35 Best Video Game Franchises Ever

The best video game franchises have come to define gaming itself.

Best Video Game Franchises
Photo: PlayStation Studios, Xbox Game Studios, Nintendo

Franchises have become the lifeblood of an entertainment industry obsessed with name recognition and familiarity. That can sometimes be a bad thing. It can be difficult for new ideas, new names, and new voices to break through at a time when it sometimes feels like the same handful of properties are getting remade, rebooted, or simply continued.

While gaming is not immune to the franchise problem, the best video game franchises have always offered so much more than a name on the box. The best video game franchises don’t just aim to capitalize on the success of a hit original; they aspire to outdo what came before and move the rest of the industry forward. Some of the best video game franchises weren’t even hits out of the gate, and most of them didn’t even offer their best entries until several years into their existence. They are often guiding lights for how great a franchise can truly be.

To celebrate those franchises, we assembled a panel of contributors to vote on the very best video game franchises ever. Before we share the results, here are a few pieces of criteria to keep in mind:

– For the purposes of voting, only the “mainline” entries in a nominated franchise were considered eligible. That ensured the individual eligibility of several notable spin-off franchises.

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– During the initial nomination process a “franchise” was simply considered to be any video game series with multiple entries. Notable modern games that receive regular updates but no traditional sequels or expansions were considered on a case-by-case basis.

– Finally, individual games featuring the same characters were not considered franchises in every instance. So, the Batman: Arkham games are a franchise but “every game featuring Batman” was not considered an eligible candidate.

Let’s dive in:

Call of Duty

35. Call of Duty

It’s easy to conveniently forget about Call of Duty when considering this topic. This first-person shooter franchise has exploded into a yearly (mostly) release juggernaut that too often offers diminishing returns. Yet, you really can’t tell the story of gaming without talking about Call of Duty.

At its best, this series has been a trendsetting behemoth that not only broke sales records but shattered exceptions for its genre and the medium. Though often remembered for its revolutionary multiplayer, the greatest Call of Duty games aspired to offer jaw-dropping campaigns that shook us to our cores. – Matthew Byrd

Diablo 4

34. Diablo

The number of hours players have sunken into Diablo games is so astronomical it could probably rival any other franchise in existence. They’re more like obsessions than games, with simple, addictive combat bolstered by layered story and character progression and loot systems that make the games more engrossing the longer you play them.

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The debate over ranking the four titles is never-ending, but Diablo II is as close to a consensus number one as we’re going to get, mainly because of the sheer variety of character builds and the unique loot and itemization systems. That being said, its sequels are more accessible to a modern gaming audience, and the franchise continues to be a major presence in the industry. – Bernard Boo

Assassin's Creed Games Ranked

33. Assassin’s Creed

While the quality has, of course, varied over the years, I still maintain that after 13 entries, there’s never been a truly awful mainline Assassin’s Creed game. That sort of track record isn’t unheard of in gaming, but it’s especially impressive when you consider the size and scope of these games.

They all contain huge open worlds and dozens of hours of side content. And the more recent games have only gotten larger with the addition of more RPG mechanics. Equally impressive is just how much variety is in these games. While the risks haven’t always paid off, this is a series that has never shied away from experimenting, with some entries incorporating multiplayer, sailing, and even tower defense. – Chris Freiberg

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic

32. Knights of the Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic did one thing of significance, that blasted away its console competition: it armed players with choice. It inserted them into an iconic fictional universe, in an era that had never been explored before, brimming with potential, and it allowed the player to make decisions that would impact their arc, their relationships with the characters around them, and the Star Wars universe itself.

Star Wars storytelling has consistently returned to the Old Republic era because of what the original KOTOR games achieved. Although that promised remake could revitalize the franchise for a new age, those original titles still hold up due to their stunning emotional stakes. This was Star Wars as audiences had never seen before, and with a unique turn-based combat system and such a strong emphasis on character interactions, every aspect of the series was intelligent in its design. – George Chrysostomou

Sonic the Hedgehog

31. Sonic the Hedgehog

The story of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is the story of peaks and valleys. Many, many valleys. While the last 20 years or so have often been unkind to Sonic, there are reasons why the blue hedgehog has become one of gaming’s undisputed icons.

