Almost every video game which comes out today is simply a refined version of its predecessor. But every now and again a game comes along that changes the whole genre, creates a new one or even alters the whole industry. Let’s take a look at the 10 games which have had the largest impact on the gaming industry.
1 Wolfenstein 3D
Unless you’ve been playing PC shooters since the 80s, you’ve probably never even heard of Wolfenstein 3D. But this game played a vital role in creating the Call of Duty and Counter Strike games we enjoy today.
That’s because it was the very first 3D first person shooter game ever released. With a whopping 4 different guns and 9 different levels, this game offered a playing field which was never even considered before.
Over the years first person shooters have become far more advanced, sporting arsenals of over 30 different weapons in some games. But without good ol’ Wolfenstein 3D we really wouldn’t have any of those.
2 Street Fighter
While Street Fighter wasn’t the first arcade fighting game ever released, it was the first to contain a few critical elements which became the staples for all future fighting games.
The original Street Fighter arcade game was the first fighting game to ever include combos, a feature which quickly became one of the most important in any fighting game.
By adding an element of mystery to the game and encouraging players to be creative with the controls, Street Fighter breathed a whole new life into the genre.
Something this radical has never broken the surface in this genre since.
3 Warcraft: Orcs & Humans
Of course the very origin of the popular Warcraft saga is in here, we’d be lying if we didn’t include it.
But not only was this game revolutionary because of the epic series it unfolded into, it also laid the groundwork for future games in the real time strategy genre. Being the first real time strategy game to incorporate economic and societal structures, Warcraft was truly a revolutionary game.
Not only did it give us the feeling of commanding an army, it also gave us the feeling of ruling over a society.
Many games in the genre followed suit afterwards, including the extremely popular Age of Empires series.
4 Donkey Kong (1981)
It was the first game with Mario in it. Isn’t that enough to be revolutionary? Well at the time this game was released, platformers were quite rare and not very popular.
Games at the time tended to focus more from a birds-eye-view angle like Pacman. However, due to the highly engaging nature of this game along with its interesting characters, it took on quite a following.
Another thing that made it extremely popular was the level of difficulty it provided. Many players at the time were sick and tired of playing Pacman or other puzzle games and enjoyed a more reflex testing game.
Whatever the reason though, this game was the very basis for all the future Mario games to come as well as all the future Donkey Kong games to come.
That certainly makes it one of the most influential games of all time.
5 Sim City
As the oldest PC strategy game in existence, Sim City has a special place in every keyboard strategist’s heart.
By incorporating so many different elements, this game really changed the way strategy games were designed at a foundational level.
The intricate resource management system was something that simply wasn’t around at the time. Several games that came out afterwards attempted to build upon what Sim City had done, such as Civilization.
Each player has their own preferences in the end, but no one can doubt that Sim City definitely started it all.
6 Grand Theft Auto 3
Being the first fully 3D Grand Theft Auto game is only part of what made this game so revolutionary.
Many people don’t realize it, but this was actually the very first Grand Theft Auto game with an actual story to it. The previous two were just about running around stealing cars and committing crimes for fun.
In this one, you’re still committing crimes for fun, but you’ve got interesting bits of dialogue and mobster intrigue in the mix.
The other aspect of this game that was extremely unique was that it was the first open world third person shooter. The popularity of this game really paved the way for other games such as Saints Row, Narc and True Crime.
Even though it was the third game in the series it actually created a genre which never existed before.
7 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The infamous dragon hunting, mountain climbing, character customizing epic is definitely something that we couldn’t forget about.
By incorporating such a gripping story and such an immersive open world with so many different activities to engage in, Skyrim really gave us something that’s extremely difficult to find elsewhere.
But as its title states, this game is actually the 5th in the series. Interestingly enough, aside from diehard fans most people didn’t really even know what The Elder Scrolls saga was before this game.
That’s what makes it so influential. By streamlining the game mechanics and making the gameplay much more accessible to newer players, this game really put the Elder Scrolls franchise on the map.
In doing so it also set a common standard for open world exploration which games from all genres are now attempting to emulate.
Remember that time when you descended down 20 flights of stairs directly into the bowels of hell simply to tell the devil himself to “buzz off”? Well we do too!
Diablo made the hack and slash RPG genre massively popular and although it wasn’t the first game of its type, the chilling atmosphere and blood curdling sound effects gave it a draw which no other hack and slash game had.
This made it incredibly popular, however its sequel – cleverly named “Diablo II” – actually drew in even more sales than the original.
Diablo has more or less become the standard for what players expect from a hack and slash RPG today.
This game changed everything about the way we look at first person shooters. At the time it was released, shooters were simply an entertaining way to kill some time.
But this game gave us an immersive experience which was quite unlike any before seen in this genre. It was the first time in which the player actually interacted and relied on NPCs to fulfill certain duties for them. It was also the first game to have its cut scenes imbedded in the gameplay.
This means no cutting away from your camera angle, everything just happens and you can either point your camera at it and watch or you can run for cover. This made the whole world seem more real and alive.
But Half-Life did even more for the industry aside from creating the basis for immersive story-driven shooters, it was also the platform that launched the ever popular game Counter Strike. Originally a mod for Half-Life, Counter Strike eventually grew to become a successful game in its own right with many iterations of it still being enjoyed today.
10 World of Warcraft
Yeah, Blizzard certainly made this list several times, they really are pioneers of the gaming industry. World of Warcraft may not have been the very first MMORPG, with Runescape and Guildwars reigning before it, but it definitely became the most popular extremely quixkly.
This is because of the amount of lore from the original Warcraft series, giving Blizzard a large amount of content to work with before they even started on the game.
Because they already had their lore and content created, they could focus on adding to it rather than creating a whole new framework. This gave World of Warcraft a degree of depth which no other MMORPG could ever match up against.
By becoming the most popular MMORPG in the world, World of Warcraft set the bar for what most MMORPG players look for in a game and that bar was set very high.
Even today, World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG in the world with over 5 million monthly subscribers.
Do you agree with our list? Would you add any games to it?