The 50 most important games of all time (2023)

By Sam Loveridge

Contributions from

GamesRadar Staff

last updated

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The virtual foundation

The 50 most important games of all time (1)

(Video) Top 50 Video Games Of All Time

Video games have come a long way since their inception. In the beginning, they often took the form of text-based adventures and ambiguous displays of pixels meant to represent characters or objects. Now? We've got visuals so stunningly realistic that it's sometimes hard to tell a virtual car from a real one, and bite-sized downloadables stylized as throwbacks to the old days. But we wouldn't be where we are today without the following 50 games - the most important ones of all time.

The word "important" can mean a lot of things, so let's clear this up right away. When we say these are the most important of all time, we aren't referencing how good they are; instead, these are the games that ultimately shaped the industry as it is today. The games that invented or popularized genres, or transformed video games from "kids' toys" into acceptable pastimes for people of all ages and walks of life. After countless debates over which of them belonged on our list and why, we're proud to present our 50 most important games of all time.

50. Zork (1980)

Zork wasnt the first purely text-based adventure game - that honor belongs to Colossal Cave Adventure. But it is the one that people remember most fondly, for the imaginative landscapes and creatures it evoked using nothing more than white words on a black background. Without any graphics to lean on, the player was forced to visualize their surroundings in the minds eye - and like any gripping novel, Zorks world felt that much more tangible with each nugget of info or surveying of the surroundings.

Sure, the game had its limitations; you could no doubt open mailbox or read letter, but there was no way the game could understand your input of urinate pants while cowering in fear of being eaten by a grue. Regardless, Zork sparked the imaginations of all who played it, paving the way for entire generations of adventure games that would follow.

49. Gran Turismo (1997)

The 50 most important games of all time (3)

Gran Turismos importance is very simple to explain. Before it, racing games were almost exclusively arcadey racers that only tried to be as fun as possible. Gran Turismo instead simulated the level of grip your vehicles tires have with the road, and dressed it up with the most realistic graphics a 32-bit console could ever muster. Amazingly, the outcome of all this realism was still fun.

Chucking cars into corners, drifting through curves, and feeling the rumble through the new DualShock controller felt super-deluxe, and was reason enough to own a PlayStation. The series has undoubtedly lost its clout since GT3, but this game is still the single reason why arcade racers are so infrequent these days.

48. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The 50 most important games of all time (4)

In 1982, Steven Spielberg created a magical Jesus-alien who descended upon American suburbia to bring light, hope, and life to all who made contact with him. Later that year, the same alien returned--only this time, he brought devastation.

E.T. certainly wasnt the only game that contributed to the gaming market crash of 1983. The glut of consoles choking the marketplace with their raft of rushed-out, piss-poor games had been weakening things for years. But E.T. was the high-profile, Christmas-released straw that shattered the camel's calcium-deficient spine. It crippled Atari with massive losses and set the whole house of cards crumbling. Which left the stage wide open for a company called Nintendo to enter and reboot things a couple of years later.

47. FarmVille (2009)

The 50 most important games of all time (5)

(Video) The 10 Most Important Games Of All Time

Even if youve never played FarmVille, chances are you've seen your Facebook feed inundated with requests to help your buddy find five pigs or save up enough gold for a new barn. And that's where its influence is abundantly obvious. In a new market where social gaming was suddenly a thing, Farmville succeeded in hooking in casual gamers who might otherwise have never touched a video game, taking over their lives and their social networks.

It may not have lasted forever, but it showed everyone how microtransactions in a free-to-play game could make billions of dollars, and is arguably the reason why the free-to-play model is so widespread today. For better or worse, you cant deny that FarmVille massaged its market brilliantly.

46. Resident Evil (1996)

The 50 most important games of all time (6)

Resident Evil didn't invent survival horror--that distinction falls to earlier games like Sweet Home (on which Resi is based) and Alone In The Dark--but it was certainly the game that popularized the genre when it appeared on the PlayStation back in 1996. Since then, Resident Evil has become a pop culture phenomenon, spawning games, films, comics and novels. And despite the questionable quality of recent entries, it remains one of the most important gaming brands.

