Just like in every form of entertainment, there are some games that prove to be more influential than others. These rare titles not only prove to be highly successful but change the direction of the entire industry. They might introduce new concepts or innovate unique gameplay mechanics. Whatever the case, other developers will scramble to incorporate the ideas into their own games. Often the most important games can come completely out of the blue, appearing with no warning. But what is certain is that their effect on the world of gaming leaves a lasting impression.
Metroid has had a major role in the gaming industry. After all, an entire genre is named after it and Castlevania. Yet, its actual appeal has always been somewhat limited. Just look at the fact that Nintendo has not seen fit to create any new games in the franchise in such a long time. But its influence on developers has been profound. The idea of exploration and backtracking through levels with new abilities are things Metroid not only invented but also perfected.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a huge technical achievement. It released in 2002 but had an in-game world that would rival many modern-day RPGs. Those who love games like Skyrim and The Witcher owe a debt of gratitude to this role-playing classic. Despite having an enthralling story, it let players choose what and when they wanted to do everything. This level of choice was unprecedented and set the benchmark for what future RPGs would have to include.
World Of Warcraft
Although World of Warcraft was not the first MMO, it is the only one that has entered popular culture. Based on the RTS Warcraft franchise, it had the benefit of an already established universe. It became wildly popular almost immediately and has remained the most played MMO in the world. Ever since the original launch in 2004, hundreds of games have attempted to emulate its success. Very few have managed to rival it but online multiplayer is now standard for practically every game.
Halo is influential for several reasons. It essentially made the case for first-person shooter games on consoles, establishing the genre outside of the PC realm. The sci-fi setting and fantastic multiplayer is something that has been copied across multiple games to this day. Online multiplayer in shooters is now standard because of this series. Of course, the success of Halo also meant that the Xbox became a hit. The impact of that has led to Microsoft having a leading role in the industry.
Doom was not the first-ever first-person shooter, that plaudit belongs to Wolfenstein 3D. However, Doom took the genre to a whole new level when it released a year later. It quickly captured the imagination of players all around the globe. So much so that Doom was ported to every imaginable platform. Thanks to the id Software title, the FPS genre still dominates to this day.
The Secret Of Monkey Island
Before the likes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, it was The Secret of Monkey Island that defined the adventure genre. With its laugh-out-loud humor, fiendishly difficult puzzles, and intriguing plot, it became the standard for all future graphic adventure games. If there was no Monkey Island there would be no Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Myst or Full Throttle.
Pokémon Red and Blue
Practically everyone in the world will be aware of Pokémon. You would have had to live under a rock to have been able to avoid it over the last three decades. It all started in 1996 with Pokémon Red and Blue. The influence of those games is hard to describe. They launched a franchise of movies, television shows, comics, and dozens of video games. Only a few gaming properties can claim to have made such a mark on the entertainment world.
Minecraft has been one of the biggest successes of the last decade. In fact, the game has inspired a whole new genre of games, with countless clones available on every platform. It has also led to gameplay mechanics like crafting and mining becoming mainstream. Even games like Fortnite have incorporated similar ideas, realizing the potential that these concepts have. Mojang’s game has also popularized the idea of Early Access, with the game selling millions before it even officially released. Few games have had such an impact on the entire industry in recent times as Minecraft.
Grand Theft Auto III
The Grand Theft Auto series was already fairly popular and successful before the third installment came along. However, it was this entry in the long-lived franchise that changed the landscape of gaming forever. The very idea of open-world games now seems mainstream but it was Grand Theft Auto that popularized the concept. They also introduced the idea of letting players experiment and do what they want outside of missions. You just have to look at the fact games like Saints Row are called GTA clones to see the influence of the series.
Super Mario Bros.
A case could be made for almost every classic Nintendo game to appear on this list. However, none can claim to have had as big an impact as Super Mario Bros. The platformer helped the entire gaming industry recover after a brutal crash in the previous years. It also set Nintendo up to be a major player in the industry, laying the groundwork for everything to come. Thanks in large parts to this title, Nintendo is the giant it is today. Of course, Super Mario Bros. also set a benchmark for quality and fun for all future games.