10 of the Most Addictive Video Games Ever Made

 A visitor listens to an audio presentation next to a standing console of Pong, one of the earliest, commercially successful video games, at the Computer Game Museum (Computerspielemuseum) on January 26, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The museum, which opened January 21, traces the evloution of computer games through approximately 300 exhibits. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A visitor listens to an audio presentation next to a standing console of Pong | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the average gamer spends 8 hours per week playing video games. This equates to 416 hours per year. During this time, people may go through several games, conquering them one after another, or they may spend months completely lost in a single game — an addictive game.

You know you’re addicted to a video game when you start playing in the evening and before you know it, it’s 3 a.m. and you’re wondering how the heck time flew by so fast. You’ll continue to play until the very last moment and think up rationalizations so that you can keep playing. You can easily get by on four hours of sleep, because you’ll “catch up on sleep tomorrow night,” right? That is, if you don’t get sucked back into the digital wonderland again.

We spend a great deal of time on these more addictive games. It took a little more than 7 million man hours to build the Empire State Building, which is pretty close to the amount of time we’ve spent playing games like Halo. Addictive games often have an excellent online multi-player experience, and some of these games don’t really end. Sure, you may be able to technically “beat” some of these games, but the most addictive games always have another challenge — something more to do, something to keep you playing.

The Batman: Arkham games, for instance, are incredibly addictive while you’re playing, but once you beat the game, the thrill is gone for the most part, unless you really want to hunt down all of the Riddler’s trophies. When we talk about the most addictive games, we are not referring to a game you sat down and played for a week straight. The most addictive games are those you play for months on end. These games don’t get old, and when you’re playing another game, you are thinking about how you’d rather be playing “that game.”

Here are a few of the most addictive video games. We understand this list is a bit subjective, so when creating this list, we tried to take input from gaming guilds, discussion boards, readers, and commenters. Do you agree with our countdown for the most addictive games ever made? Have you spent months playing any of these games?

10. Madden

A football player points off camera in a packed stadium
A football player points off camera in a packed stadium | Source: Electronic Arts

In 1988, the first Madden football game was created for Apple II and it was released on Commodore 64 and DOS in 1989. John Madden was on the cover of each Madden release until the 2000s, and in 2001, Eddie George was on the front cover. Madden became a modern day Wheaties box, and each year thereafter, gamers and football fans alike waited to see who would be on the next cover.

For years, gamers have been sitting on their couches, headsets on, playing Madden. In a Bleacher Report entitled “10 Signs You’re Obsessed with Madden,” we found out that signs of Madden obsession include taking sick days for the new Madden release, waiting in line for more than an hour to buy the game, and having an imposed “time limit” on your gaming time (by your significant other).

9. Dota 2

Developed by Valve Corporation, this free-to-play sequel has garnered a heck of a lot of attention. This game offers a unique world and team-play structure, and a community of other players to connect with. It’s easy to get sucked into Dota 2 for hours on end.

A gamer describes his Dota addiction this way in an article on US Gamer: “Dota 2 is not like other games. It’s never just one more round. Six hours inevitably get flushed away with enough adrenaline to force a cow into cardiac arrest. If I get on a winning streak, I end up chasing that blood-thirsty high. If I find myself losing repeatedly, I end up playing until I win or it’s 4 a.m. in the morning. There’s no win clause here.”

8. Grand Theft Auto V

A character from GTA5 setting fire to a car.
A character from GTA V setting fire to a car | Source: Rockstar Games

GTA has always been a place where you can get out some of your frustration, while still enjoying the challenge of strategic gameplay. Someone cut you off on your way home from work? That’s ok, because you’re going to go home and run a car just like theirs off of the road. Rockstar really hit the mark with GTA V, truly developing both the characters and the overall visual experience.

If you judge anyone who doesn’t know what GTA stands for or you’re tempted to drive like a maniac to work, you may just be addicted to GTA V.