Resident Evil 4 may be the series pinnacle, and Silent Hill 2 the height of the survival horror genre, but neither would have achieved so much--or even existed--without this original Raccoon City scare-fest.

45. RuneScape (2001)

The 50 most important games of all time (7)

Nobody threw around terms like browser-based game and free-to-play before Runescape. By todays standards, the classic, pre-overhaul world looks like it was comprised using MS Paint scrawlings. But in 2001, seeing a three-dimensional fantasy world functioning inside your Internet Explorer window was utterly stunning. And the fact that anyone could enter this medieval realm, at any time, meant that there was always something to do and someone to talk to.

Runescape offered all the questing, item drops, trading, and general socializing that one finds in an MMO, without asking anything of the player besides their time. Eventually, the option to subscribe was implemented--but Runescape never abandoned its non-paying players, and you can, to this day, venture into its densely populated world without spending a dime. It was the dawn of the F2P model of gaming thats slowly but surely becoming the MMO--if not the entire industry--standard.

44. King's Quest (1984)

The 50 most important games of all time (8)

Before 1983, graphics and adventure games werent exactly getting along. Sure, games like Mystery House gave you a visual depiction of where you were--but these scenes were little more than still images, and fairly simplistic ones at that. But Kings Quest said to hell with that, dropping players into the brown boots of Graham (Grahame, to you old folks), a controllable character that could actually move throughout the scenic backdrops. This kind of interactivity in a command-based adventure game was mind-blowing.

Beside the fact that your keyboard inputs could cause on-screen elements to react, Kings Quest also upheld the proud text-based tradition of brain-tickling puzzles. This time around, though, youd actually see Graham reach down to pick up an item, instead of having such a mundane action described to you. Without Kings Quests pioneering, point-and-click adventure games would be little more than digital picture books.

43. Dance Dance Revolution (1998)

The 50 most important games of all time (9)

(Video) Top 10 Most Important Games of the Decade (featuring Rahdo)

Ladies and gentlemen, you owe a big debt to Dance Dance Revolution. Remember that time you managed to finally get close to that girl you really liked by doing a duet with her on "The Final Countdown" in Singstar? How about the time you finally got to hammer out "Free Bird" in Guitar Hero, despite your crippling inability to play a real guitar? Well, Dance Dance Revolution put rhythm action games on the map--and without DDR, none of these musical moments would've existed.

OK, so were simplifying it a little. By transforming simple rhythm-action games into social events at arcades, DDR paved the way for all party games,' and its fundamental message that games are more fun when played with friends is the same ethos behind Nintendos gender-and-age-spanning Wii consoles. On the flip-side, though, its also partly responsible for filling your living room with dust-gathering plastic instruments.

42. Sid Meier's Civilization (1991)

The 50 most important games of all time (10)

Though the term "4X" (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) in relation to strategy games wasn't coined until 1993, Sid Meier's Civilization was the game that established the genre's core concepts. 4X strategy games typically involve building an empire and expanding it through military conquests, peaceful diplomacy, or a mixture of the two.

All the way back in 1991, Civ contained an impressive level of detail and became the standard by which future 4X games were judged. Many 4X concepts were borrowed from board games, such as Risk--and though there are many franchises structured around building and maintaining an empire, Civilization strikes an astounding balance between complexity and accessibility.

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Sam Loveridge

Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles!In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.

With contributions from

  • GamesRadar Staff
(Video) Top 100 Games of All Time - 50-41

See comments

(Video) 50 Famous Goals ● Impossible To Forget


The 50 most important games of all time? ›

1. Pong (1972) There were other games before Atari's Pong, but it was the first commercially successful game and has to be the starting point for a list of the most influential video games.

What is the top 1 game ever? ›

Top Ten Video Games Sold in History
RankGameYear Released
2GTA 52013
3Tetris (EA)2006
4Wii Sport2006
6 more rows
Mar 31, 2023

What was the single most influential video game of all time? ›

1. Pong (1972) There were other games before Atari's Pong, but it was the first commercially successful game and has to be the starting point for a list of the most influential video games.