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In many ways, Sonic has always represented an outsider’s spirit. While we’re far removed from those early Sonic games that gave Mario and Nintendo the competition we all needed, the sheer style and speed-focused mechanics of those early games have long offered an irreplaceable alternative that serves as the basis for even the best modern Sonic games. If those games ever fail to meet a standard, it’s only because the bar is so high. – MB

Mass Effect

30. Mass Effect

More than a decade after the release of Mass Effect 3, the original trilogy is still cited as one of the greatest narratives in gaming, a soaring space opera with perfectly crafted story beats and choices that actually have major ramifications throughout the series.

This remains BioWare at its very best, and one of the major reasons why the developer is still so well respected even if it’s struggled to match its previous output in recent years. And while the most recent release, Andromeda, is largely considered a disappointment compared to the first three Mass Effect games, I’ll still defend it for having the very best combat in the series, even if its story and production values were somewhat lacking. – CF

The Sims

29. The Sims

Though there were games released before The Sims that aspired to offer life simulation experiences, Will Wright’s take on that concept rightfully blew a lot of minds back in 2000. The apparent monotony of everyday life was gamified just enough to celebrate the possibilities that drive us all without compromising the design and decision elements that made Wright’s previous games work such beloved experiences.

Years later, The Sims remains a sometimes quiet blockbuster that has rarely had a reason to deviate too far from the formula that made the original game so special. Sure, those modern installments offer more things to do and more ways to do them. Yet, the pleasure of The Sims remains largely the same after all these years. It’s a game that gifts us with the ability to recognize and celebrate the many pleasures of life. – MB

Dark Souls

28. Dark Souls

The growth of the Dark Souls franchise and the Soulsborne series it spiritually belongs to has been remarkable to watch unfold. What was once a niche concept supposedly only made for annoyingly “hardcore” masochistic gamers has become one of the most important series in the evolution of modern gaming. 

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There may be more imitators and successors out there these days, but the Dark Souls games remain arguably the best examples of those innovative Soulsborne concepts. You’ll find variations on a core concept throughout these games, but each offers a blend of adventure, world-building, and role-playing that is even more satisfying than it is challenging. – MB


27. Civilization

The Civilization series isn’t the first turn-based strategy video game nor the first to revolve around 4X gameplay, but it offers perhaps the strongest foundation for the genre, certainly on PC platforms. Created by Sid Meier, who has continued to have a creative role in the series moving forward, Civilization blends strategy and city-building simulation to great effect.

In the games, players control different historical civilizations and explore the world, negotiate with or conquer other civilizations, and improve their cities and scientific accomplishments over numerous centuries. Civilization would go on to spawn an entire multi-platform series of sequels, spinoffs, and influence the rise of real-time strategy games, most notably Age of Empires. – Sam Stone

Animal Crossing

26. Animal Crossing

Long before COVID-19 turned a shocking number of us into hermits with bespoke islands full of cute furniture and welcoming, non-contagious neighbors, Animal Crossing was the franchise one could turn to for cozy comfort. The original GameCube release still brings fond tears to the eyes of fans, with countless anecdotes of the game containing last letters from deceased family members.

The move to Nintendo’s portable consoles made it an even more sociable experience; always cute, simple, and richly customizable. Some of your neighbors are a little weird, and Tom Nook is a lot to unpack. But hey, he’s interest-free, and Isabelle isn’t calling about your extended warranty. Bliss. – Margaret David

Red Dead Redemption 2 Rockstar

25. Red Dead

There’s much to be said about the first installment to Rockstar Games’ Red Dead franchise, Red Dead Revolver. There simply aren’t enough Western AAA games out there, and Red Dead Revolver set the stage with a solid action adventure that boasted notable narrative quality. But it’s the depth of storytelling and realism in the sequels that genuinely transports the player to another time completely.

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Red Dead Redemption brought an open-world setup to the series and its follow-up made the most of that structure. It’s not just the tiny mechanical details developers made in the sequel, like ensuring you keep hold of your hat and remember to eat, that bring this world to life. It’s the nuanced story moments hidden in every corner that compliment that gameplay so well. The characters are so well-developed and while it might be fun to end up in a shootout, it’s almost more interesting to travel to far-off areas on the map, just to see what could be uncovered. – GC

Batman Arkham Knight

24. Batman: Arkham

Very few video games approach perfection, particularly in the modern era when gameplay is so much more complex. But Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham games, well…they feel kinda perfect. All of the main gameplay elements (from the combat, to the stealth, to the traversal) not only work; they’re all fun.