7. Tetris

Tetris blocks fall from the sky
Tetris blocks fall from the sky | Source: Electronic Arts

Tetris was created in 1984 by Russian scientist Alexey Pajitnov. During the mid to late 1980s, it expanded to PC and then onto the NES and Gameboy systems. The addiction had begun. You’d start a game of Tetris, rise quickly through the levels, and the blocks would come falling down at what seemed like lightning-fast speeds. The game drew you in and kept you playing — mostly because you wanted to beat your high score.

6. Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush
A Candy Crush game is seen on an iPad | Photo Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

These days, Candy Crush Saga is the new puzzle game of choice for many portable game addicts. Developed by King, Candy Crush is free to play, but with pay-for-bonus and “ask friends for help” options, the game is all the more enticing. As of earlier this year, King was valued at over $7.5 billion, according to The New York Times.

5. Minecraft

The hero of Minecraft marches through a blocky world with a pick ax.
The hero of Minecraft marches through a blocky world with a pick ax. | Source: Microsoft

Minecraft (aka Minecrack) was developed by Mojang just a few short years ago. Since then, millions of adults and children alike have enjoyed building structures, fighting skeletons and zombies, and of course, mining for gold, diamonds, iron, other minerals.

Although this game may not be the most visually stunning, it has all the makings of an addictive game. There is always more to do inside the Minecraft world and it is easy to lose track of time while playing. “I just want to mine for a little longer until I find 6 more diamonds” or “I just want to build two more stories on my house,” you may say to yourself.

4. EverQuest

EverQuest | Source: Daybreak

Developed by Verant Interactive, EverQuest was first released about 15 years ago. During the early to mid 2000s, you may remember hearing all the reports of EverQuest addicts sitting at the computer for 20 or 30 hours at a time. This game (among others) had a role in the identification of the “video game addiction.”

According to a Video Game Addiction Help website, “EverQuest was one of the first online RPGs to be widely recognised as addictive. Some fans jokingly refer to it as ‘Never Rest’ or ‘Ever Crack,’ and many psychologists have condemned the highly addictive nature of its gameplay. While it is possible for people to enjoy EverQuest without developing an addiction, there is a significant risk amongst those who spend many hours playing. Although the monthly cost of the game is low and can even be free, addiction to EverQuest can destroy a person’s work and family life by consuming enormous volumes of their time and cause them to neglect more important aspects of their everyday life, even up to such basic necessities as eating and bathing.”

3. The Sims

A happy Sim family chats at the pool.
A happy Sim family chats at the pool. | Source: Electronic Arts

Maxis release the first The Sims in 2000. IGN says in its history of The Sims that, “The Sims is an addictive practice in voyeurism, allowing players to control businesses, households, and most importantly, the people therein. Careers unfolded, relationships blossomed, and children matured (or didn’t) under players’ omnipotent control.”

We’ve all had that friend who would skip out on activities, skip work, and even hold off on using the restroom to care for their Sims. This is absolutely one of the most addictive video games of all time.

2. World of Warcraft

Elves and dwarfs stand in a lobby in World of Warcraft.
Elves and dwarfs stand in a lobby in World of Warcraft. | Source: Blizzard

Gamers have been addicted to World of Warcraft for several years, and as of March 2014, WoW is still the most-played PC game, taking up nearly 10% of playing time. Every day in Azeroth there are 3.6 million pet battles and there is enough in-game text in WoW to write 12 copies of The Lord of the Rings, according to Blizzard Entertainment.

WoW has been played by over 100 million people in 244 countries and territories. It’s a pandemic, and it is truly deserves its spot on this list of the most addictive video games of all time.

1. Call of Duty

A mysterious sniper aims toward the viewer.
Call of Duty | Source: Activision

We had a difficult time deciding which game to place as number one on this list (we were torn between Call of Duty and WoW). Like WoW, Call of Duty has been experienced by over 100 million players in multiple countries. The man hours that have been put into Call of Duty are nothing short of astonishing. With 25 billion hours (2.85 million years) of total gameplay, people have played Call of Duty for longer than the course of human existence. During that time, players have fired over 32.3 quadrillion shots, according to IGN.

Honorable mentions (games that almost made the top 10 list)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Total War
  • Civilization
  • Pong
  • Diablo 3

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