Who is the most famous game in the world? ›

Online games are played in the world with advanced technology and other new sources.
  1. Apex Legends. There's a win in your future.
  2. PUBG. Neymar Jr is back on the Battlegrounds. ...
  3. Fortnite Battle Royale. Forged in a dream eons ago… ...
  4. League Of Legends (LOL) ...
  5. Splatoon2. ...
  6. Hearthstone. ...
  7. Counter Strike Global Offensive. ...
  8. Minecraft. ...
Apr 10, 2023

In which game no one wins? ›

A specific condition for any game in which neither party wins is referred to as Draw.

What is the most downloaded game ever? ›

Clash of Clans (2012 | 500M+ Downloads)

In the game, you form community clans, train army troops, and attack other players for resources.

What are top 3 most played games? ›

What PC Games Are People Playing Right Now?
Game titleChange
4.The Sims 4-1
16 more rows
Mar 28, 2023

Which game has the most history? ›

We've updated this list to shine a light on some more of the most historically accurate video games of all time.
  1. 1 Europa Universalis 4.
  2. 2 The Crusader Kings Series. ...
  3. 3 Victoria 3. ...
  4. 4 Hearts Of Iron 4. ...
  5. 5 Europa Barbarorum. ...
  6. 6 The Oregon Trail. ...
  7. 7 March Of The Eagles. ...
  8. 8 The Age Of Empires Series. ...
Feb 11, 2023

What video game has the biggest fan base? ›

Video game fanatics

Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto rank among the brands with the most loyal fanbase.

What is the most revolutionary video games of all time? ›

Top 10 most influential video games of all time
  • “Pong” by Atari, 1972.
  • “Pac-Man” by Namco, 1980.
  • “Tetris” by Alexey Pajitnov, 1984.
  • “Super Mario Bros.” by Nintendo, 1985.
  • “The Legend of Zelda” by Nintendo, 1986.
  • “Doom” by Id Software, 1993.
  • “Super Mario 64” by Nintendo, 1996.
  • “Grand Theft Auto III” by Rockstar Games, 2001.

What games changed gaming forever? ›

Games that changed everything
  • Super Mario Bros (1985) ...
  • Pong (1972) ...
  • Tetris (1984) ...
  • Pac-Man (1980) ...
  • Wolfenstein 3D (1992) ...
  • Half-Life (1998) ...
  • Minecraft (2011) ...
  • Grand Theft Auto (1997)
Sep 12, 2022

What was the first most successful video game? ›

Allan Alcorn's original Pong prototype, preserved in the Computer History Museum. .” Pong was the first commercially successful video game (videogame).

Who is the king of all games? ›

The game of chess is a game of kings and also the king of games.

What game has the most daily players? ›

10 Multiplayer Games With The Highest Player Count
  • 8 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
  • 7 Destiny 2.
  • 6 World Of Warcraft.
  • 5 Apex Legends.
  • 4 Among Us.
  • 3 Fortnite.
  • 2 League Of Legends.
  • 1 Minecraft.
Feb 6, 2023

What game will be popular in 2023? ›

The biggest video games set to launch in 2023
  • Resident Evil 4 Remake.
  • Dead Island 2.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
  • Redfall.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
  • Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
  • Street Fighter 6.
  • Diablo IV.
Mar 10, 2023

What team has won every game? ›

The 1933 Providence Huskies (possibly a successor to the Providence Steam Roller) played arguably the most perfect season ever recorded by a professional or semi-professional team: a ten-game season in which they won every game and did not concede a single point during any game.

Which game has the best score? ›

The 20 best video game soundtracks of all time
  • Super Mario Bros – Koji Kondo (1985-) ...
  • The Legend of Zelda – Koji Kondo (1986-) ...
  • The Final Fantasy Series – Nobuo Uematsu (1987-) ...
  • Tetris – Alex Kostov, George Strezov arr. ...
  • Chrono Trigger – Yasunori Mitsuda (1995) ...
  • Medal of Honor – Michael Giacchino (1995)
Mar 20, 2023

Who wins if the score is 0 0? ›

What Happens If The Score Is 0-0 In Soccer. If the soccer game ends with a score of 0-0, the game ends in a tie if it's a league match. In a knockout round, there must be a winner so the game will go into 30 minutes of overtime play.