The stories are great, too, with Mark Hamill doing some of his best work as Joker and the late Kevin Conroy lending gravitas to every moment with his iconic take on the caped crusader. And it has to be noted that these are some of the best-looking games ever made. Seriously, Arkham Knight looks better than 99 percent of games today, and it’s nearly ten years old! – BB

Super Smash Bros.

23. Super Smash Bros.

The greatest testament to the quality and evolution of the Super Smash Bros. franchise is the fact you often have to stop and remind yourself what it really is. Through all these years, the fundamental appeal of Super Smash Bros. remains the ability to pit famous characters against each other. The roster of characters has grown over the years to include more than Nintendo icons, but we’re talking about a series based on the appeal of watching Link punch Mario. 

What has made Smash Bros. so much more than a gimmick is the commitment to its mechanics. This seemingly cute series has grown into one of the most respected fighting franchises among pro and semi-pro players. Yet, Smash Bros. has never lost its ability to entertain a room of slightly inebriated fans as well as top-tier competitors. Many challengers have come and gone, but Smash Bros. remains undefeated. – MB


22. Tetris

In retrospect, there’s something risky about releasing the Game Boy and giving it a pack-in game that had no characters to speak of. No face to the new system. Instead, it was a puzzle game that ended up being so addicting that it single-handedly proved portable gaming’s worth better than anyone could have ever hoped.

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Tetris has since exploded with so many takes on its core idea, from going to the third dimension to fighting 98 online opponents at the same time to mashing up its gameplay with Puyo Puyo. It also, much to Nintendo’s dismay, opened many players to the world of unofficial NES carts. That Tengen version of the game was fire. – Gavin Jasper

Tomb Raider

21. Tomb Raider

Puzzle-solving, fast-paced set pieces, ancient mysteries, and tombs to uncover…there’s so much to love about Tomb Raider. It taps into that adventure tone that audiences have come to expect from the likes of Indiana Jones, but with the enthralling Lara Croft in the lead (a protagonist with so much depth and impact), Tomb Raider has really made the genre its own.

Quality storytelling is at the forefront of this franchise, with a lore that is both varied and imaginative. The series’ ability to reinvent itself in each generation, while still keeping those recognizable core components, is another reason why it has enjoyed such longevity. Tomb Raider has ultimately proven itself to be a contender for game of the year time and again, with its mixture of exploration and archery action finding the right balance between the cerebral and the exhilarating. – GC

Baldur's Gate 3 Classes Ranked

20. Baldur’s Gate

BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn are regarded by many as two of the greatest computer RPGs ever made. They’re terrific experiences from top to bottom, with deep stories, unforgettable characters (Minsc and Boo, here’s to you), addictive character progression, balanced real-time combat, and a class system that features genuine gameplay variety.

But the games’ greatest virtue is that they’re powered by the mechanics and lore of Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D 2E to be exact), which lends the games profound depth and texture. And then there’s Baldur’s Gate III. The near-unanimous best game of 2023 is actually quite far removed from its predecessors in every way as far as gameplay is concerned as it was delivered over two decades after BGII by a new developer, Larian Studios. But it’s the best title in the series and easily solidifies the franchise as one of the best in gaming. – BB

Halo Infinite

19. Halo

Though GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark proved that first-person shooters could thrive on home consoles, it was Halo that rose above countless imitators to prove that this was not a Nintendo 64-centric phenomenon.

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Halo: Combat Evolved was the killer app that helped launch the original Xbox to widespread console unit sales while Halo 2 helped elevate Xbox Live and, with it, online console gaming as we know it today. Across each subsequent generation, Halo has remained a prominent presence for Microsoft’s gaming division. While other first-person shooters have flourished, Halo is still the best and most widely recognized Xbox-exclusive title over 20 years later. – SS

Metal Gear

18. Metal Gear

It’s impossible to say “Metal Gear” without immediately thinking “Hideo Kojima.” The eclectic Kojima turned a revolutionary stealth series into a franchise that forever changed our perception of the possibilities of cinematic gaming. 

Despite paving the way for a new era for the medium, there are few titles out there that can claim to come close to matching the unique qualities of the Metal Gear games. Did Kojima occasionally push past the limits of reason in pursuit of his vision? That’s for you and the unbroken 70-minute cutscenes to decide. What I know is that Metal Gear is one of the purest and greatest expressions of auteur game design. – MB

Street Fighter 6

17. Street Fighter

After a nearly unplayable first game, Capcom created the ultimate glow-up with Street Fighter II and put fighting games on the map. Without hyperbole, once Street Fighter II made waves, there was probably at least one fighter released to the market every month for the next five years. Many of them were variations of Street Fighter, as every sequel and spinoff received multiple upgrades and iterations.

