the best Influential Video Games
Video games today are bigger than Hollywood, but things could look very different if certain key games had never come out. Here are five of the most influential ones that have had huge benefits for the industry as a whole.
Minecraft is a very odd duck, but despite unusual circumstances became one of the biggest games in history. Notch Persson was the driving force behind Minecraft, with a vision of immense versatility and freedom. The world is procedurally generated, players have a pickaxe and can do whatever they want. Sheltering from creepers is usually top of the list but the possibilities are astonishing and some people have used the game in quite incredible ways, including recreating Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine (the first computer, depending on how broadly one defines such a thing) within the game.
Other phenomenal creations include Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor in Lord of the Rings, the Acropolis of Athens, ancient Babylon, and even Anfield (home of Liverpool FC). Provided you have the time, the determination, and the vision, just about anything can be made. This has helped to drive forward the concept of crafting and customization in the entire video games industry. It’s also a great game for all the family to enjoy and can be excellent for teaching kids how to build (almost the digital version of Lego).
As for Notch, he sold his Mojang studio to Microsoft for $2.5bn.
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The Souls franchise is better known for the follow-up game, Dark Souls, but without Demon’s Souls that would not exist. Demon’s Souls is the foundation upon which the success of the franchise is based, and also led to the creation of similar major hits Bloodborne and, most recently, Elden Ring.
Note that this is the 2009 game, not the 2020 remake.
Video game journalists are notoriously bad at video games, and that coupled with Demon’s Souls’ unforgiving difficulty may have led it to a stuttering start. Its reception in Japan was so-so, but when the game entered the Western market it became a smash hit, with players lapping up the harsh gameplay and steep learning curve. This new approach (being unafraid to crush the player’s hopes and dreams if they aren’t skilled enough) created the so-called Soulslike genre, which also tends to feature a dark fantasy backdrop of a world in ruin and decay, with occasional splashes of comedy to lighten the mood.
Dark Souls proved a bigger commercial success and spawned its own sequels, with Dark Souls III launched in 2016.
Super Mario Bros
The oldest entry on our list goes back to 1985 when 2D platformers were all the rage and a certain Italian plumber was still a fresh new character. The bright and cheery Mushroom Kingdom was complemented perfectly by the animal inhabitants, and the quirky story of a plumber rescuing a princess was certainly original.
A sense of light-hearted charm was the core of this early Mario game, a sentiment that has stuck with the character throughout his prolonged gaming life and one that’s made him both likable and family-friendly. In Super Mario Bros, which no one knew at the time would prove such a defining moment in video game history, this likeability was matched by excellent gameplay and top-class level design that ensured its success.
Not only was this the game that meant Mario was destined to become the biggest gaming icon of them all, but it was also a system seller that shifted huge numbers for the NES and drew other competitors into the gaming marketplace. The whole video gaming landscape would look utterly different without this game.
Fortnite originally was not intended to be a battle royale game, which shows how an extra game mode can sometimes become the biggest draw. It also was not the first really big battle royale game (opinions differ but many would cite Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, also known as PUBG). But when Fortnite adopted the battle royale approach it achieved stratospheric success, and also changed the face of gaming.
eSports have been on the up for a while, but a milestone moment was reached when the inaugural Fortnite World Cup (in 2019) had a bigger prize for the champion (Bugha, also known as Kyle Giersdorf) than the Wimbledon tennis tournament. That was a cool US$3m and was the clearest possible indicator both of Fortnite’s immense popularity and the potential success of the esports market. This reputation has also been burnished by numerous high-profile celebrity backers and dozens of award nominations and triumphs. For some gamers, Fortnite is literally the only game they play.
And that concludes our look at some of the most influential video games the world has ever seen, from the birth of Mario to Minecraft’s epic versatility.