of doing the same thing over and over again to get a high score.

    Mario is the reason I ever got a Nintendo. Mario is the reason I got to play Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Gradius, Dragon Warrior, or Ninja Gaiden. It didn’t just change the world of platforming games, it changed the world of video games in the broadest sense. For that I think it should trump even Zelda.

  4. MightyDog

    I love WoW but it would not have my top 10 for this list. I agree with everything they mention in the description, however WoW was not the first game that proved without a doubt that a MMORPG with a monthly subscription fee is not only viable, but could be hugely successful. I think there are a lot of players reading this top 10 thinking “Where is EverQuest?”

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