The 20 most important games of the decade – text edition

5. Halo 2

First released in: 2004
Developed by: Bungie Studios
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios

It’s notable for: Bringing console-based multiplayer online, and making it stick. Multiplayer matchmaking on consoles still works roughly how it did in Halo 2.

It inspired: Every console game with online multiplayer – they all owe Halo 2 for its pioneering efforts.

Blah blah blah: “Halo 2 deserves to be on the list, purely because it, not invented, but really cemented online gaming on consoles, which had never managed to rival the depth or the sense of community that PC gamers had always enjoyed before then.” -Dave Meikleham, Content Editor (UK):

4. The Sims

First released in: 2000
Developed by: Maxis
Published by: Electronic Arts

It’s notable for: Being the best-selling PC game of all time – that ought to say something. The Sims was the revolution that Spore wasn’t – it was a new kind of game, different even from Wright’s previous simulations, and was one of the first games since the likes of Myst and Mario to have such a wide-ranging impact on mainstream culture. Everyone played the Sims, even if they hated it.

It inspired: Oodles of Sims-style games, some which directly yank ideas from the series, and some which take its lead more subtly. While they were likely conceived alongside each other, The Sims was so influential that just about every review of Animal Crossing, which was released in the US in 2002, described it as “similar to The Sims.” The Sims didn’t raise the bar, it created it.

Blah blah blah: “The Sims is kind of the ultimate triumph of Will Wright and Maxis because it’s the first game to convincingly create artificial characters that feel like real people, to a degree…they’ve always kind of been caricatures of real people, but you control their every action, their lives.” -Mikel Reparaz, Senior Editor (US)

3. Wii Sports

First released in: 2006
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo

It’s notable for: Well, it was a revolution, right? In a way, it was. Wii Sports wasn’t really anything new – we’d seen motion control before - but it did it well enough and at the right price that it blew up. And it was very fun, and anyone could play it. It didn’t matter if you had beaten every Mega Man game ever made, you weren’t going to be any better at Wii Sports than Grandma, who hadn’t seen a videogame since Pong.

It inspired: Oh, you know, along with the Wii itself, an entirely new direction for the entire gaming industry. Here we come, Natal Sports and Sony Ice Cream Cone Wand Fun Time.

Blah blah blah: “You can say what you want about Wii Sports, but the fact is that when it came into the office and we first had our hands-on, the amazing thing was that when you sat at your desk, all you could hear around you were the sounds of people having fun.” -Justin Towell, Content Editor (UK)

2. World of Warcraft

First released in: 2004
Developed by: Blizzard Entertainment
Published by: Blizzard Entertainment

It’s notable for: Being the only MMORPG that has really mattered for the past six years.

It inspired: Every MMORPG since – they’d be foolish not to take inspiration from the most successful game in the genre. And outside of gaming, WoW has, like The Sims and Wii Sports, become a cultural phenomenon. Even Mr. T couldn’t escape.

Blah blah blah: “I’ve been able to see the social aspect of how important WoW is as a game in the last ten years. I’ve seen people become boyfriend and girlfriend, to eventually become married. I’ve seen friendships break up, I’ve seen friendships form…the social aspect of the game is huge. They basically set the bar on what MMORPGs have to be to succeed.” -Cheryll Del Rosario, Web Designer (US)

1. Grand Theft Auto III

First released in: 2001
Developed by: DMA Design (now Rockstar North)
Published by: Rockstar Games

It’s notable for: Being the first fully-realized free-roaming 3D game. GTA III changed everything – it did more than we knew games could, and somehow managed to do it all extremely well. It’s so often that a game will break new ground but be practically unplayable, because more effort was spent being impressively different than being actually good, but GTA III succeeded at being both mind-blowing (at the time) and hugely fun.

It inspired: A whole new genre of 3D open-world games which has lead to the likes of, more recently, inFamous, Prototype, Crackdown, and Saint’s Row, as well as open-world additions in previously linear games, as in Halo 3: ODST. And beyond that, its influences are countless. You might suggest that its arsenal of cheats influenced cheats in later games, or that its selection of music influenced future soundtracks, or that its “adultness” helped encourage other developers to shun political correctness – GTA III is truly the most important game of the 2000s.

Blah blah blah: “You simply can’t underestimate the importance of Grand Theft Auto III to the games of the last decade…I’ll never forget that sense of liberation I got the first time I played Grand Theft Auto III, driving around in this huge open-world city with its own pulse and rhythms...that and discovering you could have sex with prostitutes.” -George Walter, Editor-in-Chief (UK)
Jan 21, 2009

The top 20 most important games of the decade (video edition)
GR US and UK editors tell you what they think are the most important games of the noughties

The 10 most shocking game moments of the decade
A decade of game taboo breakers in one filthy list


The Top 7... Disappointing games of the decade
We expected so much. They delivered so little


  • Joshin69 - February 14, 2010 9:03 p.m.

    For me, Deus Ex is far to low. I do agree with GTA III though i think that was also influenced by Deus Ex
  • Sabtos - January 30, 2010 4:11 p.m.

    Good article. Is that Modern Warfare screenshot from the Wii version? Looks like it, and certainly you aren't giving any credit to the Wii version. That WoW commercial with Mr. T looks nearly identical to the beginning of God of War 2. GTA cheats are awesome. Haven't played IV yet although I've owned it since it came out. Now that the dlc is coming PS3 side, I'm starting it next week.
  • Fiirestorm21 - January 29, 2010 2:16 a.m.