Even once the genre died down in the 2000s, Street Fighter IV reinvigorated it and brought it to new heights, creating a surge of hype that’s still felt to this day. Even now, Street Fighter VI is bringing in new fans and showing no signs of stopping any time soon. – GJ

Doom Eternal

16. Doom

In 1993, Doom did to gaming what Nirvana did to rock. Yes, there were first-person shooter games before it, but none of them kicked the doors down in a way that forced you to bear witness to a new era. It was loud, violent, and exactly what gaming needed.

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Some 23 years later, developer id Software delivered a reboot of Doom that often hilariously mocked modern gaming tropes by delivering a strikingly similar (yet evolved) form of that no-nonsense pure gameplay experience that FPS fans still craved. Though there were exceptional Doom games released before and after those titles, it is this largely timeless appeal of the series’ revolutionary gameplay that justifies its lofty place among the very best. – MB

The Elder Scrolls

15. The Elder Scrolls

Arena is an unassuming origin story for this legendary franchise; an Ultima-inspired riff that vaguely mentions the Elder Scrolls and introduces traitor Jagar Tharn and his plot against the Emperor. From such humility comes a franchise that can consume your free time for years. Maybe more depending on how many times you’re willing to buy Skyrim. I have five copies. Don’t judge me.

Each Elder Scrolls game offers open-world exploration like no other, letting you play through fantastical worlds mostly how you like. A healthy modding community expands your options, and through it all lies the most bonkers lore thread in fantasy: The Elder Scrolls are reality-warping meta-works whose prophecies veil untold histories and futures, both magical and almost sci-fi. – MD

Mega Man

14. Mega Man

Mega Man really leans into the philosophy that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Sure, the graphics have varied, and a couple of moves have been added (and removed) over the years, but each of the 11 mainline games has stuck closely to the formula of putting the titular hero through extremely challenging platforming levels to confront robot masters and steal their powers before heading for the final showdown with Dr. Wily. It’s worked well for over 30 years now.

Featuring some of the best stage music in the history of gaming has gone a long way to help the Blue Bomber’s longevity, and that’s without accounting for the dozens of spin-off games, some of which even surpass the high quality of the mainline series. – CF

Fallout New Vegas

13. Fallout

Crawl out through the fallout, baby! Fallout rose anew from a pair of beloved cult Interplay RPGs played in isometric style. While the switch to first-person and altered RPG elements remain controversial among the hardcore to this day, the world of Fallout is as strange and rich as ever.

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Among horrifying post-war mutations and inexplicable supernatural events, your character must fight to thrive to complete their goals — whatever that goal is. Maybe it’s ignoring the existence of Shaun in Fallout 4 for as long as possible, or maybe you’re out to nuke that one jerk’s CAMP in Fallout 76’s Appalachia. You can do it all. Just pack the RadAway. – MD

Donkey Kong

12. Donkey Kong

As far as important video game franchises go, it doesn’t get much more pivotal than Nintendo’s Donkey Kong, which launched in arcades in 1981. Not only giving Nintendo its first successful American release, the game introduced players to Mario, initially named “Jumpman,” as he chased the eponymous simian.

While the original game’s director and co-designer Shigeru Miyamoto went on to do greater things for the company, the Donkey Kong franchise set a new bar for graphical presentation with the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo. Donkey Kong has been absent from starring in his own game for years but he remains a fan-favorite icon for Nintendo, even relegated as a perpetual guest character. – SS

Mortal Kombat 11

11. Mortal Kombat

To hardcore fighting game fans, Mortal Kombat is the black sheep, never getting the same respect as its contemporaries. Still, the franchise stood out from day one and made everyone take notice, causing parents to clutch their pearls while arcade-goers inserted more quarters. It’s the series that forced Nintendo out of their comfort zone, as they realized that maybe refraining from ultra violence wasn’t the best economic strategy.