Which is the largest game on Play Store? ›

Mobile Games With The Biggest File Size And How Many GB They Take
  1. 1 Genshin Impact.
  2. 2 XCOM 2 Collection. ...
  3. 3 Diablo Immortal. ...
  4. 4 Honkai Impact 3rd. ...
  5. 5 Call Of Duty: Mobile. ...
  6. 6 Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. ...
  7. 7 Tower Of Fantasy. ...
  8. 8 Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds. ...
Jan 21, 2023

What is the #1 game on mobile? ›


This game is grounded in strong shooter gameplay.

What is the most downloaded game 2023? ›

I thought you'd never ask! Globally we've collectively downloaded more than 255 billion mobile apps in 2022 and more than half of them were games.
Android: top 30 games of 2023 so far by revenue.
1Candy Crush Saga
2Coin Master
3Royal Match
26 more rows
Feb 2, 2023

What is the most popular game in USA? ›

The most popular team sports in the United States are American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and soccer.

Who plays video games the most? ›

The American gamer population is 54% male and 46% female. Of those females, women 18 and older account for a greater portion of the population than males younger than 18. The average female video game player is 14 years old, while the average male video game player is 13.

What is the biggest Xbox game? ›

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (137 GB)

The Halo franchise has arguably been the flagship franchise for Xbox exclusives since Combat Evolved on the original console.

Which is the most liked video of total gaming? ›

1) “Ajjubhai94 vs Amitbhai (Desi Gamer) Best Clash Battle Who will Win - Garena Free Fire” The Clash Squad match between Ajjubhai and Amitbhai is the most-watched video on Total Gaming's channel.

What is the biggest video game sold? ›

The best-selling video game to date is Minecraft, a sandbox game released by Mojang in May 2009 for a wide range of PC, mobile and console platforms, selling more than 238 million copies across all platforms. Grand Theft Auto V and EA's Tetris are the only other known video games to have sold over 100 million copies.

What is the most influential game of all time reddit? ›

I think that the order is relative to each one and that people will never agree on it.
Here is the list:
  • Pac-Man.
  • Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow.
  • DOOM.
  • Super Metroid.
  • Super Mario 64.
  • Sonic 3 and Knuckles.
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
  • Wii Sports.
Aug 25, 2022

What is the first 3D video game? ›

The first-ever commercial 3D video game is Battlezone (1980). It is followed by 3D Monster Maze (1981), the first 3D game accessible on home computers. Following this is Super Mario 64 (1996), which first appeared on the Nintendo 64. And lastly, the first 3D game on mobile devices is Real Football (2004).

What game took 20 years to make? ›

9 UnReal World: 20+ Years

In the game, you are expected to survive in harsh and unforgivable terrain as best you can because anything from animals to weather can kill you. The reason UnReal World had taken so long to develop is that its team consists of just two people.

What games no longer exist? ›

Individual Games
  • 22/7 Ongaku no Jikan (2020-2021)
  • 8Realms (2011-2012)
  • Ace Combat Infinity (2014-2018)
  • Adventure Time Battle Party (2014-2017)
  • Age of Armor (2007-2012)
  • Age of Empires series: Age of Empires: Castle Siege (2014-2019) Age of Empires Online (2011-2014)
  • Aliens Online (1998-2000)
  • ArchLord (2005-2014)

Why old games are disappearing? ›

"Historically, [games get lost] mostly because there's simply no process in place to keep and preserve materials. Studios move onto a new project, and archives have been gradually lost.

What was the first game played in history? ›

Some historians believe that mancala is the oldest game in the world based on the archaeological evidence found in Jordan that dates around 6000 BCE.

Who is god of gaming in the world? ›

Who is the god of gaming? Thoth. Thoth is the ancient Egyptian god of gambling. By many accounts, he was later combined with the Greek god Hermes, so they share some attributes.

Who are the Big 3 in video games? ›

The 'big three" game publishers are the three which currently make major home consoles: Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.

