Pong is the most important video game ever made. It was released in November 1972 and it launched the gaming industry as we know it today. Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell took inspiration from demo of an electronic ping-pong game on the Magnavox Odyssey and tasked engineer Allan Alcorn with adapting it. The rest is history. Pong became an overnight success and at the height of its glory it boasted 35,000 arcade machines across the United States. It is now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. due to its enormous cultural impact.
Soviet Russian engineer Alexey Pajitnov unveiled Tetris in 1984 and it has become the most enduringly popular video game in history. It is available for nearly every console, operating system and handheld device imaginable, and it has even been played on the side of buildings. It shifted more than 70 million physical copies and it has since been downloaded 100 million times by smartphone users. The concept is so simple, but this game is so addictive, and it still feels fresh and exciting, 35 years after it was launched.
Sonic the Hedgehog
Nintendo dominated the gaming industry until Sonic the Hedgehog muscled his way into the picture in the early 1990s. The blue blur provided the perfect showcase for Sega’s “blast processing” technology, which allowed it to “do what Nintendon’t”. Sonic charged through gorgeous levels at breakneck speed, collecting rings and stamping on anyone that got in his way before engaged in a chaotic battle with Dr Robotnik. It was a breath of fresh air in the 1990s and it allowed a plucky underdog in Sega to take on the mighty Nintendo and flourish
Street Fighter II
Many gamers still consider Street Fighter II to be the greatest fighting game ever made. There have been a number of sequels, but none quite capture the thrill that this legendary title provided. The characters are all iconic, from Ryu and Ken to M Bison and Zangief, and it even spawned a Hollywood movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile. It spawned a number of brilliant competitors, not least Tekken, but millions still hold a special place in their hearts for Street Fighter II.
Nintendo well and truly vanquished Sega with the advent 3D gaming in 1996. Mario 64 was the flagship title of the N64 and it dazzled gamers by allowing them to explore the popular plumber’s world like never before. “Anyone who makes 3-D games who says they’ve not borrowed something from Mario or Zelda is lying – from the games on Nintendo 64, not necessarily the ones from toda,” said Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser. Zelda is also a great series, and there are a number of iconic Mario titles, from Super Mario Bros. to Mario Kart, but we have gone with Mario 64 for this list due to its trailblazing use of 3D world building.
Doom gave the first-person shooter genre mass appeal for the first time. It was streets ahead of its time and it will go down as one of the most influential titles ever made. Current FPS classics like Call of Duty, CS:GO and Overwatch owe a huge debt to Doom, which is frequently cited among the greatest games ever made. It saw players take control of a space marine known as Doomguy, who blazed a trail of carnage as he battled the demons of hell over nine thrilling levels. Doom has spawned a number of sequels and the franchise is still going strong to this day.
Gamers were confronted with an alien concept when The Sims was released in 2000. There were no heroes and villains, no levels, no storyline, no meta. You simply built your own virtual world and allowed your characters to develop in whatever way you deemed fit. It was originally intended as a satire of the rampant consumerism in America, and EA expected to sell 160,000 copies to a niche audience, but it ended up shifting 16 million units after becoming a runaway success story. The series passed the 100 million copies mark by 2008, making it the bestselling PC franchise in history.
Grand Theft Auto III
GTA redefined the parameters of a video game by offering players a thrilling open world to explore. The third installment of the sequence saw it make the leap from top down to 3D and the results were thrilling. It became the bestselling game of 2001 and received universal acclaim, despite the controversy surrounding its violence. Its open-ended gameplay revolutionized the industry, popularised the open-world genre and ushered in a new generation of adult video games.
League of Legends
Riot Games did wonders for the MOBA genre when it released LoL in 2009. Its free to play model and constant updates have allowed it to enjoy phenomenal longevity in the industry. A decade later, it is the most popular esport in the world, with hundreds of millions of fans across the globe, massive teams, huge sponsors like MasterCard and all manner of betting markets at Unikrn. It has made a fortune for Riot Games thanks to the microtransaction model, and aspiring esports like Fortnite and PUBG are following in its footstep
Swedish developer Markus Persson created Minecraft in 2011 and it was released by Mojang to modest levels of fanfare. Little did they know that it would become the most popular video game of all time. Gamers fell in love with its engaging, educational and creative gameplay. It features a survival mode, creative mide, adventure mode, spectator mode and multiplayer options, while it has spawned many spin-offs. In September 2014, Microsoft snapped it up for $2.5 billion, and it has gone on to sell more than 175 million copies, dethroning Tetris as the bestselling video game in history.