Relying on its charming lore and blood-soaked gimmicks, Mortal Kombat was a “fake it ‘til you make it” series, spending years figuring out how to make its substance catch up with its style. A solid game in modern days, it’s also the blueprint for how to pack a fighting game with awesome one-player content. Its cinematic story mode campaigns especially made an impact, inspiring other fighter franchises to follow suit. – GJ

Metroid Dread

10. Metroid

Metroid is one half of a genre that changed gaming — the Metroidvania — and it arguably did most of the lifting. It’s the franchise that combined platforming and exploration into an experienced art, creating worlds of implied narrative about lost races and dangerous, world-ending experiments. Later entries move into a fully 3D space, opening up a universe of options and strengthening the way Metroid’s individual stories are told.

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Even when it doesn’t completely work, a Metroid game is something special. Other M’s story may be…bad, but its gameplay is rock solid. Dread is a beautifully made yet possibly too-vicious return to sidescrolling, complete with the Alien-inspired horror of being chased that Fusion previously nailed so well. Each new game is an event, creating a fanbase that waits, impatiently, for another drop of information from Nintendo about the next game. That’s a hint, guys. Metroid Prime 4 when?? – MD

Mario Kart 8 poster

9. Mario Kart

It says something that even with there being a popular series called “Mario Party,” there’s a far more beloved series of party games starring Mario. What started as an impressive use of Mode 7 in 1992’s Super Mario Kart blossomed into one of the most consistent and enjoyable franchises, appearing in nearly every Nintendo console/handheld and inspiring way too many copycats to keep track of. It should be no surprise that Mario Kart is this list’s highest-ranked spinoff series.

Once Mario Kart 64 improved upon the first game’s foundation, the sequels finetuned a winning engine. Outside of some interesting one-off ideas like Double Dash’s switching mechanic, the experience has mostly stayed the same in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” way. Angering your friend with a well-timed lightning bolt just does not get old. It culminated in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is not only the best-selling game in the series but also the best-selling Nintendo Switch game of all by a mile. – GJ

Castlevania Richter Belmont

8. Castlevania 

Even if we were only considering the early 8-bit and 16-bit Castlevanias, the franchise would absolutely be on this list. Those early titles were some of the most unique platformers of the era, and among the first to bring a more gothic aesthetic to gaming. But it’s the further evolutions of the series that have cemented its spot among the upper echelons of gaming franchises.

In the ‘90s, Castlevania helped create a new genre that carries part of its name, the Metroidvania: a less linear take on the platforming genre that has exploded in popularity over the years. But even with all the imitators, they can’t even touch the greatness of some of the very best Castlevania games like Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow. And if that weren’t enough, the series has even taken the occasional detour into 3D action games, resulting in even more excellent titles for fans to delve into. It’s just a shame we haven’t seen a proper new entry in the series in a decade. – CF

God of War Ragnarok

7. God of War

Count me among those who hold the early God of War games in high regard. Yes, they did some things worthy of criticism both then and in retrospect. However, they were also airtight 3D action games highlighted by unbelievable setpiece moments that set powerful new standards. Those early titles arguably sealed this series’ status as something great.

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It’s a testament to the power of God of War’s 2018 reboot that the franchise is spoken of in such different, yet equally glowing, ways today. It’s not just that Santa Monica Studio turned God of War into a premiere example of modern action-adventure design complete with nearly flawless gameplay and gold standard storytelling. It’s that they managed to evolve this series while retaining enough threads and concepts from the previous games to ultimately make those vastly different experiences feel like parts of much greater wholes. Rarely has a gaming franchise not just grown but truly matured in the ways that God of War has. – MB

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

6. Pokémon

When people think of Nintendo, Pokémon is one of the first franchises that comes to mind. Each console from Nintendo’s recent history has a Pokémon title of its own that pushes the technology of the era and brings with it first-class storytelling. As a concept, Pokémon is addictive and immersive. It’s easy to see how compelling its characters and world-building are just from its impact on wider pop culture, from the trading card game to the anime.

Perhaps it’s because of the incredible roster of fan favorite Pokédex entries like Pikachu, Snorlax, or Eevee. Maybe it’s the streamlined combat system, the exciting quest to become a Champion trainer, the varied regions, or Legendary Pokémon encounters that appeal to fans. Or maybe it’s those quiet moments of exploration, customization, and minigame completion that truly built a bond between the franchise and its players. Regardless, Pokémon changed the landscape of JRPGs and isn’t slowing down any time soon. – GC

Final Fantasy Games Ranked

5. Final Fantasy

The very name Final Fantasy is enough to send a chill down your spine as warm memories flood your mind. Over 35 years ago, Final Fantasy introduced millions to the very concept of a video game RPG and the epic digital adventures they had to offer. As the series grew throughout the years it grew not just in scope but in its ability to pull in those who would otherwise never have imagined themselves playing such a game.

