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)
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The 10 most shocking game moments of the decade
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The Top 7... Disappointing games of the decade
We expected so much. They delivered so little


  • iKOemos - January 21, 2010 9:29 p.m.

    Haven't I read this already? Nonetheless, a good article and lets hope this decade brings us more epic games.
  • FalconMbuster - January 21, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    This is unnessesary but... I'd like to make a bold statement in Lady Gaga's leotards.
  • FalconMbuster - January 21, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    You know, understanding what the word "important" means makes the #1 the only answer. It wasn't the "best" or "most fun", but I'll be damned if there is a game that has influenced gaming, gaming culture, and main stream society as much as GTA in the last 10 years. Even the storyline, which would be bland by current standards, was influential. It could be adult, it could be "real." You didn't need aliens or an evil overlord to have conflict. The "real world" is bad enough.
  • dante1924 - January 21, 2010 9:55 p.m.

    Thanks for this article! The video wasn't working on my computer for some reason!
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  • Yeager1122 - January 21, 2010 10:45 p.m.

    Did i miss something why did you decide to put up something you already did?
  • RebornKusabi - January 21, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    For the people that are "confused" or "missed something", they basically said in the first damn paragraph that this is a text version (notice the '-text edition' added to the title?) of their previous article (That being "The 20 most important games of the decade"). Stay in school kids! Reading comprehension will get you through your adult life ; )
  • RebornKusabi - January 21, 2010 11:18 p.m.

    ...and when did we get an Ad-Bot (hey003) on this site? Forgive my limited IT schooling (I'm halfway to getting my degree lol), but isn't the reCAPTCHA utility supposed to fight against that? Just curious. reCAPTCHA-godly at ( what?)
  • GameManiac - January 21, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    I can still remember the day I got Gran Turismo 3 and was blown away at how real the graphics were. Great article! I couldn't agree more with many of these games.
  • nik41507 - January 21, 2010 11:51 p.m.

    No No No NO No No I'd say Red Alert 2 influenced RTS. With its amazing cutscenes and gameplay NOOOO THERES AN AD-BOT NOOOOOO
  • oufour - January 22, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    um... why the fuck is wii sports AHEAD of halo 2 and half life 2? on that thought, why the fuck is on their in the first place?
  • flare149 - January 22, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    Good article, although I think God of War should get an honorable mention
  • crumbdunky - January 22, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    U2 wasn't the firs "killer app" for PS3 though, was it? That would go to a game you cruelly ignore here to include the WEAKEST in it's series just to be awkward(MGS2 more important than ANY of the others? You, my ddar sirs, are having a woolly!)and though an apparent desire to look like you haven't played any other games made by kojima. Seriously, I'd say the two best MGS were the last two(hard to knock MGS itself as time has been cruel on it's lookms and we can only imagine the greatness of it today but as a dev who leans so heavily on he available tech i'd say that 3 and 4 go way beyond the first two games and the second was easily the weakest of all four. I'd have stuck MGS4 in the top three, actually, as the best game in the most consistently great series ever committed to consoles.The achievements in tying up the story(and one so very convoluted too!)were manifold and done with a genuine flair for undertanding that the medium ISN'T the same as the films he loves so much. He paces even the ripest dialogue fuelled cutscene indulgences better than anyone else(seriously, we fans know the talky goes too far but it's the pace that fits a games length rather than pretending to cater to a two hour movie frame)has even tried. Interactive movie! The fools cried. We played the game and found something we never thought we would:a game brave and big and bold enough to both stand up to it's illustrious past AND to tie up the myriad wonky looking loose ends that Koj had woven in to the fabric of gaming itself. I didn't think he could top the mastery of MGS3 but Patriots did everything right for me and, though a lot of MG fans will argue otherwise, I take it as his crowning, gaming glory. Seriously, to ignore the things he managed with such amazing style AND anal attention to detail AND in creating some more classic boss battles and characters isn't a great move, imho. The gameplay also gave us iconic moments like the microwave "X" button ordeal where you battle both the game and aging Snakes increasing fragility(a metaphor, also, for mans struggle against what he himself has done to, and wioth, the planet earth itself?)and the sun drenched battle with Liquid harking back to fighting games past. Yes, it had cutscenes that went on too long with too many words BUT the cutscenes were, generally, doing a sterling job of one of the stiffest tasks in gaming-reigning in and wrapping up 20 years of Metal Gear and Hideo's imagination. When you add in the slickest gameplay the series has seen(and I played it as a stealth game from the start nd you have NOT finished without that Big Boss emblem!-so no accustaion that it has become "just an action game" around me thankyou!), amazing , console leading gfx, great script and voice work and yet more tjhoughtful, action heavy boss battl;es with a handful of fraught but brilliant set pieces you have both one of the best, most perfect games ever made and also one of the best tales ever told by the medium of gaming. It's the bringing together of every loose strand of a story as complex as any you'll find anywhere that sits atop the masterful hgame Kojima made in MGS4 like the proudest, sweetest cherry ever plucked from God's own cherry tree. Masterpiece is an overused word but MGS4 fits the hill just as much as any game on your list and a lot more than most. I tshould, at the very least, be in there somewhere.
  • StrayGator - January 22, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    A Crack in Time owes quite a bit to braid, I believe.
  • JustTheBoBreaker - January 22, 2010 1:18 a.m.

    I still can't believe Gran Turismo is that high on the list. Maybe it's just because i didn't really play it,that I don't see why it's so important.
  • Cyberninja - January 22, 2010 1:20 a.m.

    they do have a point about wii sports oufour with out wii sports i dont think the gaming market would have made so much money recently that plus its more fun for everyone i cant stand alot of fps like halo because of all the children trying to curse you out online
  • twewy13 - January 22, 2010 1:51 a.m.

    why halo 2 and not 1?
  • gopikmin - January 22, 2010 2:02 a.m.

    @oufour This is the most important games of the decade, not best. These are the games that revolutionized the industry. I feel WoW should be lower ,but that is because i have not played it much.
  • Defguru7777 - January 22, 2010 2:02 a.m.

    @twewy13 It was the first console game to have truly great online multiplayer. Halo 1 probably didn't do anything to make it "revolutionary." It was still a great game.
  • Nupetarian - January 22, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    Good list!

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