Whatever platform you play games on, from smartphone to PC, and everything in between, there are certain games that just become iconic. These are the games that capture the imagination and gain legendary status. And they become the benchmark for everything that follows. So, here are just six era-defining games since the turn of the millennium.
Back in 2009, this block-based building simulation game emerged from Sweden as an ongoing project. The PC gaming world took it to their hearts and helped to develop it into something special. Minecraft became the best-selling game of all time and still had over 140 million active users in August 2021. No game has ever benefitted from such a collaborative effort.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch, WII U)
The original The Legend of Zelda game, released in 1986, was ground-breaking. So, it was fitting that the 2017 version tore up the rulebook once again. The unstructured environment and nonlinear gameplay encouraged exploration and created a true open-world experience. It became a landmark in the action-adventure genre and is widely regarded as a masterpiece.
Rainbow Riches (Casino platforms)
The slot game genre is often overlooked when talking about classic games. But just like with video games, there are certain slot titles that just click with players, and the Rainbow Riches slot launched by Barcrest in 2016 is no exception. The game featuring rainbows, golden coins, and an Irish leprechaun is one of the most popular of all time (especially in the UK). It can be found in casinos, bookmakers, and online in various formats. It’s a winning formula that many have tried to replicate without the same success.
Dark Souls (Multiple consoles and PC)
Dark Souls (2011) took the horror role-playing genre to a new level and has yet to be surpassed. It is dark, suffocating, and utterly compelling. The struggle for survival prompts an emotional engagement that can hook you for hours and leave you drained. It’s by no means easy but that is all part of the appeal. Its developers teamed up with Game of Thrones author George RR Martin on 2022’s Elden Ring, which was also hailed as a classic on its release.
World of Warcraft (PC)
The obvious entry in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) genre is 2004’s World of Warcraft. Few games have become an integral part of player’s lives as this one. This fantasy title became an obsession for over 100 million players thanks to its perfect construction and immersive experience. The game has generated over $10 billion in revenue and continues to receive player and developer support. In the discerning world of PC gaming where performance is everything, Warcraft hit all the right notes.
Fortnite (PC, consoles, and mobile)
Fortnite is available in three modes, but it was the Fortnite Battle Royale version that became a cultural phenomenon and defined a generation. Launched in 2017, the game reached 125 million players in just one year. The game features up to 100 players who battle it out to be the last person standing. The game benefitted from being available online, and on all major consoles and mobile operating systems.
Other honorable mentions go to Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), Wii Sports (2006), BioShock (2007), Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018), and Half-Life 2 (2004), all of which could claim iconic status.