Yet, the Final Fantasy franchise has rarely rested on its laurels. The various teams and all-time great gaming creators that have worked on this series over the years have changed the series’ mechanics, characters, and settings in a constant pursuit of the next great thing. They haven’t always gotten it right along the way. But when you look at the totality of the moments and memories that tireless pursuit of previously unimaginable greatness has brought us, Final Fantasy’s status as one of gaming’s absolute greatest franchises feels undeniable. – MB

4. Resident Evil

Resident Evil is an anomaly. Released at a time when the very concept of a horror game was still a largely unproven idea, the original Resident Evil opened the doors for the modern horror gaming we still enjoy today (with due respect to Alone in the Dark). Yet, as so many other horror franchises have come, gone, and generally struggled to find sustainable success, Resident Evil has remained a bonafide blockbuster.

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It’s not that each Resident Evil game is so much better than the competition (though there are arguments there to be made) but rather that this franchise has largely been consistently great. More importantly, the Resident Evil franchise has not only adapted to new eras but set the pace along the way. From the original game’s innovations to Resident Evil 4’s revolutionary third-person mechanics and Resident Evil 7’s first-person pivot, it has long been the one horror franchise you simply have to play regardless of how terrified you may be of the things that go bump in the night. – MB

Grand Theft Auto 6

3. Grand Theft Auto

There’s a reason the trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI broke the internet. Rockstar’s money-printing series is as iconic and successful as it is because the games tap into the inner anarchist in all of us, giving us a sprawling, stylized digital space to wreak as much havoc as we wish. The first two games in the series are fun little distractions, but from GTAIII on, every entry made a seismic impact on the gaming industry and cultivated a legion of fans so enormous that it’s almost assumed that if you love video games, you love Grand Theft Auto. Tommy, CJ, Niko, Franklin, Michael, Trevor…these are some of the most beloved protagonists in gaming history.

There have been countless open-world games released since GTA popularized the genre, but none are as polished, robust, entertaining, or replayable. Millions are still playing GTA Online over ten years after the game’s initial release, and there’s no telling the heights the franchise will reach when GTA VI finally arrives. – BB

The Legend of Zelda

2. The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda has long been the gold standard of game design. It’s not that every other game is expected to copy exactly what The Legend of Zelda does. The series certainly introduced or refined concepts like Z-targeting, open-ended adventuring, and puzzle/boss battle implementation that shook the industry, but we’re not measuring The Legend of Zelda’s influence by the number of Zelda-like games out there. 

It’s just that most of the mainline Zelda games have this almost mystical ability to make you feel exactly how you felt when you played your first Zelda game. That’s partially because many of the mainline entries in the series starting with A Link to the Past have endeavored to evolve the original game’s revolutionary design. But that joyful reawakening of our souls should sooner be attributed to the franchise’s ability to deliver what so many games aspire to deliver: a genuine sense of adventure that is only possible through a video game. With Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom setting new standards in open-world design while upending the nature of the series, it seems we may continue to look towards this series for guidance on what is possible in games and how they make us feel. – MB

Super Mario Bros.

1. Super Mario Bros.

If there was ever a franchise synonymous with video games overall, it’s Super Mario Bros. The game that effectively launched the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, Mario quickly became Nintendo’s flagship franchise and de facto mascot, a distinction it retains decades later. That the franchise served as the basis for the first billion-dollar cinematic adaptation speaks volumes to Super Mario Bros. ongoing and global cultural ubiquity, transcending the video game medium.

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One of the more underrated aspects of the Super Mario franchise is its malleability and adaptability, whether it’s reinventing the classic 2D side-scrolling gameplay for new generations or breaking new ground by bringing the franchise to 3D and multiplayer spaces with titles like Super Mario 64 and New Super Mario Bros. Through it all, the franchise constants remain largely the same: Guide Mario and his friends to a destination, collectible goal, or boss fight and save Princess Peach. Some franchises introduced in the ‘80s and early ‘90s have struggled to stay relevant but, for Super Mario Bros., this struggle has never really applied as the franchise remains sterling and timeless. – SS