    Oh, and speaking of Resident Evil 4 and Splinter Cell, context-sensitive actions were also apart of the SC series since its beginning.
  • Fiirestorm21 - January 29, 2010 1:26 a.m.

    Why does Resident Evil 4 always get credit for the over-the-shoulder 3rd person perspective? There were already two or three games, the Splinter Cell games, that had been doing that by the time RE4. (Not sure if Chaos Theory was out quite yet.) Over-the-shoulder 3rd person aiming has been a part of Splinter Cell since it's beginning, 3 years before RE4. And while I understand why its number 1 position in itself doesn't mean anything in regards to fun, I take issue with a statement in the description that any of the PS2 Grand Theft Auto games were fun. All them got too focused on the meta-design (large, open world, the story, etc.) and forgot the fundamentals. As a result, there were remarkably frustrating and not-fun to play. As for the rest of the list...good for the most part, though I'd nitpick the order. The only thing there worth mentioning is Wii Sports: No, way too high on the list. Other than that you guys got it pretty much right I think.
  • Felixthecat - January 26, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    @animeman - Too bad that Kingdom Hearts was still an average RPG. It did nothing special BESIDES combining Disney/Square, which was contraversial anyway. Granted it's a good RPG, it didn't do much special. @DrLovez69 - Talk about that stuff in the forums, and RE4 is on the list. @AuthorityFigure - The Wiimote didn't inspire IT at all. IT used the Wiimote and showcased it, thus being an important game for simply being the first game to use something new. Also, thanks for this GR, my computer fucked up when the video was posted.
  • Octaviux - January 26, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    MGS 2 inventing the stealth genre? please, Thief: The Dark Project Came out in 1998. Also this list is a joke without Battlefield 1942. Console games can pretend it's still the 90's while they play their simplistic MW2 but the Battlefield series evolved the FPS genre by making it include varied military vehicles and enormous 64 player battles the whole way back in 2002.
  • super0sonic - January 25, 2010 8:24 a.m.

    I have to disagree with the Zelda Wind Waker "working brilliantly" true most of the game was pure gold!!! but that sailing... I just gave up on the game because I could not take it any more.
  • kaytopher - January 24, 2010 10 p.m.

    I doubt Fallout 3 was inspired by Bioshock. It was a game that had been most likely in the making for years, and if you're talking about the entire apocalyptic thing, then look no further than fallout 1, 2, and brotherhood of steel.
  • Mirako - January 24, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    I think WoW should be above GTA 3 just because every other MMORPG tries to emulate it.
  • DrLovez69 - January 24, 2010 3:07 p.m.

    This my first ever comment on gamesradar. sweet. Eh yeah I personally agree with all of these, but too bad fahrenheit wasn't there, it may not have changed the way people think about games, but it sure changed the way i think 'bout games. Heavy Rain can only be better. On another note; I need a proper partner to play Army of two 40th day with, 'cause no-one has a headset n' none of my friends will get it. any takers? PSN is spidermanX. On another another note; Resident evil 4. nuff' said.
  • AuthorityFigure - January 24, 2010 12:27 p.m.

    'Wii Sports' didn't inspire anything. The WiiMote inspired IT. The controller is the thing that opened up that area of gaming, not that tech demo with zero replayability. Christ.
  • oryandymackie - January 23, 2010 6:12 p.m.

    In my opinion, BioShock did not influence Fallout 3. The architectural design is much different, and BioShock's tight attack system and claustrophobic setting reflects-not on the open world, near-tactical kills of FO3. Also, does anyone see the similarities between the Half-Life logo and the Aphex Twin logo?
  • gilgamesh310 - January 23, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    Everyone seems to forget that it wasn't GTA 3 but driver that was the first fully free roaming 3D game . Even though it had no on foot sections it still gave a huge liberating feeling to be able to explore whole cities for the first time and would have given rockstar the idea for GTA 4.
  • animeaddictoid - January 23, 2010 12:25 a.m.

    Great list and about half Life pic ZERG RUSH!
  • kratos2144 - January 22, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    I'm not sure how GoW isn't on this list.
  • TheGreatStone - January 22, 2010 11:28 p.m.

    I agree with DeadGirls. I didn't see anything new or innovative about Bioshock. It was most notable for its thick atmosphere and a mysterious world revealed to the player in subtle ways (and some very un-subtle recordings scattered about) -- an interesting story and a surprising twist. It was not an innovative shooter. It has the same RPG 'depth' as Half-Life 2. If anything, it was a shooter with unlockable gun upgrades and powers.
  • DeadGirls - January 22, 2010 8:56 p.m.

    Please explain to me how the fuck Bioshock is a "very deep" RPG. It's not even a "very deep" shooter. Unless, of course, we are talking about "very deep" underwater.
  • Xeacons - January 22, 2010 7:36 p.m.

    No denying it. These are the games that everyone knows, gamers or not. Even when shown in a bad light, their impact on the gaming world (or world in general) cannot be denied. Whenever someone bashes violence in games, they have to mention GTA. Addiction = WoW. Exercise = WiiSports, etc. These are the games EVERY gaming connoisseur should have in their library.
  • animeman - January 22, 2010 7 p.m.

    The list was good but I wish that a Kingdom Hearts game had gotten in their. I mean it did show us how to combine to of the biggest opposites and put them together in one awsome game.
  • DriveShaft - January 22, 2010 5:39 p.m.

    Only counted 3 or 4 gsmes that actually deserved to be on this list.

Showing 1-20 of 44 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000