Who are the gods of gaming? ›

These are by far the strongest gods and goddesses in gaming history.
  • 3 Dragon God Of Time Akatosh.
  • 4 Jubileus The Creator. ...
  • 5 God-Killer Kratos. ...
  • 6 Immortal Asura. ...
  • 7 Palutena's Supporting Light. ...
  • 8 God The Mysterious Entity. ...
  • 9 Morally Gray: The Outsider. ...
  • 10 The Eternal God Of Thunder: Raiden. ...
Nov 29, 2022

How many players have 1,000 games? ›

Since its inception in 1917–18, 357 players have played at least 1,000 regular season games, varying in amounts between Patrick Marleau's 1,779 and counting to Bernie Federko's 1,000. Of these players, a number have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

What is the most popular game genre? ›

In Q3 2022, shooter was the most played gaming genre, with 57% of consumers saying they played at least one shooter game in the past 12 months. That's right on target with expectations, as shooters have been the most popular genre in the gaming industry for the last five years running.

What will games be like in 2030? ›

In the year 2030, virtual reality and augmented reality will dominate the gaming industry. In addition to this, numerous gamers will significantly use this technology to introduce new genres to the audience.

Will gaming be the future? ›

Gaming is now a bigger industry than movies and sports combined. Revenue for gaming reached $184 billion in 2022, and the number of gamers is expected to grow to 3.6 billion by 2025. It's not just kids either: 38 percent of gamers are between the ages of 18 and 34 years, and 16 percent are older than 55.

What is the 1 game? ›

An abstract strategy game for two players involving a triangular (equilateral) board that has positions for 36 balls, or marbles.

What is the most popular game 2023? ›

Top 10 Most Popular Online Games In 2023
RankGameActive Player
1PUBG100 Million+
2Minecraft95 Million+
3Apex Legends50 Million
4Fortnite Battle Royale45 Million
6 more rows
3 days ago

Why RDR2 is so good? ›

A huge selling point of Red Dead Redemption 2 was the level of detail that Rockstar put into RDR2's environments. The title offers a huge amount of entertainment simply in traveling through the different settlements and wilderness trails that populate the map of New Austin.

What is the most favorite sport? ›

Football continues to be the most popular sport in the United States.

Is Minecraft or Fortnite more popular? ›

Fortnite Vs Minecraft: Which is better? If we are to follow the data offered by Twitch and Google Trends, Fortnite is more popular as compared to Minecraft. It also mints more money than Minecraft, but it also enjoys higher concurrent players. Fortnite has been maintaining a glorious track record from the beginning.

Will there be a rdr3? ›

Red Dead Redemption 3 Release Date: Not For A Few More Years

Without an official confirmation or announcement, we can only speculate when the game will be released. However, if we assume that GTA 6 will probably be released sometime around 2025, Red Dead Redemption 3 could be released around 2030.

Is Red Dead 2 too realistic? ›

It's very realistic, and it is completely about the story line, and building a bond between the player and the character. While there is a lot of shooting, killing and heisting involved, it isn't the game for you if what you want is to just shoot, kill, clear a level and repeat.

Is RDR2 or GTA 5 better? ›

While Grand Theft Auto V has some unique and extremely enjoyable side missions that range from darkly funny to downright grotesque, Red Dead Redemptions 2's grounded world and excellent writing allows the side missions to have more impact.

What was Bill Gates favorite board game? ›

A game rapidly gaining popularity the US is one that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been playing for over 50 years. He describes it as one of his favourite pastimes.

What is the #1 board game in the US? ›

The most popular game by far and ranking as the most popular board game in America is Monopoly.

What are the top 5 most popular board games? ›

The list of the 20 best-selling board games of all time includes some new favorites and old classics.
  • Backgammon. ...
  • Trivial Pursuit. ...
  • Battleship. ...
  • Clue. > Year introduced: 1949. ...
  • Scrabble. > Year introduced: 1938. ...
  • Monopoly. > Year introduced: 1935. ...
  • Checkers. > Year introduced: 3000 B.C. ...
  • Chess. > Year introduced: 1200.
Mar 20, 2023


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