Video games that revolutionized the Gaming Industry
From the mono color, clunky graphics of Pong to the full motion rendered videos of Final Fantasy XIII, video games have changed drastically in the almost 40 years they have been around. What once could only be found in a six foot tall box in an arcade now can be played on phones the size of a credit card. As games have changed, so has the industry, and many of the major changes have been spurred by specific, influential games. Presented below are the ten games that had the greatest impact on the gaming industry and continue to influence gaming to this day.
10. Final Fantasy VII (PS) – The Final Fantasy series is the most popular game series published by Square-Enix. This series has fans worldwide, most especially in Japan and the United States. While the series has sold well ever since the first game was released, the fan base was rather limited until 1997. In 1997, Final Fantasy VII was released on the PlayStation and sold unlike almost any other game in history. This game single handedly made the role playing genre of video games into a mainstream phenomenon. Without Final Fantasy VII, role playing games would probably still have a very limited fan base and World of Warcraft would likely not have become the juggernaut it is today.
9. Halo (Xbox) – First person shooting (FPS) games have been popular ever since Doom was originally released for the PC. Due to the precision of mouse and keyboard controls, FPS games were primarily the domain of the PC, with the few console versions generally consisting of terribly inaccurate control schemes. Between a combination of the Xbox controller and years of control scheme optimization, Halo was not only playable, but many experts in the field argued the controls were actually optimal to PC controls for an FPS. Whether true or not, the game opened the door to FPS console games which lead to the end of the PC dominance of the FPS market.
8. Mario 64 (N64) – The N64 did a lot of things wrong, which eventually lead to the collapse of Nintendo’s dominance in the console wars. Mario 64 is one of the things it did very right, though. At first fans and critics alike were skeptical of a 3-D Mario game, believing it couldn’t possibly live up to the predecessor games. Not only did Mario 64 live up, it easily surpassed the previous games in the series, in both quality and excitement value. With fluid and sensible controls for both Mario and the camera, Mario 64 became the standard by which all future 3-D games were designed.
7. Wii Sports (Wii) – Until 2006, the video game market was restricted almost entirely to boys and men between the ages of 10 and 25. The Wii gaming console changed that with the release of Wii Sports, which was bundled with every Wii sold. The easy to play game consisted of 5 different sports that were simulated by swinging or moving the Wii Remote in motions resembling those used while actually playing the sport. The incredibly simple mechanics made the game accessible to members of both gender and players of almost any age. With one game, casual gaming, a concept basically unheard of in the video game industry, had become popular and the Nintendo Wii has actively capitalized on the trend over the last few years.
6. Tetris (GameBoy) – Already popular on PCs and various gaming consoles, in 1989 Nintendo decided to use Tetris to try to springboard the sales of the GameBoy. The decision was sound, because this simple game set to traditional Russian folk music was a hit. The popularity of the GameBoy paralleled the sales of Tetris and despite having black and white graphics, sales of the GameBoy began to match traditional consoles. The jump start was all that was needed, as handheld games quickly starting selling as well as consoles, and in some cases better. Today, nearly as many games are developed exclusively for handheld systems as are developed for PCs and consoles.
5. E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial (Atari 2600) – The legacy of this game actually derives from how terrible the game was. Published in 1982, the game was developed in 5 weeks, in order to take advantage of the popularity of the movie with a Christmas release. The quality of the game was so awful that the game is generally cited by experts as almost single handedly causing the Video Game Crash of 1983. Having tolerated sub par games for years, video game fans finally rebelled and sales plummeted across the board. With Atari nearly going out of business, the lesson was hard learned, but the game forced the industry to improve game quality in order to survive.
4. EverQuest (PC) – Building off of text-based MUDs that were popular in the mid 90’s, EverQuest was one of the first MMORPGs. It provided a similar combat system to the MUDs, except with a graphic interface. Commonly nicknamed “EverCrack”, the game quickly gained popularity with addictive game play that, while common today, was never seen before. More than any other game, the rising popularity of EverQuest spurred the online game market like no other. Today, World of Warcraft holds the throne as most popular MMORPG, but the hundreds of MMORPGs in existence and the online play existing in nearly every console game both owe a debt to this game.
3. Mortal Kombat (Genesis) – For years, Nintendo followed a set of strict, self imposed rules to limit blood, violence, and sexual situations in its games. In an effort to challenge Nintendo’s dominance of the gaming market, Sega diverged from that path and actively included these elements in games. For political watchdog groups, already concerned about violence in video games, Mortal Kombat was the final straw. With clearly discernible blood and gore, the game heralded a cry and hue for a video game rating system. The exact process took a few years to be finalized, but this game is the primary reason for the existence of the ESRB and the video game rating system used today.
2. Pong (Home Pong) – The original home version of pong was not a console like modern day consoles. Instead of playing multiple games, Home Pong was simply a home version of the popular Pong arcade game. Two control paddles were built into the system and it could be hooked up to any television. Despite a high price tag, sales were excellent and Atari used the success of Pong to spur development of the original Atari home consoles. Without Home Pong, the console may never have existed as it does today.
1. Super Mario Bros. (NES) – After the Video Game Crash of 1983, many analysts believed that the console video game market would never recover. After three years of nearly non-existent video game sales, Nintendo dispelled that belief with the release of Super Mario Bros. for the NES. The graphics and complexity of the game were like nothing ever seen on a home console before, even surpassing many arcade games at the time. Just as surely as E.T. nearly killed the video game industry, Super Mario Bros. resurrected it. With the momentum started, Nintendo was able to release a stable of impressive games that kept sales running high for years to come. The very existence of gaming consoles today can be attributed to this superb video game.
Given the peaks and valleys that the video gaming industry has experienced, it is impressive at the level of success the industry continues to enjoy today. Great games and devoted publishers, developers, and programmers are all responsible for the continuing success of the gaming industry. While some of the previous games actually damaged the gaming industry greatly at first, none of the damage was permanent and the industry has grown and flourished in response to each of these influential and revolutionary games.