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video game franchisesThe video game industry is incredibly sequel driven. Some franchises even talk about their next game before they make the first one. Bioware, for example, decided that Mass Effect was going to be a trilogy before the first game even hit the market. Call of Duty is an annualized franchise where each one makes more money than the last. The fact is, it’s easier to sell a sequel to a game than make a new intellectual property. Fans already know what to expect, and the ideas from the previous game carry over to the next.

That’s not to say sequels are a bad thing, because often a franchise can be amazing. There are some video game franchises that I would like to see carry on forever. Some consistently put out a quality product, and each one just seems to leave you wanting more. Those franchises are the ones I am going to discuss here. These are the best franchises in video game history.

Mario

I think this might be the single biggest no brainer in the history of video games. Nintendo always finds a way to inject new life in Mario with each release. They keep the core of the game the same, while changing enough to make it feel new and exciting.

video game franchises

Nintendo is also smart because they don’t go overboard with Mario. They don’t put out a new Mario game every year. This allows them to take the time to make the games special, and prevent gamers from becoming fatigued on the plumber.

list of video game franchises

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While they don’t put out so many as to cause franchise fatigue, they do keep things fresh for Mario. Nintendo uses him in other franchises such as Mario Kart, the Mario RPGs and Super Smash Brothers. By breaking Mario away from his standard platforming, they keep him in front of people, but they do it in a different type of game that keeps things exciting.

The Elder Scrolls

Maybe it’s because Skyrim came out recently, but I can’t help but feel like The Elder Scrolls has a greater importance than just being a massive RPG.

list of video game franchises

They do the franchise right. There was a whopping six years between Oblivion and Skyrim, and they were both huge successes. It seems to me that Bethesda realized that they don’t have to shove a new game to market every twelve to eighteen months in order for gamers to be interested. They took that time to learn some valuable lessons, and because of this, Skyrim is better.

list of video game franchises

Each of The Elder Scrolls games left the same impression on me: “they just can’t make it any bigger than that“. Each time however, they find a way to make the game bigger, and to fill it with more content. They consistently force other developers to play catch up, and they generally push the action RPG genre ahead. This is why The Elder Scrolls is one of the best video game franchises of all time.

Halo

Halo isn’t for me. For whatever reason I just don’t enjoy playing it. But it is impossible to argue that Halo isn’t one of the best video game franchises of all time.

list of best-selling video game franchises

They took a genre that was almost entirely on the PC and brought it to consoles in a way that has never been done before. You could argue that Goldeneye was the first console shooter, but Halo was the first one that incorporated a more traditional control method.

list of best-selling video game franchises

The one part of Halo I liked was the story. Bungie did an amazing job of constructing a universe and cast of characters that gamers cared about. They kept them coming back for more than just the intense multiplayer action, which is more than many first person shooters can say.

Grand Theft Auto

GTA is arguably the most controversial gaming franchise ever. Between the over the top violence, and isolated incidents like the Hot Coffee mod, GTA always seems to be in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. However, for gamers, it is loved because of the way it revolutionized open world games for the better.

list of best-selling video game franchises

Grand Theft Auto showed gamers that it is possible to have a living, breathing city as your own playground. The shift from Grand Theft Auto 2 to Grand Theft Auto 3 was one of the most dramatic I can recall in video game history. They went from a top down, two-dimensional game to a full 3D world that was rich and alive.

Without question, Grand Theft Auto changed video games, and as a franchise, I always find myself looking forward to the next one.

Zelda

Zelda brought “hardcore” gaming to the masses. Mario got people into gaming, and Zelda is where they graduated when they wanted something a little more advanced. Zelda melds action games and RPGs into the perfect mix that is both fun for the most hardcore gamers and understandable for casual gamers.

