18 Video Games That Changed the Industry Forever

Video games weren’t always as we know them today. Realistic graphics, interactive and immersive gameplay, hilarious mods, wholesome communities, and online multiplayer that we’re familiar with didn’t always exist.

Ever wondered which best-selling GOY (Game of the Year) and fan-favorite games set standards for the games we play today?

These 18 games revolutionized gaming forever and are still considered the cornerstones of the industry.

1. Pong

Image Credit: Atari.

Pong (also known as Ping-Pong) was the game that started it all. It was introduced in 1972 and was the first game that debuted video games as a source of entertainment. The controls consisted of two knobs, one for each player. The original Pong always needed two players.

Pong was so successful that every toy and electronic manufacturer started developing their own version of the game. Still, the original Pong‘s legacy remains, even after all these decades.

2. Tetris

Image Credit: Nintendo.

There’s only one word for this game: puzzles. Tetris laid the groundwork for puzzle games. The idea? Simple. Players had to collect, rotate, and place blocks next to each other to form lines, which dropped the whole board.

Once the collected blocks reached the ceiling, the game ended. This simple concept made Tetris famous worldwide, cultivating millions of players. Today, we can play Tetris in many forms with updated graphics on all platforms.

3. Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)
Image Credit: Nintendo.

If you were alive in the early 90s, chances are that Super Mario Bros. was the first game you ever played. This was one of those games that didn’t bore you, even after consecutive hours of gameplay.

Why? The controls were simple, and the gameplay and soundtracks added a nice finishing touch. Thanks to this game, the Super Mario series franchise is one of the longest-lived game series.

4. Street Fighter

Street Fighter
Image Credit: Capcom.

When a gamer thinks about a one-on-one game, names like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat usually come to mind. However, Street Fighter was the primary entry in the genre back in 1987.

In the good old days, it graced a lot of arcade machines and gaming cafes with its presence. Today, there are six major entries in the Street Fighter series, which have sold over 52 million copies, according to IGN.

5. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64
Image Credit: Nintendo.

Super Mario 64 was the biggest open-world game of its time, and it brought a revolutionary feature along with it. It introduced 3D gaming, analog controls, an adjustable camera, and a big map.

The game even included a fantastic tutorial to explain these new features to gamers. In the tutorial, an NPC was flying around with a camera. If it weren’t for Super Mario 64, we wouldn’t have the latest 3D games we love today.

6. Grand Theft Auto III

Grand Theft Auto III
Image Credit: Rockstar Games.

Although there were a lot of open-world games that came before Grand Theft Auto III (GTA3), none of them held a candle to this one. This was the first open-world game to feature a large map; you could do anything.

GTA3 is the reason we know Rockstar Games as a reputable game developer. Thanks to the recent trilogy update, the game has been updated with the latest GTA game controls while keeping the vintage essence of the title alive.

7. Wolfenstein 3D

Wolfenstein 3D
Image Credit: Apogee Software.

Wolfenstein 3D was the game that first entered the first-person shooter genre. The protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz (Terror Billy), escaped a German prison and faced soldiers, rabid dogs, and the Supreme Commander of the German Armed Forces (who shall not be named).

The latest entry in the series is Wolfenstein: Young Blood, a cooperative multiplayer. This game pioneered many first-person shooter games that hit the market.

8. The Sims

Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

There aren’t many games that thin the line between reality and fiction, but The Sims is the exception. This game pushed the life-simulation genre into the mainstream, appealing to people who had never played video games before.

There wasn’t a way to “win,” and you couldn’t really “finish” the game. What made The Sims so special was the option to customize your personal avatar. It almost made you feel like you had a second life.

9. Tekken 3

Tekken 3
Image Credit: Namco.

Most games don’t deliver on the hype built up before the release, but that’s not true for Tekken 3. It was one of the best pioneering 3D one-versus-one games. With Tekken 3, the Tekken franchise came out of Virtua Fighter’s shadow and surpassed it in gameplay mechanics.

It also introduced some special characters from other games. The game was so good that if you had the original PlayStation, you wouldn’t have Tekken 3.

10. Metal Gear Solid

Image Credit: Konami.

“Do you think love can bloom even on a battlefield?” Metal Gear Solid was the game that proved that video games could compete with movies.

It set the groundwork for future stealth and survival games, a widely-loved genre on its own. A great story paired with a revolutionary cinematic presentation and interesting characters made this game one-of-a-kind.

11. Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Final Fantasy VII hit the gaming industry like dynamite in 1997. Its graphics and cutscenes were so far ahead of its time. However, it was the emotional story-telling and likable characters that won the hearts of gamers.

Final Fantasy VII soon inspired many RPG games, and its DNA can still be seen in many modern games.

12. HalfLife

Image Credit: Sierra Studios.

Like Counter-Strike, HalfLife is one of the most iconic PC games ever. The game featured a silent protagonist, which made players feel like they were a part of the game and made every interaction with NPCs personal.

It felt like the game was talking to you directly. Multiple enemy types, unique weapons, and exciting gameplay proved that first-person shooters can also tell a great story.

13. Call Of Duty

Call of Duty
Image Credit: Activision.

Speaking of first-person shooters, Call Of Duty (COD) may not look like the most beloved series nowadays, but it has its own fanbase. The franchise’s first game was released in 2003 and has influenced first-person shooters ever since.

The game combined stealth and aggression with calculated steps, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that no two playthroughs were the same.

14. World Of Warcraft (WOW)

World of Warcraft
Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment Inc.

When online multiplayer wasn’t as popular as it is now, World Of Warcraft conquered the genre. While this series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its success can’t be ignored.

Since its release, many companies have tried to crack the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) code and failed spectacularly. For what it’s worth, WOW also helped establish the pay-to-win model common with almost every online multiplayer game.

15. Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers
Image Credit: Kiloo Games.

When the smartphone wave hit the market, it brought a treasure: smartphone games. We’ve all played many games on our phones, and most people still have one or two on their modern phones.

Besides Temple Run, Subway Surfers was another successful 3D endless runner game that we loved for years. Although there were no levels or stages in this game, the game’s speed kept getting faster to keep things interesting, create suspense, and challenge the player.

16. Minecraft

Image Credit: Mojang Studios.

Who would’ve thought that detailed graphics-hungry gamers worldwide would fall in love with a blocky game like Minecraft? It proved that graphics aren’t everything and sometimes simple things can bring important changes.

The gameplay wasn’t revolutionary, but the simple aspects like crafting, mining, and building felt a little too satisfying after a long day at school or work. There are many Minecraft clones on the market today, but they have yet to see the success that Minecraft has.

17. The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series

The Walking Dead The Telltale Definitive Series
Image Credit: Skybound Games.

There are very few games that don’t need an introduction, and The Walking Dead is one of them. You can’t be a horror-action fan if you haven’t played at least one season of this masterpiece.

This franchise emphasized decision-based scenarios that made players come back for multiple playthroughs. If you wanted deep character stories, intense plot development, and getting rid of zombies while keeping the morality of an eight-year-old girl intact, this was the game to play.

18. Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V
Image Credit: Rockstar Games.

Every once in a while, we tend to stumble across a game that changes everything. One game, in particular, has influenced the industry as no other game has. Grand Theft Auto V and its single-player campaign is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

I’m talking about gangs, turf wars, bank robberies, and pulling houses apart with tow trucks. It paved the way for marvels like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. Today, Grand Theft Auto V is as young as ever, thanks to the modding community being as naughty as it is.

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