The video game industry has been one of the great success stories over the past decades. From the days when Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were the biggest names, to the latest generations of the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and new advances in computer gaming, there have been few products that have changed so differently over the course of the last twenty years.
However, several franchises have proven to be consistently popular, and have created many best-selling titles beloved by casual games and hard-core fans alike. Let’s take a closer look at 8 of the top franchises in video gaming history!
1. Metal Gear Solid
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is one of the most famous in the early history of console gaming, and one that remains popular to this day. The third and fourth installments of the series were both released in the 2000s. This first person shooter is known for its complex and surprising plot lines, innovative boss battles, and for emphasizing stealth as much as accuracy and use of a weapon. Sometimes, the most important thing in the game is to stay out of sight rather than to kill the enemies!
One of the longest-running computer game franchises is Sid Meier’s Civilization, which has spawned five main titles as well as numerous expansion packs and spin-offs. This strategy game is essentially a gigantic board game transported into the PC world with AIs included, allowing players to control an empire through the ages while building cities, wonders of the world, and military units. Though not the quickest game to play, it certainly has its draws for the strategically-minded, and the levels of complexity to the game, especially in the latest versions, provide game play that is surprisingly complex.
A slower game on the list, we turn to one of the kings of real-time shooters — the Halo franchise. Another name that has spawned numerous incantations, the basic premise of the single player campaign involves saving humanity while battling alien races as a soldier in the future. Perhaps more famous than the game’s campaigns are its multiplayer capabilities, becoming one of the most popular games to play with friends and even against other players via the internet.
4. World of Warcraft
Almost everyone has heard of World of Warcraft, but not everyone these days knows that the game was based off of a universe that was developed by Blizzard over the course of three real-time strategy games. Pitting orcs against humans, and later against night elves and the undead, the series shined as one of the better fantasy-based real-time strategy titles in its heyday. Today, however, the actual Warcraft games are known for spawning games such as Defense of the Ancients, which was built on Warcraft 3′s platform before being picked up by Valve for its second incarnation.
With World of Warcraft remaining the best-known massive multiplayer online role playing game, or MMORPG, the series continues to rake in cash for Blizzard years after the original titles have all but faded from the public eye.
Though the Pokémon craze died down as the trading card game faded from popularity, the video game franchise that it spawned has led to several generations of hits for portable systems such as the Game Boy and the Nintendo. Titles are still being released to this day, showing the staying power of the franchise despite the relative demise of the card game that led to its inception.
Another Blizzard title that has spawned several incarnations is Diablo, a game in which players control characters roving through dungeons in the quest for battles against monsters and the treasures that they drop. Diablo II became known for creating rare items of considerable value, leading slews of teenagers to repeat dungeon runs until noteworthy items were acquired. Diablo III, however — the somewhat recently released third title in the series — was generally considered a flop, despite a real money in-game auction house for items that did not live up to the success and the playability of the all-star second title in the franchise.
7. Call of Duty
Few gaming franchises can claim to match the amounts of money made or the number of titles sold than the Call of Duty line. From Modern Warfare to Black Ops, to the popularity of the franchise’s original titles, this shooter is one of the most valuable names in video games to this day. The premise, of being a soldier fighting in the military, is fairly simple; clearly, it is the design of the game, with the graphics and mechanics always being top of the line, that have led to its overwhelming success.
The final name in our list is the third Blizzard entry, Starcraft. Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 2 have a reputation of being some of the most competitive games in existence, taking up entire television channels in Korea where they are extremely popular. In addition to bringing the names of Protoss and Zerg into the common vocabulary of many internet users, the game redefined what a real-time strategy game could accomplish in terms of the sheer amount of skill needed to play the game at high levels. Professional Starcraft players often have an APM — or actions per minute — of over 200.