Zelda is successful as a 3D action game on the new consoles, and it sticks to the top down old school format on portable devices. This allows Nintendo to keep Zelda games consistently coming out, but in a different style game that always feels like something different.

video game franchises

Just like Mario, Nintendo doesn’t try to milk Zelda like so many other franchises. They leave enough time to make each game new and innovative. They even completely shook the foundation of Zelda games in a big way with Wind Waker. They completely changed the art style of the game, and while some gamers greeted this with disdain, many loved it, and still regard Wind Waker as one of the best in the series. In the end, Zelda has Ocarina of Time, which is generally regarded as the best video game ever made, and it is hard to argue with that.

Conclusion

There are so many great video game franchises out there, but these are the ones at the top of the heap. Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Metal Gear and God of War are all right there, but just a little behind. Some series give the idea of a franchise a bad name and come out too often. Some examples of this would be Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk. You could even say Call of Duty is on the verge of this (hmm, all Activision games. Coincidence? I think not.)

What are your favorite video game franchises? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Science Pro
    March 6, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Out of them I played and still playing Halo games and GTA games. I'm addicted to halo story. I love it very much. I like their music parts too. I'm going to use halo theme guitar music in my phone's ring tone :D

  2. jhpot
    December 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I don't think Halo and Grand Theft Auto will ultimately have the staying power that Mario and Zelda do, but I could be wrong. Well thought out list.

  3. Me
    December 14, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Zelda all the way for me

  4. Dave Parrack
    December 14, 2011 at 4:25 am

    I would have liked to see Final Fantasy get a mention but the five listed are important nonetheless.

  5. Dan
    December 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    As opinions go, your list is pretty sub-par. Mario and Zelda I agree with, the rest are weak. Where's Final Fantasy? Civ? C&C? Street Fighter? King of Fighters? Tekken? Age of Empires? Starcraft/Warcraft? Diablo? Half-Life? Sim*?

  6. jello
    December 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    boy, now that i have a few shots of whiskey, I can see this could really be a hot topic of debate, but I will try not to get to dramatic.  When I.D.'s Quakeworld came on the scene, also with the CTF mod, I was so hooked, it was not until all the servers started being emptied out, I moved on elsewhere.  No other game since have I found that addiction.  Of course, playing it nowadays, it really seems to be ancient and less appealing then modern games.  I am awaiting to find that game again that causes me to without visits to the bathroom when nature calls.

  7. KLocko
    December 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Pokemon. Come on, anybody?

    • Vasusharma
      December 14, 2011 at 4:39 am

      pokemon is legendry but it doesnt have that much good games.

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Pokemon is awesome!

  8. Mikeg3161989
    December 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Final fantasy is great

  9. Guest
    December 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    The Myst series is by far my favorite, but it's hard to argue with most that you've posted. I'm not too sure about GTA though. It's a fun sandbox game for a while, but the stories aren't much fun, and the free-roam gets old pretty quickly.

  10. David
    December 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Tomb Raider

  11. Kinshi
    December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Mario and Zelda are my favourites mostly because they're most played games of my childhood. It's a pity so many people know Mario only as an old, 2D game not worth playing and don't recognize Zelda at all.
    Some other franchises I also really like and are worth mentioning are Gran Turismo, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy(disappointed noone spoke of it) , Uncharted and Wipeout. 

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

      Those are some solid choices as well!

  12. Amber Sass
    December 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Sonic the Hedgehog and Kingdom Hearts are my two picks, although I don't disagree with Mario and a few of the others.

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Sonic of old is great, but he has taken a giant nose dive recently. At this point Sega seems more like care about cashing in on his name and not making an honest good game.

  13. M.S. Smith
    December 13, 2011 at 10:27 am

    The only one I disagree with is Grand Theft Auto. I have fun blowing stuff up in that game sometimes, but my love for it doesn't go beyond that. I think the series has terrible combat mechanics, bad story-telling (even the latest game) and a game world that tries be realistic, but falls on its face.

    Half-Life definitely should have been there instead :)

  14. Allan
    December 13, 2011 at 10:23 am

    What about the Half Life series of games?

    • Dave LeClair
      December 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Personally, I am not a fan of Half Life. I respect them for sure, but I have always found them to be overrated.

  15. Patzfan4lyf329
    December 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

    No duty?

    • michael
      December 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

      Did you read the conclusion?

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