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Defining the 10 best video games of all time is an impossible task. It remains highly subjective and filled with natural biases based on the games you grew up with. So to come up with our list, we looked at a few factors: longevity, innovation, name recognition, the sheer enjoyment of the game, and sales.
You might agree with this list, and have fond memories of hanging out with your buddies on a weekend playing your Nintendo 64. Then again, you might totally disagree with our selection and that’s absolutely fine too.
The truth is, there are probably 100 worthy games to be featured in the top 10. So take a look at our favorites, show it to your friends, and come up with your own list for the top 10 best video games of all time and let us know what you think.
Top 10 best video games of all time
10: Street Fighter
If you love a good fighting game today, you can probably thank Street Fighter for that. While at the time Mortal Kombat was a legitimate rival to the 1991 hit Street Fighter, it also came out a year later, helping Street Fighter land a spot in our top 10 best video games of all time.
Street Fighter took fighting games to a new level, with innovative new concepts like rapid combo attacks and wild special moves. Its differing characters also drew you in, providing a depth to the game that had not been seen before in this genre.
9: The Legend of Zelda
Another one of the early games that delivered a massive world to explore and get lost in, Zelda as a series was tough to match. For me, Ocarina of Time was the best of the series on the N64, but there’s an argument to be made for any of the Zelda titles. With amazing music, clever mysteries, and crazy bosses, The Legend of Zelda is, indeed, the stuff legendary video games are made of.
8: Goldeneye 007
Full disclosure: This was the game of my youth. I would literally run home from school, fire up the N64, and play Bond. I even had wagers with my buddies as to who could complete the game first.
Don’t let my bias towards 007 fool you, however. This game turned out WAY better than the movie, which is pretty impressive, and it was one of the first games to truly find success with a split-screen multiplayer mode, something we take for granted today.
How can you not include Pac-Man in a best video games of all time list? As an arcade game that practically every person played in its day—and was even featured in uber-popular TV series like Friends—the global adoration of Pac-Man is undeniable.
And even if you weren’t around in the era when every bowling alley arcade center had scores of kids hanging around the Pac-Man game, it’s notable that people far and wide are still intimately familiar with the game today.
Minecraft’s popularity never seems to dwindle, and that’s the sign of an epic game. Played by adults and children alike, if you’re talking about longevity and sales, Minecraft is always towards the top of the list (with 29 million copies sold, it is the best-selling PC game of all time).
And, unlike many games today, it doesn’t rely on violence to draw a crowd. It’s one of the few games where parents will encourage their young children to play, giving them an online world where they can build and create. Minecraft is still practically as strong today as it was when it burst onto the scene in 2011.
Created in 1984, there’s hardly a person on the planet who won’t have played Tetris. It put Nintendo’s Gameboy on the map and is still even played today. Like Minecraft, there was an element of building and strategy that has helped Tetris garner a cult-like status. While Minecraft may have the edge in terms of PC sales, when looking at multi-platform, Tetris is still the undisputed king with 170 million copies sold worldwide. This earns it the number 5 spot in our top 10 best video games of all time.
4: Grand Theft Auto III
Talking of sales, the Grand Theft Auto series is always high on the list of top-grossing franchises. It continues to deliver amazing games with each and every installment, but it’s perhaps GTA III that is given the nod as the best of the franchise’s history.
With GTA III offering players an open world with the freedom to roam free and do as you please, it completely revolutionized the gaming world. And there’s no sign of its popularity slowing down.
3: World of Warcraft
Arriving in 2004, few games have been so powerful that they’ve created their own subcultures. World of Warcraft developed an effective planet within a video game. It encouraged communication with other players around the world, and it’s that human connection that perhaps made World of Warcraft such a success.
It became so addictive—so engaging—in fact, that at its peak it had 12 million subscribers.
OK, like with Goldeneye, Doom was a game I grew up devoting much of my youth to playing. But I’m not alone in that. It was THE game that combined
It was, in fact, legitimately scary. Your heart would race. Demons were ever present. It was one of the first truly immersive games, and for that reason, it ranks almost at the top of our best video games of all time list—and you could make a definite argument that, at number two, even that is too low. Naysayers may say that Wolfenstein 3D came out first, but it simply was no match for the immersion Doom offered.
1: Super Mario Bros
My pick for the best ever, however, goes to Super Mario Bros. Why? Because it was totally iconic, everybody on the planet has heard of it and has likely played a version of the game at some point, it sold like hotcakes, and as a series, it continued to innovate and change the way video games are played.
I gave the nod here to the original Super Mario Bros for starting it all. Is that the best game in the Mario series? Arguably Super Mario Bros III is better, and Super Mario 64 the most innovative. The latter literally invented the 3D platform, where you went from playing Mario on a scrolling 2D screen to a 3D world where you could look and move around thanks to the N64’s analog stick. It changed how we play games.
But that would never have happened without the original. It’s a title that continues to spawn Halloween costumes to this day. And who doesn’t love a bit of Mario Kart and Yoshi? If you’re looking at longevity, innovation, fun to play, name recognition, and sales, it’s tough to argue that Super Mario Bros and the franchise it has formed is anything but the best video game of all time.
As I mentioned at the top, there are probably 100 games that deserve a spot in the top 10 best video games of all time. Here are 5 classics that just missed the cut but absolutely warrant a mention.
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Metal Gear Solid
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Wii Sports
Then there are the more recent super hits like Pokemon Go and Fortnite. PUBG is also one of the most successful games ever in terms of sales. Will Fortnite become a classic, or will it fade away as “a cool game we used to play back in school but then forgot about”? Time will tell.
So what’s your top 10 best video games of all time? Let us know, and if you need help unblocking any game at school or work—whenever your WiFi network is restricting access—be sure to use Hotspot Shield. Hotspot Shield is a free app that makes you anonymous online and ensures any website or app you visit will always be unblocked — no matter where you are.