The Most Influential Video Games of all Time

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Video game development is often built on the foundation of what came before. The influence of previous games can sometimes be subtle, but it is always present when developers go to work on something new. The video game industry reached a value of over $175 billion in 2021 according to Tech Radar, making it a big deal both as an art form and as an investment.

There are countless reasons why a video game might go on to influence others that come after. It might be their sales successes, their storytelling techniques, or 
the technology used in them that makes them ground-breaking. It could just be the way they penetrated pop culture in a way no video game had done before. Whatever the reason, here are our top three most influential video games of all time.

Space Invaders

Did you know that 
Space Invaders is the reason video games have a difficulty curve? Because of a quirk of the technology at the time, the speed of the sprites was limited when they were all loaded onto the screen. When the player destroyed them, however, the remaining enemies sped up, making them more difficult to shoot. This escalation of difficulty became the basis for video game development for years to come.

As part of the arcade explosion of the 80s, Space Invaders quickly became one of the best-known video games in the world and its name recognition continues to this day. Sequels and spin-offs have continued to be released, including Space Invaders Frenzy arcade game in 2017. There’s even an online slot based on the game; 
Coral features Space Invaders amongst its casino games, which boasts more advanced graphics than the original, despite being found on mobile devices as well as PC. Space Invaders Infinity Gene for mobile continues the original’s legacy today as well, showcasing its lasting impact on video games.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Though the original Super Mario Bros. might seem a more likely inclusion on this list, it wasn’t until Super Mario Bros. 3 that the series really stood out among games. With its bright colors, featuring highly detailed sprites for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the third game in the series introduced many elements to video games, including the overworld map where players selected the next level they wanted to tackle and the concept of skipping levels through clever use of the wishing flute.

Every element of platforming games that would go on to become staples of the genre is here. The difficult timing. The colorful characters and enemies. The minibosses that stand in the way of progress. The speedrun strategies that have sprung up from its levels. There is a reason why, as recently as last year, a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 broke the record for the 
most expensive video game of all time. It is a classic that has had a huge influence on nearly every game that has come since.

World of Warcraft

It might be difficult to imagine, but there was a time when very few games were played online. Those that were online didn’t have nearly the kind of exposure or profitability of their offline counterparts. That all changed with World of Warcraft hit the market. As a spinoff of Blizzard’s already popular Warcraft strategy game series, World of Warcraft quickly became the biggest name in online gaming and suddenly there were countless imitators, vying for its place at the top.

It wasn’t just the gameplay of World of Warcraft that trickled down into other games. The monthly subscription became standard for many games, as did the occasional expansion pack, such as the 
Burning Crusade, to keep the gameplay and story fresh. Though the game’s player base isn’t what it was several years ago, World of Warcraft remains one of the most influential games of all time simply for popularizing the concept of an MMO.

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